Alexander Blackman BBC Interview

lextalionis

Old-Salt
Doesn't the judgement given in Blackman's case serve to reinforce public perceptions of veterans as equipped with the thousand-yard-stare as standard?

The Court of Appeal does roll over to public demand on occasion. They found Tony Martin guilty of manslaughter rather than murder to keep Jo Publick happy. It looks like they have done the same here.
 
Doesn't the judgement given in Blackman's case serve to reinforce public perceptions of veterans as equipped with the thousand-yard-stare as standard?

The Court of Appeal does roll over to public demand on occasion. They found Tony Martin guilty of manslaughter rather than murder to keep Jo Publick happy. It looks like they have done the same here.
I suspect the fictional world and its content serves to feed that perception rather more. One supposes the lessons learned, is IF someone's performance has changed enough, to warrant a sudden negative appraisal, perhaps the medics need to get involved to try and move that person out of an isolated outpost.

On public demand; I just don't see this, as the tony martin case was broadly similar i.e. a desperate zeal from above to see the law applied and the failure of the court, to keep the psychological/medical reporting up to scratch that could have led to a retrial and be thankful that never happened in the blackman case, as it would have led to far more dirty laundry being aired in public.
 

lextalionis

Old-Salt
I suspect the fictional world and its content serves to feed that perception rather more. One supposes the lessons learned, is IF someone's performance has changed enough, to warrant a sudden negative appraisal, perhaps the medics need to get involved to try and move that person out of an isolated outpost.

On public demand; I just don't see this, as the tony martin case was broadly similar i.e. a desperate zeal from above to see the law applied and the failure of the court, to keep the psychological/medical reporting up to scratch that could have led to a retrial and be thankful that never happened in the blackman case, as it would have led to far more dirty laundry being aired in public.
I suppose we poor taxpayers are meant to believe that Blackman was a hero when things were going well and a victim when he commits a war crime. Let's remember that this wasn't a case of someone acting out of fear (genuine or otherwise), but a pretty cold-blooded act towards a wounded enemy. Would we be so accommodating if Blackman had been Oberstumbanhnfuhrer Blackmann rather than Sergeant Blackman, RM?

The other oddity is that the Court Martial Appeals' Court substituted its verdict for that of the original Court Martial. This is very unusual given that the jury (or, in this case, the Board) is considered to be the best judge of facts. Appeals are usually on the basis of a mistake in law. However, in this case, appeal was on the basis of psychiatric evidence obtained (see paragraph 78ff. https://www.judiciary.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/r-v-blackman-judgment-150317.pdf) some time after the original trial. The court blithely accepts the psychiatrists' assertion that evidence can be gained after much time has passed since the original events. This is rather odd, given just how routinely that the partial defence of diminished responsibility is used. Likewise, the original Court Martial found him to have had a normal degree of self-control over his actions.

The medical crux of the case - adjustment disorder - is also less helpful than it seems. Like many potential diagnoses for psychological disorders, it appears relatively recently in the ever-expanding arsenal of syndromes, appearing in the early 1990s (it seems) in DSM-4 or DSM-5. The British Journal of Psychiatry has described it as, "vague and all-encompassing… as to be useless" and its retention is perhaps best explained by the fact that, "...t serves a useful clinical purpose for clinicians seeking a temporary, mild, non-stigmatizing label, particularly for patients who need a diagnosis for insurance coverage of therapy" (Adjustment disorder - Wikipedia). It's also routinely used to discharge wayward Yank soldiers.

It's hard to avoid the conclusion that Blackman was lucky when the Court Martial Appeals' Court accepted the rather flimsy medical testimony about his behaviour. Alas, from the moral point of view, he is a cold-blooded murderer unworthy of the uniform he once wore.
 
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I suppose we poor taxpayers are meant to believe that Blackman was a hero when things were going well and a victim when he commits a war crime. Let's remember that this wasn't a case of someone acting out of fear (genuine or otherwise), but a pretty cold-blooded act towards a wounded enemy. Would we be so accommodating if Blackman had been Oberstumbanhnfuhrer Blackmann rather than Sergeant Blackman, RM?

The other oddity is that the Court Martial Appeals' Court substituted its verdict for that of the original Court Martial. This is very unusual given that the jury (or, in this case, the Board) is considered to be the best judge of facts. Appeals are usually on the basis of a mistake in law. However, in this case, appeal was on the basis of psychiatric evidence obtained (see paragraph 78ff. https://www.judiciary.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/r-v-blackman-judgment-150317.pdf) some time after the original trial. The court blithely accepts the psychiatrists' assertion that evidence can be gained after much time has passed since the original events. This is rather odd, given just how routinely that the partial defence of diminished responsibility is used. Likewise, the original Court Martial found him to have had a normal degree of self-control over his actions.

