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Green Berets face charges-

Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by BFISA, Sep 19, 2007.

  1. BFISA

    BFISA Well-Known Member

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    New York Times

    September 18, 2007

    Green Berets Face Hearing On Killing Of Suspect In Afghan Village

    By Paul von Zielbauer

    FORT BRAGG, N.C., Sept. 17 — From his position about 100 yards away, Master Sgt. Troy Anderson had a clear shot at the Afghan man standing outside a residential compound in a village near the Pakistan border last October. When Capt. Dave Staffel, the Special Forces officer in charge, gave the order to shoot, Sergeant Anderson fired a bullet into the man’s head, killing him.
    In June, Captain Staffel and Sergeant Anderson were charged with premeditated murder. On Tuesday, in a rare public examination of the rules that govern the actions of Special Operations troops in Afghanistan, a military hearing will convene at Fort Bragg to weigh the evidence against the two men, both Green Berets.

    The case revolves around differing interpretations of the kind of force that the Special Forces team that hunted and killed the man, Nawab Buntangyar, were allowed to use once they found him, apparently unarmed.

    To the Special Forces soldiers and their 12-man detachment, the shooting, near the village of Ster Kalay, was a textbook example of a classified mission completed in accordance with the American rules of engagement. They said those rules allowed the killing of Mr. Buntangyar, whom the American Special Operations Command here has called an “enemy combatant.”

    Mr. Buntangyar had organized suicide and roadside bomb attacks, Captain Staffel’s lawyer said.

    But to the two-star general in charge of the Special Operations forces in Afghanistan at the time, Frank H. Kearney, who has since become a three-star general, the episode appeared to be an unauthorized, illegal killing. In June, after two military investigations, General Kearney moved to have murder charges brought against Captain Staffel and Sergeant Anderson — respectively, the junior commissioned and senior noncommissioned officers of Operational Detachment Alpha 374, Third Battalion, Third Special Forces Group.
    The soldiers’ cases also highlight the level of scrutiny that General Kearney, who also ordered swift investigations into an elite Marine unit accused of killing Afghan civilians last March, has given to the actions of some of the most specialized and independent American troops fighting Taliban and insurgent forces along the border with Pakistan.

    Mark Waple, a civilian lawyer representing Captain Staffel, said the charges against his client and Sergeant Anderson carry a whiff of “military politics.” In an interview, Mr. Waple said that General Kearney proceeded with murder charges against the two soldiers even after an investigation by the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command concluded in April that the shooting had been “justifiable homicide.”

    A spokesman for Special Forces Command at Fort Bragg declined to comment on the shooting or the murder charges. Lt. Col. Lou Leto, the spokesman for General Kearney’s previous command, where the murder charges originated, also did not comment. General Kearney was promoted in July to lieutenant general and became deputy commander of Special Operations, where a spokesman declined to discuss the case.

    On Oct. 13, 2006, when Captain Staffel learned that Mr. Buntangyar could be found in a home near the village where his detachment was guarding a medical convoy, he ordered a seven-man team to investigate the tip.

    Driving toward Ster Kalay in two government vans, the Americans called the Afghan national police and border patrol officers to assist them, Mr. Waple said. Mr. Buntangyar had already been “vetted as a target” by American commanders, as an enemy combatant who could be legally killed once he was positively identified, Mr. Waple said.
    After the Afghan police called Mr. Buntangyar outside and twice asked him to identify himself, they signaled, using a prearranged hand gesture, to Sergeant Anderson, concealed with a rifle about 100 yards away, Mr. Waple said.

    From a vehicle a few hundred yards farther away, Captain Staffel radioed Sergeant Anderson, Mr. Waple said. “If you have a clear shot,” he told the sergeant, “take it.”
    Confirming the order, Sergeant Anderson fired once, killing Mr. Buntangyar. The American team drove to the village center to explain to the local residents, “This is who we are, this is what we just did and this is why we did it,” Mr. Waple said.

