Rules of Engagement (2000) Script

Ca Lu, half a click that way, two-nine-zero.

I say we go right up the middle. Negative.

One round flank up the hill, the other one right through the swamp.

Heads, you get the hill. Tails, you get the swamp.

Flip the motherfucker.

See you in Ca Lu. All right.

Delta Two, what's your SITREP? Over.

What do you got, Gibson?

Nothing, sir. Delta One, Delta Two, SITREP. Over.

Two-one, contact! Contact way out!

Cease fire! Cease fire!

Go, go, go. Let's get 'em!

Come outta there!

Put your hands on your head! Get on your knees now!

Come on! Down, down.

Come on out of there! Now!

How many you slopes are out here? Huh? What's your unit? What's in it?

Tuan, get over here! Talk to these motherfuckers!

Find out how many of them are here!

Where are they? What's in it? Talk to me, goddamn it!


Two, this is One Actual. Where are you?


Other side of the tree line. I'm in the water unable to withdraw.

Unable to withdraw! I'm calling in a fire mission on this position!

Hurry up and drop that arty! They're all over!

Go left! Get out there!

Tell this man to get on that radio and pull his men off Hodges.

Tell him to break contact and move his men north of Ca Lu!

Tell him I ain't playin'! Pull his men off Hodges now!

I ain't bullshittin' with you.

Either you call your men off Hodges, or this motherfucker's dead and you're next.

Last warnin '!


Call your men off Hodges now!

If he does, he can go. He's got my word on that.

If you don't, I'll kill you where you stand.

Two, this is One Actual. You still with me?

Crank off a pop-up if you're still alive.

You got a reprieve, you hear me? You don't get to die today.

"You got your "Hail Mary".

Hey! It's the colonel with his cover on!

All right! Make way, make way!

I guess the drinks are on me. All right!

At ease! Listen up.

Ladies and gentlemen, the reason we're all here, Colonel Hayes Hodges.

He's calling it a career after 32 years of distinguished service.

All right, all right.

Colonel, we got you a gift and a surprise, so don't act like you're not coming up here.

Speech! Speech! Speech!

Speech! Speech! Speech!

Hey, my man!

Good to see you.

You damn well better be. I came halfway 'round the world for this.

Hey, get up here.


The sword, Colonel. You know the story, Hayes.

Marine Lieutenant Presley O'Banion defeated the Barbary pirates... on the shores ofTripoli in 1805.

Out of gratitude, the pasha gave him the Mameluke sword.

Marine officers have carried one ever since.

It's the symbol ofa warrior, and you are a warrior.

The best I ever served with.

This man's been riding a desk for the past 28 years, but not because he wanted to.

He knows how to fight. It's in his blood. Ah-ooh!

What are you gonna do now, Colonel?

Well, uh... Well.

Heh! No more wars to fight, no more trials to lose.

So I expect I'll do some teaching at V.M.I.

I will recon the local restaurants in a concerted effort... to find out what civilians eat.

Of course, I intend to continue serving my country... by honorably depleting the trout streams... of the Southern United States with my fly rod!

That's about it.

Let's get outta here.

I missed you. Yeah, I missed you too.

How's the kid, the smart Hodges?

You know, he studies more than any two people. I never see him.

You gotta fix that. Yeah.

Got my orders. Oh, yeah? What?

Got command of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit.

Special Operations capable. Congrats. Huh! Congrats.

Yeah. Outstanding.

All I gotta do is lash 'em together, take 'em to sea.

That's, uh... outstanding.

You ain't missin' nothin', Hodge. It's a whole new ball game.

No friends, no enemies, no front, no rear.

No victories, no defeats, no Mama, no Papa.

Yeah. We're orphans out there.

It's funny, you know?

One guy walks out through a swamp, he gets to come home to a desk.

Another guy drives up a hill and he gets to still be doin' it, all over the flip ofa goddamn coin.

You know, that's...

It's funny.

You gave good service to the corps, Hodge.

To think otherwise would be just plain crazy.

You'd have gotten your command. Oh, yeah, sure.

What's up, John?

Terry, we've been ordered to the Arabian Sea, Gulf of Aden.

This comes straight down Second Division through General Perry.

The American Embassy in Yemen is surrounded... by a crowd of demonstrators.

The crowd isn't hostile, but it's large enough... to spook their government into pulling their security forces.

Twenty-fourth Marine Expeditionary Unit's gonna provide extra security.

We're gonna baby-sit, Colonel. Just show our presence.

Remember, though, if it turns hot, we're looking at an evac.

We got an ambassador and his family there. Let me run you through this.

Here's your potential L.Z.S.

Marines at the embassy advise we can gain entrance through the back way.

Here's some stairs where you can deploy your men to the roof.

These are your over-watch positions.

I'll take them in myself quietly.

One platoon, TRAP team, put everyone else on Ready Five.

My thoughts exactly, Colonel.

What's wrong, Mommy?

The people are upset about some things, darling.

Are they mad at Daddy? No, they're not mad at your daddy.

Why are they yelling?

They're trying to get attention so that people will listen to them.

Sir, state security analysts are asking for an assessment.

Assessment? We're getting the hell out of here. That's the assessment.

The Sixth Fleet marines are in the air, sir.

If they think I'm gonna tough this one out, they're crazy.

Tell Mrs. Mourain to start packing. We're going home.

Shall I indicate we're ready to evacuate?

Ask them where the hell are those helicopters!

The ambassador wants to know where the choppers are.

You heard me. Where the hell are the choppers?

Lock and load! Lock and load!

Lock and load! Lock and load!

We're gonna take a betterlookbefore we go in.

Wagon Wheel, this is Red Man. I'm over the embassy.

This ain 't no baby-sit. It's ugly down there.

Red Man, Wagon Wheel.

Roger that. Let's go for the evac.

Put it on deck. We're going in the north side.

There! Go!

Captain Lee! Yes, sir!

Nobody comes over those walls or through those gates. Nobody!

One Alpha, secure all entries. Tango and Bravo, on the walls!

Move, move, move! Last man! Last man!

Pull back! Pull back!

Take cover!

You speak English? Yes!

Where's the ambassador? He's topside! Go topside!

Take that corner! Take that side! Move!


Move, move, move! Go, go!

Bravo Two, left! Move, move, move!

Incoming sniper fire! Stay down! Stay down!

Two blue, clear!

Who's Mrs. Mourain? I'm Mrs. Mourain.

Where's the ambassador? He's in there. Are we leaving?

The helos are outside, ma'am, but that's up to the ambassador.

Stay away from the windows, please.

Duck! Ow!

Aah! Colonel! Please!

My God! Are the helicopters here? What kept you people so long?

We're ready to evacuate, unless you want to stay and run the embassy.

I want to go right... now! We called hours ago!

All right, sir, come to me. Stay calm and come to me.

Stay calm. Come to me. Stay low. We're like targets!

We're sitting targets! Follow Sergeant Mac. Go!

Come on! Down there! Down there! Right there!

Right there! Down there! Down there!

Go ahead, ma'am!

Go ahead! Go ahead, ma'am, go ahead!

Come on, son. Come on!

What's your name, son? Justin? Justin.

Come on, Justin! Come on!

Justin, what's that you got there? A flashlight.

We're gonna ride in a helicopter. Wanna bring that with you?

Huh? Come on. Come on! Mommy!

Let's go, ma'am, go! Go, go, go!

All TRAP Unit six, stay low, stay low!

We got crap coming over the walls and sniper fire at 100 meters. Over.

Stay low! Sit tight, sit tight, sit tight!

Colonel, we got three marines hit! One is K.I.A.

One Alpha says they're gonna try to breach the front gate!

Tell them to wait out! Roger that!

Put the missus on board first. Get in there, Mr. Ambassador.

I'll personally recommend you... Where's the belt?

I'll personally recommend... Hold it!

Where are you going? What? Colonel! Colonel, we can't wait here!

Come on! Let's get out! Come on!

Let's go! Christ!

We're leaving in just a few seconds.

Let's go! Why are we sitting here? Why are we sitting here?

Sir, please! Look at me. Stay calm. Let's go!

She's free, sir! Go!

Hope you know how to fold this, sir.

Thank you, Colonel. I'll never forget this.



Krasevitch is hit!

Corpsman! Corpsman! Shit!

Goddamn it!


Six, Red Man.

Engage hostile targets as they appear.

Deadly force is authorized. How copy? Over.

Red Man, Trans Six Actual. Negative, negative!

Be advised, I have women and children in my line of fire.

I got snipers in the buildings at 400 meters. How copy? Over.

What is it about this order you don't understand, Captain Lee?

Sir, are you ordering me to fire into the crowd? Over.

Yes, goddamn it! Waste the motherfuckers!

Six out. Engage! Engage!

Open fire!

Cease fire!

Cease fire!

Cease fire!

Stay down! There may still be snipers out there.

Cease fire!

Cease fire, goddamn it! Everybody stay down!

There may still be snipers out there. Stay down!

Get down!

Sergeant Mac. Sir?

Contact all stations. Mission complete.

Launch medevacs. Dead and wounded out first.

Aye, Colonel.

All stations, this is RedMan. Mission complete.

Move all medevacs to L.Z. Howcopy? Over.

The FBI. investigation shows... that all the bullet holes in the embassy wall... came from directly across the way, from the snipers.

Any weapons or ammo found among the dead or wounded?

No, sir. Nothing. However, intelligence suggests... this could have been a terrorist operation.

Any proof?

This is a tape from the embassy security system.

Want me to thread it up? No. I don't want to watch videos.

I don't want to hear about ammo casings in some building, 'cause here I got 83 dead people... unarmed... women, children, old men.

Another hundred or so critically wounded.

Here I got an international crisis of mega fucking proportions!

Bill, you know there have been regular reports... of a terrorist plot against this embassy.

This was a regularly scheduled protest. It was every week.

It was the usual bullshit about American presence in the gulf.

Have you looked at these? I mean, I'm just assuming you have, since they're on the front page of every newspaper in the world.

It's not that the rest of the world wants to hold us responsible, we are responsible!

We can't even have the appearance of a cover-up.

That does not excuse us from our duty, Mr. Sokal.

We sent Colonel Childers in there, and the mission went to shit.

We can't go after the man who carried out his orders... and ignore the people who issued those orders.

Childers ordered the slaughter... of innocent women and children. Get that straight right now.

I'll tell you what we ought to get straight.

We lost three United States Marines.

They lost 83!

Now, are we gonna go to war with Yemen over it?

We're covering our ass all over the Middle East right now, General.

Because of your man's hot headed miscalculation, we are in danger of losing embassies in Saudi, Jordan and Egypt.

We're in danger of losing our presence... with every moderate in the region.

Now they're gonna scream "cover up".

The screaming will get so loud we'll be sending Marines back over there, and the body count of American dead is gonna be higher than three.

I see where you're going with this, Mr. Sokal.

Will you be needing me anymore today?


No, that's fine, General. Thankyou.

Good day to you, sir.

Where do you think you're going with that?

You don't want to look at it. Nobody's lookin' at it.

Why should the United States be held responsible... for the actions of one man?

What if the crowd had weapons?

What if this shows they did fire first?

He could have fired over their heads, this moron!

Didn't he know where he was? The Middle East!

He could have isolated on the snipers.

He could have avoided confrontation.

He could have done 50 fuckin' things!

