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Hey, Panetta! Gimme an F . . .

Country Joe McDonald at Woodstock singin’ that Fixin’ to Die Rag.

A curious event happened in Afghanistan yesterday. Actually, a lot of curious events happened, but I want to focus on two of them that grabbed my attention.

As y’all know, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta jetted to Afghanistan to attempt to put out the firestorm caused by the as yet unnamed U.S. soldier who slaughtered 16 Afghan civilians, 9 of them children, as they slept in their beds.

He made a bunch of bullshit speeches about staying the course; he shook a bunch of hands; and smiled a bunch of smiles. But he seemed, well, kind of off. Scared maybe. At least that was my take on it.

Might have had to do with something that happened just before he arrived at the base airport in Helmand province. An Afghan civilian commandeered a vehicle and attempted to run over a bunch of the brass welcoming committee standing out on the tarmac waiting for Panetta’s plane to pull in after it landed. They saw him coming and scattered avoiding injury. The guy stopped the vehicle and set a bunch of gas cans and himself on fire.


Not even the most skilled torturers at the base could get anything out of him.

So, Panetta gets off the plane and they stand around scratching their heads exchanging wtf-wow-did-you-see-that type remarks and its on to a big inflated-type tent somewhere on the base where Panetta is scheduled to speak to a bunch of Marines, except . . .

The patiently waiting Marines are ordered to leave the tent and disarm, piling all of their M4s, M16s, 9 mm handguns, ammo, knives, and assorted other weapons on the ground outside the tent, notwithstanding the rule that Marines in a war zone are never supposed to be unarmed.

After they come back scratching their heads wondering wtf and resume their seats, Panetta comes out and tells them everything is copacetic; we’re winning the war; and all we need to do is stay-the-course.

And poof! Off he goes to his next venue.

Now, I was never in the Marine Corps and never served in the military, so maybe I don’t know what I’m talking about, but I would have been furious, if I were one of those Marines. What kind of message was that?

“Y’all are a bunch of fucking crazy psycho killers and I don’t feel safe around you.”

That’s not the way to treat a Marine.

Was it possible for the United States Secretary of Defense to have done anything more stupid and disrespectful?

Wow! Just wow!

Here’s a link to an article about the incident.

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Frederick Leatherman

Frederick Leatherman

I am a former law professor and felony criminal defense lawyer who practiced in state and federal courts for 30 years specializing in death penalty cases, forensics, and drug cases.

I taught criminal law, criminal procedure, law and forensics, and trial advocacy for three years after retiring from my law practice.

I also co-founded Innocence Project Northwest (IPNW) at the University of Washington School of Law in Seattle and recruited 40 lawyers who agreed to work pro bono, assisted by law students, representing 17 innocent men and women wrongfully convicted of sexually abusing their children in the notorious Wenatchee Sex Ring witch-hunt prosecutions during the mid 90s. All 17 were freed from imprisonment.