    The highest-ranking witness called to testify at the soldiers’ hearing Tuesday will be General Kearney, though it is unclear whether he will comply with the request.
    Also scheduled to testify is Sgt. First Class Scott R. Haarer, a paralegal on General Kearney’s staff last October who, as part of the military justice procedure, signed the forms that charged Captain Staffel and Sergeant Anderson with murder.

    In a notarized statement, Sergeant Haarer told defense lawyers last week that he would not have accused the soldiers of any crime if he had known that the Criminal Investigation Command had determined that the shooting was justified.
     
  2. BFISA

    BFISA Well-Known Member

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    Green Beret Hearing Focuses on How Charges Came About

    By PAUL von ZIELBAUER

    Published: September 19, 2007

    FORT BRAGG, N.C., Sept. 18 — An enlisted man who accused two Special Forces soldiers of illegally killing an Afghan man last year testified in a court Tuesday that he would not have agreed to make the accusation if he had known that a military investigation already concluded the killing was justified.

    Sgt. First Class Scott R. Haarer, a paralegal for the lawyer responsible for initiating the murder charges, said that if he had known about the investigation’s findings, “I would have requested that I not sign the document” that officially accused the two soldiers in June of premeditated murder.

    The admission was one of a few unusual moments in a hearing that cracks open a window onto some of the most secret Special Operations tactics in Afghanistan, including the hunting and killing of people designated as enemy combatants.

    The hearing is meant to determine whether there is enough evidence to convene a court-martial for Capt. Dave Staffel and Master Sgt. Troy Anderson, the two Green Berets accused of killing a man the Army considered an “enemy combatant.”

    On Captain Staffel’s order, Sergeant Anderson killed the man, Nawab Buntangyar, on Oct. 13 after a team of Special Forces soldiers discovered him walking outside his residential compound near the village of Ster Kalay, a few miles from the border with Pakistan. Special Operations commanders in Afghanistan had placed Mr. Buntangyar on a “Top 10” list of individuals to be captured or killed, according to other testimony heard Tuesday, because he had organized a local cell of suicide attackers and helped build bombs.

    Sergeant Haarer, testifying via telephone, said he thought it was “a little odd” that his boss, Lt. Cmdr. Douglas R. Velvel, the legal adviser to the Special Operations commanding general in Afghanistan who was advocating filing the murder charges, asked him to sign legal documents as the official accuser. The request came after Commander Velvel told Sergeant Haarer to read through a “narrative of facts” about the killing written by Commander Velvel.

    It is unusual for an enlisted soldier to formally accuse other soldiers of crimes, particularly soldiers of higher rank. It is rarer still for a military lawyer in a criminal inquiry to request or order a subordinate with no firsthand knowledge of any wrongdoing to allege a crime formally.

    Army legal procedures require military lawyers like Commander Velvel to find someone else, usually an officer, to sign the charging document as an accuser.

    Commander Velvel was also sworn in by telephone as a witness Tuesday morning, but refused to answer questions, citing his privilege as staff lawyer to Lt. Gen. Frank H. Kearney, commander of Special Operations forces in Afghanistan at the time, to keep his legal advice secret.

    In his public testimony, Lt. Col. James Friend, a Special Forces lawyer, said he advised Army investigators to conclude that the killing was justified even though Mr. Buntangyar was not in custody, actively surrendering or obviously wounded — all conditions that under the Geneva Conventions would prevent the killing of an enemy fighter.

    “Soldiers can kill any person who has been considered to be an enemy combatant,” Colonel Friend told the hearing. Though the Special Forces team could have easily captured Mr. Buntangyar instead of killing him, Colonel Friend added, they were not legally required to do so.

    General Kearney was also on the hearing’s witness list. But early Tuesday morning, he sent Captain Staffel’s civilian defense lawyer, Mark Waple, an e-mail message acknowledging he had ordered the murder charges to go forward “because no one at Fort Bragg would,” Mr. Waple said. As a result of that statement, neither side called the general as a witness.
     
