“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Sometimes Killing Gets to be a Habit

We have all heard the expression, "battle hardened." It means something. It is not a natural thing to kill another human being. It takes training to make it happen and practice to make the happening easier. Sometimes it is hard to make it stop.

Across America, Deadly Echoes of Foreign Battles

Published: January 13, 2008

Late one night in the summer of 2005, Matthew Sepi, a 20-year-old Iraq combat veteran, headed out to a 7-Eleven in the seedy Las Vegas neighborhood where he had settled after leaving the Army.

This particular 7-Eleven sits in the shadow of the Stratosphere casino-hotel in a section of town called the Naked City. By day, the area, littered with malt liquor cans, looks depressed but not menacing. By night, it becomes, in the words of a local homicide detective, “like Falluja.”

Mr. Sepi did not like to venture outside too late. But, plagued by nightmares about an Iraqi civilian killed by his unit, he often needed alcohol to fall asleep. And so it was that night, when, seized by a gut feeling of lurking danger, he slid a trench coat over his slight frame — and tucked an assault rifle inside it.

“Matthew knew he shouldn’t be taking his AK-47 to the 7-Eleven,” Detective Laura Andersen said, “but he was scared to death in that neighborhood, he was military trained and, in his mind, he needed the weapon to protect himself.”

Head bowed, Mr. Sepi scurried down an alley, ignoring shouts about trespassing on gang turf. A battle-weary grenadier who was still legally under-age, he paid a stranger to buy him two tall cans of beer, his self-prescribed treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder.

As Mr. Sepi started home, two gang members, both large and both armed, stepped out of the darkness. Mr. Sepi said in an interview that he spied the butt of a gun, heard a boom, saw a flash and “just snapped.”

In the end, one gang member lay dead, bleeding onto the pavement. The other was wounded. And Mr. Sepi fled, “breaking contact” with the enemy, as he later described it. With his rifle raised, he crept home, loaded 180 rounds of ammunition into his car and drove until police lights flashed behind him.

“Who did I take fire from?” he asked urgently. Wearing his Army camouflage pants, the diminutive young man said he had been ambushed and then instinctively “engaged the targets.” He shook. He also cried.

“I felt very bad for him,” Detective Andersen said.

Nonetheless, Mr. Sepi was booked, and a local newspaper soon reported: “Iraq veteran arrested in killing.”

Town by town across the country, headlines have been telling similar stories. Lakewood, Wash.: “Family Blames Iraq After Son Kills Wife.” Pierre, S.D.: “Soldier Charged With Murder Testifies About Postwar Stress.” Colorado Springs: “Iraq War Vets Suspected in Two Slayings, Crime Ring.”

Individually, these are stories of local crimes, gut-wrenching postscripts to the war for the military men, their victims and their communities. Taken together, they paint the patchwork picture of a quiet phenomenon, tracing a cross-country trail of death and heartbreak.

The New York Times found 121 cases in which veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan committed a killing in this country, or were charged with one, after their return from war. In many of those cases, combat trauma and the stress of deployment — along with alcohol abuse, family discord and other attendant problems — appear to have set the stage for a tragedy that was part destruction, part self-destruction.

Three-quarters of these veterans were still in the military at the time of the killing. More than half the killings involved guns, and the rest were stabbings, beatings, strangulations and bathtub drownings. Twenty-five offenders faced murder, manslaughter or homicide charges for fatal car crashes resulting from drunken, reckless or suicidal driving.

About a third of the victims were spouses, girlfriends, children or other relatives, among them 2-year-old Krisiauna Calaira Lewis, whose 20-year-old father slammed her against a wall when he was recuperating in Texas from a bombing near Falluja that blew off his foot and shook up his brain.

A quarter of the victims were fellow service members, including Specialist Richard Davis of the Army, who was stabbed repeatedly and then set ablaze, his body hidden in the woods by fellow soldiers a day after they all returned from Iraq.

More here


  1. Sidney!
    Top Clinton Adviser Arrested for Drunk Driving, Media Mum

    Imagine if a longtime adviser for Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, or Fred Thompson had been arrested for drunk driving two nights before the New Hampshire primary. Do you think this would have gotten reported?

    Probably as much as Hillary's crying game, or even more, correct?

    Well, Newsweek's Stumper blog reported Friday evening that longtime Clinton adviser and confidante Sidney Blumenthal was so arrested in Nashua, New Hampshire, on Monday, astoundingly with no press coverage of the event (emphasis added, h/t NBer EvilCon555):

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. let me understand this..

    an underage youth, trained by our military, sought to get a few brews to deal with the horrors of the war he witnessed. Living in a very dangerous portion of our lands, he safely got to the local 7-4, got the beers, and then attempted to make it bake to the safety of his home before consuming the brews...

    upon traversing illegally armed militias, who engaged him, he shot one and wounded the other..

    then safely making it home...

    where can I send him a thank you and a pizza?

