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Reveille: Iranians Release American Hiker, Haditha Marine's Lawyer Steps Down, Dream for Iraq, San Diego Surgeon's Plea, British Troops Accused of Killing Civilians

Marine's defense lawyer steps down in Iraq case - A major Iraqi war crimes case that has dragged on for five years hit another snag Monday when a military judge excused one of the attorneys for a Marine sergeant whose squad was charged with killing 24 Iraqis. The move by military judge Lt. Col. David M. Jones came only weeks before the trial is set to begin on Nov. 2. Jones granted the request by the civilian attorney, retired Marine Lt. Col. Colby Vokey, who asked to be withdrawn because of an undisclosed ethical conflict. Vokey was one of three civilian lawyers and a military attorney representing Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich, the last defendant in one of the biggest cases to emerge from the Iraq war. There was a dream for Iraq ' The dream was that it would evolve into a liberal democracy, a beacon for the Arab world. Iraq would have proved to scoffers inside and outside the Arab world that Arabs are as capable of liberal self-government as any other people. Iraq would have inspired and supported liberal democrats throughout the Arab world, leaving the Islamists and other tyrannical forces gasping for air like fish out of water. From being among the most backward regions in the world, the Arab world could become a welcome and trusted part of modernity. There is also a nightmare vision for Iraq: that Islamists take control, making the country as cruelly barbaric as Talibanic Afghanistan or the Iranian mullocracy. It could become a safe haven for terrorists to disrupt the region and the world. The dream is still possible. But so is the nightmare. San Diego surgeon urges civilian healthcare to follow military's lead - A leading San Diego physician wants the medical and political establishments in the United States to improve trauma care for civilians by adopting a system akin to that developed by the U.S. military to treat battlefield casualties from Iraq and Afghanistan. Trauma continues to be "a disease for which we have a cure," said Dr. A. Brent Eastman. In a detailed speech last year to a convention of surgeons, and in an article in the August edition of the Journal of the American College of Surgeons, Eastman suggests that the U.S. look to the military's success in reducing the death rate from wounds inflicted in battle. The same can be done for trauma patients in the United States, Eastman said, but not if the nation's patchwork system for trauma care remains "fragmented, overwhelmed and underfunded." British soldiers and airmen suspected of killing of Iraqi civilians - The victims include a man who was allegedly kicked to death on board an RAF helicopter, another who was shot by a soldier of the Black Watch after being involved in a traffic incident, and a 19-year-old who drowned after allegedly being pushed into a river by soldiers serving with the Royal Engineers. Military police recommended that some of the alleged killers be put on trial for murder and manslaughter, but military prosecutors declined to do so after concluding that there was no realistic prospect of convictions. The Ministry of Defence and the Service Prosecuting Authority (SPA) have repeatedly declined to offer detailed explanations for those decisions. The MoD has also been reluctant to offer anything other than sketchy details of some of the investigations.