Driven to kill

Bill Ritter's daily take on the news.

March 13, 2012 1:10:55 PM PDT
What is it that drives military people - during war time - to mass murder? You don't have to be a psychiatrist to understand that you can't just turn off the killing machine switch.

When you're surrounded by danger and death and constant fear/adrenalin and by people you perceive as the enemy, something can easily click and men with automatic weapons can lose control.

It happened in Vietnam - the most famous incident being the My Lai massacre, where Army soldiers killed as many as 500 unarmed civilians on March 16, 1968. When it was revealed a year later, it helped shift American sentiment against the war in Vietnam.

Now, a week short of 44 years later the latest Army massacre is making news - this time in Afghanistan's Kandahar region, and this time by one renegade and clearly troubled man, a Staff Sergeant.

The massacre - 16 civilians, including 9 children - won't shift public opinion against America's longest-ever war because most people are already against it. But it will burnish that sentiment, and Pres. Obama says it's reinforced his plan to get U.S. troops out of that country on his previously announced timetable.

The President called the shootings "outrageous," but his Secretary of Defense had some head-scratching comments on his plane overseas today.

"War is hell," he said, "These kinds of events and incidents are going to take place, they've taken place in any war, they're terrible events. This is not the first of those events, and they probably won't be the last."


We suspect the Secretary will hear about this from his Commander in Chief. Killing babies and dragging young boys by their hair, shooting them in the mouth and then burning them shouldn't be considered events that "are going to take place."

I'm just sayin'.

And one more thing while I'm on the My Lei/Kandahar comparison. It took a year before My Lei became public. It took a couple of hours before this past weekend's massacre became news around the world. Of course, the soldier in Afghanistan, we're told, walked back to the base and told officials, "I did it."

How different word travels these days.

We'll have the latest on the investigation and the fallout from the massacre, tonight at 11.

Also at 11, we're covering the latest Republican Presidential primaries - tonight in Mississippi and Alabama, (and a caucus in Hawaii) where the candidates have an enormous amount to prove. Mitt Romney, that he can win in the South. Rick Santorum, that he can continue to take the most conservative voters. Newt Gingrich, that he can win somewhere besides South Carolina and his home state of Georgia. And Ron Paul, that he can win anywhere.

We'll have the results, tonight at 11.

And Sandra Bookman tonight has the story that parents around the country have thought about -for their children who may have decided to get tattoos: How to remove those things.

Now, a new procedure that gets it done far faster than before.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Meteorologist Lee Goldberg with his AccuWeather forecast (nice enough for you today?) and Laura Behnke (in for Rob Powers) with the night's sports. I hope you can join Sade Baderinwa and me, tonight at 11.


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