Soldier could face death penalty in Afghan rampage killings, Panetta says

This is a Quick Hits post, but I want to keep the story on the radar. (For why, see below.)

As you may know, a 38-year-old U.S. soldier serving in Afghanistan lost it and went on a civilian killing rampage:

A US soldier in Afghanistan has killed at least 16 civilians and wounded five after entering their homes in Kandahar province, senior local officials say.

He left his military base in the early hours of the morning and opened fire in at least two homes; women and children were among the dead. … He is reported to have walked off his base at around 03:00 local time (22:30 GMT Saturday) and headed to nearby villages, moving methodically from house to house.

The new news is from the DoD (CNN; my emphasis and some reparagraphing):

The U.S. Army soldier accused of killing 16 Afghan men, women and children in a house-to-house shooting rampage could face the death penalty, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said. Panetta spoke to reporters as he flew to the Central Asian nation of Kyrgyzstan for high-level talks Tuesday.

Hundreds of Afghans took to the streets Tuesday to protest the killings as the Taliban threatened to behead “Americans anywhere in the country.” … In Jalalabad, near the border with Pakistan, “hundreds of protesters, many of whom are university students, have taken to the streets,” said Ahmad Zaii Abdulzai, a spokesman for Nangarhar province.

Click through to the CNN coverage for more; it’s a nice here’s-what-happened review.

Folks, this story is a big deal. If we’re lucky, it could end the war in Afghanistan.

Here’s hoping.


(To follow on Twitter or to send links: @Gaius_Publius)

NOTE FROM JOHN: This is one of those times when the old “you’d have to be crazy to kill someone” saying kicks into my mind.  This guy sounds like he absolutely lost it.  While I’m not opposed to the death penalty (I know…), I’m not sure that killing a guy who literally lost his mind is going to send any kind of clear message to anybody else who loses their mind in the future.  And I’m also not sure we should put to death someone who went insane simply to please the locals. Having said that, we need to find out what happened first – was this a case of PTSD overload or just some jerk taking out his frustrations on the locals?

Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States.

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