Cutting a Deal with the “Death Dealers”: Soldier Attempts Suicide So Army Charges Him Criminally and Has His Mother Paint His Suicide Note On His Bedroom Wall

storyAs Congress struggles to understand the shocking report of a massive increase in suicides in the Army, they might want to study the case of Army Pvt. Adam Lieberman to see how some officers treat soldiers in mental distress. Lieberman was experiencing severe mental problems after a year in Iraq qith the Ist Battalion, 67 Armored Regiment — known as “the Death Dealers.” When he tried to kill himself, he wrote his suicide note on the wall in his room. The Army reportedly responded to the suicide attempt by charging him criminally and cut a deal with this mom. If she re-painted the wall, his charges would not include defacing of government property. After she painted the wall with the help of her handicapped sister, they charged him anyway with the crime.

When he attempted to end his life with pills, Lieberman painted the following words on the wall: “I FACED THE ENEMY AND LIVED! IT WAS THE DEATH DEALERS THAT TOOK MY LIFE!” They never told the mother, who finally reached her son in the hospital days later. She says that his battalion commander, Lt. Col. Lance Kohler, at Fort Carson, Kansas, told her that she would only be notified for sure if he had succeeded in the attempt. When she asked why he was not put into a mental health treatment area of the hospital, Kohler allegedly said that he was given legal assistance instead because they wanted to criminally charge him. She said that she was told that he faced a charge of petty larceny for breaking a candy machine, going AWOL to say goodbye to a friend, and defacing government property.

The mother then went to her son’s commander, Capt. Phelps. She says that Phelps told her that if she didn’t want her son charged on the defacing count, she could get paint and equipment from supply and re-paint the wall. She did the job, but says that they charged her son anyway with the offense.

Under this logic, if a soldier jumps from a window and splatters over a bench or crushes a car’s roof, they would be guilty of the same offense if they survive.

The military continues to enjoy immunity from tort lawsuits under the infamous Feres Doctrine. In the case of a private employers ignoring the signs of mental illness and self-medication that the mother has described, there would be a serious threat of liability. Ultimately, most suicide attempts are not treated as a matter for liability for an employer. However, Feres has been blamed for decades in producing a lack of response or concern in many cases.

For the Salon article, click here.

54 thoughts on “Cutting a Deal with the “Death Dealers”: Soldier Attempts Suicide So Army Charges Him Criminally and Has His Mother Paint His Suicide Note On His Bedroom Wall”

  1. Howie,

    In my lifetime, because of various G&T programs at school, I’ve probably taken somewhere in the area of 35-40 IQ tests, in differing formats.

    Seriously, if you have to tell someone your test score, well, I’m betting 108 is probably more in the ballpark. For one thing, that wasn’t a cogent defense but reflexive ad hominem snark. A 148 with no skills is like 427 on an engine rack. You don’t sound intelligent. You sound like a angry bitchy little girl.

    IQ scores are of limited value and intelligent people know this. That’s why they never mention it. Mentioning it, in fact, reeks of insecurity and in polite society is considered boorish. Yeah, walk up to someone and start arguing based on your IQ. You’ll make an impression all right. What’s next? You’re going to tell us how “bad” you are? How big your pee pee is? How many women you’ve slept with? How you could just kill a man by looking at him hard? How you can turn lead into gold?

    Bron is so very right. Speaking for myself, if I were insipid or insecure enough to tell you my Stanford-Binet scores, you’d run hide under the bed. I’m pretty sure mespo and many of the other regulars would give you a fright too. You’ll need to do better than that not to get mauled in here. Truly, an amateur effort at best.

  2. Howie from the Bronx

    My reply is stuck in moderation purgatory. I completely agree, “people should be held responsible for their actions.”

  3. HOWIE B:

    I wouldnt go throwing the IQ around in these parts, I have a feeling that 148 is easily trumped.

  4. Retard.

    Nice.

    Fuck you troll. I’ve been polite the last time to you, poser.

  5. “thats not cool man”

    Neither was the U.S. overthrow and subversion all over the planet since WW II of democratically elected govenments and governments that represented the will of their citizens, the national security state’s assassination of a president in 1963 who was beginning to turn against them and go in some progressive directions and the cover-up of same, their assassinations of King, RFK, Malcolm X, the war and occupation of Viet Nam and murder of 3 million in south east Asia, the support for the murder of one million progressives in Indonesia, etc, etc. Don’t get me wrong; I’m no apologist for Stalin, China’s “cultual revolution, etc., etc. A big problem is that most U.S. citizens don’t know their own history and believe a fairy-tale version of it.

    “H from the B, long on passion short on logic. Little balance.”

    Of course the conclusion of my post was hyperbolic; that should have been understood. As one who for example scored 148 on an I.Q. exam and 100% on a stae solid geometry Regent’s exam as a kid, and was a 16 year old electrical engineering student on scholarship , my logical analysis abilibility is o.k.

    I believe people should be held responsible for their actions.

  6. I think every person in the U.S. military and the U.S. govenment, and U.S. citizens who supported the war and occupation of Iraq, resulting in the death of 1.25 millian Iraqis, after the CIA helped install Sadam in 1963, and Reagan armed him in the 1980s, should kill themselves.

  7. Not to be nitpicky, but there’s no Fort Carson in Kansas — there’s a Fort Riley in Junction City, but Fort Carson is actually in Colorado Springs, Colo.

    This does not, however, change the disgusting treatment of this Soldier — and his family — by his commanding officer. The guy should receive a dishonorable discharge for failing to protect one his guys.

  8. chris
    “1, February 9, 2009 at 4:12 pm
    This is not the norm in the military. This is negligence by a few very irresponsible and negligent leaders who should be help responsible. In the marine corps we are trained and briefed at least monthly on suicide awareness so I know that at least in the corps these situations are few and far between.”