Instead, he destroyed a fragile trust, put his own men in danger...

Fuck this guy! Forget this tape.

I don't want to watch it. I don't want to testify about it.

I don't want it to exist.

Good morning, sir.

Good morning, sir.

Aye, aye, sir.

As soon as it's time.

General, Colonel Childers reporting as ordered, sir.

Give us a minute, Skip. Yes, sir.

Colonel, it's my duty to inform you that you've been charged with...

You know the drill.

This is the Article 32 investigation.

You're facing a general court-martial... and charged with violation ofat least three articles... everything from "breach of peace" to "conduct unbecoming".

But the bottom line... 83 counts, violation of Article 118, murder.

You issued an illegal order to have your marines... fire into a group of innocent civilians.

Murder, sir?

I'm the convening authority, so I've gotta get this B.S. out of the way.

Sign here, initial here.

You're not a flight risk, so there won't be any pretrial confinement.

This court-martial convenes in eight days... by direct order of the national command authority.

Do you want me to call Bob Bennett or one of those guys, or do you want to go with base legal?

Terry, goddamn it, we've been friends for20years.

You want to tell me exactly what the hell happened out there?

I lost marines. The crowd was hostile. They fired on us.

They fired first, sir.

I want you to know I did everything in the world... to keep this from happening.

It's just out of my hands now.

Thanks a lot.

When's the last time you actually caught something here?

Two years.

I really need your help. I'll help. Anything you need.

You want me to take the stand? I'll be a character witness.

No, you don't understand what I'm asking.

I want you to be my lawyer.

I'm a good enough lawyer to know you need a better lawyer than me.

'Sides that, I'm short.

Two-nine plus one wake-up, and I'm gone.

You need one of those Washington cats.

I don't want some Starbucks drinker who's never seen combat.

I need somebody who's been shot at. Yeah, I've been shot at.

That's what I am... a shot-up marine.

As a matter of fact, that's all the hell I am.

No, wait a minute. I'm also a weak lawyer.

I'm a very weak lawyer... and the government is gonna come at you with everything they've got.

Major, Bill Sokal. It's a pleasure to meet you. Come on in.

Let me introduce you.

Gentlemen, this is Major Mark Biggs.

He'll be prosecuting the Childers court-martial.

The marines put the major through Stanford Law, and he owes them a couple of years before he takes over the world.

You know General Lowry.

I'd like you to meet the general of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General West, and the secretary of Defense, Mr. Wyatt.

Have a seat. Make yourself comfortable.

What I gather from our esteemed NSC advisor and secretary of state... is that we've got a trial in two weeks.

Seems awfully damned fast. Everyone in this room will agree... it's in the national interest that this trial be moved along quickly.

The Article 32 investigation was complete and comprehensive.

It all seems to point in one direction.

Has he got a lawyer yet?

He's requested a military attorney, Colonel Hayes Hodges.

Second Marine Division, Lejeune.

Any relation to General H. Lawrence Hodges?

His son.

Larry Hodges was one of this country's most distinguished officers.

What do we know about Colonel Hayes Hodges?

He's a guy who got blown apart in Vietnam, then went to Georgetown Law and became a cynic.

Is that about right, Major?

He was 67th in his class at Georgetown, sir.

He doesn't take too many cases, doesn't win too many.

He apparently went through an ugly divorce, had a drinking problem, retiring in two weeks. Can we guarantee we get this guy?

Sir, if I may say something?

I am not a hired gun.

I accepted this assignment...

'cause I believe in the merits ofthe government's case.

I am not gonna stack the deck against this guy.

I will try this case on good evidence only.

I'm glad to hear it.

Hold your fire.

Set that weapon down over here.

We need a couple of canteens up here.

Party incoming! You can go.

You can go, goddamn it! Go on! Dee dee!

Get the fuck out of here before I change my mind!

Looks like you're going back to the world, baby.

Doc! Twenty meters out. Left!

Right there. Anybody else?

I got you now!

Hey, buddy! Hi, Mom.

He looks fabulous.

Happy anniversary, Mom. Oh, thank you. So good to see you.

I wasn't sure you'd make it.

You look wonderful. Thank you.

How's it feel to be retired? Um, crazy.

Good. Oh, you look great.

Thank you. Well, come see Dad...

There he is. ...and all the family.

Hello, sir.

Glad you could make it. Yes, sir.

Good to see you, Hayes. How are you doing?

Hey, kid. Hey, you. Remember me?

The old guy who looks like you. Do I know you?

Yeah. Your voice sounds really familiar.

Here's a clue. I was married to your mom for about five minutes.

Really? You sure? 'Cause I don't... Yeah.

Well, is he guilty? Sir?

Your friend Colonel Childers.

Guilty of what, sir? Come on, Hayes.

You served with him. Is he the rabid dog we've all been hearing about?

I don't think I should comment, sir.

Come on, Dad. This is family. You can lighten up a little.

You know what we said at the naval academy.

Even if you thought you weren't responsible, it went wrong and you were there.

Since when have you not had a comment?

Since Childers asked me to defend him.

No. Oh, Hayes.

What? Excuse me.

Are you kidding me? No.

Why would you do that? Huh!

Because he asked me, and I owe him. That's great.

That represents everything that's wrong with the military.

Wisdom from the one person in this family... who has not elected to serve his country.

Childers must have snapped. It happens in combat.

I've seen it. I'm sure you have too.

Thank you for reminding me... why we have the presumption of innocence in America.

What are you, Abraham Lincoln? You can't hide behind that.

The guy murdered innocent women and children.

You hear that on television? And newspapers.

It's all over the place. It's Mom and Dad's anniversary.

Don't take this case, son.

This man has trashed the reputation of the Corps.

He's put us back 20 years.

Is this how you want to be remembered?

