Added Victor Hansen, a former lieutenant colonel and Army JAG officer who is now a professor of law at New England Law in Boston, "How can somebody walk away from an incident where 24 people are dead and not face more serious criminal consequences? In the context of a combat environment, when things are fast and confusing, can the government establish that the orders he gave resulted in an unjustified killing? It's hard to say. It's factually very difficult to prove."
The sentence reminded Hansen and Meister of another U.S.-led killing that resulted in a light sentence: the My Lai massacre of the Vietnam War, where Army soldiers killed hundreds of civilians in a Vietnamese village. The leader of the platoon was convicted and sentenced to jail, but only ended up serving house arrest for three-and-a-half years until his sentence was commuted.
"It's not so different, and it is not hard to understand the feelings of Iraqis that justice was not done," Meister said.