    A few bad apples?

    Frankly, if it had been my son, I’d have had words with the battalion commander. And by ‘words’, I don’t mean words.

  9. This is indeed a sickening account of abuse of power.

    You might want to change something in the OP, however, Ft. Carson is in Colorado, not Kansas.

  10. As a clinician specializing in PTSD and chronic complex PTSD, I continue to be horrified by the failure of the military adequately to address what is in fact an eminently treatable condition.

  11. mespo, Jill, CCD, Mike S.,

    Thank you all for your kindness.

    One lives to be of service.

  12. Buddha,
    What is so interesting about your 7 points is that they are in effect apolitical. I mean this in the sense that thinking people on both the right and the left can easily accept them both philosophically and politically while still maintaining their respective philosophies. The key of course to my last statement was “thinking people.” The problem, that those of us who want to see change in the world face, is from the ideologues both political and religious. They become entangled in their own dogma and thus remove themselves as agents for change, becoming instead ego oriented defenders of their positions. To me that is why your 7 points are a tour de force. They cut through the dogma and crap to get to the essence of what is necessary to develop a humane and just humanity.

    When you eloquently speak of corporatism I again sit at your feet. This is the essence of the imbalances in human experience most people suffer from today. By giving them the legal fiction of legal entities that in effect gives them rights above those of real people, a monster has been created. This is an all-powerful monster, amoral by definition, whose only responsibility is to serve the cause of greed.

    Political discourse too often fails to distinguish between the corporate ruthlessness we have seen and the action of businesses and people trying to create or sell products and build an entity they can pass on to their children. The corporate world today seeks only to make money and in so doing literally has gutted viable businesses and manufacturers(losing people their jobs, health and retirement benefits)in the service of maximizing profit. This is why the US has lost its position as manufacturer (that whole thing is for another, longer discussion)to the world and we have in effect become like the “Hessians” we fought in the Revolution.

    The religious/authoritarian aspect has been extensively discussed, elsewhere in depth on JT’s site, so needs no exposition save to confirm your thoughts that too often these vile entities work hand in glove (Whaddya want? I like cliches)towards similar ends. Thank you for your comment which concisely sums up most of what I believe politically, but did so with the elegance of simplicity.

  13. BIL
    The shift is on. The ideas you post above will be the norm.

    Jill
    I’m happy there’s a Light Flyweight niche here in Turley land.

  14. Buddha,

    I like your 7 points. They make a lot of sense. We are in grave danger of corporatism in the US and the world. The new financial plan due out this A.M. will, by all accounts, take from the poor to give to the rich. It is corporations who determine our monetary policy and our military “adventures”. We must stop this by protesting strongly.

  15. Buddha:

    Like Gerry Spense, I have always thought that corporations found culpable of criminal conduct or crimes against humanity (ala Krupps and its slave laborers in Nazi Germany) should face a death penalty of sorts. Their directors should be fired along with their senior officers and the State should take control until a new board and officers can be elected. The entity is a creation of law and should be regulated. Just because it makes money and employs scores of people doesn’t immunize it from state control when its actions reach the margins. To argue otherwise would immunize other “businesses” like the drug trade which is both profitable and a source of widespread employment.

  16. CCD,

    You are welcome and thank you for your service. I have many friends from that conflict, none without a scar of some sort whether you can see it or not.

    As far as global security, you raise a good point.

    For global and local peace, the recipe is simple to define, but hard to make. It’s all a matter of scale.

    People need to be

    1) Fed
    2) Have clean water
    3) Have equitably distributed and accessible health care, education and other social services.
    4) Have a functional criminal justice system that operates equitably and as a trier of fact – no more, no less.
    5) Freedom of expression and religion as constrained by disallowing coercion but especially physical coercion.
    6) Not subject to repression or cruelty in the name of profit or ideology.
    7) The ability to expel from the system and punish those who abuse the public trust and break the social contract.
    8) Government that works for the people, not the legal fiction of corporations.

    Corporatism. That was Mussolini’s preferred term for fascism. Corporations are the NUMBER ONE PROBLEM facing not just the U.S., but the world. Governance must be reality based, not how the greedy and amoral wish reality to be. As programmers and physicists know, garbage in – garbage out. Corporations are garbage. Pure trash that has so far deviated from the original intent as to become toxic. And they have help, their graft peddling scumbags on K Street. I could tell you why I hate these things in detail but to this last point, I recently read a nice summary of everything I hate about corporations at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/philip-slater/why-free-market-capitalis_b_163958.html

    It should be self-evident upon examination that numbers #’s 1-7 are being hindered when not outright stopped, by #8.

    It’s the last one that’s going to kill us or we are going to kill corporations as currently formulated. The fascist Boards of Exxon and Halliburton might want to keep that in mind. The time for their departure from process and punishment for crimes committed is rapidly approaching. How nasty it gets is up to them . . . all the way until it’s no longer their choice but the collective ours. Personally, I’d get a kick out of seeing their headquarters on fire and their upper management running for their venal little lives in front of an angry mob, but I’d settle for a trial and prison orange. We the People is the most powerful force on Earth. The governors only can rule with the consent of the governed – it’s that way in ANY political system, from monarchy to eudaemonic utopia. Corporations ignore this FACT at their peril. Those are the real battle lines: authoritarian elitist fascism vs. libertarian populist democracy. All of our global problems have their roots in THIS conflict and/or the conflict of Theocrats. The only difference is that the battle against authoritarian elitist fascism is not televised as a distraction to keep We the People from visiting Exxon and flicking our Bic’s. The corporatists even go so far as to use religious conflict to further their fascist agenda.

    The solution seems self-evident. If your problems are rooted in a fiction, dispose of the fiction and those who abuse it, Q.E.D.

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