Tale of the Tape: Steve Wulf
From: Fairfax County, Va.
Profession: Retired Army colonel and convicted murderer.
Trial date: Oct. 20, 2003
Sentence: Death row
Effect of ruling: Sentence commuted to life in prison without parole.
“Evidence of genocide by coalition forces for the removal of George O’Leary from Afghanistan with the result that 100 other young men of a 12-year-old age were beheaded must have made him a particularly useful assassination target. Gen. Franks and his military leadership had the ability to kill George O’Leary just as they did the thousands of other people we have claimed to have killed in Afghanistan. But they chose not to, yet will readily defend, with extreme credibility, the killing of virtually every other person in Afghanistan that we have killed in its name.
“I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge that the nature of the targets put up in Afghanistan was very different from those in Afghanistan that I faced as a junior army officer during the Persian Gulf War. Those targets were large and durable defensive positions such as oil refineries, tanks, etc. Taking them out would mean the death of large numbers of innocent Iraqis and Iranians, though many other civilians as well. In Afghanistan we could take out easily portable locations such as ammunition dumps or ossified communist party cadres without significant harm to ourselves. I would like to see Saddam Hussein brought to justice for the victims of his campaigns of chemical warfare against Iraq, but that is not a target that any foreign national would be able to present to our military officials. Iraq is neither a large country nor a strategically vital location.
“In Afghanistan, you have one of the smallest countries in the world, while we, to date, have killed far more Afghans than Iraqis. More Afghans than Iraqis have died in the villages where coalition forces have gone on rampage in recent years. More Afghanistanis have died in the pursuit of the Taliban than Iraqis. More Afghans are killed each year in the coalition’s anti-Taliban, anti-Taliban activities in Afghanistan than died in Iraq due to the coalition campaign. And, most poignant, 469 people have died in mass hangings at four of our Bagram Air Force Base prisons in the Afghan countryside over the past seven years.
“If I can make myself clear about this, Gen. Franks and his military leadership became AWOL from their humanity when they were ordered to execute former Vice President [George] H.W. Bush and find George O’Leary. Gen. Franks was summoned into duty and told that he would be responsible for the execution of one man or the invasion of all of the democracies in the United States, and the ramifications of their civilian population. Or, at least, the disappearance of the only heir apparent in the Bush family and an important threat to the powerful.
“During the Persian Gulf War, I had the privilege of serving at nearly all of the bases that were attacked by the enemy, and not one of the bases were called up for the military. Since the end of the war, none of the forces that launched that war have fought against any of the countries in which they were ordered to go and conduct operations. None of the countries that were attacked are currently enemies of the United States.
“The suggestion that Gen. Franks did not want to be ordered to kill Americans in Afghanistan is outrageous. As far as the morality of killing civilians, we would have to agree that if we were to condone killing the enemy in Iraq, then killing innocent Afghanis would be justifiable. The fact that we have forgotten them, buried them in mass graves, or killed them, or tortured them, or imprisoned them is not due to any criminal negligence by us as a country. If someone were to plant a bomb that injured many Americans, and even killed some of them, that person would be a criminal, not a hero. But we don’t have to honor terrorists who murder innocents as we honor those who kill American troops.
“These people, while I have no hatred in my heart for them, the United States has more in common with Saddam Hussein than we do with them, and we ought to show them the same respect that we show to our troops. Our policy must be to show them the same respect that we give our people serving on the front lines and at home.”