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Posted by on May 22, 2009 in At TMV | 10 comments

The Monster of Mahmoudiyah Is Spared Death While Bush & Rumsfeld Go Free

01aaa_abeer_green.jpg

Steven Green and only known photo (below) of gang rape victim

By SHAUN MULLEN

GUEST VOICE

While it was never in doubt that the Monster of Mahmoudiya would die in prison, it has been decided that his death should come later rather than sooner.

01aaa-abeer-id_1.jpgThat is the result of the four-week trial of Steven Green, the boy-man ringleader of the gang rape and murder of 14-year-old Abeer Qassim al-Janabi, her parents and young sister in a village south of Baghdad on March 12, 2006.

The nine woman and three male jurors deliberated over two days before declaring themselves hung yesterday on the questions of whether Green should receive the death penalty, so he will serve life in prison without parole.

* * * * *

The Army first engineered a cover-up, then claimed that Abeer was much older as if to excuse the crime, and finally washed its hands of one of the most repellent acts committed by American troops against occupied Iraqis, leaving it to a civilian federal court jury in Paducah, Kentucky to decide the fate of Green, who turned 24 five days after the trial began on April 27.

The trial-phase verdict — guilty on all 16 felony counts — was never in doubt.

Green, who was the first former U.S. soldier to face the death penalty for war crimes in a civilian court, has never denied what happened. The then-private first class had matter of factly explained to a journalist three weeks before the rape-murders that “I came over here to kill people,” had repeatedly informed his commanding officer that he needed to be taken out of action because he wanted to kill Iraqis, and told the FBI agents who arrested him that “You probably think I’m a monster.”

That is an apt description:

Green herded Abeer’s father, mother and her sister into a bedroom of the family’s modest home. Her brothers were at school.

Green shot the father several times in the head, the mother several times in the abdomen and the sister several times in the head and shoulder with an AK-47 that the family was legally allowed to keep in the house, proudly announcing to his buddies, “I just killed them, all are dead.”

Green then turned on Abeer, whose dressing gown and bra were torn from her body and her legs tied. Green and two other soldiers then took turns raping her. By the time they had finished, blood was flowing from her vagina. Green then shot Abeer in the head two or three times, threw a blanket over her torso and set her body afire in a crude effort to cover up the atrocity.

“Steven Green failed to live up to his duty,” Prosecutor Marisa Ford declared during trial-phase closing arguments. “He didn’t show mercy to Abeer Al-Janabi, he took away the two orphaned brother’s hope for a normal life, and by doing so he lost the honor of calling himself a U.S. soldier; Steven Green doesn’t deserve mercy.”

That left lead defense attorney Pat Bouldin to convince jurors that Green did deserve mercy during the penalty phase.

Bouldin successfully did that through a legal concept called residual doubt. That is, having found Green guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, enough jurors were convinced that others also were to blame and they would sentence him to life without parole and not death, or in the case of a hung jury there would be a similar outcome.

This effort was helped along by efforts to humanize Green, including testimony that he was born to a wastrel mother and beaten regularly by an older brother, once so badly that “his head swelled up like a pumpkin.” A psychiatrist testified that Green had a damaged brain that made it all the more likely that he would suffer from post traumatic stress disorder and eventually snap when repeatedly confronted with the horrors of combat.

“He works well in a structured environment,” explained Dr. Ruben Gur, “But in a chaotic environment, he behaves chaotically.”

Among those snared in the defense’s blame-game net was a psychiatric nurse-practitioner whom Bouldin claimed failed to see that Green was a ticking time bomb. In fact, Lieutenant Colonel Karen Marrs well understood that, but the Army was desperate for bodies without regard to whether they were able.

Marrs testified that Green’s platoon, which had been taking extremely heavy casualties as it battled Sunni insurgents in the so-called Triangle of Death, had the worst morale that she had ever seen. She said the unit was “red,” meaning it was “mission incapable” because the troops were “hostile, vengeful and needed increased control and command,” without which there was a greater likelihood of misconduct.

The nurse-practitioner probably would agree that the blame game did not extend nearly far enough.

If it did, also implicated would be an Army that encouraged a sociopath with a criminal record to enlist, fast-tracked him through basic training and sent him off to Iraq where his homicidal tendencies were merely acknowledged and dealt with by medication and “Atta boys” as he was repeatedly sent back into the hell hole that was Mahmoudiyah, one of the three points in the triangle.

