11/24/04 — War and death: Marine acted out of caution

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War and death: Marine acted out of caution

If you have to be on the alert every second to prevent someone from killing you, it makes you a little jumpy. After a while, if you are an ordinary person, you learn to act on instinct to erase any perceived threat.

That is what happened when a U.S. Marine walked into a room in a mosque during the Fallujah battle. The mosque, which had been used by enemy insurgents, had been captured by U.S. and Iraqi forces.

One of the enemy lay wounded in the room, awaiting U.S. medical care. The Marine, whose rifle was at the ready, did not know the man was injured. He saw him move and shouted to his comrades that the man was alive and faking death. Then he pulled the trigger and shot the man dead.

Accidentally, he had killed a wounded enemy.

The story should have ended there, because such things happen in war.

Unfortunately, however, an NBC cameraman was there and recorded the event. Now the Marine will be the object of an inquiry and possibly a court-martial.

While the Left is calling for his scalp, little is being said of the insurgents using a mosque as a place to store arms and wage war — a violation of international law.

The Marine should be released. He did not intend to do anything but protect his life and those of his buddies. The Defense Department should do nothing in this case that might discourage other soldiers from being vigilant and ready.

Extreme caution will cause such accidents sometimes. Yet, it is necessary. It is for good reason that our soldiers are trained to be alert to danger and to wipe it out quickly before they are wiped out.

Published in Editorials on November 24, 2004 11:42 AM