Steven D. Green

Steven D. Green
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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

"War is Stress"

Day 2
Today began with the cross-examination of Colonel Todd Ebel. Although Green chose the darker grey sweater vest, he appeared to be in a lighter mood, at times smiling and conversing with his lawyers. In fact, the entire court came across as more courteous, if at times getting semi-quarrelsome. Defense Attorney Darren Wolff was very cordial in his cross of Col. Ebel. Even when he seemed to reach a brick wall in questioning Ebel if he’d ever fired his weapon in combat (he didn’t), he showcased a calm, professional style, asking Ebel not to “dumb down” what he was saying, but to instead translate his “military speak into civilian speak” for the jury. Laughs were heard from all parties present in the courtroom when Ebel was questioned about the structure of the military ranking system, “Well, I outranked the highest commanding officer over there, but I’d never tell him what to do.” Wolff spent most of his cross pointing out faults in the Colonel’s leadership. Ebel agreed that he had sat down for 30 minutes to speak with Defendant Green after the deaths of his commanding officers Casica and Nelson. A minor breaking point was reached when Wolff finagled the Colonel into admitting that he could not recall any other incident where he had sat down with a soldier for any amount of time after the deaths of said soldier’s superiors. The next witness called was Colonel Thomas G. Kunk (how ‘bout that for a last name!). Kunk was a Lieutenant Colonel under Ebel with the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, and was Battalion Commander of the 1st Battalion, commanding around 1100 soldiers during the tour of duty in question (Col. Ebel commanded ~7500 troops). Prosecuting Attorney Marisa Ford questioned Kunk about his background in the military, as well as [obviously] his service in Iraq. Kunk explained how he played a major organizational roll in the training of the Iraqi Army back in 2006, and how he used various platoons to help train the Iraqi soldiers. He discussed the tasks of his battalion, with Ford extruding details about Bravo Company’s specific mission. According to Kunk, Bravo company’s mission was to A) disrupt enemy missions, B) bring security and stability to the Mahmuhdiya region, and C) to train the Iraqi security. More specifically, he spoke of the platoons stationed at J. C. Bridge, and their respective goal of preventing any force from traversing the bridge, east or west. He spoke of his unsettling feelings upon his arrival at the bridge, saying that “8 men at the western end of the bridge… that did not sit well with me.” Furthermore, Kunk spoke of rebuilding the Iraqi infrastructure: protecting a water treatment facility while living there, and how his soldiers began working on infiltrating or engaging lands where U.S. soldiers previously hadn’t been able to go by way of earning the Iraqi people’s trust. “Some would say you gotta win people’s hearts or minds, well, I think that to win people’s hearts and minds, you first have to earn their trust and their confidence.” Though proceedings appeared to be more formal and in motion today, and even though both sides of the trial were quite courteous and helpful to each other, when objections were called, things appeared to get heated, with both sides exhibiting more rambunctious hand motions and snippy whispers, appearing to have mini-tantrums in trying to get what they wanted from Judge Russell. Next, he was questioned on the deaths of Specialist Lopez and Lieutenant Britt; they had completed a search for, and found, 15 IEDs when they spotted yet another IED which exploded when they traversed a canal to inspect the bomb. Kunk said he questioned those soldiers who knew the superior officers to insure their health and mental stability. He testified that the deaths “didn’t just hurt the 8 soldiers in the squad, or the 30 in the platoon, or the ~130 in the company, it hurts us ALL.” When asked if he spoke with then Pfc. Green about the deaths, Kunk evasively replied, “It’s possible.” [Defendant] Green perked up at his answer. The Colonel attempted to showcase his… for lack of a better word, manliness, at times seeming exaggerated or, in all honesty, even forged (that’s just my take). After being injured on/around March 8th by an IED while traveling in an M1151 (pictured below)
An M1151 -> A common humvee
Kunk refused a medivac to the nearest hospital, saying, “If you go out by medivac, sometimes you don’t come back…I wasn’t leaving my men… not to be cavalier.” A major point of interest in the trial, Kunk brought in controversial new testimony regarding the hearsay surrounding the March 12 slayings: the Colonel asked lesser officers that reported to the scene if any rumors were circulating about who committed the crimes. Kunk testified that officers only told him “the insurgents…some kind of sectarian violence.” Again with the fabrication, the witness stated, “something about that just diiiidn’t sound right to me.” This caused several murmurs in the crowd, specifically within the press section. Kunk has never mentioned any of this in any of his previous testimonies regarding the Mahmudiya killings. Kunk continued, speaking of his recommendation for the discharge of Green, and of his notification regarding the killings and that they “might have been committed by U.S. soldiers.” After being informed, Kunk called his superiors until all proper parties had been informed, “I either had to prove it or disprove it.” Even on cross, Kunk was all encompassing in his tales of wartime. He told of Bravo Company’s attempts to get schools back in order, to get medical services up and running, and running water, “things we take for granted here in the U.S.,” Kunk added. Darren Wolff returned once again for cross. A big issue was made of how “engaged” Kunk and his respective peons were, and what they thought of each soldier’s ability to “choose to do the harder right than the easier wrong.” When asked what he meant by this, Kunk gave an explanation to the amount of “choosing the harder right by retaliating against true enemies, as opposed to the easier wrong by killing innocent Iraqis.” The next topic was Captain John Goodwin. Kunk stated, “It was reported to me that Cap’n Goodwin had a ‘thousand yard stare’ and looked lethargic.” Wolff pinned Kunk down in forcing him to admit that when Kunk asked Goodwin to list where his soldiers were located, Goodwin was unable to do so, thus making Goodwin “not an engaged leader” as was previously stated. In response to this, Kunk stated that he recommended a 3-day leave of absence for Goodwin because, “If you can’t do the small things right… when it’s tough, you won’t be able to do the complicated things.” The last point military lawyer and defense attorney Darren Wolff made regarded the TCPs. Wolff was once again extremely professional in his actions and questioning. He was quick in bringing the differences between TCP 1 and TCP 2 to light (note: Kunk had stayed overnight in TCP1, and Def. Green was located at TCP2). Whereas TCP1 had at least 10 Iraqis and 8 U.S. soldiers on hand at all times, TCP2, the check point where Green and his fellow convicts were stationed, had a mere six U.S. soldiers. While TCP1 had sandbag barriers surrounding the checkpoint, working electricity, and a bathroom, TCP2 had none of these. Kunk, his egotistical side showing, proudly proclaimed “Sometimes I slept in the litter because I gave the cots in the TCP to my soldiers.”(Note: a litter is a stretcher used for bodies) In the end Kunk admitted, “We were asking an awful lot of our men… war is stress.” Other notes of today’s trial:
-The Press Section was asked twice today to be quiet during the objections while both prosecution/defense were at Judge Russell’s desk.

-A co-defendant's attorney, name witheld, present in court every day thus far, was escorted out of the courtroom after being found using a cell phone.

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