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Entries in Der Spiegel (3)

Tuesday
Mar292011

More Gruesome Details Emerge on US Army 'Kill Team' in Afghanistan

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- An article in the latest issue of Rolling Stone magazine sheds more light on a so-called U.S. Army "kill team" that allegedly murdered Afghan civilians for sport.

Last week, Spc. Jeremy Morlock pleaded guilty in a military court in Washington state to his role in the slayings and will testify against four other soldiers, including accused ringleader Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs, in exchange for a lighter sentence.

Graphic photos of the soldiers and their dead Afghan victims that already appeared in Germany's Der Spiegel are also featured in the Rolling Stone story written by Mark Boal, who wrote the Oscar-winning screenplay for the Iraq war movie The Hurt Locker.

At one point, Boal describes how the soldiers in the "kill team" used a pinky chopped off the hand of a dead 15-year-old to place a bet during a card game.

Worried that the incident could turn into another Abu Ghraib -- the now-closed Baghdad prison where U.S. guards were shown in photos abusing prisoners -- Boal claims the Pentagon "launched a massive effort to find every file and pull the pictures out of circulation before they could touch off a scandal on the scale of Abu Ghraib."

Among other things, it is against Army rules to take photos of war dead.

The Pentagon is calling the alleged atrocities "repugnant to us as human beings and contrary to the standards and values of the United States Army."

Spc. Morlock, who faces 24 years in prison, grew up in Wasilla, Alaska and is a friend of Track Palin, the son of former Gov. Sarah Palin.

Wednesday
Mar232011

American Soldier Charged in Afghan Thrill Kills to Plead Guilty

Photos.com/Thinkstock(FORT LEWIS, Wash.) -- An American soldier accused of being part of a "kill team" that murdered innocent Afghan civilians for fun will plead guilty to murder Wednesday in a military courtroom at Fort Lewis, Washington and then testify against his four co-defendants, according to his attorney.

In a confession taped last year and obtained by ABC News, Jeremy Morlock, a 22-year-old corporal from Wasilla, Alaska, admitted his role in the murders of three unarmed civilians, but told Army investigators that his unit's "crazy" sergeant had hatched the plan.  Earlier this week the German magazine Der Spiegel published a photo of a smiling Morlock posing with the body of one of the alleged victims.

Morlock reached a deal with Army prosecutors last month, said his civilian attorney, Geoffrey Nathan, in which he will plead guilty to three counts of murder, one count of conspiracy to commit assault and battery and one count of illegal drug use.  According to Nathan, the deal will require Morlock to serve 24 years in prison, with parole eligibility after seven years, and to testify against the other defendants at trial.  Morlock had been facing life in prison if convicted of the charges.

Morlock, a member of the Army's 5th Stryker Brigade, is one of five soldiers charged in the deaths of three Afghan civilians that occurred in Southern Afghanistan between January and May 2010.  Prosecutors allege that Morlock, Staff Sgt. Calvin R. Gibbs, Spec. Adam C. Winfield, Spec. Michael S. Wagnon II, Pfc. Andrew H. Holmes and Morlock participated in one or more of the murders and staged them to make unarmed Afghans appear to be armed insurgents.

On the confession tape, shot in May 2010 at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, Morlock told investigators that Gibbs planned the killings.

"He just really doesn't have any problems with f---ing killing these people," Morlock said, and then laid out the scenario he said the sergeant used to make it seem the civilians were killed in action.

"And so we identify a guy.  Gibbs makes a comment, like, you know, you guys wanna wax this guy or what?" Morlock told investigators.

The corporal said Gibbs gave orders to open fire on a civilian at the same time Gibbs threw a hand grenade at the victim.

"He pulled out one of his grenades, an American grenade, you know, popped it, throws it, tells me where to go to whack this guy, kill this guy, kill this guy," said Morlock.

Morlock said Sergeant Gibbs carried a Russian grenade to throw next to the body of the dead Afghan, to make it seem he was about to attack the American soldiers.

The corporal said he opened fire as directed, fearful of not following Gibbs' orders.

"It's definitely not the right thing to do," Morlock told the investigators.  "But I mean, when you got a squad leader bringing you into that, that type of real, that mindset, and he believes that you're on board with that, there's definitely no way you wanted him to think otherwise."

The investigator asked Morlock, "Because you felt maybe the next shot might be coming your way?"

"You never know.  Exactly," answered Morlock.  "I mean Gibbs talked about how easy it is, people disappear on the battlefield all the time."

A lawyer for Gibbs declined to comment to ABC News.  Gibbs, Winfield, Wagnon and Holmes are in military custody and face life sentences if convicted. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Mar212011

US Army Apologizes for Afghan Trophy Photos

US Army(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. Army is apologizing for photographs published in the German magazine Der Spiegel this weekend that show American soldiers posing beside the corpse of an Afghan civilian they are accused of having killed for sport.

An Army statement responding to the photos publication says, "Today Der Spiegel published photographs depicting actions repugnant to us as human beings and contrary to the standards and values of the United States Army.  We apologize for the distress these photos cause.”

The photographs are part of the evidence seized in the case against five U.S. Army soldiers who are accused of murder and conspiracy for the deaths of several Afghan civilians.  The soldiers from the 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division were deployed to southern Afghanistan last year at the time they are alleged to have participated in the killings.  They are facing court martial at their home base of Fort Lewis, Washington.

“The actions portrayed in these photographs remain under investigation and are now the subject of ongoing U.S. court-martial proceedings” said the Army statement.

Several photos show the soldiers lifting a corpse by the hair.

The Army statement says the photos are “in stark contrast to the discipline, professionalism and respect that have characterized our Soldiers' performance during nearly 10 years of sustained operations.”

Because the case is being prosecuted the Army limited its comments but stressed that it is “is committed to adherence to the Law of War and the humane and respectful treatment of combatants, noncombatants, and the dead.”

“When allegations of wrongdoing by Soldiers surface, to include the inappropriate treatment of the dead, they are fully investigated.  Soldiers who commit offenses will be held accountable as appropriate," the statement read.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio