What are we to make of it if Staff Sgt. Robert Bales is executed for his role in the Kandahar massacre when there are not only doubts about whether he acted alone, but how the TBI and PTSD he sustained during three tours of duty may have contributed to his actions?
I’d say we ought not to be particularly surprised.
If we use the death penalty in this case, we’ll feel really fine about ourselves, telling ourselves that we care a great deal about justice — not only for victims in the U.S. but for people everywhere — and that we’ve rooted out the one bad apple from amongst the heroic men and women we’ve sent overseas.
We’ll be wrong, of course, but at least we won’t have to ask more challenging questions about the intersection of mental health, warfare, and criminal justice … which is what we like about the death penalty.