Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The intent was right, the execution sucked . . .

Reserve rush to judgment on soldier, part 4

Kari Sleight, Publisher, Frontiersman, called me yesterday (7/6/2010) to discuss why the Frontiersman published the piece on the Afghan incidents resulting in charges for murder for 4 U.S. soldiers.

She stated that the intent was to defuse the criticism received by the Frontiersman from those in the community who were anti-war and had posted to the article in a virtuperous manner. She said profanity was used and the vitriol against the young soldiers was egregious. If that were the catalyst for the op-ed piece, then the intent was to defuse and to remind. Unfortunately, the execution sucked.

Kari has a son-in-law who has served in both OIF and OEF as an MP and is still active duty. To him, we given our thanks for his service. It was his experience in returning from the war zone through New York and the anti-war comments he received that gave impetus to the op-ed piece.

The motivation for the op-ed was good, but the outcome, no matter what Kari Sleight may claim, was not what was intended.

The bent of the article was clearly not directed to reminding readers of the 6th Amendment rights of the soldiers, their UCMJ rights, and that the facts of the situation will not be known until they come out at trial. That damaging comments were made before the Article 32 hearing disclosures was dismissed as a misinterpretation on my part.

Kari stated that the piece was the work of the entire editorial board of the Frontiersman, that no one person wrote the piece.

The problem I had with the piece and still have with it is that it clearly draws conclusions from the Specifications in the charging document that can be found on-line. The language used in the op-ed piece could have clearly demonstrated the source of the allegations as the charging document, but that was not the direction demonstrated. Instead, the op-ed's first sentence clearly stated a conclusion.

The use of 'alleged' or 'allegations' should have been used liberally throughout with clear reference to the charging document to show that the soldiers were charged, but the issues had not been adjudicated. Instead, the Afghan's were pronounced civilians without any qualification.

I have a real problem with that designation of those alleged killed by the troops charged. We weren't there when the incidents happpened, and I am willing to bet, neither was the JAG officer who drafted the Specifications and Charges against the soldiers.

Too often, those who are civilians by day, are the enemy by night or on the weekends. Not too long ago, Reuters ran an article on Afghanis who fought NATO troops on weekends, but worked at legitmate jobs and participated in the goverment during the week. Therefore, the use of the term civilians is specious at this juncture. The status of those killed will come out at trial. "Alleged" should have been clearly stated. Instead, civilian was stated as a fact.

I disagree with the manner in which the Frontiersman op-ed was written. Conclusions were stated, not allegations. Kari and I will agree to disagree as to the interpretation of the op-ed piece.

I still believe that Wick Communications and the Frontiersman's Editorial Board should publically apologize to the family of SPC4 Morlock, to Morlock and the other troops charged, and to our troops.

I am still angry. I read and understand English very well. I do not believe that I misinterpreted the op-ed piece's message. Neither did my family who all read the content and reached the same conclusions. My youngest, a veteran of OIF, was as incensed as I was.

I understand Kari's sympathies in the matter and her intent. I still disagree that the op-ed piece says what she intended.