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May 04, 2005



Maybe the judge was pissed that the top brass on this is walking and decided to put a little scare into them. I can't imagine that England is going to walk on this, but maybe, just maybe, the chain of command will get rattled a little now.


It's a quirk of military law. Under the UCMJ, a judge can enter a plea agreement only if it is reasonable to believe that the accused knew the actions were wrong at the time they were committed, and was not simply following orders of a superior in the chain of command. If that condition is not met, plea bargains can't be used and the whole case has to go to a jury for a finding of fact.

And actually, that's a good thing. It's not unknown, I think, in current criminal practice, for someone to take a fall even though they know damn good and well they aren't guilty. The judges routinely accept such plea bargains because they don't have to prove that the guilty party actually knew that they were wrong: just that they're willing to cop the plea and they're familiar enough with the details of the alleged crime to allocute successfully. The military courts, on the other hand, have to be satisfied that the accused is actually guilty of the things they're pleading to--and if they're not, then it's game over and back to square one--and the real guilty parties can perhaps be found and made to own up to their actions.


Sorry, guys, you both missed the point. Fortunately I caught the news myself on this one.

The charge that was levelled against the two was 'conspiracy'. In order to plead guilty to conspiracy and be believed, two people must conspire together.

England pled guilty to avoid a trial. When the defense called Graner, he testified that he believed that leading the prisoner from a leash around the neck was the safest legitimate method to remove the prisoner from the cell. He could not be charged with conspiring with England to do something that was illegal if he did not know it was illegal.

Graner blew England's guilty plea. The judge had no choice but to throw out the plea bargain for conspiracy since one of the two alleged co-conspirators pleaded innocent.

The guilty plea was already in jeapordy anyway. England has a learning disability and could legitimately be classified as not knowing right from wrong regardless of what kindo of plea she tries to cop. Now the fact that someone like that is given a gun and sent off to war gives me pause.

Graner also had expressed indignation over England's guilty plea. I presume that means he has decided to stand on principle and fight till the bitter end to prove that he was 'just following orders'. I guess that means he is gunning for Rumsfeld. He will get eaten for lunch.


Cheryl, I thought Graner had already stopped fighting. He's in jail for his part in it all, and has been found guilty, right? Or is there another layer to all this that I haven't heard about?

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