News

Binkley avoids jail sentence

A jury concluded this morning that Sargent Binkley was legally insane during his armed robbery of a Mountain View Walgreens in 2006, a verdict that will keep him from serving a mandatory 12-year prison sentence.

The same jury found Binkley guilty of the crime late last month, but was given a chance to modify that verdict during the sanity phase.

Defense attorney Chuck Smith said Binkley now be evaluated by the county mental health department as to whether he needs to be hospitalized. Smith said there is a possibility that Binkley will be set free and receive only outpatient treatment for his post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and addiction to painkillers.

"He will not spend a day in prison, which is just spectacular," Smith said.

Family and friends were tearful after the verdict Tuesday, said Alan Lubke, a Vietnam veteran who has been following the trial.

Before the sanity phase of the trial began, the jury had found Binkley guilty of the armed robbery, which he committed in January 2006 at the Walgreens pharmacy on the corner of El Camino Real and Grant Road using an unloaded handgun. Due to mandatory sentencing rules, he would have spent a minimum of 12 years in prison for the crime.

Binkley, 33, is an Army veteran from Los Altos who attended Los Altos High School and West Point military academy. Psychiatrists testified at the trial that Binkley developed PTSD during his time in Bosnia and Honduras and developed an addiction to painkillers after a hip injury that went untreated for years.

Comments

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Posted by meredith philpott
a resident of another community
on Jan 13, 2009 at 1:49 pm

This was the right verdict. This case should have never been brought to trial. Now Sargent can finally get the help that he needs.


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Posted by Bill
a resident of another community
on Jan 14, 2009 at 7:06 am

It sure is easy to blame the Army for problems developed by a pain-killer addiction. The San Jose Mercury News reports that his pain-killer addiction started after he injured his hip while running away from an alcohol-induced fight over a woman in Honduras - how is that connected to service in the Army? It's not.

Some people will see this as a victory for veterans suffering from PTSD, but I think it is a setback for those that suffer from ACTUAL service related injuries, physical or mental. This guy is a disgrace who can't accept responsibility for his own actions.

Veterans who suffer as a result of service and sacrifice to our nation deserve special consideration... people like this sicken me and are free riders on others' sacrifices. What a waste of taxpayer money.


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Posted by Jon Wiener
a resident of another community
on Jan 14, 2009 at 11:48 am

Bill,

The alternative was to keep him in prison for 12 years. I'm curious whether you think that the deterrent and retributive effect of that sentence might have been worth the taxpayer money?

People seem to be talking past each other on these threads without actually arguing -- you can think Binkley wasn't actually insane while at the same time supporting the jury's vote as a nullification of mandatory minimum sentencing laws.

Jon


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Posted by Ned
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jan 14, 2009 at 1:53 pm

Blinkley is obviously a sad case that many would like us to believe serves as a shiny example of the plight of military veterans since Vietnam and up through Iraq and Afghanistan. What many fail to recognize is that here was a West Point graduate, an officer, and a once member of the elite Rangers who never served in a combat zone or saw combat. His claims for PTSD seem tenuous at best and perhaps received more sympathy due to the current climate of opinion regarding veterans. One must ask, however, how much in the long run he will damage the credibility of true PTSD sufferers of Iraq or Afghanistan who served honorably, were perhaps injured, and never resorted to a like of crime. Will their plight be considered of lesser or greater significance? Will they be perceived as credible, or will they just soldier on without placing blame on "the system" for their troubles?

Does he deserve jail? I think 12 years was way to harsh given he did have problems and was on a downward spiral. Besides, he did turn himself in and has already served some significant time behind bars.

Still, I think what bothers most, perhaps mostly true veterans and sufferers of PTSD, is that he and his supporters have attempted to place him squarely in their ranks as an equal. Well he's not. The fact is, is that he's a disgraced West Point graduate, military officer, and Army Ranger who fell out of his own elite ranks. To suggest that his path is one that many vets have to endure is ludicrous. Why? The average troubled veteran does not come from such an elite background or group. They are not West Point graduates, they are not as educated, they are not part of the elite forces, and ironically, they did not injure themsleves on the beach chasing after girls on peace-keeping operations. Indeed and perhaps most ignored, is the fact that Blinkley was reportedly discharged from the military on less-than-honorable conditions (i.e., a general discharge). This would really begin suggest that Blinkley's number one problem, beyond his physical or mental ones, is or was nothing more than a serious character flaw that went un-noticed as he made his way into and out of this nation's elite military ranks.


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Posted by KTS
a resident of another community
on Jan 14, 2009 at 7:57 pm

It's unfortunate that the "news" we expect to get here is not news at all, but the opinion of the reporter. The coverage of this case has been unbelievably one-sided. I thought responsible journalism includes writing correctly about the facts, and the truth. It's a good thing we have some readers of this paper who are educated enough about this case to set the record straight and offset some of this irresponsible journalism.


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Posted by Pat
a resident of The Crossings
on Jan 14, 2009 at 8:15 pm

According to the California Vet Center, Kosovo/Bosnia is considered a War Zone for purposes of qualifying for services if you served there from "November 20, 1995 to present". The Vet Center was created by Congress in 1979 and continues to serve the veterans at the community level. PTSD is treated.
(Those who deny that danger exists in Bosnia and Honduras will also probably deny any danger to US service personnel exists in the Congo, Sudan, Liberia, Columbia etc. No PTSD there due to the mass carnage. Yeah, right!)
The local Vet Center phone number is 408-993-0729. Call up and volunteer. They can use some help.
Fair winds and following seas Sarge.


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Posted by former AF officer
a resident of another community
on Jan 18, 2009 at 1:20 am

Pat,
I was in Bosnia. Frankly, the most danger that I faced there was a hangnail and choking on my chicken nuggets. You weren't there, so I would suggest that you don't flap about something you have no clue or idea about. Also, just to diffuse your next arguement, I was an air liason officer with the Army. My job was to call in air strikes for the army units that I was attached to. Consequently, I went out frequently on patrols with the Army. This guy is morally corrupt and weak. He is using his service in the Army as an excuse for his poor behavior. He does a disservice to those who really are suffering from PTSD.


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Posted by Pat
a resident of The Crossings
on Jan 20, 2009 at 2:44 pm

Dear former AF officer,
I have read your comments elsewhere. Hopefully your hangnails and choking have resolved. I referred to the Vet Center simply because Congress saw that soldiers could suffer PTSD from experiences in Bosnia since 20 Nov 1995. It is documented.
You write that Sarge "is morally weak and corrupt". Well, he was not that way when he was accepted into the USMA nor when he commissioned out. So, something must have happened during his service. I was not there so I do not know the extent of the carnage he witnessed. Although, an active duty Marine testified at trial that he and Sarge witnessed miscellaneous human bones being strung up in bags so that the debris could be washed away and the bones could be identified. The strench was overwhelming.
Also, I have dealt with refugees from the region. Their dreams are neither pretty nor peaceful.
PTSD can come from many sources.
Thank you for your service.


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Posted by The Old PSG
a resident of another community
on Jan 21, 2009 at 8:13 am

Hi again to everyone...
Pat, are you sure it was an "active duty Marine" who testified that they witnessed miscellaneous human bones being strung up in bags so that the debris could be washed away and the bones could be identified. There were no Marines there with us! That is a fact. I personally know the guy you are talking about and he is a Soldier, not a Marine. The crazy thing is, there were 28 guys in the Platoon, and the only only guy that witnessed this event was Binkley. I can go on and on about this but some folks will only believe what they want to believe, regardless if the other side of the story is from people who were actually there at the same time and place. It is amazing to read the stories that have come out of this, if ANY of these were true, everyone in the Platoon should be seeking help for PTSD. I have spoken to a lot of the guys in the Platoon, none have any issues and none saw the same things Binkley did even though they went on all the patrols with him as this was a requirement. There were no 1 man patrols. This includes guys that were 18/19 years old and have since moved from the Army to civilian life and have created great lives for themselves. One is now a Registered Nurse, one works for the Dept of Corrections, one works for Dept of Homeland Security,,, the list goes on and on. I hope everyone that reads this says a prayer for the service men and women that do actually have PTSD and that they get the help they deserve. They continue to fight today so that we have a forum such as this to voice our concerns and opinions. I hope everyone has a great day!


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Posted by Former Battalion Commander
a resident of another community
on Jan 21, 2009 at 2:16 pm

Well said Old PSG.

I was Binkley's battalion commander when he returned from Honduras and know first hand the issues that he had. He did in fact receive non-judicial punishment for not being at his appointed place of duty. He was the officer of the guard for the entire installation at Fort Riley Kansas shortly after the terrorist attacks on 9-11-01. He left his post and went to his apartment, leaving the sergeant of the guard to cover for him. I caught him when I checked on the guards and found him absent. Because of this incident and another incident of disobeying orders, we processed him for elimination. He was allowed to resign with a general discharge for the convenience of the Army. All of this came out in the trial and is fully substantiated. Just thought the reading audience would want to know this information.

Pat, I have read your comments at other sites as well, and you should be ashamed of yourself. Let me refresh your memory. You wrote:
"Also, some of the testimony from prosecution witnesses was fantastic. One Army officer spoke as a sea lawyer - out of both sides of his mouth. The jury did not believe him because the military medical records conflicted with his testimony. He just could not know the things he talked about. There were things he should have known about but did not, according to his testimony. And why did he order this injured Captain, who had made known his desire to discharge at the end of his obligation, stand watch after having just completed a rigorous week of military obligations? It is curious that a CO who was on top of things and concerned for the welfare of his command, as this CO testified he was, would order someone who was obviously in pain to do this."

I am the officer you wrote about.

Are you completely clueless? If the jury did not believe me why did they find him guilty of all charges. What things should I have known about? That Binkley went to the battalion physician assistant after he got in trouble to get a memo stating he had a medical problem. A memo that was not addressed to me and that I had never seen. Am I supposed to see every piece of paper that a 900+ soldier battalion generates. And oh, the inhumanity of Binkley having to stand guard duty in a warm building with soft chairs. There are soldiers missing limbs who are fighting to stay on active duty to rejoin there brothers in arms, and Binkley can't sit in a building. Perhaps you don't know that an infantry battalion is a tough, physical place to be, not some latte sipping, global warming discussing California book club.

So the next time you decide that you want to disparage a 21 year combat veteran in your posts, just sit back, sip your latte and read Al Gore's latest work of fiction. Then, when you have a nice buzz from your "medical MJ", you can write to someone who really cares about what you have to say. And don't bother thanking me for my service as you did to former AF Officer. I already know what you think of my service.


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Posted by reader
a resident of another community
on Jan 21, 2009 at 3:01 pm

Ooops, he was doing good until he drifted into the dumb latte cracks. What's Al Gore got to do with it? So predictable.


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Posted by Another old guy
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jan 21, 2009 at 3:07 pm

The latte and medical MJ comments were a hoot! If you live here you know its true and that he is pretty much on the right track. This is how the rest of the US views us and when stupidity like this happens, it makes us look worse than ever!


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Posted by reader
a resident of another community
on Jan 21, 2009 at 3:28 pm

I just wish people could stay focused. All that crap about book clubs and lattes is a hoot if you like pointless rants. This has been an excellent bunch of comments overall, including a lot of what Old PSG had to say ... then he goes and spills his Folgers down his pants.

For the record: you can think Binkley is full of it or that the worthy cause of helping vets with PTSD was not served by his trial, AND think that global warming is a real cause for concern or like drinking lattes in the morning. It's just stupid.


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Posted by Old PSG
a resident of another community
on Jan 21, 2009 at 3:43 pm

Old PSG didn't spill his Folgers nor did I write that if thats what you were implying...


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Posted by Pat
a resident of The Crossings
on Jan 21, 2009 at 9:30 pm

Hi Guys,
I stand corrected; the person who testified is a soldier, not a Marine.
For the record, I do not drink lattes; I do not have membership in a fiction book club and I do not use medical, or other, MJ.
The jury has evaluated the credibility of the testimony. They spoke with the lawyers after the trials. Some testimony was, by their words, disregarded as unbelievable. The chronology of the events was important. Some things did not make sense. You could benefit from reading the testimony. I will be happy to provide you with a copy when the reporter prepares it in a few weeks. Or, you can get it from the DA.
According to VA statistics, over 9,000 veterans have reported PTSD symptoms from tours in Bosnia since 1995.
So, Battalion Commander, enjoy your retirement.