  4. You know damned well we need those irregular militiamen to preserve the Cultural Diversity that makes this country great, WIO.
    That's why it's illegal to take any action against them, even if in self-defense.

  5. Sonia-Belle
    Now Rates a Warning Page from Blogger!

  6. "This hilarious comment must be even more amusing to those familiar with the work of Raoul Ruiz, who directed "Klimt", because compared to the Chilean-born filmmaker's other cinematic accomplishments (such as "Le Temps retrouvé" or "Trois vies et une seule mort"), "Klimt" is a remarkable example of complete clarity, perfect coherence, edge-of-your-seat excitement and utter lack of pretentions. The film stars John Malkovich as the famous Austrian painter whose lavish, sexual masterpieces came to symbolize the Art Nouveau style (or "Secession") of the early 20th century. Saffron Burrows (first two photos), Georgia Reeve (third photo), Ariella Hirshfeld (tenth photo) and Verena Mundhenke (last three photos) make memorable appearances as his muses and models. As Martin Kelly correctly points out, Klimt's life was hardly dramatic in itself. But Raoul Ruiz actually manages to squeeze every ounce of drama out of his otherwise uneventful life story. It's far from a perfect movie, but it's as good (or better) as its subject matter allows it to be."

  7. What the recent election has revealed is that the Battle for Taiwan was really being fought in the markets as much as in the skies and water around the island. Once the DPP, which had "its roots in the liberal opposition to the Kuomintang's former one-party rule structure" had made enough political mistakes, the time was ripe for the Kuomintang, which while committed to Taiwanese independence is also wedded to the idea of "One China", to retake the wheel of state. But "One China" under the current context can only mean "One China" under Beijing, not Taipei.

    Whether or not the Mainland has won a huge strategic victory is something that analysts are probably considering now.

    posted by Wretchard

  8. Well, I'll be insensitive.

    Any law-abiding person who shoots and kills gang members in the process of protecting himself or herself deserves a goddamn medal.

    I am sorry the kid has not gotten the proper treatment for his PTSD.

    However, lying prostrate in front of gangbangers so they may do their evil is not civilized. It is suicidal and cowardly.

    That our government handlers imply that resisting gangbangers is unlawful shows their contempt for the value of our lives.

    When you think about the situation, the kid's AK functioned no differently than a concealed 1911.

    He knew he was going to a dangerous place and took measures to protect himself. The only difference was the choice of weapon and method of concealment. It was the gangbangers who were on the offensive and got what they deserved.

    The fact he is suffering from PSTD is unfortunate. The country owes him the help he needs to purge the demons of Iraq from his mind.

    Defending himself from homicidal thugs is absolutely normal and he should not be prosecuted for it. Period.

  9. The problem he will have, if it even goes to trial, the attempted escape. If he had been in the "right", or thought that he was, flight was the wrong technique to utilize after the urban fire fight.

    Reacting as trained, he had made his fight or flight decision, when he shot the two assailants. He should have stood his ground, until the authorities arrived.

    His "just snapped" statement was also the incorrect response to the assault, though it may help in the flight aspect of the case.

    Perhaps he can use "breaking contact" and his military training as part of his diminished capacity defense.

    No mention is made of whether the two gang members were actually armed, or not.

    Shot to stop, not to kill. First rule of the proper storyline, in a police debriefing interview, after a shooting incident.

    Hope the bangers really had guns and had fired at least one of them. It could mitigate the prosecution if that occurred. Would also help with the jury.

  10. Drudge's dumb CNN article never directly compares Hil and Barry to anybody other than McCain and Huckster.
    The spin goes on.
    Looks like almost nobody likes Mitt, tho.

  11. Sid's lawyer said it was a 'traffic infraction', Doug. And besides, he acted as a gentleman and a scholar, the police said, during the arrest. And that's the last you'll hear of it.

  12. As Mr. Sepi started home, two gang members, both large and both armed, stepped out of the darkness. Mr. Sepi said in an interview that he spied the butt of a gun, heard a boom, saw a flash and “just snapped.”

    Sounds like they were armed, and maybe shot at him, unless he hallucinated it or a car backfired or something. I've always thought the age for going in the army is too low, but I know people have to be in good shape.

    We always stay in the Motel 6 a couple blocks from the strip, the few times we are there. 2 or 3 years ago it was still there. Prime piece of real estate. I was sitting by the pool, which is close to the sidewalk, this guy comes along the sidewalk, about noon, no shirt, sneakers, bottle in a paper sack, weaving around, heading towards the casinos, towering above him. Under 30 years of age. I think it was the best, rather worst, image of 'dead end' that I've seen yet.

