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snipershot
02-08-2008, 16:07
The lawyer for an Army sniper charged with killing an Iraqi civilian and planting an AK-47 on his body said Friday that his client was too sleep deprived to know what he was doing.

Sgt. Evan Vela of St. Anthony, Idaho, is charged with one count of premeditated murder, making a false official statement and of conduct prejudicial to good order and discipline. His court-martial began Friday in Baghdad.

In opening statements, defense attorney James Culp called Vela "a victim of circumstance."

"He was suffering from sleep deprivation and had no ability to think that morning," Culp told the court.

Two other soldiers have faced similar charges in the same killing and two others. Those men were acquitted of the murder charges but were convicted of planting evidence on the bodies of the dead Iraqis.

Military prosecutors say the killings occurred on April 14, April 27 and May 11 near Iskandariyah, a mostly Sunni Arab city 30 miles south of Baghdad.

Another defense lawyer, Daniel Conway, told reporters during a lunch break from court that in a 74-hour period last spring, Vela slept just 2.5 hours.

"The Army took the best and brightest and pushed them beyond their breaking point," Conway said.

Vela, Staff Sgt. Michael A. Hensley, of Candler, N.C., and Spc. Jorge G. Sandoval, Jr., of Laredo, Texas, were assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 501st Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, based at Fort Richardson, Alaska. Hensley and Sandoval have since had their ranks reduced as part of their sentences.

Vela gave a statement to military investigators in June saying he killed one of the Iraqis. But Culp said Friday that the statement was given under duress. Vela was not permitted to use the latrine or to eat during the seven-hour interrogation, Culp said.

Vela testified at Hensley's court-martial in late September under a deal that bars his account of events from being used against him when he goes to trial.

Vela said Hensley, his staff sergeant, told him to shoot a man who stumbled upon their snipers' hide-out, although he was not armed and had his hands in the air as he approached the soldiers.


I want to know peoples view on this. I am a civilian but I think its a load of crap. Its called war. some seals made the mistake of letting someone go in 2005 and got 16 soldiers killed includeing one who was a friend. I don't believe we can just kill everyone but someone endangers your life and your mission. take em out.

ArodJohns
02-08-2008, 16:23
I want to know peoples view on this. I am a civilian but I think its a load of crap. Its called war. some seals made the mistake of letting someone go in 2005 and got 16 soldiers killed includeing one who was a friend. I don't believe we can just kill everyone but someone endangers your life and your mission. take em out.

(Snipped to ease up on reading)

While I'm not a soldier, I believe you're correct. War is war.

I've never been over there, but from things I've read and things I've heard from people who have been over there just about anyone could have a gun on them and mean to do harm to other civilians. I can understand from my own personal insomniac experience how things can appear to be something completely different than what they actually are.

A good example is one night I picked up my ash tray and attempted to drink it, thinking it was a can of Pepsi. If you'd have asked me afterwards, I would've sworn to you that it was a can of Pepsi.

All other BS aside, thoughts and prayers for the soldier.

GlockSupremacy
02-08-2008, 16:58
Talk about being caught between a rock and a hard place.

The sniper could bite it at any minute, he is supposed to be hidden, and man wanders in on him. I dont know what i would have done, i was not there, nor am I a sniper or in the military.

I think accidents happen, this being a war, ****s gonna happen.

He was told to shoot him, as the story goes. How did the sniper know the Iraqi wasn't armed at the time he pulled the trigger?

If I'm supposed to be hidden and a man pops up, and I'm given an order to shoot him, thats one hell of a quick decision. How am i to know if that the man telling me to shoot him saw a something i didn't, like a weapon? etc. etc.

Tough call.

Dream308
02-08-2008, 17:58
Talk about being caught between a rock and a hard place.

The sniper could bite it at any minute, he is supposed to be hidden, and man wanders in on him. I dont know what i would have done, i was not there, nor am I a sniper or in the military.

I think accidents happen, this being a war, ****s gonna happen.

He was told to shoot him, as the story goes. How did the sniper know the Iraqi wasn't armed at the time he pulled the trigger?

