Profile of a Soldier Accused of Murder
MADELEINE BRAND, host:
From NPR West, this is DAY TO DAY. I'm Madeleine Brand. Alex Chadwick is away.
Coming up, the Supreme Court puts limits on a law Congress passed last year dealing with detainees at Guantanamo. We look at what Congress may do next.
First though, the U.S. military's top officer calls the actions of former soldier Steven Green totally unacceptable.
Green was charged yesterday with raping a young Iraqi woman and then killing her along with her family.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Peter Pace spoke this morning on NBC's Today Show.
Mr. PETER PACE (Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff): Ninety-nine point nine percent of the American fighting men and women who are over there are serving this country with great honor and great dignity and great compassion. Our fellow citizens know that as well. And if there are those who have done things as they've been accused of, we will get to the bottom of it. We will do the investigations. We will find out what the truth is, and if necessary, we will take those who deserve to be taken to court to court so they can have their day in court.
BRAND: That's Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Peter Pace. Steven Green appeared in federal court yesterday in Charlotte, North Carolina. He has not yet entered a plea.
Four other soldiers have been implicated in the case, and they have not yet been named.
Josh White's been covering this story for the Washington Post and he joins me now. Welcome back to the program.
Mr. JOSH WHITE (Reporter, Washington Post): It's my pleasure.
BRAND: What more do we know now about Steven Green?
Mr. WHITE: Well, at this point we're, of course, still learning the tidbits as they come out. But he was a young soldier who got his high school equivalency and then joined the military with a desire to serve the country and do something important. Was interested and willing to go to Iraq.
He was serving in an infantry unit over there in Iraq and obviously, according to the allegations, something went horribly wrong. According to what investigators have compiled and what federal prosecutors released yesterday, then PFC Green - he's now out of the army - and a group of other soldiers, saw a woman near their checkpoint, planned to go to her home and to rape her, and in the process also killed her and the rest of her family.
According to allegations contained in federal court documents, they went to fairly great lengths to both plan the actual attack and then to cover it up. They donned dark clothes, went to the home, apparently used a AK-47 they found at the house, a weapon commonly used by insurgents to shoot the family. And then there are also reports that they tried to burn the victim as well as the home, and then left.
And the U.S. authorities thought insurgents had carried out the attack or that some rival faction had carried out the attack and they went several months without realizing that U.S. forces may have been involved.
BRAND: It was revealed then when some other soldiers came forward during stress counseling?
Mr. WHITE: Correct. There were members of the same unit, were - if you remember the fairly infamous attack on a U.S. checkpoint south of Baghdad that resulted in two soldiers being captured and then beheaded. As part of sort of a normal combat stress debriefing process that they go through with members of the unit, allegations about this other attack came up.
BRAND: And what do we know about the other soldiers involved? Were they involved in the attack itself or involved in just planning it and covering it up?
Mr. WHITE: Well, at this point authorities have not released the names of those other soldiers. They're listed in the criminal complaint as sources of information or known participants. Those soldiers, we are told, are still in Iraq. They are not confined, but they are under close supervision.
What we do know, according to the complaint, is that Green and at least three others went to the home. One stood guard outside while Green allegedly corralled the family in a back bedroom, killed three members of the family, the mother, father and a young daughter estimated between 5 and 7 years old, and then came out and along with another soldier raped a 20 year old woman - again, the ages are a little fuzzy, and then killed her.
I'm sure we'll learn as time goes forward a little bit more about them and what happened. There's also another soldier who was left back at the checkpoint to man the radio and apparently was aware of discussions about this plan, was fairly aware of what was about to happen, and it's unclear if that soldier will be implicated in this as well.
BRAND: And the next step for Green is what?
Mr. WHITE: Because he's been charged federally in the civilian courts -and again, this happened because he had been discharged from the Army and was in the United States when he was apprehended - he will face a preliminary hearing scheduled for next Monday, the 10th, in Charlotte, North Carolina.
I understand it will be like an arraignment. He will then be transported to Louisville, Kentucky, where he likely will end up facing the charges. The reason he'll be sent to Kentucky is because that courthouse has jurisdiction over Fort Campbell, which is where the 101st Airborne Division is head-quartered, and that's the unit to which then-PFC Green belonged.
BRAND: Josh White is a reporter for the Washington Post. Thank you, Josh.
Mr. WHITE: You're very welcome.