  3. BFISA

    BFISA Well-Known Member

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    Published on Wednesday, September 19, 2007
    Navy lawyer balks at testifying

    By Henry Cuningham
    Military editor

    A Navy lawyer on Tuesday refused to testify about his role in bringing charges of premeditated murder against two Fort Bragg Special Forces soldiers for their actions in Afghanistan.

    Capt. Dave Staffel and Master Sgt. Troy Anderson are accused of premeditated murder in the shooting of Nawab Buntangyar on Oct. 13, 2006, at the village of Ster Kalay near the Pakistan border. They were on a mission as part of Operational Detachment Alpha 374 of the 3rd Battalion of the 3rd Special Forces Group.

    In a telephone interview, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Douglas R. Velvel balked at answering questions during the Article 32 hearing at Fort Bragg.

    Earlier, lawyers interviewed Sgt. 1st Class Scott R. Haarer, a paralegal who signed the charge sheet. Haarer said he had knowledge of the incident only from reading a report and Velvel, his boss, asked him to sign it June 12 as a part of his job. Haarer said that at the time, he had not seen another report that indicated the shooting was justified.

    Col. Duke Christie, the investigating officer, promised to go to Velvel’s military superiors to compel him to testify.

    “You are a fairly critical witness in this regard,” said Christie, who is deputy commander of 5th Special Forces Group at Fort Campbell, Ky.

    “I don’t know of any privilege he has in this regard,” said Hugh H. Overholt, a civilian defense lawyer for Staffel. Overholt, a retired Army major general, is from New Bern.

    Mark L. Waple, who also is a lawyer for Staffel, said he has an e-mail from Lt. Gen. Francis H. Kearney III indicating that the general directed that charges be initiated because Fort Bragg would not do it. Kearney was commander of special operations for Central Command. He is deputy commander of U.S. Special Operations Command in Tampa, Fla.

    People without government security clearances were frequently asked to leave the room during testimony that deal with tactics, methods of gathering information and “rules of engagement” that govern when soldiers can use force.

    During the hearing, Special Forces soldiers testified that the person who was killed had been identified as a “bad guy” and “a target we tried to find.”

    Lt. Col. Jim Friend, a former staff judge advocate for U.S. Army Special Forces Command at Fort Bragg, said he did not consider Nawab to be a civilian under the Geneva Conventions.

    “He was a combatant,” Friend said.

    Waple said after the hearing that the guidance can constitute unlawful command influence.

    “From testimony we received today, it illustrates the process was fundamentally flawed,” Overholt said after the hearing.

    Military editor Henry Cuningham can be reached at cuninghamh@fayobserver.com or 486-3585.
     
  4. BFISA

    BFISA Well-Known Member

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    More from Ft Bragg

    Defense calls Special Forces troops 'heroes'

    By Henry Cuningham
    Military editor

    Army prosecutors argued Wednesday that two Special Forces soldiers should be tried for killing a man who was identified as an enemy combatant but was “under the control of friendly forces” in Afghanistan.

    Defense lawyers countered that the man posed a threat, the soldiers made a “sound and appropriate tactical decision” and the charges should go no further.

    Capt. Dave Staffel and Master Sgt. Troy Anderson are accused of premeditated murder in the shooting of Nawab Buntangyar on Oct. 13, 2006, at the village of Ster Kalay near the Pakistan border.

    The arguments came at an Article 32 hearing at Fort Bragg that ended around noon after a day and a half of testimony.

    Recommendations on whether the soldiers should go to trial probably will be announced in two weeks, said Maj. Clarence Counts, a spokesman for U.S. Army Special Forces Command at Fort Bragg.

    Witnesses testified that the dead man was identified as a “bad guy” who was involved with suicide bombers and might have posed a threat to the Americans. The man was within “blast range” of the Americans. Several witnesses testified that they had little confidence in the competence of the Afghans who were supposed to have control over the man.