Additionally implicated would be former President Bush and former Defense Secretary Rumsfeld.

Both knew there were not nearly enough troops for a war that had been started to satisfy a neoconservative wet dream, required no sacrifices at home and would be over in a nonce, changed the rules of engagement to suit their political caprices when the war dragged on and on, and presided over only half-hearted efforts to win over a people for whom a never ending occupation had become a two-way nightmare.

Green showed little emotion during the trial, but his eyes did widen when a sister and brother of Abeer’s father took the stand.

The sister testified that Abeer’s orphaned twin brothers no longer attend school and often talk of committing suicide. The brother, while stopping short of asking for the death penalty as the Iraqi government had demanded, asked for justice for his nephews and wished peace upon the courtroom.

Prosecutor Ford and defense attorney Scott Wendelsdorf made very different pleas at the conclusion of the penalty phase, which took twice as long as the trial phase.

Said Ford: “Green’s crimes were unthinkable and outrageous . . . finish what he started by putting him to death.”

And Wendelsdorf: “America does not kill its broken warriors. Spare this broken boy, for God’s sake. Spare him.”

News media and blog coverage of the trial was virtually non existent.

CNN was the only major outlet to provide a semblance of regular coverage, a reflection of the fact that a mainstream media that was complicitous in the lies that Bush and Rumsfeld peddled has tried to wish away a war that has left the public consciousness — and consequences like the rape and murder of Abeer Qassim al-Janabi.

* * * * *

Please click here for my widely-read takeout on the events leading up to the crime and the cover-up and here for a profile of soldiers like Steven Green by TMV editor and psychologist Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés.

This post was compiled in part from dispatches from Agence France Presse, The Associated Press, CNN, Houston Chronicle, Louisville Courier Journal and The Huffington Post.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Shaun Mullen is a former The Moderate Voice columnist. Over a long career with newspapers, this award-winning editor and reporter covered the Vietnam War, O.J. Simpson trials, Clinton impeachment circus and coming of Osama bin Laden, among many other big stories. He blogs at Kiko’s House.

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Copyright 2009 The Moderate Voice
  • archangel

    May this family rest in perfect peace, Shaun. I just sit here at 3.a.m. after reading your take. And sit here seeing it all play out in mind cinema with sound turned off for now, for regarding this massacre, I think nearly any human cannot bear both pictures and sound.

    The most paradoxical and difficult to absorb without just writing it all off with a ‘Kill him, a waste of humanity,’ is that likely both prosecutor and defense arguing regarding sentence, are both telling the truth. Mr Green, pitiable… and the maker of monstrous acts.

    Ever since you began writing on this subject quite some time ago, though we have no access to his pre-enlistment mental health eval, I have wondered what the GI shrink could have seen –or not seen– in okaying this man for enlistment at all, let alone deployment.
    dr.e

  • rudi

    Dr. E I wonder if the pre-enlistment mental health eval was scrubbed to add another body to the GWOT effort.
    They recriut an autistic recruit:
    http://stanford.wellsphere.com/autism-autism-spectrum-article/army-boots-autistic-recruit/489481

    Army boots autistic recruit
    Posted Nov 10 08 4:52pm
    CBS News reports that the US Army has released recruit Jared Guinther from his enlistment contract. The reason: Guinther is autistic. According to his mother, who phoned the recruiter to complain, the 18 year old plays with buttons and is afraid of the sounds of lawn mowers and toilets.

    ” Guinther started talking about joining the military after a recruiter stopped him and offered him a $4,000 signing bonus and $67,000 for college, his parents say. His parents said he didn’t know there was a war in Iraq until last fall, shortly after he spoke with a recruiter, and asked them about it.”

    I admit, I am of two minds on this one. One less person going to war, attention to recruiting policies that border on coercion, I’m all for that. The problem is in statements like this one:

    “To place someone in his condition in a combat role would create a wholly inappropriate and unnecessary risk of harm – not only to him, but all other members of his unit who would have to rely on him,” Blumenauer wrote in his letter to the Pentagon.” (emphasis added)

    The implication that a person is unfit for service or for any work solely due to being autistic is troublesome at the least. Yes, I believe that this particular man, if he is afraid of lawn mowers, would not do well in the combat job he enlisted for. He might do well in another capacity; the army has all sorts of jobs.