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Posted by Former Battalion Commander
a resident of another community
on Jan 22, 2009 at 5:16 am

Pat, maybe I'll get it from you personally if they try Binkley in San Mateo County. Be sure to look me up at the trial.

Since several of the good people in CA don't or can't enjoy humor, I'll be deadly serious. The police and DAs are trying to keep the wolf away from the door, and this jury invited the wolf in. Now, every crack head who spent a day in the military and commits a violent crime will invoke the Binkley defense. I can hear it now, " My drill sergeant was mean to me and gave me PTSD." Of course, most of them won't have the money to pay a good lawyer like Smith. Fortunately most will end up behind bars. Not so fortunately, one or two will sneak by and will end up harming someone else.

Isn't it strange that those of us who served with him have a completely different outlook on this situation. The Army, and especially the infantry, is a tight knit organization and we almost always close ranks with our brothers (or sisters). Why is this case different?

So, keep thinking it is OK to try to trash the integrity of those who served honorably while supporting someone who did not exactly cover himself in glory. It's your state. I rest comfortably at night knowing that in my neck of the woods Binkley would be safely tucked away behind bars for a good while.

BTW, I have been known to sip latte and read good fiction. I stay away from the medical herbs, though.


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Posted by Old PSG
a resident of another community
on Jan 22, 2009 at 6:39 am

Former Battalion Commander, great comments. The fact is the truth was not wanted in this case. Chuck Smith called me several times prior to me testifying for the DA. With all the phone calls, the comment he made in all the calls was "We just want the truth". So I ask everyone else that reads this, If they really wanted the truth, why did they not subpoena us instead of the DA? The Marine/Soldier that Pat refers to, was not with Binkley in Bosnia, he was in the Scout PLT, assigned in the Bn Cdrs Personal Security Det. We did ZERO missions with the Bn Cdr or his Secuirty Det. It just so happens that after Bosnia, Binkley became this guys Platoon Leader. I say again, our PLT in Bosnia did not do any joint patrols with the Bn Cdr... But hey, WE JUST WANT THE TRUTH. I say, they did not want anything even close to the truth because it would of harmed their case. Pat, please explain to me why noone from his PLT in Bosnia was called on to teztify on his behalf? Please answer that! It wasnt because they could not find us. The real answer is, because they did not want the complete truth to be known. The defense did a great job at creating doubt, nothing more, nothing less! So all that read and reply, keep things in perspective, if you werent there, you do not know. If you have never served, once again, you dont know. The Infantry is a tight knit group as the Former Bn Cdr says... I would bend over backwards to help anyone, but lies prevented me from being able to do that.
Hope all have a safe and great day!


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Posted by Alan Lubke
a resident of another community
on Jan 23, 2009 at 12:59 pm

Battalion Commander:

What follows is a summary of my notes from Day 7, December 18th, 2008, People v. Binkley where I listened to the testimony of Col Wood and yourself.

"Did Tony miss the guidance to sit up straight and speak into the microphone? The jury heard the testimony of two retired Army officers today. One testified with an impeccable voice and manner. The other's voice was sullen and his manner pompous. One was worthy of respect, the other an embarrassment to himself and the United States Army."

Alan Lubke
LTC, USA (Ret)
Cullum Nr. 23467
23 January 2009


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Posted by Alan Lubke
a resident of another community
on Jan 23, 2009 at 1:12 pm

Dear Old PSG. What follows is a copy of my notes from Day 4 of the trial, People v. Binkley, December 15, 2008

"Staff Sargeant Romiro Anthony Vasquez from Ft. Riley, KS. Vasquez was a member of the Recon platoon commanded by Sargent Binkley as it trained at Fort Riley and the National Command Training Center for about 6-8 months before being deployed to Bosnia. Vasquez told of the smell from mass graves and the evidence of young children's bodies whose small hands and tiny shoes could be seen as they stood guard for UN pathologists and forensic experts. He vividly described the UN mortuary as a meat packing plant where what was left of the bodies were hung in meshed bags from overhead hooks where they were power washed to remove all residue except the bones of the victims. He watched his platoon leader's (Sargent Binkley's) face turn ashen while together they witnessed this process. He said Binkley finally turned to him and said: "Let's get out of here". Binkley couldn't take it any more.

Even this observer was turned nauseous in court during this part of Staff Sargent Vasquez's testimony.

My overall impression of the Vasquez testimony can be summed up this way. I mentally composed a letter to Sargent Vasquez during the court session. I would tell him that his presence on the witness stand and the articulate, precise manner of his answers, revealed a soldier who epitomized the strength of the U.S. Army and that he made me proud as hell to identify myself as a member thereof."

Alan Lubke, Lieutenant Colonel, USA (Retired), January 23, 2009, Daily observer at the Binkley Trial


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Posted by Alan Lubke
a resident of another community
on Jan 23, 2009 at 1:20 pm

Dear Old PSG.

Jeff Csoka who was a fellow officer and close friend of Sargent Binkley in Bosnia, emailed me to opine about a Mountain View Voice commenter with the moniker "RA" and from where his Bosnia perspective may be coming:

"RA must have been a staff officer when we went to Bosnia (and staff officers rarely left the camp). Of all the West Pointers who were XOs or Platoon Leaders during that deployment, I was the only one who went on to the Infantry Officer Advanced Course and I only remember one Company Commander being a West Pointer during that deployment. So the fact that RA is a West Pointer still in the Army means that he was either a LT staff officer or a CPT staff officer awaiting command. He may also have been at a different base camp. Keep in mind our battalion was split between three (and then two) base camps – Dobol, McGovern, and Demi (which closed midway through our deployment). So RA's comments may be based on what he experienced at McGovern. In speaking with those at McGovern, I know the deployment experience varied - McGovern being a much more built up base camp with better facilities and more amenities. McGovern also had a much smaller area of operations and was located further from the ZOS (zone of separation) than the other Camps. - Jeff Csoka"

Alan Lubke, 23 January 2009


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Posted by Old PSG
a resident of another community
on Jan 23, 2009 at 2:17 pm