If I'm supposed to be hidden and a man pops up, and I'm given an order to shoot him, thats one hell of a quick decision. How am i to know if that the man telling me to shoot him saw a something i didn't, like a weapon? etc. etc.

Tough call.

And why would a random man approach you if you are in an abandoned building or off in the distance taking cover under a structure that just seems fishy. Coming forward all friendly with your hands up.. who really knows he could blown himself up.

*sigh*

We live in carebear land where everything has to be nice sweet cute with rainbows..

sgtlmj
02-09-2008, 00:20
Our SOP covers a situation similar to this. It's called the "collective knowledge rule." That is, if a superior knows of a situation where deadly force should be used, he can order the shot. The sniper can take the shot even if he does not see anything that does not constitute deadly force. Reasoning is, the commander may have knowledge that the suspect is about to kill the hostage, press a hidden button and ka-boom, etc.

Where this guy will probably get jammed up is planting a rifle on the dead guy to make it look like he was armed. If he was justified to shoot based on his superior's order, it should have just stood at that.

GlockSupremacy
02-09-2008, 01:37
Our SOP covers a situation similar to this. It's called the "collective knowledge rule." That is, if a superior knows of a situation where deadly force should be used, he can order the shot. The sniper can take the shot even if he does not see anything that does not constitute deadly force. Reasoning is, the commander may have knowledge that the suspect is about to kill the hostage, press a hidden button and ka-boom, etc.

Where this guy will probably get jammed up is planting a rifle on the dead guy to make it look like he was armed. If he was justified to shoot based on his superior's order, it should have just stood at that.

Thanks for that bit of knowledge sgtlmj.

Yeah i agree that planting the rifle is going to be hard to justify, and thats how they will try to hang him out to dry.

Having said that, i think sleep deprivation, stress, everything else will also play a role. I would sure hope that he is cleared of the most serious charges.

I always "cringe" for lack of a better word when i hear of people "planting weapons", ummm etc. in self defense, and in cases like this. It always seems like they panic and make matters a lot worse.

KAZ
02-09-2008, 17:48
I only hope that President Bush will issue a pardon to all convicted in these cases of having to make an instant decision in this kind of incident. Including those who "covered up" to protect their fellow soldiers.This does not include the azzhats who posed and took BS pictures in the prison. Remember who clinton pardoned in his last days:cool:

Jammer Six
02-10-2008, 01:26
I want to know peoples view on this. I am a civilian but I think its a load of crap. Its called war. some seals made the mistake of letting someone go in 2005 and got 16 soldiers killed includeing one who was a friend. I don't believe we can just kill everyone but someone endangers your life and your mission. take em out.
Then let me help.

War doesn't justify "wrong".

It doesn't ever, for instance, justify rape. Nothing about raping a woman (or a man, for that matter) reduces threat to your unit, life or mission, and it can't further a legal mission. At least, not for U.S. forces.

Now.

Once we've decided that there IS a line, even in war, the only things left is to decide are where that line is in this type of case, and whether, in this case, the accused was on the other side of it.

snipershot
02-11-2008, 07:32
For anyone that disagrees with me you must first read "Lone Survivor" and then comment, believe me it will change your mind. ITs the story of the seals and SF guys killed in Afganistan in 05. Amazing story. My friend Major Stephen Reich was killed trying to save those seals. I am just glad someone survived to tell the amazing and heroic story of everyone involved.

mitchshrader
02-11-2008, 07:41
yah. i say hang him out to dry, not because he was 'guilty' of something per se, but because you can't ALLOW EXCUSES FOR ACTIONS TAKEN IN TIME OF WAR.

if he'd just REPORTED it, i'd say, yeah, sleep deprivation. he screwed up by LYING.

'No Excuse, Sir' and i'd have given him a different job, max. Mistakes happen.

