Three 101st Airborne Soldiers Charged in Detainee Deaths

CNN BREAKING: Three members of the 101st Airborne Division are charged in connection with deaths of three detainees in Iraq, U.S. military says.


The U.S. military said on Monday three U.S. soldiers had been charged in the deaths of three male prisoners on May 9. It said the soldiers faced charges including “murder, attempted murder, conspiracy, communicating a threat, and obstructing justice.” It was not clear whether all three faced the murder charge. “Three members of 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division have been charged in connection with the deaths of three male detainees,” the U.S. military said in a statement.

Ugh. A few malicious idiots continue to hand the enemy major propaganda victories.


The U.S. Army has charged three soldiers in connection with the deaths of three Iraqis who were in military custody in southern Iraq last month, the military said Monday. The Multinational Corps-Iraq said three members of 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division have been charged in connection with the deaths of three male detainees during an operation near Thar Thar Canal in southern Salahuddin province on May 9.

”A noncommissioned officer and two soldiers each have been charged with violating several articles of the Uniform Code of Military Justice including murder, attempted murder, conspiracy, communicating a threat, and obstructing justice,” an announcement said. It added that ”on the day the alleged murders occurred, the unit commander ordered an inquiry to determine the circumstances surrounding the deaths of the three detainees.”

It said that a criminal investigation began May 17 and was ongoing. ”The soldiers are currently in pre-trial confinement awaiting an Article 32 hearing to determine if sufficient evidence exists for the case to be referred to court-martial,” the announcement said. Once charged, defendants have the right to an Article 32 hearing, the military equivalent of a grand jury investigation.

Last week, the Army said it had opened a criminal investigation into the suspicious deaths of three men in military custody in Iraq. The investigation was requested by Lt. Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, commander of multinational forces in Iraq, who acted after other soldiers raised suspicions about the deaths.

Bithead may be right on this one. I had presumed “charged” meant that the Article 32 hearing had been conducted and decided courts martial were in order. At this stage, “under investigation” or “accused” rather than “charged” would be more appropriate language.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Bithead says:

    Careful, James.
    You, I don’t doubt, mind you… but the pattern has invariably been of late that this stuff gets initially way overhyped.

  2. James Joyner says:


    I’m not sure I’ve seen that pattern.

    The quotation marks would seem to indicate those are the words of the Army spokesman. “Murder” is not a word the Army tosses around casually. Presumably, if they’re being charged, they’ve already undergone Article 32 hearings (equivalent to but stricter than a civilian grand jury) and the case has been found strong enough to move to court martial.

  3. RA says:

    These are only major propaganda victories if the traitoous press turn them into major propaganda victories. When you talking about three deaths this is minor in the grand scheme of war. It is only the traitorous left that demands we are perfect or we must defeat ourselves, as we did in Vietnam. That cut and run tactic cost over a million peoples lives. But that doesn’t matter. Saving three terrorists is much more important to the hate America bunch.

    As a protest, the left should pick 100 of their own, to burn themselves alive for every terrorist who is “wrongfully” killed. Then we can start executing these pet animals of the left in mass.

  4. madmatt says:

    I agree with the poster above…lets kill him and just blame it on the war…in the grand scheme of things no biggie…and its traitorus you moron!

    Also if you really want to stop this sort of behavior, stop blaming the troops and start trying some officers and see how fast they start controlling their troops. When the low end of the totem pole is convicted, nothing ever happens.

  5. legion says:

    RA, show me one cite, one single cite, that demands we be perfect.

    Yes, bad things happen in war. But these things must still be investigated, and, if warranted, punished.

    And James, you’re right. The Article 32 – Grand Jury is a good, if imperfect, comparison. To continue the motif, the soldiers have basically been ‘charged’, but by keeping in pre-trial confinement, the Army has, in civ terms, denied them bail. Rather than doing ‘make-work’ around base, they sit in the cooler until the investigation is complete and the general decides if there’s enough evidence to justify a full court martial. He could also decide to give them non-judicial punishment (Article 15), a written or verbal reprimand, or simply set them scot free.

  6. Herb says:

    I am so sick and tired of hearing how out troops “mistreat” and humiliate those damned terrorist who call themselves Iraqis.