    The soldiers were part of Operational Detachment Alpha 374 of the 3rd Battalion of the 3rd Special Forces Group.

    The captain told Anderson to shoot if he had a clear shot. Anderson, the team sergeant, fired a single shot to the man’s head. During the hearing, other members of the A-team testified that they believed the action was appropriate and they would have done the same thing if they had been in the same position. They said the man was wearing a vest and loose clothing, was walking and gesturing in an agitated manner, and seemed to be in “fight or flight” mode.

    “Why are we here?” asked Maj. Lance Daniels, the military lawyer representing Anderson.

    Daniels described the soldiers as “heroes, not villains.”

    “Who knows how many lives he saved as a result of killing Nawab?” Daniels asked.

    People without security clearances were required to leave the courtroom during classified testimony involving areas such as tactics, sources of information, rules of engagement on the use of force and the identity of interpreters. Witnesses included an Air Force combat controller who was at the scene and an FBI special agent who investigated the incident.

    Defense lawyers argued that the charges should not be brought to a court-martial.

    “If it does, this is going to make every ODA leader take a day and a half to make the decision to kill or capture when that decision must be made in seconds,” said Mark Waple, a civilian defense lawyer representing Staffel.

    Waple argued that charges should be dismissed and his client should receive no reprimands or administrative punishments.

    Staffel’s defense team included retired Maj. Gen. Hugh R. Overholt of New Bern. He was a prosecutor in the My Lai massacre trial, 18th Airborne Corps staff judge advocate in the 1970s and Judge Advocate General of the Army in the 1980s.

    “It is a landmark case,” Overholt said during the hearing.
    Charge sheet

    The charge sheet, which was filled out by a sergeant first class, was “as sloppy a job as I’ve ever seen,” Overholt said.

    Capt. Jason Denney, a prosecutor, conceded there was “procedural strangeness” in the case, but he suggested the charges be dismissed and brought again.

    Another prosecutor, Capt. Christopher Harry, said the case comes down to “a question of degree” and whether the coalition forces had “a sufficient level of control” over the man before he was killed.

    Military editor Henry Cuningham can be reached at cuninghamh@fayobserver.com or 486-3585.
     
  5. BFISA

    BFISA Well-Known Member

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    More from Ft Bragg

    Hearing in Killing of Afghan Puts Army War Effort on Trial

    By PAUL VON ZIELBAUER
    Published: September 20, 2007

    FORT BRAGG, N.C., Sept. 19 — At the close of a two-day hearing on charges that Special Forces soldiers murdered an Afghan man near his home last October, it is increasingly evident that the Army is also examining itself and how it is fighting the war in Afghanistan.

    A Special Forces colonel presiding over the hearing must determine whether sufficient evidence exists to recommend courts-martial for the two soldiers accused of killing the man, Nawab Buntangyar, who had been identified as an “enemy combatant,” while he walked unarmed outside his home near the Pakistan border.

    But the focus of the hearing frequently shifted from the soldiers’ actions and toward the Army’s decision to bring charges against them. It also shifted to the effect on the Afghan people of Special Forces soldiers being allowed to kill some Afghan fighters more or less on sight.

    From the beginning of the proceeding, Col. Kevin A. Christie, the presiding officer, seemed pressed to figure out why a military lawyer pursued murder charges after an Army investigation cleared the two soldiers of wrongdoing when they killed Mr. Buntangyar, who as a designated enemy combatant was subject to attack under the Special Forces’ classified rules of engagement.

    In questions to several witnesses, Colonel Christie indicated that the Army was aware of the risks of trying to win the tactical battle in Afghanistan by aggressively pursuing the enemy in an unconventional war, as balanced against the potential expense of losing the larger strategic battle for the hearts and minds of Afghan civilians.

    The decision by the general in charge of Special Forces to allow limited public access to the hearing was itself a sign of the Army’s desire to be seen as reflective and open to scrutiny, specialists in military justice said.

