A Special Forces friend of mine once vowed that, if he were killed by “friendly fire,” he would come back from the grave and haunt any family members who dared to complain about the manner of his death. His point was that battle involves the risk of getting killed, and it doesn’t much matter whether the bullet was fired by your side or by the enemy. He didn’t want the kind of spectacle made of his death that has occurred over Pat Tillman, the former NFL player who, while serving as a Ranger in Afghanistan, was accidentally killed by fellow Rangers.
I thought of his comments as I read about the growing brouhaha over the tragic death of British aid worker Linda Norgrove in Afghanistan. There are now rumors circulating that she may have been killed by a grenade tossed by a member of the American hostage-rescue force — presumably a Navy SEAL — and not by her captors. The British prime minister says that he finds this development to be “deeply distressing.” I can understand him being distressed by the fact that this selfless aid worker was kidnapped by brutal fanatics and that she died as a result. But does it make her death any worse if it was caused inadvertently by a rescuer than deliberately by a kidnapper? As far as I am concerned, whatever the case, moral culpability rests with the heartless fanatics who grabbed her. Period. End of story.