In a military trial at Fort Campbell, KY, Pfc. Bryan Howard, 19, pleaded guilty to being an accessory to the rape and murder of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and the slaying of her family. He also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to obstruct justice by lying to his superior officers about the attack last year in Mahmoudiya, 20 miles south of Baghdad. Howard agreed to five years in prison under a plea deal but will not serve more than 27 months if he follows conditions of the agreement. Under the agreement, his rank will be reduced to private and he will be dishonorably discharged. He will also have to testify against others charged in the case.
Five soldiers were charged in the rape and killing of Abeer Qassim al-Janabi and the killings of her parents and her younger sister. Two of the soldiers have already pleaded guilty and said Howard’s role was minimal. Spc. James P. Barker and Sgt. Paul E. Cortez, who pleaded guilty to rape and murder, said they took turns raping the girl while Pfc. Steven D. Green shot and killed her mother, father and younger sister. Green then shot Abeer in the head, they said. (AP, March 21)
As we have noted with this and similar US atrocities in Iraq, Pfc. Howard is basically hapless cannon-fodder who was in way over his head and is being scapegoated for the far greater crimes of the men who ordered him into battle.
See our last post on Iraq.