The medical crux of the case - adjustment disorder - is also less helpful than it seems. Like many potential diagnoses for psychological disorders, it appears relatively recently in the ever-expanding arsenal of syndromes, appearing in the early 1990s (it seems) in DSM-4 or DSM-5. The British Journal of Psychiatry has described it as, "vague and all-encompassing… as to be useless" and its retention is perhaps best explained by the fact that, "...t serves a useful clinical purpose for clinicians seeking a temporary, mild, non-stigmatizing label, particularly for patients who need a diagnosis for insurance coverage of therapy" (Adjustment disorder - Wikipedia). It's also routinely used to discharge wayward Yank soldiers.

It's hard to avoid the conclusion that Blackman was lucky when the Court Martial Appeals' Court accepted the rather flimsy medical testimony about his behaviour. Alas, from the moral point of view, he is a cold-blooded murderer unworthy of the uniform he once wore.
Whilst I respect your view, I couldn't disagree more... For the following reasons:-
1. War crimes and individual acts usually have a tiny bit of evidence of torture and the victims are usually healthy individuals prior to the execution. Additionally a gebirgsjager in Greece, or ss mann in france has often seen and/or committed numerous acts to establish that person is truly evil (or off his face on panzer choc).
2. The appeals court were less than impressed with the lack of a proper psyche reports in the original court martial and the fact no discussion of manslaughter (that is tantamount to a mistrial, in civvie street).
3. An appearance of control, but vague about the specifics is a symptom of adjustment disorder and the original court seemed less than bothered about the Murchison evidence.
4. British Psychiatry uses observational methods, rather than simple diagnostic tool kits as DSM-5. So blackman wasn't judged by the American standard, but our psyche methods and I hang my hat on the experience of the psychologists in the appeals case.
 

lextalionis

Old-Salt
Whilst I respect your view, I couldn't disagree more... For the following reasons:-
1. War crimes and individual acts usually have a tiny bit of evidence of torture and the victims are usually healthy individuals prior to the execution. Additionally a gebirgsjager in Greece, or ss mann in france has often seen and/or committed numerous acts to establish that person is truly evil (or off his face on panzer choc).
2. The appeals court were less than impressed with the lack of a proper psyche reports in the original court martial and the fact no discussion of manslaughter (that is tantamount to a mistrial, in civvie street).
3. An appearance of control, but vague about the specifics is a symptom of adjustment disorder and the original court seemed less than bothered about the Murchison evidence.
4. British Psychiatry uses observational methods, rather than simple diagnostic tool kits as DSM-5. So blackman wasn't judged by the American standard, but our psyche methods and I hang my hat on the experience of the psychologists in the appeals case.
Many thanks for such a considered response. In turn:
1. While many war crimes are indeed grisly or especially unpleasant, it's not a necessity. Doenitz was convicted (although not punished) for ordering unrestricted U-boat warfare. The principle is that breach of the law and customs of war yields criminal liability, whatever the circumstances.
2. If the appeals court were truly in earnest, why was the issue not put either to another court martial, or to a jury? The question of whether a person's mental illness substantially impairs his responsibility is one of fact and thus for a jury. I'd argue that the appeals courts were keener to dispose of the case than to let the law take its proper course.
3. Juries (and courts martial perhaps) have rejected expert testimony in the past, where it did not convince them. Peter Sutcliffe was convicted of murder despite ample evidence being offered for a plea of manslaughter by diminished responsibility. Blackman has put himself in the same category.
4. I'm not sure your argument stands up; it was the British Journal of Psychiatry that criticised the vagueness of adjustment disorder according to the practice and insight of, presumably, normal British psychiatry. It'd be interesting to know how often the diagnosis is used in other cases of murder, manslaughter and crimes against the person.

It seems clear to me that he should, at least, have been retried so that a jury or court martial could have decided on the veracity of the diminished responsibility defence. Appeals' courts are not normally triers of fact.
 
