Pentagon launches board to examine legal 'flash points' in deployed areas
August 3rd, 2012
02:59 PM ET

Pentagon launches board to examine legal 'flash points' in deployed areas

By Larry Shaughnessy

A group of legal and military experts will examine how major criminal accusations against service members in deployed areas are handled, under a new directive authorized by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and announced Friday.

"We know that over the last 10 years in Iraq and Afghanistan, bad things have happened involving combat excesses and innocent civilians in deployed area," Panetta wrote in a memo announcing the makeup of the newly formed Defense Legal Policy Board.

"The abuses have been rare among our professional fighting force, but they became huge flash points that threatened to undermine our entire mission."

Jeh Johnson, the Department of Defense's top lawyer, said the action is "part of the secretary's ongoing interest in accountability, particularly in deployed areas."

"We think that this is something that is worth review every once in a while. ... And we want to ask ourselves, is the system working like it should," he said.

The review of past crimes against civilians will be done by a subcommittee of the Legal Policy Board.

But their aim is not to retry past cases. "It's not about a review of the results of a particular case," Johnson said.

Nor will the subcommittee examine current cases moving through the military justice system, such as that of Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, who is charged with the premeditated murder of 16 Afghan villagers in March.

"This is not about any pending cases, nor should it be," Johnson said.

While no one particular case motivated the creation of the board and the subcommittee, Johnson admitted a 1995 case from Iraq is an example of what will be examined.

Eight U.S. Marines where charged in connection to an incident in Haditha, Iraq, in which 24 Iraqis died.

"The Haditha case would be within the scope of what's described here," Johnson said.

Charges were dropped against six of the Marines, one Marine was acquitted, and last January, nearly seven years after the incident, Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich entered a plea deal that kept him out of the brig.

The board will also forgo examining cases connected to detention of prisoners in deployed areas. "The review should not encompass allegations of detainee abuse, about which there's been much inquiry and public interest already," Johnson said.

The results of the subcommittee's review are due early next year.

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Filed under: Military • Panetta • Pentagon • SSGT Robert Bales
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    August 5, 2012 at 5:30 am | Reply
    • Jeremy

      Pretty low actually. There will always be some dirtbag that does it; and he should be executed. But your idiotic comment speaks volumes about the ignorance of the civilian population concerning crime in the military.

      August 6, 2012 at 12:09 am | Reply
    • Little Green Elf

      Ho Ho Ho, Santa – probably through the roof given that the military attracts some pretty disturbed people.

      August 6, 2012 at 7:34 am | Reply
  95. sam

    Hi. My name is sam. I'm looking for a good time. Must love war and have a small tool.

    August 4, 2012 at 11:13 pm | Reply
  96. StanCalif

    Yet another committee! How many Congressional committees are we paying for that do nothing? Congress, overall, is in a political stalemate and can't get anything accomplished!
    Why does Congress ignore the fact that our livestock producers are going out of business due to the high price of corn? Why not end the "corn to ethanol" program (mandated by Congress) and get this corn to livestock instead of gas tanks? We don't need all this corn ethanol for motor fuel, in fact, we are producing more ethanol than we can consume! The surplus is being exported! This "program" never accomplished its intended goal, it just bought votes!

    August 4, 2012 at 12:20 pm | Reply
  97. 2012marandalaw

    Here in Downtown Cleveland Ohio..They had A Pole Dancer Display..And Now,"Bomb Treats"..Everywhere.I am not a Stupid Human Being.Someone better..start Paying Attention.

    August 3, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Reply
  98. 2012marandalaw

    Now they have Thrown 4 "Bad Mitin"..Teams,Out of the Olympics..For Manipulating their way to the Olympics..So Again..I say this Serial Killer..Had Help,At Some Point.

    August 3, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Reply
  99. 2012marandalaw

    What makes me really,really angry..Is,Everyone was more Concerned about..'Princess Diana",and Royalty..Instead of our Troops.Sorry..But,Thats exactly..What happened.Lots Of Innocent Women..Were Brutally Murdered,at the Hands Of aRoyal Canadian Air Force..Officer.Did they find the Person that left a "Young Woman"..On The Queens Property?Is she Important?

    August 3, 2012 at 3:40 pm | Reply
  100. 2012marandalaw

    Reblogged this on Marinchek-Marn and commented:
    Will This Involve Co-Operation across the Board?I really hope so.When you have a High Ranking "Serial Killer" Officer,That Was Making Dangerous Female Insurgents,Killing Females,Sending Pole Dancers Overseas,to our Troops..And Exploding Anything and Everything,He wanted.(I Believe that is exactly was he did..Right Under everyones Nose)Did he have help?I believe,at some point ..Yes he did.So,Co-Operation..Is very,very important.

    August 3, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Reply
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