Alan,
Thank you for the notes. One quick comment on "He watched his platoon leader's (Sargent Binkley's) face turn ashen while together they witnessed this process" Binkley was not his PL. If he was then I was his PSG, in which I was most certainly not. Binkley was his PL AFTER the redeployment from Bosnia. If those are the notes you took, I will also say that Binkley was NOT the Scout PL 6-8 months before Bosnia. Look at the ORB, this is pretty plain and simple so what would that tell you about this testimony?. Noone goes from West Point to directly being the Scout PL. I am not sure where this gets confusing for a Retired LTC who surely has seen these processes and procedures up close and personal. This, once again is fact as I am sure Binkleys ORB would reflect that he was the Scout PLT's PL from roughly Apr 2000 to whenever they moved him. We were in Bosnia from Aug 99 to Mar 2000. Also, In reference to Jeff Csoka, I do not know who "RA" was/is neither nor does it affect me any, so I am not sure why that that was important to be addresed to myself. I do notice in his note to you that he does not agree or disagree with any of the comments made by "RA". I know Csoka and I also know the comments he has made to another Officer who was in the Company at the same time, since this all began. I have spoken the straight truth to you, to the court, in an email to Binkley, to the DA etc... I have not said one thing to one person and then something different to anyone else. I believe that the "Former Bn Cdr" has done the same. Alan, I could sit and discuss items of interest that as a Ret. LTC that I would think you would find interesting. The bottom line is, once again, I was there, I lived it. I know what the facts are, I know what the falsehoods are. I am not sure what it takes for people to understand that. Had Binkley and his team of lawyers stuck with the truth, I would of bent over backwards to help him in any possible way that I could. I will say this again as well, the jury came to a decision and I hope that he gets all the help he needs to become a productive member of society. Lastly, If Csoka and Binkley were in the same company in Bosnia which was Bco, How could Binkley have been the Scout PL when the Scouts are ALL assigned to the HHC in a Mech Infantry BN and they were the Bn Cdrs PSD in Bosnia? Come on Sir, you were in the Army, where does this get confusing? Please understand, I am not trying to be a wise guy, I just honestly do not understand. I hope you are still proud of Vasquez's testimony even though Binkley was NOT his PL before or during Bosnia. Once again, please check out the ORB.


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Posted by Gavin
a resident of another community
on Jan 23, 2009 at 6:40 pm

Hey Battalion Commander-

What do have against California? You sound repressed. You should come out to San Francisco for a visit. We like cute army boys in the Castro. Don't ask, don't tell doesn't apply here. You can be yourself!

Peace is the answer.



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Posted by Concerned
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jan 23, 2009 at 7:33 pm

LTC Lubke (Ret),
Based off your quote above, are you saying that Staff Sargeant Romiro Anthony Vasquez from Ft. Riley, KS committed perjury? You may want to be careful with your quotes. I have done alot of reserach on this and LT Sargent Binkley did not command the Recon Platoon in Bosnia. He was the 3rd Platoon Platoon Leader in Bravo Company. Based off your quote below which I did a copy/paste from your paragraph above, if your quote is accurate then that is perjury:

"Staff Sargeant Romiro Anthony Vasquez from Ft. Riley, KS. Vasquez was a member of the Recon platoon commanded by Sargent Binkley as it trained at Fort Riley and the National Command Training Center for about 6-8 months before being deployed to Bosnia. Vasquez told of the smell from mass graves and the evidence of young children's bodies whose small hands and tiny shoes could be seen as they stood guard for UN pathologists and forensic experts. He vividly described the UN mortuary as a meat packing plant where what was left of the bodies were hung in meshed bags from overhead hooks where they were power washed to remove all residue except the bones of the victims. He watched his platoon leader's (Sargent Binkley's) face turn ashen while together they witnessed this process. He said Binkley finally turned to him and said: "Let's get out of here". Binkley couldn't take it any more.

Are you sure your quote is accurate? From my understanding, LT Sargent Binkleys Officer Evaluation Reports clearly show that he was assigned as a Platoon Leader in Bravo Company, not in command of the Recon Platoon.

I would think that a Retired LTC would check his references prior to making such bold comments.


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Posted by Old "Private"
a resident of another community
on Jan 23, 2009 at 11:47 pm

To "Concerned" (and others who appear to be so fixated with LTC Lubke's comments about SSG Vasquez's testimony):

The LTC is not saying SSG Vasquez committed perjury. There is just a simple misinterpretation here, so let me break it down.

Fact: SSG Vasquez was a member of the Scout Platoon in Bosnia and after Bosnia
Fact: LT Binkley was a Bradley Platoon Leader in Bosnia, and the Scout Platoon Leader after Bosnia.
Fact: LT Binkley was SSG Vasquez's Platoon Leader (albeit after Bosnia, not while in Bosnia)
Fact: The scout platoon consisted of 4 sections, 2 vehicles in each section; in Bosnia, 1-2 sections served as the "Imperial Guard" for the BN CDR, which left 2-3 sections for assignment/attachment to other Task Force missions (some of which involved other platoons in the Task Force, such as LT Binkley's).
Fact: SSG Vasquez testified he was with LT Binkley when the rotted bodies of men, women, and children were unearthed from the infamous Srebenica massacre mass grave, and the flesh/soil fell off the bones. The smell was horrendous. The number of slaughtered villagers was staggering. The bodies were hung from hooks (like slabs of beef). The sight of all this made LT Binkley's face go pale, and he had to leave.

Yes - I was in Bosnia, too. However, this is just a paraphrase of some of SSG Vasquez's testimony. Someone above named "Pat" evidently has the full testimony for those who seem so "concerned". I'm assuming the jury found SSG Vasquez's testimony both credible and compelling.




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Posted by Former Battalion Commander
a resident of another community
on Jan 24, 2009 at 7:07 am

Alan,
perception is a strange thing sometimes. Your perception of me is that I was embarrassment to myself and the Army. This is based on my sullen and pompous manner in testimony that lasted for slightly longer than an hour. What could account for my sullen and pompous manner. Probably not the bad cold I was fighting, limiting my sleep the night before to about 2 hours. Did you forget to note the persistent cough I had or the trouble speaking because of it? And it certainly couldn't be because of the defense attorney who immediately attacked my honor and integrity at the first chance. Boy, I can't understand why I wasn't quite as chipper as you would like.

Now, one may form a perception of you as well, based on your various posts and your attendance at this trial. One may perceive you as a bitter, addled old vet trying to find meaning in his life by obsessively following this trial. Is that perception reality? I don't think so.

