Afghan war crimes case reopens scrutiny of Iraq killings

Staff. Sgt. Calvin Gibbs, a central figure in the Afghanistan war-crimes case against Western Washington-based soldiers, talked about killing a family while he served in Iraq, according to a sworn statement from a fellow soldier obtained by The Seattle Times.

When Gibbs arrived in Afghanistan, he began talking to other soldiers about "getting away with some of these things," according to Spc. Jeremy Morlock, 22, a soldier who is accused of helping Gibbs murder three civilians in Afghanistan.

Morlock told Army investigators that Gibbs told some platoon members he had developed a plan to kill Iraqis driving in a car, and looked for a chance to carry it out.

The opportunity arrived while he was crossing a road carrying a Squad Automatic Weapon, a powerful machine gun, according to Morlock.

Gibbs told the soldiers he "turned around and sprayed down the vehicle" that carried the family and covered up the slayings by telling his commanders the car had failed to stop, according to Morlock's statement.

The Army has charged Gibbs with committing three killings of civilians in Afghanistan, possessing body parts and other crimes while serving in the southern province of Kandahar. He is being held at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

Other soldiers, in statements to Army criminal investigators, have portrayed Gibbs as the ringleader of the group that carried out the killings and other crimes, including beating one fellow soldier believed to be a drug informant. The investigation has resulted in charges against a dozen soldiers from the 5th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, at Lewis-McChord.

Gibbs, 25, of Billings, Mont., has denied involvement in any illegal activity.

Another squad soldier, Spc. Michael Wagnon, of Las Vegas, Nev., accused of involvement in one of the Afghanistan slayings, said he never heard Gibbs talk about any crimes in Iraq or discuss any scenarios to kill Afghans, according to Wagnon's attorney, Colby Vokey.

Maj. Katherine Turner, a public-affairs officer at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, said she could not comment on Gibbs' conduct in Iraq. The Washington Post, citing Army investigative reports, said Wednesday that the Army would re-examine the killing of the family in Iraq.

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