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A Green Beret Found Two SEALs’ Illicit Cash. Then He Was Killed (thedailybeast.com)
107 points by smacktoward 31 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 44 comments



> Military experts were hard-pressed to think of another case where elite U.S. troops turned on one another.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pat_Tillman#Surrounding_Tillma...


That appears to have been a simple friendly-fire accident, no? I'm sure they mean cases where there was actual hostile intent.


> Jones reported that members of Tillman's unit burned his body armor and uniform in an apparent attempt to hide the fact that he was killed by friendly fire.[23] His notebook, in which – according to author Jon Krakauer – Tillman had recorded some of his thoughts on Afghanistan, was also burned; "a blatant violation of protocol."[24] Several soldiers were subsequently punished for their actions by being removed from the United States Army Rangers. Jones believed that Tillman should retain his medals and promotion, since, according to Jones, he intended to engage the enemy and behaved heroically.[23]

Tillman had, at the time, an ongoing correspondence with Noam Chomsky on the illegality of the Iraq War and how he felt betrayed.


Wow I had no idea about the correspondence with Noam Chomsky. Apparently that has been well known for at least 10 years.


There are also some pretty frank interviews in Ken Burns and Lynn Novak’s Vietnam War documentary in which the subjects discuss “fragging” unpopular officers. Though maybe the quote was referring just to recent cases.

Edit: Whoops, missed the “elite” part of that quote.


These men are humans, not mythical warrior gods.

Stories like this suggest that perhaps after years of continuous wartime service there are some cracks in the armor.


>>where elite U.S. troops turned on one another

Tillman was already dead. So no one turned against him (friendly fire happens a lot) they tried to save their ass after he was dead. A mistake, but they didn't kill him on purpose.


that was "friendly fire", which i assume was unintentional.


It's okay to assume that. But we really don't know that it's unintentional. It's more than a conspiracy theory to suspect the fire was nefarious.


If true, the 2 SEALs will be executed. I believe the military still hangs people for this. Good.


The question to ask is what made a caper as ballsy as this seem like a good idea to these chaps. It suggests a culture of impunity which is likely to mostly affect other people who are not so dear to the US military and government as a serving US Green Beret in good standing. And indeed: https://theintercept.com/2017/01/10/the-crimes-of-seal-team-...

> “You can’t win an investigation on us,” one former SEAL Team 6 leader told me. “You don’t whistleblow on the teams … and when you win on the battlefield, you don’t lose investigations.”


There is a big, big difference between the kind of investigation that goes into the extrajudicial killing / corpse mutilation of enemy combatants (as alleged in the Intercept article you quote) vs. the kind of investigation that goes into the murder of another member of the uniformed services. ESPECIALLY given that the victim was a Green Beret and the alleged murderers are Team guys.

ARSOC is going to be out for blood here. This is going to be the mother of all command investigations.


> There is a big, big difference between the kind of investigation that goes into the extrajudicial killing / corpse mutilation of enemy combatants (as alleged in the Intercept article you quote) vs. the kind of investigation that goes into the murder of another member of the uniformed services.

Indeed, but this supports my point, no? If things have got to the point where brazenly fragging a Green Beret in base starts to look remotely like something you might reasonably do and might have decent odds of getting away with, then it seems probable the chain is already off completely when it comes to dealing with 'lesser lifeforms'.


I think you're making an aggressive assumption with regard to this being a premeditated murder. It happened in the early morning in the place where they were all billeted, and the evidence as reported suggests simple asphyxiation, i.e., they choked SSgt Melgar to death. Their alibi, apparently "hurr durr we were all doing combatives at 5am and I guess he was drunk?", seems like a quickly assembled and half-baked story.

Team guys are meatheads but they're not stupid. If they had thought through their alleged crime ahead of time, they likely would have done it in a less self-incriminating way.

I do think your point about a culture of impunity in the Teams might be valid to the extent that it might explain why the two accused (allegedly) thought it doable to embezzle HUMINT funds. Assuming the proceedings are open (likely that AFSOC wants this and will make it so), I'm sure we'll all find out all the shitty details in the coming months.


Seals are the golden children of the US military. Lots of nightmare stories out there of Seals "getting away with murder".


>>I believe the military still hangs people for this

I don't know why I didn't believe you at first, but I was wrong[1].

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capital_punishment_by_the_Unit...


"Currently, lethal injection is the only method."


I didn't properly clarify in my parent comment that I was in an initial state of disbelief of the US military using any form of capital punishment. You're right though - if convicted, looks like the sentence would be carried out by lethal injection, and not a hanging.