What I do know is that you seem to have forgotten what you learned at West Point about Duty, Honor, Country. Remember what General MacArthur said.
"Duty, Honor, Country. Those three hallowed words reverently dictate what you ought to be, what you can be, what you will be." Remember that,Alan? You probably don't remember what he continued to say later in his speech.

"The unbelievers will say they are but words, but a slogan, but a flamboyant phrase." Are those just words to you? Why do you feel it necessary to attack my honor based on about an hour of testimony? What should I do so that you do not feel that I am an embarrassment? Would you feel better if I got kicked out of the Army with a general discharge? How about if I robbed a couple of drug stores? Would I be an embarrassment to the Army then?

I spent all of my adult life living West Point's motto. I risked my life multiple times for my country and my brothers in arms. I would do it again. So, you can form your opinion of me based on an hour of testimony or judge me on my service to the nation. It's your choice. I am secure knowing that I have lived up to the motto "Duty, Honor, Country."

Tony Turner, LTC (Retired)
West Point '83


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Posted by Conerned
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jan 24, 2009 at 8:37 am

Old Private,
That sure brought some things out of the wood work didn't it! Misinterpretation is what this whole trial was about! You just stated it above! Hopefully your interpretation is better than Lubke's. No matter how you sway it, if what Lubke quoted is true, it is perjury and that cannot be a good thing
The only FACT that I will give you is that Binkleys Platoon never conducted missions with any members of the Scout Platoon. The rest of your facts with the exception of Binkley and Vasquez ever doing missions together) would indeed be facts so why throw lies in the middle of it. Its the plain simple truth so go on and continue with your misinterpretations. Misinterpretations kept him out of prison.
This is my last post for such a worthless case. Sargent Binkley is a stellar individual who was a great student at West Point, Tremendous leader in the Army, led by example in all aspects of life. He never rec'd any type of disciplinary action while in the Army and when discharged had the utmost of respect from his peers and subordinates. He is just a tremendous individual all around! He never robbed anyone, and never fell victim to drugs or any other type of addictions.
He is one fantastic person that everyone should be priviledged and honored to meet.
This is what Old Private, Lubke, Pat and the rest would like everyone to believe as they so choose to believe. Have a great life!


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Posted by Old PSG
a resident of another community
on Jan 24, 2009 at 9:43 am

Concerned,
Your concerns are right on track. I did not know that a "misinterpretation" was an excuse for perjury and your facts are indeed facts. Hopefully that was just an error in the quote from LTC Lubke (Ret) from his earlier comments. I too will cease in the posts as noone wants the truth anyway and when "misinterpretations become okay, then its all just a waste of time. As you stated, the entire trial was based off misinterpretations. I would really like to see the "full testimony" of Vasquez. If indeed that is a factual quote from Lubke, this could get really interesting.
Hope everyone has a great and safe day!


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Posted by Old "Private"
a resident of another community
on Jan 24, 2009 at 11:17 am

Dear Concerned:

Again - another misinterpretation. I could see how LTC Lubke's post regarding SSG Vasquez's testimony might be misunderstood and attacked. I personally believe SSG Vasquez is a great soldier, NCO, and a man of character. I didn't want his testimony misunderstood . . . hence, my effort to make the essence of his testimony simple. I regret I was unable to succeed in achieving this.

I appreciate you acknowledging everything I communicated as facts, and only misunderstanding one . . . "with the exception of Binkley and Vasquez ever doing missions together". I personally was not there with LT Binkley and SSG Vasquez when he says they witnessed what he testified to. However, it is still a fact that SSG Vasquez testified that he was there, with LT Binkley, and witnessed (and smelled) everything described. You may call SSG Vasquez a liar, and as an American you're entitled to that opinion, but I find it shameful for someone who does not know him and/or has not served with him to be so bold (and then say they are seeking the truth). I concede the possibility exists that SSG Vasquez could have lied under oath, and that he and LT Binkley were never together to witness what he described. But unless some extremely credible evidence is presented to prove that he would so recklessly compromise his integrity, my trust is still with him. I, nor do I believe LTC Lubke, am accusing SSG Vasquez of perjury. It seems that you, sir, are.


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Posted by Concerned
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jan 24, 2009 at 11:36 am

OP,
I believe what I said was... IF the quote made by Lubke is true, then that is perjury. There is absolutely no way that I could misunderstand his (Lubke) quote. Lubke states it straight as he believes it was said. Once again, I say, IF what he (Lubke) says was actually said by Vasquez, then yes, that is in fact perjury as you so acknolwledge that Binkley was not the Scout PL in Bosnia. I would suggest that someone takes Lubke by the ear and reign him in before he gets other folks in a knot. This would not be of "concern" had Lubke not posted those notes as a "quote". I did not misunderstand Lubke's quote, I read it as it is written....

"Staff Sargeant Romiro Anthony Vasquez from Ft. Riley, KS. Vasquez was a member of the Recon platoon commanded by Sargent Binkley as it trained at Fort Riley and the National Command Training Center for about 6-8 months before being deployed to Bosnia"

What can be misunderstood in that comment. You obviously have a good grasp on what the facts are but please tell me how that can be misunderstood. Lubke clearly states that Binkley COMMANDED the Recon PLT before and during Bosnia. I am guessing you were in the Scout PLT at the time and therefore know Vasquez to be an upstanding individual, that I do not doubt and I am sure he has served this Country proudly and with great distinction but you also know that Binkley was not the PL at the NTC prior to Bosnia nor was he the PL in Bosnia. Once again, I would suggest that someone advise Lubke to be cautious with his statements as you can see how this could turn a corner rather quickly.


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Posted by Pat
a resident of The Crossings
on Jan 24, 2009 at 4:06 pm

Good Bye Concerned. You misstate my position.
The Mercury News has another article today.
Life is good.


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Posted by Old "Private"
a resident of another community
on Jan 24, 2009 at 5:58 pm

Hello Concerned:

It seems perhaps I've now misunderstood you. In your second post, by your own words, it seemed as though you were accusing SSG Vasquez (or maybe it was me) of throwing "lies" and "misinterpretations" (at least that's how I interpreted your comment). If you're saying that I took it the wrong way (that it was just about the LTC's quote), I'll take your word for it and apologize for my misunderstanding. Again, I acknowledged that the LTC's message could be misunderstood (i.e. I don't think he intended for it to be interpreted that way, but it's hard not to; I would have, too). My reply comment was simply an effort to clarify the substance of SSG Vasquez's testimony for you and other readers to meaningfully interpret the way I believe the LTC intended (and the way SSG Vasquez would desire).


