Pardon the killers? Never!

Army Spec. LINCOLN M. LEASE has been deployed in Iraq twice for a total of 18 months.

TODAY I READ a newspaper article that filled me with rage and contempt. It was about the “reconciliation” that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki plans to offer the Sunni armed factions here. Maliki is reportedly considering granting a limited amnesty to Iraqi insurgents who have killed only” Americans but no Iraqis.

To a soldier who has been deployed to this country twice already, and has been out on the street fighting insurgents, this is, plainly stated, an outrage. I take personal offense to Maliki’s proposition to grant any kind of amnesty, limited or unlimited, to any insurgent who has been involved in terrorism against the United States. It seems to me as though Maliki has slapped all the families of wounded or dead soldiers in the face.

Iraqi officials appear not to have a care in the world for justice or for the memories of the 1,979 soldiers who have been killed in action in Iraq. Think of how many parents have had to bury their sons and daughters.

It is understood that the Iraqi government, currently with Maliki at the helm, wants to end the insurgency. We all want to end the insurgency because everybody wants U.S. forces to leave Iraq. But what is this reconciliation? What is there to reconcile? The Sunnis are upset because the primary base of power lies with the Shiites. OK. But whose fault is that? The Sunnis have nobody but themselves to blame because when it came election time, they didn’t want to participate. So naturally the Shiites assumed power because they were, for the most part, the only ones who supplied candidates. Now the Sunnis decide that because the violence didn’t work, they’re going to play nice. The Sunnis made their bed, and now they have to lie in it.

Where is the justice for the American men and women who have been killed on the streets of Iraq? I ask you, Mr. Maliki, how can you even consider the possibility of granting any kind of reprieve for any insurgent? How can you view these terrorists as patriots defending their country? How can you justify the murder of U.S. soldiers on your streets? We came here to help rebuild Iraq, not to occupy it. If they are so patriotic, why do they not assist in the process of rebuilding?

Furthermore, how will you decide which insurgents have killed “only” U.S. personnel? How will you be able to differentiate the murderers of “innocents” from those patriotic rebels who have killed “invaders”?

I believe the answer to be this: You will not be able to differentiate between the killers of Iraqi nationals and the killers of U.S. soldiers. And even if you could, since when is any murder of any person justified, be they Iraqi or American? If you justify any killing, you open the door to similar crimes because different factions will interpret your amnesty guidelines differently.

To U.S. officials, I say this: If you stand by and do not attempt to prevent this amnesty, then you will have disgraced the memory of your own soldiers who have died for our flag. You will have insulted the families of the men and women who have perished in this war, and you will have affronted the men and women who have been permanently scarred, both physically and emotionally, by this conflict.

The answer for peace is not to pardon killers. We, who must set the paradigm for righteousness and freedom, cannot allow murderers to walk free.