I don't see how I can turn him down. He saved my life.

Well, I understand that as well as anyone.

But you don't repay him by falling senselessly on a grenade.

The way I see it, this man should find himself... the best laywer in the country. Somebody better than me?

The guy's a real marine, Dad.

I mean, if they can do this to him... just hang him out to dry... they can do it to anybody.

Forget that he's my friend. They can do it to anybody.

That means your medals and your citations... won't mean jack shit when they come afte ryou.

At least two of his own guys are gonna testify... that he didn't have to open fire, sir.

Nobody reports seeing any weapons among the demonstrators.

His psych eval was a disaster. What about embassy footage?

Cameras, film, videotape, home movies, shit like that?

No, I've subpoenaed everything. The embassy got hit pretty good.

Most of it was destroyed.

Terry, you know Tom Chandler. He's gonna help us prepare your case.

Colonel Childers, good to see you again, sir. Um, all right.

First, we've subpoenaed all the Article 32 investigator's notes, the State Department's notes on Yemen.

Major Biggs has already had your head checked by their doctor.

I've got you an appointment with ours.

No. What?

No more multiple choice questions about self-esteem.

We got the combat fitness reports. He can forget the psych eval here.

That's a mistake, Colonel.

Listen, when I turned 18 I joined the Marine Corps.

I asked to be in the infantry.

I asked to go to Vietnam. Terry.

I live for the privilege of commanding troops.

I think it's the greatest honor an American can have.

You know how many birthdays and Christmases I missed, spent rotting in jungles or in the desert, just so you could play war at ROTC?

Childers! You gotta keep your shit together here, man.

Your court-martial board is gonna be made up of people... who might've spent one day in Grenada, maybe two days in Kuwait.

They're gonna be beach boys who've never been anywhere near combat.

They're gonna be people like Tom Chandler... sitting right here in front of you.

That's who you're making your case to.

We don't have anybody to back up your case.

That's because all my witnesses are dead.

Okay. So what happened? He lost it. He snapped.

That's good. We can snap him on the stand.

This doesn't happen in a vacuum.

Let's get a complete history of Colonel Childers.

Talk to every marine he ever served with.

My guess is this has happened before.

We have to be careful here.

This guy is the warrior's warrior.

A Navy Cross, two Silver Stars for composure in battle.

He has no wife, no kids, just the Corps.

He was our best. That's why he was sent.

He's not on trial for the good service he gave the country, but for what he did on the wallin Yemen, period.

Major, nobody wants to say it, but it occurs to me we're trying to set an example here.

So let's set it and show the world we mean business.

The first charge supports the death penalty, and I say we go for it.

No more death.

I'll see that he never gets another command and I'll put him in jail, but I will not seek death for a man who served his country honorably.

I don't want it brought up again.

We gotta show Childers' state of mind.

We gotta prove he went out with intent to kill, and that is not going to be easy.

Whether a man is charged with murder or hailed as a hero... is sometimes a very thin line.

Our case is this. Childers receives orders that a regularly scheduled, I awful protest outside our embassy in Yemen is unruly.

He is to secure or evacuate the premises.

There has been no violence prior to his arrival.

Once there, Ambassador Mourain... does not feel the situation warrants evacuation.

Childers ignores him. There was sniper fire.

They draw fire from snipers across the street.

Childers retaliates into an unarmed crowd in front of the embassy.

A crowd of women and children. He shot the wrong people.

All right, here's what this means.

Murder... Obviously, he could get up to the death penalty.

Conduct unbecoming an officer.

Max is dismissal with a dishonorable discharge, for feature of all pay and allowances and confinement for one year.

What about breach of peace? What is that?

Breaching the peace is minor.

That means participating in an act of violent or turbulent nature... that deprives the community of the peace and tranquility it deserves.

It's sort of the military equivalent of the civilian misdemeanor.

No big deal.

There he is! You goddamn baby killer!

Baby killer!

You're disgusting!

I'm not answering any questions, all right? Get out of here. Go away.

You fucking baby killer!

Fuck you!

Who the fuck are you to spit on this uniform? Huh?

You ever play blackjack, Colonel?

Not really.

There are no intangibles. It's all odds, sir.

You know them, you'll beat the guy next to you.

You know what cards have been played, you'll beat the house.

Sometimes you just can't win no matter what you do.

I saw your man on television knockin' some zit-faced kid around.

You have to understand the kind of pressure Childers has been under.

A man with that kind of service... No, no thanks.

This was a rescue mission that went bad. Nothing more.

You're aware, Colonel, we could ask for the death penalty.

You're not serious.

Oh, I'm very serious. In fact, it's been suggested.

What do you think would happen ifa Yemeni killed 83 Americans?

He'd have a trial that would last for one day, and they'd take off his head.

Have a seat, Colonel.


So here it is. You plead him out. Guilty.

He throws himself at the mercy.

We'll help him out at sentencing. How much help?

I'm not about to promise you anything, but I'd say... in the neighborhood of ten to fifteen, out in seven.

Major, do you know what the life expectancy was for a second lieutenant... dropped into a combat zone in Vietnam in 1968?

I don't have time for 20 questions, sir.

Then what's all this shit about the odds of winning at blackjack?

You got time. Take a guess.

My guess is your man's going down 'cause he deserves to go down.

I got a question for you, Colonel. What happened at Ca Lu?

The battle of Ca Lu, Vietnam.

You were there with Childers. Something happened. What was it?

Fuck you is what happened at Ca Lu, Biggs.

Two weeks.

Life expectancy of a second lieutenant... in combat in Vietnam was two weeks.

Sir, I need more time to prepare this case.

I need your permission to go to Yemen...

It's all here, Hodge. We did an exhaustive Article 32 investigation.

This thing happened 3,000 miles away. I need more time.