  13. Las Vegas Unidentified
    Clark County morgue
    "Las Vegas is calling. C'mon, you know you want to, you know you deserve it, we'll throw in a fabulous show, right on the strip!"

  14. I missed that mention, in the first reading.
    Hope so, for the sake of Mr Sepi.
    Hope some other lowlife did not come and pickup the pistols, from the bangers, while they were laying in bloody puddles on the ground.

    If he had stayed at the scene, there would be little question of the rightousness of the shooting.

    Now it becomes a "he said, it said", with the assumed "good guy" attempting to escape the scene and justice.

    A major error in judgement, on Mr Sepi's part.
    Especially from the DAs' point of view. Where as if he had stayed on the scene, he'd have had a much stronger case of self defenxe.

    Flight is evidence of guilt. An incriminating act, in and of itself.

  15. You're right on that, Rat. Not only went home, got in the car and took off. He could use fear as a reason for leaving the scene, but not for leaving home. I'm betting though, if he can get a good lawyer that will make an effort, it will get pled down considerably. If he goes to trial he might even get off, as the whole thing sounds understandable enough.

    Some Women Don' Have A Lick of Sense
    52, rich and lonely. And stupid. 26 and god knows what. We had a girl that moved here from Oklahoma I think it was, she had been an assistant prosecutor. By god if she didn't marry, or live with, some guy that had been in prison from back there. She had visited him in the stir and so forth. Ended up with her and another dead, and the house burned down around them. And anybody could read this guy's bio and see he was nuts. He's out of circulation for life now. Boise.

  16. The couple – who met while riding horses near Egypt's pyramids – are planning a 3,000 mile horse ride across North Africa from Cairo to Morocco to defy the terrorists operating in the area and to support "peace."

    She's mad as a hatter.

  17. You didn't have to go and link My Pic, AlBob!

  18. The pair hid their marriage – the sixth for Felix-Brown and the second (concurrent) marriage for bin Laden – initially.

  19. 6 @ 26!
    She'll beat Liz Taylor if she don't die early.
    ...don't bet on it!

  20. Man, that story just melts my Heart!
    Thanks for that, AlBob!

  21. The Canadians have lost their minds, some of them. Lifted from wretchard--this is interesting--how would you like to be inquisited by this bitch--Canadian Human Rights Hearing What a hell of a situation they must have in Canada with crap like this going on. I'd ask Ash for his opinion, but I don't want to put him in any jeopardy for speaking his mind. Seriously.

  22. "He acknowledged under questioning before the 9/11 Commission that he did not deploy Special Forces to hunt down al-Qaida leaders in the White Mountains, including Tora Bora, explaining that the war was "not about al-Qaida." "
    See, Trish!
    Just like I told you, it was about Mickey Mouse!

  23. Oh, I forgot, that was Trish's Fav,

  24. Hey, Albob!
    You ripped off Wretch w/o an ht!
    I just don't know about this place.
    Maybe I'll go remove the one I gave to you, there!

  25. Yeah, Ash's "mind" would be a terrible thing to waste in the Nuthouse.

  26. It's going to end badly, Doug. I predict the jihadis will have their heads on pikes, if they are foolish enough to take that trip. But really I doubt Osama the younger no. 4 there is serious about it. It's hard to figure just what his game is though. He's probably got plenty of money, and after 5 previous husbands, she is certain to know how to pretect hers.

    Doug, I say right there 'lifted from wretchard'--do you have to that H.T. thing?
    H>t> to wretchard

    I'm new around here.

  27. Just weeks after bin Laden slipped into Pakistan in early December 2001, Bush assured the press at his Crawford, Texas, ranch that "he is not escaping us." He would later add:
    : "I truly am not that concerned about him."
    And that's the way it was.
    And is.

  28. AlBob,
    Yeah, it HAS to have that in there to be machine readable.
    It wasn't, so I couldn't.

  29. He heard that Biological Clock ticking, and knew it was time to start picking up some new wives.

  30. I think the Lady may be listening to her biological clock too Doug. I bet she buried some of those husbands, a real 'wife of Bath'. You know, think of it, she's crazy as shit, taking Osama's son as a sixth husband. Then marching off across the desert on a peace mission. LOL

  31. Hey Mat,
    Thanks alot for the Huxley (non) Link!
    Aldous Huxley 1962 Trasnscript of Speech at Berkley
    I'd forgotten how much I appreciated him, would be nice if we could get it to Savage, Huxley was his hero, he followed him all over Calif in his quest.

    I think TV and the Celebrity Culture are two of the most effective agents for achieving what he is talking about:
    Being conditioned to love your Servitude!
    Gotta re-read Brave New World, since it's been 50 years!

    Interesting the way he talks about TERRORISM, isn't it?
    Back in the day before people were dumbed down to believe all kinds of nonsense, but not really have a grip on basic things like that.