Many thanks for such a considered response. In turn:
1. While many war crimes are indeed grisly or especially unpleasant, it's not a necessity. Doenitz was convicted (although not punished) for ordering unrestricted U-boat warfare. The principle is that breach of the law and customs of war yields criminal liability, whatever the circumstances.
2. If the appeals court were truly in earnest, why was the issue not put either to another court martial, or to a jury? The question of whether a person's mental illness substantially impairs his responsibility is one of fact and thus for a jury. I'd argue that the appeals courts were keener to dispose of the case than to let the law take its proper course.
3. Juries (and courts martial perhaps) have rejected expert testimony in the past, where it did not convince them. Peter Sutcliffe was convicted of murder despite ample evidence being offered for a plea of manslaughter by diminished responsibility. Blackman has put himself in the same category.
4. I'm not sure your argument stands up; it was the British Journal of Psychiatry that criticised the vagueness of adjustment disorder according to the practice and insight of, presumably, normal British psychiatry. It'd be interesting to know how often the diagnosis is used in other cases of murder, manslaughter and crimes against the person.

It seems clear to me that he should, at least, have been retried so that a jury or court martial could have decided on the veracity of the diminished responsibility defence. Appeals' courts are not normally triers of fact.
1. Look at the skorzeny trial, which saw an SOE witness for the defence.. I think you have to see the breaches of the law in the context of the situation and not simply a blanket verdict that the law is broken and simply no defence exists.
2. Can't argue with you on the why no retrial... If you dig into the court papers, the prosecution were more than happy to accept the psyche evidence, so long as the manslaughter charge was not challenged.
3. The reality is a mistrial had occurred and the courts were clearly minded to lend more weight to the psychology, which only Dr Orr contributed a small reference at the original court martial.
4. The BJP did not criticise adjustment disorder, they're criticised DSM-5, for its simplistic tick box method of diagnosis. Remember I brought up DSM-5 just to highlight the sorts of symptoms associated with the disorder. The court psyches did NOT use DSM and the 3 British Psychiatrists all agreed on a diagnosis of adjustment disorder.

On your final comment, I actually agree with you.
 
Whilst I respect your view, I couldn't disagree more... For the following reasons:-
1. War crimes and individual acts usually have a tiny bit of evidence of torture and the victims are usually healthy individuals prior to the execution. Additionally a gebirgsjager in Greece, or ss mann in france has often seen and/or committed numerous acts to establish that person is truly evil (or off his face on panzer choc).
2. The appeals court were less than impressed with the lack of a proper psyche reports in the original court martial and the fact no discussion of manslaughter (that is tantamount to a mistrial, in civvie street).
3. An appearance of control, but vague about the specifics is a symptom of adjustment disorder and the original court seemed less than bothered about the Murchison evidence.
4. British Psychiatry uses observational methods, rather than simple diagnostic tool kits as DSM-5. So blackman wasn't judged by the American standard, but our psyche methods and I hang my hat on the experience of the psychologists in the appeals case.

His little snuff movie is pretty compelling
 

ExREME.TECH

War Hero

ExREME.TECH

War Hero
I saw a sheep get killed by a .303" at Sealand ranges in N Wales when i was on a range day with the Cadets, early 80s.

If that had been Gurkhas, they'd have et it. Marines, they'd have shagged it. Kingsmen, they'd have flogged it to a kebab shop.
Then steal it back and flog it again
 

ExREME.TECH

War Hero
Are the Brits still using the 10mg morphine syrette (like a superglue tube with a needle on top) or have we moved on to orally administered Fentanyl lollipops ?
Us Brits are allowed to carry our own morphine, probably because we aren't junkies like another Army... West of Wales
 

ExREME.TECH

War Hero
I said this a few years ago, when mainly ex officers on here were harping on him letting down the armed forces. This sort of things happens occasionally. Its just not videoed. Theres a news of the world video that shows a British unit kicking the **** out of prisoners who had been rioting, no SNCO or officers stopped it.

You might have noticed that even though Blackman pulled the trigger, no one who was there grassed him up. Almost as if they didn't have a problem with it.
Let me think. I just saw someone I was meant to aspire to be murder someone... I will grass him up.
First question what didn't you stop him?
I think you were part of it.

Outside, mate you know what I am capable of, how's the wife and kids?
 
