Wednesday, December 05, 2007

What he had to do

Marine Lance Cpl. Delano Holmes is being court-martialed for bayoneting an Iraqi soldier he was on sentry duty with in Fallujah 44 times (or, as the LAT helpfully breaks it down, 17 stab wounds, 26 cuts and one chop). Holmes’s attorney is claiming it was self-defense because he thought the Iraqi, Priv. Munther Jasem Muhammed Hassin, was signaling a sniper. Naturally, his Marine training to fight “until the threat is removed” kicked in, although one would have thought he was vulnerable to the supposed sniper throughout however long it takes to bayonet someone 44 times. Update: oh, Holmes didn’t even think Hassin was deliberately signaling a sniper (really crappy reporting job, LAT), just giving away their position by smoking and using his (illuminated) cell phone. The North County Times says the fight resulted when Holmes tried to get Hassin to stop doing so. They didn’t speak each other’s language, but bayoneting someone 44 times is like the international sign for “please stop doing that.” Clearly, as his lawyer says, Holmes “did what he had to do.” Holmes is 6' 2" and 190 pounds, Hassin was 5' 4" and 124 pounds. Holmes sustained no injuries. He fired Hassin’s rifle to make it look like self-defense.

The WaPo reports on former Guantanamo prisoner (2002-6) Murat Kurnaz, a 19-year old German seized in Pakistan, who the CIA, US military intelligence and German intelligence rapidly decided was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, but who continued to be held, the military tribunals ignoring the intelligence reports in favor of a memo written by a general who noted that Kurnaz prayed while the National Anthem was being sung, and that he asked the height of the basketball rim in the prison yard, which the general took to be evidence that he was planning an escape attempt.

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