    In an exchange that reflected the underlying issues of concern to the Special Forces command here, Colonel Christie asked Maj. Matthew McHale, the company commander in charge of the assault team that included the two accused soldiers, about the repercussions of how his men had killed Mr. Buntangyar.

    Mr. Buntangyar was killed on Oct. 13, 2006, when Master Sgt. Troy Anderson, acting on orders from Capt. Dave Staffel, shot him in the face from a distance of about 100 feet. The order to shoot came after Afghan Border Police officers had surrounded Mr. Buntangyar’s home, exchanged a friendly greeting with him and asked him twice to confirm his identity. Captain Staffel and Sergeant Anderson were charged with premeditated murder in June, two months after an Army investigation determined Mr. Buntangyar’s “enemy combatant” status justified killing him.

    “Would you tell your teams to do things that had limited tactical effects if they had potential strategic negative effects?” Colonel Christie asked Major McHale.

    The major said assault teams continually weigh the two goals during missions.

    The colonel asked if he thought the “strategic effect” of shooting a man whom the Afghan police had essentially lured out of his home “adds to the credibility of the police,” an institution that the American military is desperate to make independent and trustworthy in the eyes of local residents.

    Major McHale conceded that the killing could undermine the public perception of the police. But, he added, they were unreliable and often sloppy. At the home, the police had to gesture to communicate with Special Forces soldiers because the police had accidentally locked their radios and car keys in their vehicles.
     
  6. BFISA

    BFISA Well-Known Member

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    Muth's Truths: Mirandizing the enemy



    For today’s lesson in “How to Lose a War,” let’s consider the case of Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto in World War II and compare it to the case of Nawab Buntangyar in what some consider to be World War III today.

    But first, consider this all-too-common report in the New York Times this week out of Nad Ali, Afghanistan:

    “A suicide bomber wrapped in explosives walked into a crowded government building…and blew himself up, killing at least seven people, four of them police officers. Six people were wounded.”

    OK, back to the lesson.

    Admiral Yamamoto commanded the Japanese Navy and led the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor. He was, as the lawyers put it today, an “enemy combatant.” Then, on a spring afternoon in 1943, Admiral Yamamoto decided to take a leisurely inspection tour of the South Pacific in a transport plane. U.S. forces learned of Yamamoto’s exact itinerary, intercepted his plane and blew him out of the sky.

    Note that Yamamoto was merely on an inspection tour and not engaged in hostile activities directed at the American pilots who intercepted him. He posed no “imminent threat” to the American pilots. Therefore, according to some rather bizarre interpretations of today’s rules of engagement, the American pilots should have tried to force Yamamoto’s plane to land and capture him rather than shoot him down. And the pilot who was credited with nailing Yamamoto should have been tried for murder instead of being awarded the Navy Cross.

    Asinine, right? Right. Absolutely absurd.

    Which brings us to Nawab Buntangyar.

    Mr. Buntangyar had been designated an “enemy combatant” in the Afghanistan war theater for organizing suicide and roadside bomb attacks like the one in Nad Ali described above. He was, for all intents and purposes, an officer in the enemy’s corps, not a foot soldier. As such, Buntangyar was declared an “enemy combatant” and was “vetted as a target” by American commanders which, according to the New York Times, “meant he could be legally killed once he was positively identified.”

    Similarly to Yamamoto, U.S. forces learned of Buntangyar’s itinerary last October and endeavored to take him out of the game - permanently. Buntangyar was lured out of his village hideout and into the open where a Special Forces team was waiting. He was positively identified by Afghan police on the scene. So Capt. Dave Staffel gave Master Sgt. Troy Anderson, reportedly 100 yards away from Buntangyar, the green light.

    BLAM!! Right between the eyes. Bye-bye, Nawab. Hello, 72 virgins.