Whilst I respect your view, I couldn't disagree more... For the following reasons:-
1. War crimes and individual acts usually have a tiny bit of evidence of torture and the victims are usually healthy individuals prior to the execution. Additionally a gebirgsjager in Greece, or ss mann in france has often seen and/or committed numerous acts to establish that person is truly evil (or off his face on panzer choc).
2. The appeals court were less than impressed with the lack of a proper psyche reports in the original court martial and the fact no discussion of manslaughter (that is tantamount to a mistrial, in civvie street).
3. An appearance of control, but vague about the specifics is a symptom of adjustment disorder and the original court seemed less than bothered about the Murchison evidence.
4. British Psychiatry uses observational methods, rather than simple diagnostic tool kits as DSM-5. So blackman wasn't judged by the American standard, but our psyche methods and I hang my hat on the experience of the psychologists in the appeals case.
I'm confused. Where did the psychologists spring from? I thought the expert medical evidence was provided by psychiatrists.

Oh, and point 1 is utter beeswank. As @lextalionis rightly alludes, walking up to a noncombatant, healthy or otherwise, and shooting them dead for no good reason is a war crime. There is no 'usually' about it. There is no permitted allowance, no 'do not exceed' figure, and no need to 'torture' them. One instance will do.

And why do you think it necessary to differentiate between 'war crimes and individual acts'? Is an individual act incapable of being treated as a war crime?

I puzzles me why you feel the need to invent spurious contexts as though they materially affect what are very simple points of law.
 
Let me think. I just saw someone I was meant to aspire to be murder someone... I will grass him up.
First question what didn't you stop him?
I think you were part of it.

Outside, mate you know what I am capable of, how's the wife and kids?
Not everyone is a coward though.
 
I'm confused. Where did the psychologists spring from? I thought the expert medical evidence was provided by psychiatrists.

Oh, and point 1 is utter beeswank. As @lextalionis rightly alludes, walking up to a noncombatant, healthy or otherwise, and shooting them dead for no good reason is a war crime. There is no 'usually' about it. There is no permitted allowance, no 'do not exceed' figure, and no need to 'torture' them. One instance will do.

And why do you think it necessary to differentiate between 'war crimes and individual acts'? Is an individual act incapable of being treated as a war crime?

I puzzles me why you feel the need to invent spurious contexts as though they materially affect what are very simple points of law.
One instance will do, its a simple point of law, guilty as charged, march him out RSM...... Whilst I appreciate your efficiency, you simply care nought about the man, or natural justice being served, which thankfully the appeals court is a higher one than judge Jeffrey stickybomb.
 
One instance will do, its a simple point of law, guilty as charged, march him out RSM...... Whilst I appreciate your efficiency, you simply care nought about the man, or natural justice being served, which thankfully the appeals court is a higher one than judge Jeffrey stickybomb.
"Natural Justice" is that thing people who disagree with the actual law call on.


Usually because they, or someone they have a crush on, is a criminal.
 

lextalionis

Old-Salt
1. Look at the skorzeny trial, which saw an SOE witness for the defence.. I think you have to see the breaches of the law in the context of the situation and not simply a blanket verdict that the law is broken and simply no defence exists.
2. Can't argue with you on the why no retrial... If you dig into the court papers, the prosecution were more than happy to accept the psyche evidence, so long as the manslaughter charge was not challenged.
3. The reality is a mistrial had occurred and the courts were clearly minded to lend more weight to the psychology, which only Dr Orr contributed a small reference at the original court martial.
4. The BJP did not criticise adjustment disorder, they're criticised DSM-5, for its simplistic tick box method of diagnosis. Remember I brought up DSM-5 just to highlight the sorts of symptoms associated with the disorder. The court psyches did NOT use DSM and the 3 British Psychiatrists all agreed on a diagnosis of adjustment disorder.

On your final comment, I actually agree with you.
No one contested the fact that what Blackman did was a war crime; he even admits it in the recording ("I've breached the Geneva Convention.."). By his own admission, he is a war criminal and, by ordinary standards, a criminal and killer.

I think the most likely explanation of why psychiatric evidence was not introduced is that he was not mentally ill and he did not conceive of himself as being mentally. Nor, in all likelihood, did anyone else. The mental-health card seems only to have been played as a last resort to avoid the life sentence and murder conviction. The original court-martial was fairly stringent in ordering a minimum term of ten years (reduced to eight before the conviction for murder was reduced to manslaughter). The basis of that mental-health claim was flimsy, as I have shown, and never put to a jury or court-martial, where it would probably not have been accepted.

There's no notion of a mistrial; the Court Martials' Appeal Court went out of its way to approve the handling of the original case by the presiding Judge Advocate.

The reservations about adjustment disorder stand. This question is a matter of fact that belongs to a jury//board, rather than to mere judges of law, who are perhaps too accepting of professional opinion.
 

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