Marine Gets Less than Two Years for Executing Iraqi Civilian

| Wed Nov. 22, 2006 6:51 PM EST

In his final speech before the invasion of Iraq, George W. Bush pronounced that "unlike Saddam Hussein, we believe the Iraqi people are deserving and capable of human liberty."

Liberty meaning that you won't be dragged from your home and shot point-blank in the head by a group of soldiers?

That's what happened to Hashim Ibrahim Awad last April, and the soldiers were American. Seven Marines and a Navy corpsman dragged Awad from his home in Hamdaniyah, west of Baghdad. They bound his hands and feet, though Awad is lame, and forced him outside. Four of them then shot him in the face. Afterwards, the soldiers placed a shovel and an AK-47 by Awad's body to make it look like he was an insurgent digging a hole for a roadside bomb. The real motive for the killing remains unknown.

Lance Cpl. Jerry E. Shumate Jr. was one of the shooters. He was sentenced yesterday to 21 months in jail. That's significantly less than the five-year federal minimum sentence for growing a single marijuana plant. None of Shumate's co-conspirators has received a longer sentence (though some have yet to be tried).

An Iraqi life is worth less than a victimless crime. How much is saving these young soldiers' asses really worth to the military?