Colonel, it's all here.

We had it brought from Yemen, and it's not unusual to convene... a court-martial on short notice.

There could be witnesses, something the investigators overlooked, sir.

Don't you think Colonel Childers is entitled all consideration?

Colonel Hodges, I don't care ifyougo to China.

We have our marching orders, and this court-martial... will convene at 0900 a week Monday.

Now, is that clear? Yes, sir.

One! Two!

contact the sergeant? He's off-base, sir.





Oh, shit.

It's okay.

It's okay.

I wasn't... No, no. I know.

It's okay. It's all right. I know. Believe me, I know.

Can I leave you alone with that thing in the house?

Yeah. I ain't goin' six on you, Hodge.

I'm goin' to Yemen.

If I have to stick your ass in a hospital till I get back, that is what I will do. You don't have to do that.

Got your word on that?

Oh, shit.

They take my uniform away, they may as well shoot me.

You can live with it, bud. Believe me.

I'm not gonna shit you. They offered us a deal.

You plead guilty, it's ten to fifteen. You're out in seven.

What do you think? I think they're out to crucify you.

For a whole lot of reasons, I say we take it and call it a day.

I did what they asked me to do, Hodge.

I lost marines over there.

If I'm guilty of this, I'm guilty of everything I've done in combat for the last 30 years.

I don't know.

Colonel Hodges? Captain Hustings.

I'm not in uniform and I'm not saluting because of the snipers.

Please know that I'm saluting on the inside.

I've got some Kevlar back there with your name on it.

We're not the most popular team in town right now, sir.

Hustings, are you a wiseass?

My mother prefers to think of me as glib, sir.

Very well then. You will most glibly belay all bullshit and drive on.

Roger that, sir.

I've lined up some people who were at the scene, as you requested, sir.

We can start tomorrow. Good.

All right. Here we are. Oh. 07:00.

Roger that, sir.

The old embassy was a fifth century palace.

Got pretty shot up.

We're moving the newone to a bunker outside the city... behind about a mile of barbed wire, sir.

You want me to come with you, sir? Negative.

Stay with the vehicle. Meet me at the hotel.

Yes, sir.

Armed American marines, they were shooting at his people.

They were just trying to defend themselves.

Is he saying the marines shot first?

Why were your police officers ordered to abandon the embassy... on the day of the riot?

It was a peaceful demonstration. There was no reason to stay.

After the killing, were any weapons found in the crowd?

No. They picked up everything that was left. No weapons.


No, look. Now, wait. Wait a minute.

Wait a minute, fellas.

Hey. Hey!

Hi. What's your name?

Do you speak English?

You're a very pretty girl.


Is that your name? "Katchi"?

May I help you? Yeah.

I was wondering what happened to her?

She lost her leg. Who are you?

I'm a lawyer with the United States Marine Corps. What happened?

A marine lawyer? Yeah.

Follow me, please.

There are hospitals like this all over the city.

Most of the people here will die.

Sir? Do you want something to drink?

Give me another one!

Open the goddamn door!

What's wrong with you?

Get yourself a new lawyer, you son of a bitch. You lied to me.

I could not find one goddamn witness.

I couldn't find one goddamn shred of evidence!

Not for our side anyway!

You clearly opened up on those people. What were they?

Rag heads, camel jockeys or fucking gooks?

You through? Yeah.

Get up.

Come on. Get up. Come on.

Look at you. You went all the way to Yemen.

All you proved is you're still a drunk.

You know what your problem is? You never measured up to your old man.

But I can't help you with that.

Stop this shit before somebody gets hurt.

I lost every one of my men at Ca Lu.

And I'll tell you the first thing I felt.


Elation. Gladto be alive.

I was glad it wasn't me, and I fucking hate myself for that.

That wasn't your fault.

We're in deep shit, bud.


It's fourth and 40, Hodge.

I need a Hail Mary.


Send him in.

I just want to make sure we're on the same page here.

Off the record. Of course, Bill.

Now, you didn't see any weapons in that crowd, did you?


There was some shooting, but I... couldn't be sure exactly where it was coming from.

Now, see, that's gonna be a problem, because we can't get on the stand and waffle about the charges.

Waffle, Bill?

In your mind, Childers was responsible, wasn't he?

I wasn't exactly there. I had already evacuated.

You have to remember he saved my life and my family.

This all happened after...

Does that mean the United States... is gonna have to take the fall for what he did?

I don't understand.

The investigating team didn't find any weapons in the crowd.

That's because they weren't there until the following day.

The Yemeni government cleaned up the scene, but unfortunately that's not something we can prove.

Nor can I testify about it. It all happened afterward.

Yeah, but you can testify about Childers' frame of mind, his behavior while you were there.

He saved my life.

Surely this will all come down to what the tape shows.

The tape's inconclusive.

Hodges subpoenaed it, of course, but, uh... it was a faulty recording.

I see. Do you?

If Childers isn't held totally responsible, then the United States will be.

And just guess... where the finger... is eventually gonna point.

Me? Where else?

You should've known this was gonna erupt.

And if you didn't, you were asleep at the wheel.

Either way, your conduct was inexcusable.

Now, do you want to face a congressional inquiry over this, put your career at risk?

Think about it.

Thank you, Bill.

All rise.

Be seated.

Look closely at this picture.

Why did a well-trained fighting unit... have to slaughter unarmed men, women and children... when their orders were simply to protect... and if necessary, evacuate the embassy?

The answer is, they didn't.

They were ordered to open fire, and that order came from one man...

Colonel Terry Childers, who stands trial here today, a day of sadness, a day when America has to accept responsibility... for its failures and its mistakes as well as its glories.

We will show you that the accused, through his mind-set and actions, ignored the rules of engagement... and went far beyond the scope of his authority... to intentionally order the murder... of 83 innocent people.

