A short list to illustrate the US government’s priorities when it comes to military justice:

  • Twenty-four unarmed Iraqi men, women and children were killed by US marines in Haditha, Iraq, in 2005. Result: staff Sgt Frank Wuterich convicted of a single count of negligent dereliction of duty, sentenced to three months’ jail, suspended, and a pay-and-rank reduction;
  • Blackwater military contractors killed 17 civilians and injured 20 more in Baghdad in 2007. Result: a US judge dismissed charges against four “contractors” in 2009. The charges were reinstated in 2011; proceedings are ongoing;
  • In 2007, airstrikes from US helicopters killed two Reuters journalists and a number of civilians and injured others, including two children in a van that stopped to help one of the injured men. Result: no charges;
  • In a 2004 US assault on the Iraqi city of Fallujah, 800 civilians were killed, unarmed and bound prisoners were executed, and white phosphorous was used. Since then, there has been a massive increase in childhood cancers and infant mortality there. Result: no action;
  • In 2002, in Uruzgan province, Afghanistan, 30 people were killed when US forces bombed a wedding party. Result: no action;
  • In 2008 in Deh Bala, Afghanistan, 47 people (mostly women and children) were killed when US aircraft bombed a wedding party. Result: no action;
  • Between 2004 and 2013, at least 168 children, and likely many more, have been killed by US drone attacks. Result: Pentagon recently agreed drone operators will be awarded a special “distinguishing device,” after a backlash against earlier decision to award medals;
  • In 2011, Denver teenager Abdulrahamn al-Awlaki was killed with six other civilians in a US drone strike while eating dinner at a Yemeni village. Result: the man who ordered the strike, John Brennan, was promoted to head the CIA.

In contrast, in 2010: Chelsea (then Bradley) Manning released material revealing war crimes, corruption, State Department spying and much else by the US government. The US government later admitted, after an extensive study, that no one had been harmed as a result.

Result: Manning sentenced to 35 years’ jail.