Messed Up

Sometimes I read stories to which my response is My God this is so messed up. Last night I read two such stories.

Wapo’s Dana Priest and Anne Hull have anexcellent article which ought to be read in its entirety. Titled– “A Soldier’s Officer”– it is the story of 1st Lt. Elizabeth Whiteside who faces a possible court-martial for attempting suicide while serving in Iraq.

Military psychiatrists at Walter Reed who examined Whiteside after she
recovered from her self-inflicted gunshot wound diagnosed her with a
severe mental disorder, possibly triggered by the stresses of a war
zone. But Whiteside’s superiors considered her mental illness “an
excuse” for criminal conduct, according to documents obtained byThe Washington Post.

At the hearing, Wolfe, who had already warned Whiteside’s lawyer of the
risk of using a “psychobabble” defense, pressed a senior psychiatrist
at Walter Reed to justify his diagnosis.

“I’m not here to play legal games,” Col. George Brandt responded
angrily, according to a recording of the hearing. “I am here out of the
genuine concern for a human being that’s breaking and that is broken.
She has a severe and significant illness. Let’s treat her as a human being, for Christ’s sake!”

I am struck by how the military just does notget mental illness. My other thought–after Vietnam, in large part due to perceived discipline problems among draftees, the military wanted an all volunteer force–a professional military. They got that and in this war have shit all over that professional military. How is an all volunteer force to be maintained in the future given that?

TheTimes Picayune has an excellent article on 6 migrant workers who witnessed a murder and are now caught in a legal nightmare as the state holds them in jail as material witnesses fearing if they release them the feds will deport them thus unraveling the state’s case.

After another day of hard work last spring, seven Hispanic
construction workers spent the evening relaxing in the run-down trailer
they shared near Slidell. Some were eating fish and watching TV.

Jose Luis Martinez-Carpio, 36, was cooking and talking on the phone with his girlfriend in his homeland of El Salvador.

Suddenly, two masked gunmen burst in, demanding money. And the
workers watched in horror as Martinez-Carpio was fatally shot three
times by the intruders, who then shot at the witnesses and fled

For the six remaining migrant workers — from El Salvador, Honduras and Mexico — their nightmare had just begun.

Because they were illegal immigrants as well as material witnesses
to the April 29 crime, the men were immediately taken into custody and
have remained in jail for the past seven months: first in St. Tammany,
then in federal custody, then back to the north shore. For the first
six months, they didn’t have an attorney.

They’re stuck in a perilous limbo, in the fissure between state and
federal government — trapped between prosecutors, who need them to
testify at the trial of four suspects, and immigration officials, who
would deport them if they were released.

Local and national attorneys, government officials and immigration
rights advocates say they have never heard of a case quite like it.

The six were not given an attorney until a few weeks ago after a reporter began asking questions about the matter. Four suspects were arrested about a week after the murder. Three are now in jail but one is out on bail. The 6 witnesses still languish in jail.

5 thoughts on “Messed Up

  1. I’d read a shorter story somewhere about Whiteside before but it went into very little detail.
    My response is similar to yours. I don’t even have words for it.

  2. “I am struck by how the military just does not get mental illness.”
    WTF? Of course the military does not get mental illness! To initiate a war and then seek to continue it for 5 years is the definition of mental illness. To initiate any war has to be based in mental illness.
    Look at how many of our wars have been discretionary.

  3. 2 Thougts: RE: Mental Illness – TP in the last couple of days had an item on how the military tries to deal with mental illness by prescriging pills.
    On the migrants: so you’re telling me thyat the Feds are so stupid that they can’t even cooperate on a murder investigation? And no one can see where folks who don’t know our system and are very likely to be under federal charges (for illegal immigration) may be succeptible to undue influence when held without access to counsel (despite that I learned ihn the 60s from every TV show about Miranda)?
    Never mind, I now see how stupid the above questions are for the Shrub WH.

  4. Looking in depth at the WaPo article, it seems to me that not only is the mental health system in the armed forces horrendously messed-up, but that there’s messed-upness at other points in the Army hierarchy: certainly there seems to be more to Whiteside’s case than meets the eye, particularly with reference to the troublesome officer. I wonder if the determination of some higher-ups to get her court-martialed has in fact less to do with her psychotic episode and more to do with some other hierarchical frictions way before that?

Comments are closed.