For the second time this week, a US soldier has been cleared of charges in the death of an Iraqi civilian. For the second time this week, the US media is not reporting the story.
From the Washington Post...
An investigating officer in Baghdad has recommended that commanders drop voluntary manslaughter and conspiracy charges against a Pennsylvania National Guard soldier after determining that he followed appropriate rules of engagement when he killed an Iraqi man in the insurgent stronghold of Ramadi in February.
Army Lt. Col. John W. McClory found that Spec. Nathan B. Lynn, 21, of South Williamsport, Pa., did nothing wrong in shooting Gani Ahmad Zaben in the post-curfew darkness outside a group of homes on Feb. 15. McClory ruled that Lynn thought the man was armed with an AK-47 and believed he was a threat.
Military officials allege that Lynn improperly fired on the man and then conspired with other members of his unit to plant a weapon in a pool of blood near the body to cover up the crime. But evidence presented at an Article 32 hearing in Baghdad this week -- a hearing similar to a civilian grand jury -- convinced McClory that Lynn followed the rules of engagement, or ROE, when he "lawfully" killed Zaben in an area that had been the scene of frequent insurgent attacks. He also concluded that Lynn did not play a role in placing an AK-47 near the man's body.
"Although evidence in this case indicates that the victim was in fact unarmed, sufficient evidence was presented that SPC Lynn thought the man was armed, perceived hostile intent from the movement of the victim in an active area of combat operations, and acted within the ROE in engaging the target with deadly force," McClory wrote in his report to commanders on Thursday.
Despite over 70 Google News hits for the original story reporting on the charges against Spec. Lynn, there is only ONE Google News hit for this story - the cited Washington Post story.
I personally am sick and tired of all the media hoopla about our soldiers "killing innocent civilians" before the claims are even investigated. Spec. Lynn's name will be linked forever to a "suspected war crime" because of the media's desire for failure in Iraq. Conjecture and accusations have taken the place of truth and facts in the media.