On Monday we introduced you to Jeremy Morlock, one of five Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldiers accused of the pre-meditated murder of three unarmed Afghans. In a chilling video, the 22-year-old Alaskan blithely recounted one of the killings for Army investigators. Now another newly-leaked video seems to help explain, in part, why Morlock and his fellow soldiers would have allegedly perpetrated crimes so heinous: intimidation from their commanding officer, Sergeant Calvin Gibbs.
In the video below, recently leaked to ABC News, another soldier tells investigators that Gibbs plotted to maim "Stoner," the whistleblower who first sparked the investigation, and murder his mom upon returning to Fort Lewis. Morlock and Adam Winfield, another soldier accused of murder, have both spoken out about similar intimidation.
Morlock's hearing on Monday, the first of what will be many court proceedings, attracted international attention. Present were reporters from the Los Angeles and New York Times, national TV networks and France's version of the AP.
During a lunch recess, we the assembled media had the disorienting experience of walking out of a courtroom where we'd just heard testimony and into a cafeteria where a talking head on CNN was talking about the testimony we'd just heard.
The case is being used as an entry point for all sorts of larger questions related to the war: the wisdom of our continued military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan; treatment, or lack there-of, of traumatic battlefield brain injuries; and the extent to which our troops are over-medicated -- as part of his defense, Morlock's lawyer brought in a Boston toxicologist to talk about how his client might have been made highly suggestible by his prescriptions for 10 different pain killers, sleep aids and anti-depressents.
But at their heart, these cases are also simply about a group of young men thrust into a highly stressful situation. And the way one of those men reportedly leveraged that stress to allegedly get his fellow soldiers to do things that, under normal circumstances, they might never have done.