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Friday, July 21, 2006

Another Soldier Cleared Despite Media's Rush to Judgment

The Washington Post is reporting that the Pennsylvania National Guardsman who was accused of killing an Iraqi civilian in cold-blood and planting a weapon beside the corpse, has been cleared by the investigation! Here's the story...

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.

This investigation went all the way to the Article 32 hearing before the charges were dropped.

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 (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.

This is the SECOND soldier cleared in the death of "innocent" Iraqi civilians just this week. The soldier accused of murdering Ambassador Samoidie's cousin was cleared earlier this week. As of this posting, is STILL the only media organization to even carry that story - even though it was from AP and available on the wire reports.

So Spec. Nathan B. Lynn and his family & friends can breathe a sigh of relief for now. Unfortunately, Spec. Lynn will live the rest of his days knowing that the media in his own country had him tried and convicted upon hearing the initial claims of murder.

It will be interesting to see how many of the media organizations even report this story. I'm still waiting for the accusers in the media and John Murtha to apologize to both these soldiers. (major sarcasm here)

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