General Accused Of Overreach On Killings




 
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Boots
 
December 19th, 2007  
Team Infidel
 
 

Topic: General Accused Of Overreach On Killings


Washington Times
December 19, 2007
Pg. 1
Tables turned in Afghan case
By Sara A. Carter, Washington Times
After months of congressional pressure, the Department of Defense Office of Inspector General has opened an investigation of an Army general who tried to bring murder charges against U.S. troops.
The investigation, requested by Rep. Walter B. Jones, North Carolina Republican, will probe whether Lt. Gen. Francis H. Kearney III overstepped his bounds and/or compromised legal proceedings in two Afghanistan incidents, one involving Marines and the other involving two Special Forces soldiers.
The general's orders, to redeploy a Marine unit and probe the soldiers, were first reported in The Washington Times in October.
"I am troubled by the premeditated-murder charges levied against Master Sergeant Troy Anderson and Captain Dave Staffel" of Special Forces, said Mr. Jones, in an October letter to Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates. "Based on his own statements, Lieutenant General Frank Kearney directed that charges be brought against these two American heroes despite the fact that the two soldiers were exonerated by the Army's Criminal Investigation Command."
Mr. Jones was notified this month that the IG Office had opened an investigation and was reviewing documents and conducting interviews.
The IG "has been provided with a copy of Representative Jones' letter to the secretary of defense regarding Lieutenant General Kearney and is looking into the matter," said Gary Comerford, spokesman for the office. "Since this matter is under review, it would be inappropriate to make any further statements."
The three-star general angered many Army Special Forces and Marine Special Operations Command members when he tried twice to bring legal actions against U.S. forces.
In June, Gen. Kearney directed that charges of premeditated murder be brought against Sgt. Anderson and Capt. Staffel, even though the two Special Forces soldiers had been exonerated in the shooting death of an Afghan man, whom military authorities determined was a legitimate target.
The investigation the general sought ended without charges shortly after The Times report. However, Gen. Kearney's involvement in the case led to a public outcry against the commander by angry members of Congress and military personnel.
According to professor Jeffrey F. Addicott, a former senior legal adviser to the Green Berets and director of the Center for Terrorism Law at St. Mary's University School of Law in San Antonio, Gen. Kearney did not act as a neutral commander under military law but exerted "command influence" against his own subordinates.
"This is a very serious, serious charge in the military," Mr. Addicott told The Times yesterday. "If this inspector general investigation finds that command influence occurred, then General Kearney could be fired from his job by his superior or forced to resign or retire. In my opinion, there is clear evidence that he exerted command influence."
In March, Gen. Kearney was criticized again when he made a decision to redeploy all 120 members of the Marine Special Operations Command Fox Company out of Afghanistan. The company was only halfway through an internal preliminary investigation into the Marines' response to an ambush on March 4 that left 19 civilians dead. They were accused of shooting indiscriminately at bystanders along a road in the town of Banikot.
In November, Marine Maj. Gen. Dennis J. Hejlik, head of Marine Corps Special Operations Command, said the Marines took the appropriate measures in the ambush against them and should not have been pulled out of the region.
Neither Kearney action has resulted in any convictions, but some Marines in the specially trained Fox Company resigned in protest.
 


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