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Posted by Concerned
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jan 25, 2009 at 9:09 am

OP,
I do not believe that I am interpreting Lubkes comments any other way than what was stated. We have gone over this before and yet you still throw it back to me as a misunderstanding of his statement. It was clearly stated. I am sure Vasquez would not want it stated that way or interpreted that way, we all know why he (Vasquez) would not want it "interpreted" that way because as Lubke wrote it, it was not a truthful statement.
Had you said to me that Lubke misquoted the statement from Vasquez, than I can understand that, but to insist that I am misinterpreting the statement is not correct.
When we get a copy of the court transcripts, then I guess we will see what was said. Hopefully its as simple as a misquote from Lubke.


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Posted by annie
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jan 25, 2009 at 1:00 pm

where can i read about the ranger training? do all west point grads get the training?
how could a guy with all this training get into so much trouble?


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Posted by Old "Private"
a resident of another community
on Jan 25, 2009 at 8:39 pm

Concerned:

I simply said there was a misunderstanding. I never said it was only by you. The LTC was clearly quoting his personal notes, not a complete testimony (since you're taking things so literally). I believe I've already effectively communicated the substance of SSG Vasquez's testimony for other interested readers (at least those who do not have a vendetta against the LTC). Continue to argue about non-substantive, irrelevant things if you desire. Readers who are genuinely "concerned" are interested in how this case might impact future issues (not past evidence, arguing about someone who quotes their notes, or a personal vendetta).

Readers and Americans:

True issues of concern follow: Veterans diagnosed with service-related PTSD (who subsequently commit crimes against society), servicemen and women who become addicted to prescription medication (which we in the Army at least know is prescribed like candy by most BN PAs) while voluntarily defending our Nation in uniform, and (oh yeah I can't forget this one for the Cali folks) minimum sentencing laws. These are just some of the topics of "concern" and debate that this case has thrust into the light. I have a few opinions on these issues, but acknowledge that things are not black and white. Each is complicated.


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Posted by JC
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jan 25, 2009 at 11:09 pm

does anyone know if our min sentencing laws are being considered for change. it seems in this case that a crime was committed for sure since he turned himself in. some sort of punishment should result but is 12 years prison really the min sentence or could there have been something more fitting.


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Posted by SFC K
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jan 26, 2009 at 10:57 am

What a Joke, Then 2LT Binkley, was nowhere near the scout platoon when his company (B Co 1-16 INF)got ready for deployment. After our deployment to Bosnia he (Sargent) moved to the Scout platoon. Shortly after taking comand of that strike force, the entire battalion was to be "on line" shoulder to shoulder stepping in unison looking for a pair of night vision goggles. It was reported that the scout platoon wqas out on movement and had lost the goggles. What actually happened was that the scout platoon went 15 miles to the rear and took turns taking showers and getting some burger king food, mean while private snuffy took the goggles and hid them when it was his turn to go F&&K off. Hmm, the goggles were not to be reported missing until after breakfast the next day. 1-16INF BN stayed in the field "on-line" for 8 days looking for those goggles, The strike force scout platoon was disbanded by the Battalion Commander and sent to regular line platoons. It seems both of these morons from the scout platoon have some real issues with reality, perspective and honor. I personally have 6 different photos taken by myself of Ole Sarg sleeping in a different soldiers cot through-out the deployment. He was not in my platoon but to hid from his platoon he would come to one of our rooms (open bay) and take a nap. WOW what a dynamic leader! As far as PTSD, some of you have no idea what PTSD is, you read how horrible things happen and change peoples lives, this isnt the case with binkley, he is a lazy piece of garbage that got caught and found a loop hole to get out. Sarge, how dare you use the military or PTSD to hide behind whilsts you act like a coward.


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Posted by Concerned
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jan 26, 2009 at 11:19 am

OP,
You are correct, things are not always black and white. To truly understand PTSD, one would need to look at TRUE examples of which this case is certainly not. Apparently the good citizens of our fair state voted for the minimum sentencing laws, so why has that become an issue. Popular vote is what rules our democratic society.
Here we go again with the Vendetta talk again! I do not know the man, no reason to have anything against him. Did I take his comments literally, yes I did, no doubts about that. He posted what was said to be quote, so yes, it was taken literally, much the same way you take and have taken my comments. Its no different than how I have taken your comments. Noone will fault me for taking comments literally as I read what was written and since it was written in a matter of fact type quote, how else could it be taken.
I do agree that PTSD is a HUGE deal and needs to be taken seriously by everyone. Our Soldiers/Sailors/Airmen/Marines need and should get all the support we can give them but in the same sense, there needs to be honestly from the Service Member. If you read the psychologists report on supportsarge.org (through one of the links there), we could come to the conclusion that yes, things were bad for Binkley, HOWEVER, the only incident in the reports that are true is the mass grave sites. 1/3 of his PLT did not get badly beaten, he was never stabbed etc...
Sorry to take a look back there OP, but once again, to truly be able to understand PTSD, the issues need to come from the Service Men/Women who actually suffer from this sickness. Our men and women will always have my utmost support and respect!


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Posted by Old PSG
a resident of another community
on Jan 26, 2009 at 1:45 pm

Concerned, if you havent figured it out, this entire trial was based off misinterpretations and vendetta's according to Binkleys supporters. Its quite amazing actually. I think the Former Bn Cdr said it best when he said, why is it that the majority of people that do not support him are the people that knew him when he was in the Army. Had the defense went with the "servicemen and women who become addicted to prescription medication" (which we in the Army at least know is prescribed like candy by most BN PAs) mindset, most of us could understand that even though the most I ever got presribed was Motrin. But they chose to falsify statements and claim to those that disagreed that we all have a vendetta or it was a misinterpretation. The facts are the facts, they cannot be misinterpreted. They can be twisted around by some slick talking lawyer to a jury that knows absolutely nothing about the military and that is the only place that gray areas come into play. Yes, Binkley was in the 1% population who has served this Country, he is also one of the even smaller percentage who could not handle it.
OP, if you were not in his PLT or Company, you may have basic idea of the facts, if you were in Bosnia at the same time, then you know that alot of the stories that were being thrown around were completely made up.


