The year was 2006. The place was near the Muthana Chemical Complex south of Lake Thar Thar, Iraq. The backdrop was Operation Iraqi Freedom. The target was a suspected al-Qaeda in Iraq training facility southwest of the city of Samarra. Colonel Michael D. Steele commanded the 3rd Special Troops Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat, 187th Infantry Regiment (also known as Rakkasans), 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) and worked with Iraqi Army soldiers throughout Salah ad Din province defeating insurgents, Al Qaeda cells, and uncovering numerous caches of weapons and explosives. He sent Alpha Company to Samarra to assist the Rakkasans.
On May 9, a Blackhawk helicopter dropped Corey’s squad off on an island consisting of two homes. The squad then approached one of the homes and discovered three military-aged males using two women as human shields. Corey’s squad handcuffed and detained the three men while the squad leader, Staff Sergeant Girouard, radioed Command to report the three detainees. The response was, “Why aren’t these terrorists dead yet?”
Girouard held a meeting of the entire squad. He then ordered Corey and another soldier, William Hunsaker, to kill the three detainees. Corey and Hunsaker were coincidentally the two lowest-ranked members of the squad.
Following the meeting, Girouard cut off the detainee’s zip-ties and ordered Corey and Hunsaker to shoot them. Corey recognized that he had been given an unlawful order. However, he knew the Rules of Engagement were to “shoot to kill.” Corey was aware of the Intelligence and knew that under the new “catch and release” program, the detainees would likely be released very quickly. These consequences weighed heavily on Corey as these detainees, once released, would most likely provide damaging intelligence to al Qaeda or even kill other U.S. soldiers. As the youngest and lowest ranking member of the squad, he was fearful of the consequences of disobeying the order.
Corey decided to follow the order and accompanied by Hunsaker, told the detainees to run away and then began to shoot, killing two of them. The third detainee was mortally wounded and then shot in the head by Specialist Graber.
When the squad was charged and detained, Corey was abused by American guards, often going unfed and being forced to sleep in the fetal position while chained. His conditions were harsher than those at Guantanamo. While the others who were charged were let off easily, with one even being promoted and subsequently redeployed to Iraq, Corey was charged with 18 years and spent 4 years in solitary confinement in Leavenworth.
His mother, Melanie Dianiska, is trying to spearhead all efforts for the military to grant clemency for Corey. One of her efforts is taking his case to the internet, with the site http://www.coreyclagett.com and also taking it to various radio shows online. The intention is to garner public support for Corey and also get media attention for him. It is unfair that others had been handled with kid gloves and received lighter sentences while Corey has been handled with iron gloves and received a harsher sentence.