I was the last one to enter the courtroom this morning. I was late.

I was late because I was in the head.

And I was in the head because... I was throwing up.

And I was throwing up because I don't know if I'm... able to handle this job.

I believe that Colonel Childers is innocent of these charges.

I just don't know if I have what it takes to make his case for him.

I'm simply not on the same page as Major Briggs, uh...

Major Biggs here, as a lawyer.

We all know that.

So why did I take this job?

I took this case because Terry Childers told me...

I would have done the same thing he did if I'd been in his shoes.

I took the case because I know Terry Childers. His word is his bond.

He told me he did what he had to do.

Now, I hope I don't let him down.

We sent Terry Childers out on a very tough mission.

And when it went bad, and he did everything he could to save the lives of his marines, save the lives of the embassy people, you turn around now and want to blame the whole mess on him, send him to prison possibly for the rest of his life.

That's not fair.

It's not right.

It is what made me sick this morning.

It was a large crowd.

There was a lot of commotion. The noise was very unsettling.

But it was a peaceful crowd.

That is, until Colonel Childers arrived and prevented me... from pursuing further avenues of diplomacy.

Did Colonel Childers force you to leave the embassy?

Yes. He charged in.

He... started pushing us around.

He physically restrained me from doing my job.

What was his state of mind at this time?

He was in a fury.

He was disrespectful to me and my family.

Oh, that's bullshit.

It was almost, how should I say, a murderous rage.

Do you remember what he said?

I remember he said something like... diplomacy is bullshit at this point...

"and that ""nobody fucks with the American flag""."

Those were his words. Thank you, Ambassador.

No further questions.

Do you believe... that an American embassy on foreign soil... is sovereign United States territory?

As a general principle, yes.

Do you believe Americans have a right... to defend that territory if it's attacked?

If it is, in fact, attacked.

Would you have expected Colonel Childers to surrender... to the attacking crowd or to fight them?

I would have expected neither.

The colonel should have let me address the crowd, then he could have withdrawn his marines.

Would you have expected him to hold his fire as he withdrew, even if he were taking casualties? To the extent possible.

So your order would have been, Hold your fire to the extent possible, Marines.

And to the extent not possible, fire away.


This photograph is exhibit "C".

What is that? It's a security camera.

Is it mounted on the roof of the embassy... and pointed down to where the crowd had gathered?

I would suppose so. Yes or no, please.


Is it in operation 24 hours a day? I suppose so.

Yes or no? Yes.

Do you suppose there is a taping system attached to this camera?

Your Honor. Colonel.

Yes. Where's the tape?

It is my understanding that if there were tapes, undamaged tapes, they'd have been sent to the State Department.

Undamaged tapes?

Well, there was destruction and looting... after the killing.

As you withdrew, did you remember to take the American flag with you?

Did you remember to take the American flag, sir?

Of course. Where is that flag now?

I brought it home and returned it to the State Department.

It was shot to shreds, wasn't it?

By the snipers, yes.


Right! Go right!


At ease, son.

Let me see. Which one of you people is named Justin?

Let me take a guess. How about you? No.

Then I'll have to make another guess. I'll take, uh... you.

How'd you know? Are you in the marines?

Yes, sir, lam.

Go on in the house, kids. There are sandwiches in the kitchen.

Mrs. Mourain, I'm sorry to bother you at home.

I'm Colonel... I know who you are, Colonel Hodges.

Is that your boy? Yes.

Can I talk to you a few minutes?

I don't think that's appropriate.

I don't believe your husband is telling the truth... about what Colonel Childers did in Yemen.

Kids, go on in the house. There are sandwiches on the table.

Let's go! Come on!

You should take that up with my husband, shouldn't you?

Colonel Childers risked his life so you could be here, ma'am, watching these kids play out these windows.

Does that bother you?

I feel terrible about what happened to Colonel Childers.

Can you tell me that he manhandled your family?

Or that he prevented your husband from doing his job?

Ma'am? Can you tell me that?


As far as I'm concerned, he behaved quite honorably.

Will you testify to that?

My husband's a good man. So is Colonel Childers.

I've been married for ten years.

You're asking me to throw that away in an afternoon.

Your husband and you and your son... owe your lives to Colonel Terry Childers.

We all have our priorities, Colonel.

I can subpoena you, ma'am.

Please don't.

Don't put me up there. I'm a very credible witness.

Now, if you'll excuse me.

You won't tell the truth if I put you on the stand?

I don't know what the truth is.

Colonel Childers is on trial for what he did outside the embassy.

I wasn't there. Were you?

Captain Lee, you were in command of the TRAP team... and the second ranking officer under Colonel Childers in Yemen?

Yes, sir. And you were on the roof... of the embassy, were you not? Yes, I was.

Colonel Childers ordered you to open fire... immediately after Sergeant Richard Krasevitch was shot.

Is that correct? Yes.

But Sergeant Krasevitch was not shot by the demonstrators, was he?

Objection. How could we know the exact firing position... of the bullet that killed Sergeant Krasevitch?

Sustained. Counsel refrain from leading the witness.

Did you at any time... receive gunfire from within the demonstration itself?


I can't remember any fire from the demonstrators, to my knowledge that is, sir.

You killed the wrong people, didn't you?

You should've been firing at the snipers across the way.

Isn't that correct? I can't answer...

Objection. Calls for speculation. Sustained.

You shot at people who were demonstrating peacefully, who were not using deadly force.

Your Honor, that's not in evidence here.

Sustained. Major, I'm not going to warn you again.

Captain, what were the words Colonel Childers used... when he ordered you to fire on the demonstrators?

I don't remember the exact words, sir.

He ordered me to open fire.

When you obeyed Colonel Childers' order to open fire, did you believe it to be a lawful order?