LIES ARE OPTIONAL. Hate to be a hardass on that single tiny detail, but dammit, don't LIE about stuff you did, when you're serving your country, it's DISHONORABLE.

and, the discharge he GOT was dishonorable. it's unfortunate as HELL, I don't think he was a 'bad guy'.. i think he was a good guy that made a BAD MISTAKE.. and it wasn't shooting a potential suicide bomber, it was LYING.

planting the EVIDENCE even, wasn't as bad as LYING.. jeezus.

that's taking a crap on the flag. i ain't amused. he asked for it.

now, far as *I* am concerned, a couple years in leavenworth, perfect behavior, and a 'do-over' pardon and reenlist, work his way back up the ranks.. I'd go that.

i got no HATE for the guy, he OUGHT to be able to soldier his way back into an honorable condition. i'm all about MERCY..

but AFTER you make the point, don't lie to your country. Uncle Sam will whack your peepee for it.

AND for the record as an army brat and a vet, kid of a REAL GOOD combat master sergeant..

The IG investigating this case OUGHT TO HAVE gone through every superiors dirty underwear looking for stains, in that troops chain of command, most especially his immediate superior.

any hint of malfeasance, negligence, or otherwise imperfect attention to duty,.. would suffice to nail their rancid hides to the closest barn door.

leadership is evident by it's absence, and it is absent when crap like this occurs. FIXING it involves building a fire from the top down, and bringing wrath and brimstone upon them as forget what it is that's being attempted, and more especially WHY.

which of course, casts a real GOOD light on the issue of 'does this mission have an honorable purpose' in the FIRST place, but that's above the miltary pay grade and not to the point. THAT part, ain't the generals part to figure, thank god. they got plenty other issues..

snipershot
02-11-2008, 08:30
they had to plant it cause they know the anti-war people would try them for murder but they couldn't let him go cause he could have had them all killed. The rules of engagement don't work when your the only one using them. if they would have let the guy do he could have brought 1000 insurgents on top of them within an hour. Just like what happened in Afganistan. I feel they made the right decision ,it may not seem that way from the outside, but in the situation if they let the guy go they all could have died! Casualties of war.

I don't believe they can go around killing anyone but when it compromises your mission and life you got to make that decision.

Jammer Six
02-11-2008, 17:54
I don't believe they can go around killing anyone but when it compromises your mission and life you got to make that decision.
Ah, we agree. (Otherwise, there would be no decision to make)

Make that decision wrong, and you'll face the consequences.

GreenBeret1631
02-11-2008, 20:05
Our SOP covers a situation similar to this. It's called the "collective knowledge rule." That is, if a superior knows of a situation where deadly force should be used, he can order the shot. The sniper can take the shot even if he does not see anything that does not constitute deadly force. Reasoning is, the commander may have knowledge that the suspect is about to kill the hostage, press a hidden button and ka-boom, etc.

Where this guy will probably get jammed up is planting a rifle on the dead guy to make it look like he was armed. If he was justified to shoot based on his superior's order, it should have just stood at that.

I agree with you and the SOP, you mentioned.

In civilian life as a LE SWAT supervisor, I was the one that gave my 'sniper' the green light. Once I gave that order, I expected it to be carried out!

Jammer Six
02-11-2008, 20:34
No one ever "has" to participate in a coverup.

It's another choice, for which, again, there are consequences.

Besides, if you ever "have" to alter the apparent circumstances of a shoot, you've already been tried and convicted in your own mind, and sentenced to a lifetime of justification, rationalization, and guilt.

No appeal, no parole.

Tacticool_h8tr
02-12-2008, 21:02
Unless you were there at the time of the event and insist on judging this Soldier. **** YOU! I can count multiple times when some "innocent" Iraqi walked up to us and stabbed, shot, or blew us up. You armchair lawyers and tacticool Soldiers can go **** yourself for judging this Soldier. For some reason he felt it was the right thing to do at the time. I doubt he was out there looking for someone innocent to kill to put a notch in his buttstock. Bad things happen in war and mistakes are made. I place no blame on this Soldier for trying to save his own ass. I do agree that rape and torture are over the line. This is merely the opininon of someone who "Has been there, done that, and got the T-shirt."
Delete this post as innapropreate if you feel its necessary, but I could not could not stand by and listen to this bull****.
141952

Jammer Six
02-12-2008, 21:28
Unless you were there at the time of the event and insist on judging this Soldier. **** YOU!
That was pretty funny.