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Posted by Nick Zunino
a resident of Rex Manor
on Jan 27, 2009 at 9:13 pm

SFCK-

Binkley robs a pharmacy of pain killers. He turns himself in to the police (even though there were no suspects). He's incarcerated. He chooses to face a jury of his peers. He chooses to take the stand and go face to face with prosecutors. He lets a jury judge his fate. Almost 3 years later, he's still in jail as I write (the consequence of turning himself in for a crime he committed).

You on the other hand, hide behind the shadows of the internet, afraid to reveal yourself in the open, and toss fire bombs of personal malice to defame Binkley, who (after being judged by a jury of his peers) still remains in jail, down, unable to defend himself, and vulnerable to such attacks.

....And yet you say HE is the coward.

Well, I'm sure it took a lot of courage and intestinal fortitude for you take such a great personal risk to yourself, your character, and reputation to perform such an audacious attack (whoever and wherever you are). Just stay in your miserable dark hole where no one needs to know you exist.


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Posted by Concerned
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jan 28, 2009 at 3:18 pm

Wow Nick,
That kind of sounds like noone else can express an opinion, especially if it different than yours. So Binkley turned himself in or was it his parents that turned him in? That part is confusing when the police report clearly says that his father called the police. I am not sure that is "turning yourself in".


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Posted by Concerned
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jan 28, 2009 at 3:21 pm

Nick,
Please do not forget that he initially pled guilty!


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Posted by Erik
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jan 28, 2009 at 6:12 pm

Concerned?

Concerned about what? Nik was pretty abrasive but he makes a good point about that guys hypocrisy. Comments and observations are one thing but a ranting personal attack is another. I dont know if I would have had the guts to turn myself in along with all evidence - i would have just remained silent and sought treatment.

I dont know how Binkley turned himself in [in person, by phone, through father, or what]. Your reasoning is that HE did not turn himself in - that it was his father. Well using that same reasoning it would follow that HE did not plead - that it was his lawyer. Of course a reasonable person would say the father acted on his sons behalf and that a lawyer acted on his clients behalf. Either way, Binkley supports the decision.

I don't know what his initial plea was but if I had the guts to turn myself in and give the police all the evidence [like the pistol, the pain meds, etc] I probably would have pleaded guilty and faced a FAIR consequence for the actual crime. If the DA came back with a 12yr prison sentence as the minimum - I'd change my plea to.


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Posted by Interested Citizen
a resident of another community
on Jan 29, 2009 at 8:32 am

Did he really turn himself in and voluntarily hand over all that evidence without a warrant? If so, then he basically gave the case to the prosecutors. PTSD or not, that alone sounds insane to me. Heck my child could have tried and won that case (at least the guilty part).


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Posted by SFC K
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jan 29, 2009 at 8:52 am

NICK NICK NICK, Nice are you gonna make sure Binkley feels safe out in the big bad world too? I served with him not only in Bosnia but also at Fort Riley Kansas so i "know" what kind of Soldier he is. Turning yourself in makes it al better right!!! IF i remember correctly OJ turned himself in too, (both times). Yet would you say his "peers" tried him correctly? California has a simple law, Use a gun go to jail. Period..Now, when that becomes hazy is when "peers" (like you)start to feel that poor mis-understood and mis-diagnoses soldiers like Binkley are getting a bumb rap. Somehow, at the same time forgetting that this person swore to GOD and country to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America and defend it's freedom. Funny, did the "mis-understood, hook on pain killers" soldier remember that before he commited a crime. So what he turned him self in, HE COMMITED A CRIME! IT IS AGAINST THE LAW FOR A REASON. You rest assuered that Vets in our society have fought and will fight for our freedom, freedom that even people like you enjoy. As far as hiding, yeah ok i thought this was the internet not a person to person, I would prefer the later but it is what it is. Poor Binkley. Poor Nick, can any of you please help them remeber that commiting a crime is....well wrong that's why it is a crime. I look forward to hearing from you Nick. Have a great day and enjoy the freedoms you have.


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Posted by hidden like you
a resident of another community
on Jan 29, 2009 at 11:06 am

Gee SFC K, maybe you don't have to meet face to face but you could give your actual name instead of some mysterious letters. Then your point might be better made.

Here's some other tips: RESIST ALL CAPS it makes you look nuts. Also, if you can, try to imagine a world that is slightly more complicated than simple black and white, right and wrong.

I'm not too confident about that last part.


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Posted by Erik
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jan 30, 2009 at 12:12 pm

SFK
"Suspects" turn themselves in. "Suspects" dont stand a chance of trying to hide or run from justice. OJ was the prime [and only] suspect - so enough with that pathetic comparison. Binkley was never a suspect. There were no suspects nor were there likely to be. Rarely do you ever hear of someone turning oneself in and admit to the crime when there are no suspects. Its even rarer for someone to turn oneself in admit to the crime and also turn over all the physical evidence [pistol, pain meds, etc]. Hey – i like to think I'm a pretty brave guy but that would be a HARD decision for me to turn myself in and face punishment [especially knowing I could choose the EASY alternative of just staying silent and never be caught].

Nik
You will probably call that cowardly but just to be clear - no matter what - i'd never hide in a miserable hole :)


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Posted by sharx91
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jan 30, 2009 at 1:19 pm

Can't we all just get our story straight? I sat in court during his trial. Binkley DID NOT turn himself in! His dad reported him and anyone who says otherwise, doesn't know what they're talking about... including the reporter...


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Posted by Erik
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jan 30, 2009 at 7:52 pm

Hi Sharx

See my comment from Jan 28. Either way - Binkley was part of the decision and supported it. Because I wasn't well informed when I made that comment, I've since researched some of the facts/details surrounding this ground-breaking case now. Yes - you are correct - the dad made the phone call [with Binkley present though]. Binkley waited for the police to arrive - answered their questions - turned over all the evidence - and went into custody. So literally, you are correct. But arguing whether the dad did it or Binkley did it is of no issue though - they were both together. The real issue is that when his dad called - Binkley was present and didn't try to interfere or flee - he chose to face justice. There were no suspects. Compared with all the other EASY options he had to avoid justice for the crime - he chose to face it. All I'm saying is that if it were me - that would have been a gut wrenching decision.