Yes, sir.

Otherwise it would have been your duty to disobey. Is that right?

Yes, sir.

When your men opened fire on the attackers in the crowd, did the snipers in the buildings across the way cease their firing?

Absolutely, sir. It went completely quiet.

It would seem, then, that the two groups were actually one working together.

Objection. Counselis drawing a conclusion for the witness.


Were you in a position to observe Colonel Childers... when everyone was evacuated?

Yes, I was.

What was the last thing you saw him do?

He went to the flagpole. Then what'd he do?

He took down the American flag.

Was he personally under heavy fire at that time?

Yes, sir. No more questions.

Captain, prior to receiving orders from the accused to open fire, where was the point of greatest concern for the safety of your men, the crowd below or the snipers in the buildings across the way?

I'm not really sure. You're not sure?

Well, I guess...

Don't guess. I'll repeat the question.

Was the point of greatest concern the crowd below... or the snipers across the way?

I would have to say the snipers.

Did you feel an immediate mortal danger from the crowd as a whole?

I don't understand. You don't understand?

No, sir. Let me help you.

Were you more worried... you'd be killed by these people or by these people?

I wasn't thinking about that. Have you ever been under fire?

You didn't see the crowd firing, but you did take fire from the snipers.

Is that correct?


Our clinic is not too far from the embassy.

So I was one of the first to arrive there.

Did you see any weapons on the bodies of the dead?


Did you remove any weapons from the people you were treating?


Not a single weapon anywhere among the victims?

No, no weapons.

In your opinion, is Yemen a training ground for terrorists?

Not at all.

We met in Yemen.

You encouraged me to tour your clinic in order to witness... the suffering caused by Colonel Childers' orders.

Do you remember that? Yes.

I found an audiocassette on the floor of your clinic.

It's marked exhibit "R".

Do you remember that?

Yes. I found another one... inside the embassy.

In fact, I found several others. They're all marked exhibit "R".

Will you translate the writing on the outside of that cassette?

Declaration of Islamic Jihad...

"Against United States".

These audiocassettes are used for the purposes of religious... and political propaganda due to the high illiteracy rate in Yemen.

Is that correct? Yes.

Will you translate the words you hear... on this audiocassette for the court, please?

Dr Ahmar?

We call on every Muslim who believes in God... and hopes for reward...

"to obey God's command".

Dr Ahmar, does it say what God's command is?

To kill Americans... and plunder...

"their possessions wherever he finds them".

Go on, please.

To kill Americans... and their allies, both civil and military, is duty of every Muslim...

"who is able".

To kill Americans is a duty.

Is that what it says? Yes.

Do you recognize the speaker's voice?


Dr Ahmar, in your opinion, is this propaganda... representative of that demonstration?

No. I'm not a member of Islamic Jihad!

The crowd was singing songs.

I heard them from my clinic.

What was your reaction when you learned that Colonel Childers... had been selected to lead this mission?

I was very pleased. The colonel had a distinguished record.

He's a nationally renowned war... How did you define his mission?

We wanted to increase security, but frankly, if things got threatening, we wanted an evacuation.

So you weren't looking for confrontation?

No, that's what we wished to avoid at all costs.

What was your reaction to what happened?

I was stunned, appalled.

Wasn't the severity of the problem at the embassy understated?

Absolutely not.

We operated on the information we had at the time.

I have here a State Department report from Yemen.

It's exhibit "M".

Will you read the underlined sections for the court, please?


'January25. Grenade thrown at police car.

January 27. Sixteen Western tourists abducted by fundamentalist group".

Go on, please. "February 6."

A bomb explodes in a car... You got today's Post?

Yeah. Yeah. Give it to me.

Stun grenade thrown at newspaper kiosk near a police station.

March 13. A military officer... is seriously wounded by Yemen's first... donkey bomb.

Explosives were apparently concealed under the saddle.

Thank you.

I have another State Department document, dated 17 November.

It's from the ambassador to you.

Will you read this for the court, please?

Dear Bill. Please, we must revisit our previous conversation... in that the security measures we have taken are still inadequate...

"for the protection ofour mission to Yemen".

You have to understand that when I received this letter...

Thank you. Now, there are... Well, are there... cameras... mounted on the roof of the embassy? Uh, yes.

Are they designed to observe and record... activities in the public spaces outside the embassy?

Yes. Where are the tapes?

Uh, it's my understanding the embassy was looted.

Maybe the cameras were destroyed.

This is a photograph. It is exhibit "D" for the court.

It's a picture of a camera on the embassy roof.

Does it appear to be damaged?


Where are the tapes? I don't know.

Don't you think the United States owes it... to Colonel Childers for 30 years of service... to find that tape and produce it here?

Objection. We don't know anything about any tapes.

This is pure speculation. Sustained.

This is a shipping manifest. It's exhibit "O".

It is a list of items removed from the embassy during the evacuation... and shipped to the State Department.

Will you read line six, please?

Videotape from security camera, VHS, one.

You too busy to look at those tapes or you just didn't care?

Objection. He's badgering the national security advisor.

Sustained. Counsel, please proceed carefully.

Where are those tapes? Objection! Asked and answered.

Oh. Yes, right. Right. Don't you think it's funny... that a tape that could exonerate my client is missing?

I don't think it's funny at all.

Withholding evidence is a very serious crime.

Objection. Sustained. Counsel, rephrase.

Withholding evidence to frame a United States Marine... is no less evil than charging my client with murder.

Where are those tapes?

Colonel, I turned over all materials in my possession... to Major Biggs.

If those tapes showed a happy crowd of peaceful demonstrators, we'd be looking at 'em.

Objection, Your Honor. This is contempt.

Colonel, this is your last warning.

It was a new security system.

The cameras were pointed down at the crowd.