Using that standard, no one would ever be judged-- because the judge, jury, cop, MP or officer "wasn't there".

If you were in Iraq, I was overseas, and back, before you were born.

Not that those credentials are necessary, you'll be judged and held accountable by the system we, the people have set in place.

If you're guilty, it pleases me that you don't like it.

Tacticool_h8tr
02-12-2008, 22:22
I was investigated by CID more than once. All an Iraqi prisioner had to do was to say we beat him and we were under investigation. It was so bad that I would have the prisioner take off his shirt so I could photograph him with no bruises or cuts while in my possesion. These pics helped me more that once.

I think we can all agree that we do not know the entire story behind this sniper shooting/planting of evidence and talking about it here like we have something worthwile to add to the conversation is absured and embarrassing.

Another story to think about. A construction crew was building houses and "insurgents" rolled up on them and killed the 8 workers and kidnapped the Iraqi foreman. He was held hostage for about a week. The bad guys then decided to let him go. The man, unbeliveable of his good fortune went to the nearest Iraqi checkpoint to let them know he had been released. Well the bad guys had unknowing to him packed his car full of explosives. So when he rolled up to the check point and identified himself as the missing contractor, the Iraqi police rushed to help him. a few cars back the kidnappers were following and then exploded the vehicle and began launching RPG's and small arms fire at our and the Iraqi positions. It was a bad day for all involved.
When its your own life on the line anf there are no uniforms to tell the good guys from the bad guys I feel its better to err on the side of coution. MY SOLDIERS WERE MY #1 CONCERN AND I WOULD NOT HAVE TRADED ONE OF THEM FOR 1000 IRAQIS.

The daily acts of heroism and valor displayed by our troops over there (that I have witnessed) still to this day haunt me. Not the death and distruction, but to see an 18 year old PFC run out under small arms fire to rescue a child that was in a burning car hit by an insurgent grenade. Or a car that ran off the road into a filthy canal. All of the Iraqis stood around and watched while my 22 year old medic and the PSG jumped into the water and freed the occupants and tried to breath life back into them. Or the small child who wandered into the police station because his family would not wake up (14 adults and children killed b/c of their religion) Or the $1000's Soldiers spent of their own money trying to help the children and pull them up out of the squalor.

IF THERE IS ANY DISAGREEMENT WITH THIS I GUESS WE FOUGHT DIFFRENT WARS WITH DIFFRENT MOS.
AS FOR THR SLEEP DEPERVATION DEFENSE, WE HAD NO DOWN TIME. YOU WERE ALLOWED TO COME BACK TO CLEAN WEAPONS, RE-UP ON WATER, AMMO, GAS (CLASS 1, 3 AND 6) AND 4-6 HOURS OF DOWN TIME. NO DAYS OFF, NO GOING INTO TOWN FOR HOOKERS AND BEER NOTHING. THERE WAS NO AREA WERE YOU DID NOT HAVE TO BE ON GUARD 100% OF THE TIME. YOU EITHER DIED, WENT CRAZY OR SOMEHOW SURVIVED YOU YEAR+ DEPLOYMENT. I HAVE NOTHING BUT THE UTMOST RESPECT FOR COMBAT VETERANS FROM VIETNAM, IRAQ OR WHATEVER. WAR'S A ***** AND MISTAKES ARE MADE BY GOOD SOLDIER WHO PUT THERE LIFE ON THE LINE DAILY TO HELP IMPROVE THE LIVES OF PEOPLE THEY COULD REALLY GIVE A **** LESS ABOUT.

