Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Perspective: Whether U.S. at war may affect fragging trial

Left: Staff Sgt. Alberto B. Martinez faces two counts of murder in the deaths of Capt. Phillip T. Esposito and 1st Lt. Louis E. Allen in Tikrit, Iraq, in June 2005 by setting off an explosive in the window of a room occupied by the two officers. 'Fragging' is a slang term in the military for murder of someone else in the armed services.

Is the U.S. at war?

That determination, as it pertains to courts-martial, could establish whether a former National Guardsman will face the death penalty in the deaths of two officers...

The military’s Manual for Courts-Martial sets two standards for when the U.S. is at war: when Congress declares war, which hasn’t happened since 1941, or when the president issues an order that says for the purposes of courts-martial, the country is at war. The judge in the case, Col. Patrick Parrish, said he’s not aware of such a presidential order.

“I don’t have the luxury of having an emotional, visceral reaction to an incident,” Parrish said during the hearing Tuesday. “I am restricted to the definition that’s in the manual.”

Read the rest at Army Times