    Think about this for minute, folks. Our man Sgt. Anderson, under the pressure of a wartime operation, nails the bad guy from the length of a football field right in the melon with one shot. No American casualties. No civilian causalities. Not even any property damage, other than maybe a dry-cleaning bill or two for the guys standing next to Nawab at the time. Compare this to the enemy’s suicide bombings.

    Naturally, Staffel, Anderson and the entire 7-man Green Beret team involved in the mission were warmly clasped on their backs and congratulated for a job well done, right? Wrong.

    In June, Lt. Gen. Frank H. Kearney charged the pair of Green Berets with premeditated murder in the incident. What makes this persecution – er, prosecution even more outrageous is that Kearney brought the charges after not one, but two military investigations cleared the Green Berets in the incident, concluding the shooting was “justifiable homicide.”

    Is this any way to fight a war?

    The shooting was cleared, twice, so why is Lt. Gen. “CYA” Kearney continuing to persecute - er, prosecute these military professionals who did the job they were trained to do and asked to do by their country? What kind of message does this persecution – er, prosecution send to our boots on the ground in Afghanistan and Iraq? I mean, if we’re not going to let our soldiers kill the enemy, then why the hell are they there?

    Who’s running this “war” anyway? The commanders in the field or the lawyers back home? If it’s the lawyers, and men like Capt. Staffel and Sgt. Anderson have to read Johnny Jihadi his Miranda rights instead of plinking him in the noggin with a bullet, then the war is over. We lost. Bring the boys home.

    Posted on September 22nd, 2007 by Chuck Muth
    Filed under: National
     
  7. Shamrock

    Shamrock Well-Known Member

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    What a boatload of crap ....... :icon_evil:
     
  8. BFISA

    BFISA Well-Known Member

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    The guys on my SF email list have been kickin this around for the past week or so, and we're of the opinion that the newly-minted LTG Kearney has his sights set on the Army Chief of Staff billet, and this'll be a feather in his cap.

    Hopefully the Article 32 Convening Officer'll see thru this BS and set things right.
     
  9. Shamrock

    Shamrock Well-Known Member

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    Yeah .... I have a story, but it would never appear here.
     
  10. BFISA

    BFISA Well-Known Member

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    In my day in Viet Nam, we heard of incidences where ground commanders had to get permission JCS back in Washington, DC to interdict a target.

    Now, it appears that ground commanders have to have permission from SJA to interdict a target of opportunity.

    Helluva a way to fight the war.
     
  11. BFISA

    BFISA Well-Known Member

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    I uinnerstan, Bro!!
     
  12. BFISA

    BFISA Well-Known Member

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    SF soldiers cleared

    Special Forces soldiers cleared in Afghan killing

    By Henry Cuningham
    Military editor
    ADVERTISEMENT

    Maj. Gen. Thomas R. Csrnko has dismissed all charges against two Fort Bragg Special Forces who killed an “enemy combatant” who was “under the control of friendly forces” in Afghanistan.

    Capt. Dave Staffel and Master Sgt. Troy Anderson were accused of premeditated murder in the shooting of Nawab Buntangyar on Oct. 13, 2006, at the village of Ster Kalay near the Pakistan border.

    Witnesses at an Article 32 hearing — held to determine whether the soldiers should be court-martialed — testified that Nawab was identified as an enemy who was involved with suicide bombers and posed a threat. The man was within “blast range” of the soldiers. Several witnesses testified that they had little confidence in the competence of the Afghans working with the Special Forces soldiers who were supposed to have control over the man.

    The soldiers are members of the 3rd Special Forces Group.
     
  13. Shamrock

    Shamrock Well-Known Member

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    Good enough reason for me.
     
  14. BFISA

    BFISA Well-Known Member

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    Somehow, the SJA's have gotten involved in this war far too much...yes there've been criminal acts perpetrated by some GI's; there are in every conflict.

    But for ground troops to hafta get clearance for a shoot from SJA is too much.
     
  15. BFISA

    BFISA Well-Known Member

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