Amnesty International published a report (direct link to report) on Monday on civilian casualties in Afghanistan. This press release explains:

“Thousands of Afghans have been killed or injured by US forces since the invasion, but the victims and their families have little chance of redress. The US military justice system almost always fails to hold its soldiers accountable for unlawful killings and other abuses,” said Richard Bennett, Amnesty International’s Asia Pacific Director.

Corporal Robert Richards, who pleaded guilty to an orders violation and a violation of Article 134 in connection with the Afghanistan urination case, was found dead in his North Carolina home earlier this week. A report from Stars and Stripes is here.

In a report available here, McClatchy reporter Michael Doyle covers CAAF’s opinion in United States v. Davenport, No. 13-0573/AR, 73 M.J. 373 (C.A.A.F. Aug. 11, 2014) (CAAFlog case page).

Stars and Stripes reports here that:

An Air Force fighter pilot was convicted of rape last week, nine years after he committed the crime against a young airman.

Lt. Col. Michael J. Briggs, an F-16 pilot who was the 52nd Fighter Wing chief of safety at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, was convicted on Aug. 7, according to Air Force officials, after a weeklong court-martial before a military judge.

The judge sentenced Briggs, 40, to five months in jail, dismissal from the Air Force and a reprimand.

Finally, Stars and Stripes reprints a Colorado Springs Gazette article about allegations that cadet athletes at the Air Force Academy “flouted the sacred honor code by committing sexual assaults, taking drugs, cheating and engaging in other misconduct at wild parties while the service academy focused on winning bowl games and attracting money from alumni and private sources in recent years.”

4 Responses to “Military Justice News for August 15, 2014”

  1. AF JAG says:

    While no one should excuse wanton LOAC violations (if they occur), a little perspective is in order here. 
    While this report blasts what they view is a lack of accountability over LOAC violations by US forces, the report itself (page 8) notes that:  “especially in recent years, the vast majority of civilian deaths in Afghanistan have been the result of attacks by the Taliban and other armed opposition groups. Such groups have failed to take basic precautions to avoid harming civilians, have employed civilians as human shields, and in some instances have directly targeted civilians in violation of the laws of war. In 2013, according to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), insurgents were responsible for more than three-quarters of civilian deaths, while international forces were responsible for just 5 percent of them. While this is not the focus of the current report, Amnesty International continues to condemn all attacks on civilians and deplores the increase by Taliban and other armed opposition groups.”
     
     
     
    In other words, at least 95% of the civilian deaths in Afghanistan last year were estimated to have been attributable to forces other than those “war-criminal Americans.”  At least the authors included the statistic in the article, which shows some intellectual honesty, but it is still difficult to reconcile the tenor of the rest of the report with this statistic that makes it exceedingly clear who does, and does not care about adhering to the law of armed conflict in Afghanistan. 

  2. DCGoneGalt says:

    Amen, AFJAG.  I am glad I finally found something I can agree with you on.  :) 
     
    And the 5% figure does not take into account how many of those civilian deaths were as a result of appropriate actions taken in response to enemy action such as a Taliban (or whatever the attacking group du jour is) ambush and subsequent firefight in an area that houses civilians   A civilian death alone does not a war crime make . . . the facts matter. 
     
    I am not so forgiving on the matter of intellectual honesty issue as you are because, in addition to your point, if civilians perish as a result of a legitimate military operation (think a strike on a largely unoccupied school/housing complex/religious building being used to house and launch missiles) it is possible that the civilian deaths are ultimately the result of LOAC violations from the side that precipitated the lawful operation that actually, whose response action caused the deaths.  IMO this is a favored tactic of the media and many political advocates posing as international law scholars and has been and has been on display frequently during the commentary regarding the Israeli operations in Gaza.

  3. Christian Deichert says:

    …if civilians perish as a result of a legitimate military operation (think a strike on a largely unoccupied school/housing complex/religious building being used to house and launch missiles) it is possible that the civilian deaths are ultimately the result of LOAC violations from the side that precipitated the unlawful operation than actually, whose response action caused the deaths.

    DCGG — not trying to play typo police, but is this what you meant?  If, so, I’m with you.

  4. DCGoneGalt says:

    That is what my I meant to say. Fat fingers, small cell phone.