    Or 41 year old grandmothers:

    Army accepting older recruits

    By Susanne M. Schafer, Associated Press
    FORT JACKSON, S.C.

    — Margie Black had wanted to enter the military as a teenager, but having her first child at 19 put off her ambitions.

    So when she learned the Army raised its enlistment age, Black, now a 41-year-old grandmother from West Columbia, Texas, didn’t hesitate to join. The decision took “about 30 seconds,” she said.

    On Friday, Pvt. Black worked on her marksmanship skills here, while her 21-year-old daughter was at Army basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.

  • RemNov

    It was not recruiting so much as conscription. Adding car thieves, burglars and non violent criminals into the mix for the sake of “fungible” numbers has weakened our military somewhat.

  • archangel

    Dear Rudi, a person with true autism? Depending on what degree, but armed? There are almost no words. This man could never have made it through basic training, a DI would have triggered a horrible event in this young man. Maybe it’s time to pay recruiters by the hour not by the human beings enlisted, and not by promotions. CHecks and balances. I wonder how they are applied in the recruitment systems. I’ll try to find out for us.

    dr.e

  • archangel

    dear RemNov: I remember several months back seeing pix of Afghanistan deployed US soldiers who were holding gun barrels in their own mouths and miming for the cameras, and thinking about the code of honor and wondering about impulsiveness overwhelming the code that is the main seam holding a unit together. That cant bode well for the unit, nor for any mission. Conscription. Your word is accurate. That reveals a good deal also. Regimes in WWII conscripted, not just innocent young farm boys, dragging them off the plains at gunpoint, but also the clearly disordered. Certain generals had special places and missions for the disordered. It is a sick science, RemNov. Sick to the core. To commandeer ill others to do monstrous things that one does not want to dirty one’s own hands doing, to side step destroying one’s own soul in order to destroy someone else’s soul… and those they predate upon… There are clinical words to describe such a person who unleashes the mentally unstable to murder/ cause mayhem. There are legal words. And there are religious words too.

    dr.e

    • AustinRoth

      arch – ‘conscription’? Hmmm. I seem to remember us helping win WWII with ‘draftees’, i.e., conscripts.

      • archangel

        Dear Austin, I should have explained further. “Regimes in WWII
        conscripted, not just innocent young farm boys, dragging them off the
        plains at gunpoint, but also the clearly disordered.”

        I was referring to regimes in Eastern Europe that literally
        conscripted, if one can call hauling young men off from their fields
        of wheat under absolute threat of death, ‘conscription.’ I was
        thinking of the people of my own family. Our last refugee (from the
        work camps in WWII) elder died last week and I gave the eulogy… in
        part, about just that, how the innocent people in our families and
        many parts of Eu were murdered, maimed and destroyed by
        conscription… used by various regimes in WWII who thought of humans
        as fodder. There is much more to their stories yet to be told to
        those who still revere Churchill and FDR and Stalin. Much more.

        Re Shaun’s article, I think it still comes back to who is checking
        and balancing recruitment in the US. We’ll have to inquire.

        dr.e

  • kathykattenburg

    Bravo, Shaun. Well done? No. Superbly done. Thank you.

    If I believed in a hell other than the one we humans create here on earth, I would say that the fires of hell could not burn hot enough for the likes of Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Bush.

  • archangel

    Dear Austin, I should have explained further. “Regimes in WWII conscripted, not just innocent young farm boys, dragging them off the plains at gunpoint, but also the clearly disordered.”

    I was referring to regimes in Eastern Europe that literally conscripted, if one can call hauling young men off from their fields of wheat under absolute threat of death, ‘conscription.’ I was thinking of the people of my own family. Our last refugee (from the work camps in WWII) elder died last week and I gave the eulogy… in part, about just that, how the innocent people in our families and many parts of Eu were murdered, maimed and destroyed by conscription… used by various regimes in WWII who thought of humans as fodder. There is much more to their stories yet to be told to those who still revere Churchill and FDR and Stalin. Much more.

    Re Shaun’s article, I think it still comes back to who is checking and balancing recruitment in the US. We’ll have to inquire.

    dr.e

  • rudi

    AR The lack of ‘conscription’ is my biggest problem with W’s GWOT. If the GWOT is real, then we need a draft to fight this ‘evil enemy’. A true lottery would grab Liz Cheney or Pierce Bush to fight this ‘existential threat’, or maybe no tax cuts to fund the war instead of our Chinese credit card. 🙂

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