Tuesday, December 14, 2004

The Dogs of War - 2004

Two Days in August Haunt Charlie Company
By Karl Vick
Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, December 14, 2004; Page A01

BAGHDAD -- "Members of the U.S. Army's 41st Regiment uncovered an AK-47 during a routine search in the dangerous Baghdad slum of Sadr City on Aug. 31. Finding a weapon was not unusual, but Sgt. Michael P. Williams, 25, said he felt danger when he saw a smirking Iraqi man in the house where the gun was found, according to the testimony of fellow soldiers.

"I feel threatened," Williams declared, the soldiers recalled. The "Iraqi went for his weapon."

Moments later, Williams shot the Iraqi man with two bullets to his head and chest, according to testimony last Friday at a military hearing, known as an Article 32 proceeding, intended to decide whether Williams would face court-martial in the killing. Other members of Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 41st Regiment, said the Iraqi did not have a weapon.

Williams's hearing, in a crowded meeting room on a military base in Baghdad, focused on one of a number of murder cases involving U.S. forces. Such hearings shed light on the conduct and leadership of American troops, as well as the rules of engagement they are supposed to abide by in Iraq, where armed conflict has gone on longer and in more treacherous settings than Pentagon planners initially anticipated.

On Friday, one member of Williams's unit, Staff Sgt. Johnny M. Horne Jr., sat weeping in an improvised courtroom not far from the Williams hearing. He pleaded guilty and later was sentenced to three years in prison for shooting a gravely wounded teenager on Aug. 18."

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