I LOVE THIS COUNTRY MORE THAN YOU COULD EVER IMAGINE AND HAVE THE UTMOST RESPECT FOR VETS. BUT LETS NOT BE QUICK TO CONDEM HERE ON THIS BOARD ON A SUBJECT WE KNOW NOTHING ABOUT. I DO AGREE THAT THE MP'S JUDGES AND OTHERS MUST MAKE THE HARD DECISION ON THE FUTURE OF THIS ACCUSED SOLDIER. OUR BELITTLING IT DOWN TO A BB DISCUSSION SICKENS ME. NOR DO I FEEL THAT YOU NEED TO AGREE WITH ME.
OH YEA, EVERY DEATH CAUSED BY MY MEN OR I WAS JUSTIFIED BY THE ROE (RULES OF ENGAGEMENT) HANDED DOWN BY MY SUPERVISIORS. LONG STORY SHORT EVERY PERSON WE KILLED DESERVED IT. I HAVE NO HARD FEELING AND SLEEP LIKE A LOG EVERY NIGHT.

Jammer Six
02-12-2008, 23:23
I HAVE NO HARD FEELING AND SLEEP LIKE A LOG EVERY NIGHT.
That may change, if you live long enough.

Stop yelling, it makes you sound funny. You're not running on logic, you're running on emotion. Not a good time to post.

No one is condemning him, except perhaps you, and methinks thou doest protest too much.

No one gets a free pass. No one, even someone adjudged "not guilty".

Tacticool_h8tr
02-13-2008, 10:59
As a leader if one of my Soldiers was killed because I made an incorrect shoot/no shoot call, that, my friend, would haunt my sleep. Why would an Iraqi knowingly walk up to a sniper position? Up to no good.

Rule of Engagement #1 when I was over there was " If at anytime you or your fellow Soldiers feel threatened or are in danger, leathal force is authorized." Not my rule but rule from the General Officer level.

My main arguement is that we sitting here in the states typing away at our keyboards, drinking kool-aid in our feety jammies have no right to start a thread condeming a Soldier and event we know absolutly nothing about. Yes, the judges, MP and officers on the article 15 board will sort that out, for better or worse.

I am under the impression that you were in Vietnam or some other conflict and I have the utmost respect for your service. Your generation inspired me to want to serve our country. I also, assuming you've actually went on combat patrol, know what its like to have everyone trying to kill you everyday, all the time. (yea, I want to avoid puffing out our chests and comparing war stories. Everyone has their own hell they lived through (or didn't)) War is a ***** and bad things happen.

You hang out with Saints in church all day, you will probably live a guilt free, clean life. You hang out in other countries where death, distruction, murder, and a general sense of never seeing your family again, your perception begins to warp. War doesn't as a rule churn out good people, but broken ones.

Yea I am running on emotion. I'll never think about what happened to our brothers, fathers, sisters, cousins, ect... and not have to stop myself from breaking out in tears. I cannot listen to the National Anthem, the reading of the Decleration of Independance, or even walk by a flag eithout thinking of the sacrifice given for our country by generations before us. War and killing is a *****, so treat it like one.

Just quit condeming Soldiers based on a few lines of "news" fed to us in 45 second blurbs. God Bless America, and protect our Soldiers and their families who are paying the ultimate price.

Biscuitsjam
02-13-2008, 16:02
As a leader if one of my Soldiers was killed because I made an incorrect shoot/no shoot call, that, my friend, would haunt my sleep. Why would an Iraqi knowingly walk up to a sniper position? Up to no good. Any number of reasons. He could have been warning them about an impending insurgent attack. Or maybe he just wanted to yell at them for being on his property. Or he could have been mentally retarded. Who knows?

The unit relieving us beat an Iraqi into a bloody pulp for approaching one of their outposts. It turned out that he was an informant with information. Of course, after that, violence in that area greatly increased.

You have to be careful and you can't always err on the side of violence. On the other hand, you shouldn't always give the insurgents the benefit of the doubt. My platoon sergeant would reason like this:

"Oh, that guy's probably just cheating on his neighbor's wife. It's just coincidence that he is hiding underneath a bush at 3 AM in the middle of a remote field overlooking two IEDs. On his way back, he saw us and got scared and hid there."

No matter how obviously guilty, my platoon sergeant would rather risk the lives of his soldiers than risk a guilty conscience from killing an innocent man. That approach is just as retarded as having a policy to always shoot when in doubt. It takes common sense to be a good soldier.