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Warren, What’s Your Tribe?

“There is no comparison between the crimes and the sentence,” said Sheik Fadhil al-Janabi, a Sunni tribal leader in Anbar Province. “That soldier entered an Iraqi house, raped their underage daughter and burned her with her family, so this sentence is not enough, and it is insulting for Iraqis’ honor.” (

When I read that Iraqi tribal leaders are upset and insulted that an American jury spared Steven D. Green’s life for the rape of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and the murder of her and her family in 2006, my first response was, “that’s the way we roll in the USA. We don’t kill people, or even imprison them, to restore others’ honor.”

But then I remembered that at one time a then-Harris County Prosecutor gave me cause to write this post.

People’s basest instincts – retribution, to name one at play here – are the same the world over. That the American criminal justice system is better than many is not attributable to the character of our government officials, but rather to the principles that constrain them.



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