Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Military Watch: Were the soldiers whacked deserters?

Needlenose connects two events that I've been thinking about myself - the hostage Hassoun and the four other Americans killed under unusual circumstances a few days before we heard of this latest hostage drama.

The rumor is that Hassoun was making a break for Lebanon - e.g. deserting when he was picked up. More interestingly, the absolute silence of the Pentagon on the slain soldiers and their odd situ of death suggests they too were on the lam. Think about it. Hassoun is really sick of serving in the army. He speaks Arabic. He's got regional connections. But is he just going to walk out of there alone?

Say he has some buddies, American buddies who maybe are sick enough of service in Iraq - over a year, another extension, and no end in sight - to kiss life in the States goodbye.

What does Hassoun do? He talks them into making a break with him, maybe even suggests he'll help them set up a new life in Lebanon. So they all quietly go together. Only something goes wrong. They're made, the insurgency probably doesn't even realize they're deserters. It just thinks they're a bunch of stupido kafir with a Lebanese translator tour guide that got foolish or lost while going from point A or B. So it nails them.

The US army realizes post facto that they were AWOL when they got nailed, but it tries to keep the lid on things. Why? Because it doesn't want it widely known that morale is so bad that there are soldiers so desperate to get out that they're willing to desert and say goodbye to life in America forever.

That's the backstory that's firming up.

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