Thursday, May 05, 2005

Feeling Sympathetic Toward England

It is my act, my hand, my heart: I beseech your lordships to be merciful to a broken reed.
Francis Bacon (1561 - 1626), English philosopher

It seems to me on the surface that the military judge that abruptly tossed out a guilty plea and declared a mistrial in the court-martial of Pfc. Lynndie R. England, may have done the right thing.

England does not sound like the sharpest tool in the shed, which is no excuse, but try to be the one to tell pumped up soldiers not to mistreat enemy combatants. I am not saying for even one second, that she should not be punished, but maybe her punishment she be along the lines of reading and community service, so that she is not just punished, but she learns something out of the process. Maybe gain knowledge to pass along to her newborn child.

The judge, Col. James Pohl, dismissed the jury in the sentencing phase of her case and sent the year-old matter back to a lieutenant general who will weigh a range of options, including starting over or dismissing the case.

I find myself feeling very sympathetic toward England in this case.

7 comments:

On The Mark said...

Actually, I thought it was well choreographed by the defense to get this result. The lawyers had to know the judge wouldn't accept her plea and Graner's testimony. Maybe she saw no other option but to follow orders. Maybe she participated thinking she wouldn't be found out (like the others). But in the end, she had to know that what she was doing was wrong. From my perspective, it's more like sympathy for the devil.

B2 said...

I was surprised that when her commanding officer, under oath, contradicted England's statements (he claimed he ordered to do various things that he felt were consistent with army policy; her statement was that she knowlingly acted against policy in concert with that officer and others) that the judge would throw out her "guilty" plea -- but I guess one person does not a conspiracy make.

One knows that punishing the guilt does not undo the crime, but we nonetheless do so for various reasons (deterrent to criminal or others, satisfaction of revenge for victim or survivors of victim, etc.)... but you're right; she seems like she's a little lost in all this.

Of course, so do all crazy serial killers.

Not to compare the two.

Pirate said...

My, my, b2. You really are the cynic these days. Allow me to wade in. I'd hate to see her as a lightning rod for everyone's anger over this, but there has to be some recollection, some framework, for right and wrong. There are moral absolutes, not everything is relative. I'd like to see her learn something from this, too; perhaps incarceration would do nothing to that end. Where does one begin to teach humanity and compassion?

Devo said...

You know, watching this nonsense unfold, I can't help but get the feeling that there's no "two sides" to this case at all. Defense, Prosecution, Judge... they all seem like different faces of one political thrust, or something. Like they're putting on a show to appease someone, but no question remains as to the "guilt" or "innocence" of anyone. As far as England's "guilt" goes, I can't see anything BUT guilt as I think back on her smiling, thumbs-up face lording over the slumped and beaten anonymous Iraqi prisoner. I can't help but think that there's something more devious going on than a PFC deciding to go to town on a few Iraqis. And at this point, I think it may be even more devious than a Brigadier General deciding to include car batteries and dog leashes on his list of "prison groceries" with the full approval of Donny Rumsfeld and friends, and the full knowledge that they will be used on humans. Not to scream "conspiracy" or anything (odd that the military machine is trying to scream that very word at England) but I get the sense now that there's a massive damage control effort going on, and that totally undeserving people will pay high prices for being in the wrong place at the wrong time...

Wow, I guess they don't call me Cap'n Obvious for nothing! Wrong place at the wrong time, indeed! It's a friggin WAR! There IS no "right" place at war! OK, I shut up now. Good post...

Jack Steiner said...

I tend to agree that she is not that sharp and it is easy for me to sympathize with her.

During war I don't expect people to be on their best behavior. It doesn't excuse it or mean that she does not deserve punishment, but it is a mitigating factor.

If she would have run into some of those prisoners on the street she might have stuck a bullet in their head instead of a dog collar on their neck.

The Misanthrope said...

This makes me feel a bit like John Kerry, but I tend to agree with all of you. However, I would rather see Rumsfeld and our attorney general on the hot seat than Ms. England.

On The Mark said...

Ah, yes, total agreement with that, Misanthrope.