    We send our troops to Afghanistan and Iraq to do a job, then tie their hands behind their back and put them squarely into the sights of killers, then ask them to “Be kind and Tolerant”

    The Army, the Marines and the Navy needs to get its act together and defend out guys over there instead of booting them in the ass every time something happens.

    And guys like John Murtha should be run out of the country to his beloved terrorist buddies he defends so vigorsly.

  7. McGehee says:

    RA, show me one cite, one single cite, that demands we be perfect.

    Be careful what you ask for — I don’t doubt he could find you one. You’d probably dismiss the source, but you didn’t say, “one single credible cite.”

  8. legion says:

    Hmm…. good point, McG. I see a lot of the nutty far right, I sometimes forget how far-out nutty the left gets too…

  9. Bithead says:

    You guys have been successful at doing nothing more than swerving into my point. You guys are arguing back and forth as if this stuff has already happened. As if the report is factual. I submit to you that’s precisely what the Islamic extremists want us to be doing.

    I want you to consider a few things, things which I was considering what I responded to James in the first post;

    The supposed massacre in Haditha, which is turning out to be nothing of the sort…. and least… not at the hands of US soldiers….

    The supposedly inhumane conditions inside the prisons at Gitmo.

    The reports of the Israeli defense force shelling a family picnic, Gaza beach.

    And so on, and so on.

    People who were eventually timed to Islamic extremism are feeding us lives and our mainstream media picks it up as “news reports” without bothering to check it for themselves.

    Since all of these stories were rushed through without even the most basic fact checking one really must wonder what the motivation is.

    Well, that’s not true; Actually, I don’t wonder at all, about it. We’re clearly dealing with two things; Arab Extremists setting themselves up as truth tellers to the media, and the media whose hatred of GWB is so palpable they’re apt to believe anything that makes them look bad, parrots whatever is fed them.

    With these patterns of false reports that we’ve been seeing, it seems clear to me that we should be skeptical of all such reports.

    The almost unconscious shift of meanings of words and phrases as James described in his update, suggests more of the same, and I’m not in the least convinced that this is not just another situation where the press is convicting our soldiers in their paper Because it fits their image of the current administration.

    Admittedly, I know less about this particular case than I do the other ones I mentioned. But it seems to me, that the pattern as I’ve described it is too prevailing to ignore.

  10. Herb says:


    Your point is well taken, but in that the US Military has announced that these solders are to be charged is in itself a total miscarriage of the mission our solders are charged with in Iraq in the first place.

    The mere fact that an article 32 hearing is about as stupid as one can imagine unless we as Americans and the Military hierarchy are seeking some some sort of propaganda to soothe the feathers of some political agenda or person.

    Remember what The President stated in his first announcement on the GWOT back in 2001:

    “Anyone harboring a terrorist is as guilty as being a terrorist”.

    If the CNN article is a complete hoax, then you, me, and every American should put CNN out of business.

  11. Bithead says:

    Is it a complete hoax?
    I don’t know. Then again, the biggest of lies seldom are.

    At the least, it seems clear that it is not what it was first represented as.

    I suspect and suppose that what we’re seeing here is the Military making a grand show of being squeaky clean for international political reasons, and the press (And the Islamic radicals) picking up on that and making the legal actions into something it’s not: An assumption of guilt…. each for reasons of their own.

  12. Bithead says:

    I want to make soemthing clear, here that I had taken for granted, before:

    That I’m coming out fairly strong, and more than a little angry on this one should not be read as slamming James, here… not by ANY means.

    I know you know this, James, but I want to make sure your readers know it, too.

  13. Sneem says:

    Under the UCMJ the individuals have to be formally charged before an Article 32 takes place. The unit commander formally charges the soldiers. An independent officer appointed as an Article 32 Investigating Officer reviews the charges and has hearings to determine if there is sufficient evidence to support a trial. He has to have the specific, formal charges in order to investigate them. His recommendation then goes to the Convening Authority. This is usually a General Officer in the chain of command. Only if the Convening Authority orders it, does a court-martial take place. The Article 32 officer can make recommendations but the Convening Authority is not bound to go by them.