From the story it wasn't premeditated, probably got into a fight over the stolen cash and they tried to "knock some sense into him" the way they knew. It doesn't bring him back, no, but given that they panicked makes it seems like they didn't plan on killing him. They would have planned it better:somewhere on the streets and maybe kill the "killer"...some informant coming to a meeting.


> A second former Africa Command official said Brig. Gen. Donald Bolduc, then commander of Special Operations Command-Africa, was skeptical of the initial reports from the outset. He alerted Army Criminal Investigation Command and told commanders in Mali to preserve evidence

I don’t know if they will be hanged, but I agree that the military tends to have swift justice. Fortunately there are still men and women with integrity working in and for our government.


the military tends to have swift justice.

Not for capital cases, which themselves are quite rare. The military hasn't executed anyone for over 50 years. There are people on death row, the one closest to execution was convicted in 1988.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capital_punishment_by_the_Unit...


> Fortunately there are still men and women with integrity working in and for our government.

There are millions of people working in and for the government. Its only natural that a few with integrity would slip through the cracks.


I'm not sure what you are trying to convey with the quote, but the context there is that the general was skeptical about the report the SEALs filed about the death of the Green Beret.


Perpetuating violence against humans is good?


[flagged]


Could you please take a look at the guidelines and stop violating them? We just need you to post civilly and substantively because we're here for a thoughtful and informative discussion instead of this.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


I usually think of 'lazy neoliberals' are ones to be less interested in capital punishment. Strange that you feel they're the people downvoting.


No he's being down voted by sensible people who believe in punishment that fits the crime. Putting a murderer to death will not bring back those lost, but at least it may deter others from doing the same.


Would you agree that the decision to take lives on the basis of a theory should require a very high bar in terms of evidence in favour of that theory?

If I could show you a ‘massive amount of evidence’ that deterrence does not work, would you reconsider?

https://www.dartmouth.edu/~chance/teaching_aids/books_articl...

The problem I have with the death penalty is not that these people deserve to die. Many of those condemned to death certainly do deserve to die. The problem is that many of them certainly don’t deserve to die and some of them are almost certainly innocent, and a few have even been proven to have been innocent. All in service of a justification that holds no water anyway. It’s a form of punishment that leads down a slippery slope into deeply immoral territory and has twisted the US justice system into contortions.

So while some criminals do deserve death, I’m willing to accept merely locking them up for the rest of their natural lives instead. Sometimes it turns out those condemned to death didn’t deserve it after all and the use of such a divisive and irreversible sanction makes getting to the truth in such cases very difficult.


Whoa, this conversation isn't heading anywhere productive.

Can we try to focus on intellectual gratification? It's better to teach each other about the world.


>>It's better to teach each other about the world.

100% agree with you. Let me try: they are some people who do horrible, horrible things. Unless they are punished severely, other bad people might not fear the consequences. Death or life in jail is an ongoing discussion among different people


The fact that SF folks have "illicit cash" would not be a surprise to another SF person. I can't see this as being the reason for the execution.


I'm pretty sure the death sentence possibility is for killing the Green Beret. Skimming the money would have put them up for a dishonourable discharge and possibly some jail time, but I can't see where that would warrant capital punishment.


I think he/she may be referring to "the execution" as the killing of the Green Beret, not the potential sentence on the SEALs.

But yeah I agree that skimming money is definitely dishonorable discharge territory, and possibly time in Leavenworth, but definitely not capital punishment.


It doesn't sound like he was executed. More like a beating gone wrong.


What's SF?


Special Forces, but I suspect they really meant Special Operations, of which SF is one example

Edit: in this story the victim is SF but the two SEALs are not. All three are SpecOps


FWIW this appears to be a weird American-only distinction, as “Special Forces” in the US military is a proper noun, where it’s a common noun in other anglophone militaries.

That is: in English, “special forces” and “special operations” are interchangeable descriptions, but the Americans broke this by naming a group of their special operations troops as “The Special Forces”. Much like the Brits and “The Royal Navy” rather than “a royal navy”.


It's because "United States Army Special Forces" is the actual term for the personnel known as Green Berets, whereas SEALs fall under NSW (Naval Special Warfare Command) and SOCOM (Special Operations Command).


I don't think you understand how English works.


Go on


Another analogy would be how we lost the distinction between hacker and cracker.


have we? the distinction is pretty clear in my mind.


You are correct... it was a hastily typed response.


I believe Special Forces




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