From your code name - Im assuming a Sharks fan. Go Sharks! Our guys did well in the All-Star game. This is for sure our year for the CUP.


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Posted by FYI
a resident of another community
on Jan 30, 2009 at 7:54 pm


For All:

SFCK brings up a significant point regarding gun "use" that I'd like to share. He is ignorant (as was I admittedly) on what the legal definition of "use" is. I'm sure a few others are also. There is a difference between someone "using" a firearm and just being "armed" with a firearm. Mr. Sargent Binkley was definitely armed (as the gentleman before me said, he turned himself in and said he had the gun during the robbery). It didn't matter that the gun was unloaded as some might argue - he was still armed. That should have remained the charge. Apparently, the Santa Clara County District Attorney's office wanted to go for the max punishment. They added on "use" of a firearm to the charge (which carries a minimum 12 year prison sentence). To legally "use" a firearm, it must be discharged, used to strike a blow, or displayed in a menacing manner. Of course Mr. Binkley never discharged the gun (it was unloaded), and he never hit someone with it. So the DA said he pointed the gun in a "menacing" manner. Yet, out of hundreds of photos taken from video surveillance of Mr. Binkley committing the robbery, the DAs own photography expert could not only find zero evidence of him pointing the gun, but he could not find any evidence that a gun was even in his possession (even though Mr. Binkley told them he had it)! I reiterate - hundreds of photographs – but no evidence of a gun (let alone "use" of a gun). Until recently, I never knew the term "use" of a gun could have such a significant meaning.


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Posted by Nick Zunino
a resident of Rex Manor
on Jan 31, 2009 at 8:34 am

SFCK-
Hopefully you are no longer an active Soldier. I find your misguided beliefs of what epitomizes cowardice and courage disturbing. Certainly, these are not the core beliefs of 99.9% of men and women who voluntarily serve in our professional Armed Forces, and hopefully your twisted beliefs did not poison any young minds. God help us if you were in any sort of leadership position to contaminate the principle values of our future war-fighters. The day we ever consider adopting such scornful tactics as yours (or those of terrorists) to wage attacks against enemies who threaten us, is the day we lose our moral foundation as the Country that stands for and defends liberty. You ask me to enjoy the freedoms I have. Absolutely – I will. However, if this is the SFCK technique of defending my freedoms, I say (as a citizen who paid your salary), "You're relieved of duty".

Oh yeah – I don't have to look forward to ever hearing from or seeing you because I won't. Disgraces like yourself hide in miserable holes and prey on easy targets. Just keep festering in there and throwing out hatred and nonsense that will be ignored (at least by me) - the rest of us are unafraid of your cowardly attack techniques and enjoying our liberties out here in the open.

Nik-
With regard to your comment, I would call it more honest than cowardly. You will probably say mine is abrasive again.

Supporters of Binkley-
Why all these posts? You got the verdict you wanted. It's over. Get on with life and quit re-trying the case.

Haters of Binkley-
Spewing contempt and arguing over moot issues of testimonty/evidence isn't going to change the verdict. What's done is done. If it was all a bunch of lies, and prosecutors couldn't expose it, a jury couldn't recognize it, and a defense attorney allowed it, then our justice system is broken. Focus your efforts there if you have such anger or disappointment.


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Posted by Ned
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jan 31, 2009 at 9:44 am

Nick, Jack Nicholson (Col. Jessup), have a few good words for you:
"Son, we live in a world that has walls, and those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Whose gonna do it? You? SFCK and the other military servicemen who comment above, have more responsibility here than you could possibly fathom. You weep for Binkley, and you curse the army. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what they know. That Binkley's downward spiral and conviction, while tragic, probably saved lives. And that SFCK's existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives. They know deep down in places you dont talk about at parties, you don't want them on that wall, you need them on that wall. They use words like honor, code, loyalty. They use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use them as a punchline. They have neither the time nor the inclination to explain themselves to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom they provide, then question the manner in which they provide it. I prefer you said thank you to them, and went on your way, Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon, and stand to post. Either way, I don't give a damn what you think you are entitled to!


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Posted by reader
a resident of another community
on Jan 31, 2009 at 11:32 am

No wonder you guys in California are a laughing stock right now ... you're brainwashed by Hollywood and let movie fiction dictate your judgment. I can see the next few blogs now . . "Oh yeah?! Well Bruce Willis says this and Sylvester Stalone says that".


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Posted by Stephen
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jan 31, 2009 at 2:39 pm

Sounds like humor to me since we don't take things so seriously in CA


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Posted by Casey
a resident of another community
on Jan 31, 2009 at 6:10 pm

Ned,
Thank you for educating us. Your knowledge of movie scripts is impressive. My daughter can quote Sponge Bob. Perhaps someone more scholarly than me can educate you on Geneva Convention, The Hague Convention, the US Constitution, and our Bill of Rights.


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Posted by Jake
a resident of Rex Manor
on Feb 1, 2009 at 10:25 am

Thank you Sharz91! What is hard to understand here!?!? I just reread the police report, Binkley was asleep when the police arrived at the house. Nick, you state some excellent points, it does come down to the justice system being broken. It is far to easy in todays world to take a story, create a few myths, and there you have it, you just created doubt. Why would the defense not of called on the guys that actually served with Sargent in Bosnia and Honduras to testify? That question is relatively easy to understand, the defense had to create doubt and thats exactly what they did. Instead, they call on a soldier who worked with Sargent in between those two deployments. Either way, the defense did what they had to do but can anyone answer that question?


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Posted by Enough!
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 1, 2009 at 12:06 pm

Enough with splitting hairs! And Ned does seem to have a point for those who don't understand humor or irony. To defend Binkley by disparaging the military commentators is akin to asking them to forgive his weak character and asking them to ratchet down their military egos. Do we really want a military with filed down teeth? Just my opinion in the event any one gets too excited.


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Posted by Army Officer
a resident of another community
on Feb 1, 2009 at 3:17 pm

Get over it people. I'd trade 100 Binkleys for one calm, cool and collected cold-stone killer infantryman or marine.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by reader
a resident of another community
on Feb 3, 2009 at 10:00 am

Wow..."cold-stone killers". You must be a fan of Earnest Medina.


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