Tapes were recorded, and those tapes were sent to the State Department.

Why are those tapes not here?

Objection, Your Honor. I've seen no such tapes.

No further questions.

There are no tapes showing the crowd firing weapons?

None that I'm aware of.

And the government has turned over all of its evidence?

Of course.

Colonel Hodges has gone to some length... to have you read security reports illustrating violence in Yemen.

Yes, he has. Here is today's Washington Post.

Will you read these headlines that I've underlined... from today's Metro section?

Agent, kidnapper killed in rescue of businessman's son.

Bomb threat evacuates Museum of Natural History.

Officer chases truckdriver, fires 38 times.

Husband shoots wife, himselfin street.

Mr. Sokal, does this random, unfortunate news mean we should... allow Colonel Childers and his troops loose in Washington, D.C.?

Don't answer that. Thankyou, Mr. Sokal.

Present arms!

Order arms!

Take deep breaths, sir! You're almost out of here. Stay calm.

I hope you know how to fold it, sir.

Thank you, Colonel. I'll never forget this.

Krasevitch is hit!


Corpsman! Shit!

Goddamn it!

Engage hostile targets as they appear!

Waste the motherfuckers!

Cease fire! Cease fire!

Cease fire!

Order arms!

I was proud of my marines.

They showed remarkable discipline.

Why didn't you fire at the snipers in the buildings... instead of at the crowd below?

Because I believed we were in greater danger from the crowd.

Was that crowd firing at you? Yes.

The demonstrators in front of the building were firing at you... in addition to the snipers? Yes.

Why didn't anybody else see that crowd firing?

My men were under cover on the roof, except for Krasevitch who was on an observation post.

And why isn't he here testifying on your behalf today?

Because he was killed in action. He died in my arms.

So you were the only man left in a position to observe that crowd?


Where else have you been in combat, Colonel?

Vietnam, Beirut, Panama, Persian Gulf.

Can you identify that blue and white ribbon on your uniform? It's the Navy Cross.

Do you remember the citation that accompanied that medal?

For conspicuous gallantry in the face of great personal danger, reflecting great credit upon himself, "the United States Marine Corps and the Naval Service".

Your witness.

Colonel, you gunned down more than 80 people.

You wounded another hundred or so.

Could this have been motivated by a desire for retaliation?

I was protecting my men.

Sergeant Richard Krasevitch was shot only a few feet away from you.

Is that correct? Yes.

And right after Sergeant Krasevitch died, you ordered open fire on the crowd?

Is that also correct? I was taking fire.

There were weapons in that crowd.

Well, you wouldn't shoot unarmed people, would you?

No, I would not.

Even in the heat of battle, you wouldn't shoot an unarmed person?


This is exhibit "F".

Will you please read the following to the panel?

Rules of engagement governing ground conflict in urban areas.

One. If possible, the enemy will be warned first, then asked to surrender.

Colonel, did you warn the enemy?

We arrived in helicopters. We were standing on that roof armed.

Did you warn them, either with shots into the air or by a loudspeaker?

Did you ask them to surrender?


I'm sorry, no, you did not warn the crowd?

Yes. No, I did not warn the crowd.

Continue, Colonel. You seem to know them by heart.

Deadly force is the last resort.

Go on. Three.

When possible, try to arrange for the evacuation of civilians... prior to any U.S. attack.

Did you do that, try to evacuate the innocent people... before you slaughtered them?

Objection. That is inflammatory. Rephrase, Major.

Did you try, following Section C ofthe rules of engagement... for ground conflict in urban areas, to evacuate innocent civilians?

No. No.

Yeah, yeah.

I just have one more thing, Colonel.

Did you have to repeat your orders to Captain Lee?

I'm sorry? You ordered Captain Lee... to engage hostile targets, and he advised you... that there were women and children in the line of fire.

Is that correct? He couldn't see...

Yes or no, Colonel? Didhe follow your first set of orders?

I don't remember.

Captain Lee is on record as saying he hesitated... and mentioned the snipers in the buildings.

Is his testimony accurate? I don't remember.

Let me get this straight.

You evacuate the ambassador.

You go back to the roof. Two of your marines are K.I.A.

A third, Sergeant Krasevitch, dies.

"You give your captain an order which he doesn't follow;" in fact, he questions.

And then you said what?

I don't remember.

You don't remember what you said next?

It was combat, not some training exercise.

A moment later, your men were shooting.

What did you say to make that happen?

I don't know.

You must have said something. Captain Lee reversed himself.

What did you say? I don't know the exact words.

Let me help you. Your Honor.

You said, "Waste the motherfuckers," didn't you?

No, no, no. You didn't say it?

It all happened so fast... You're under oath, Colonel!

Let me refresh your memory.

This is exhibit "ry" a tape recording made aboard... the U.S.S. Wake Island of all radio communications received that day, including your exact words.

Your Honor, with your permission I would like to play this tape.

If you got it on tape, then that's what I said!

They were killing my marines, so, yeah, I said it!

Waste the motherfuckers!

Are these "the motherfuckers"? Objection.

Overruled. Yes!

These? Objection!


These? Objection!

Overruled. Yes.

Are these "the motherfuckers"... that you ordered to be wasted? Your Honor.

Major. Yes!

The crowd in front of the embassy had no weapons, did they, Colonel?

Objection. We found no snipers' weapons either.

Yes, they had weapons!

You think there's a script for fighting a war... without pissing somebody off?

Follow the rules, and nobody gets hurt?

Yes, innocent people probably died.

Innocent people always die.

But I did not exceed my orders!

There are rules, and marines are sworn to uphold them.

I was not going to stand by and see another marine die... just to live by those fucking rules!


Your Honor, I request a recess.


The government is finished with Colonel Childers, Your Honor.

All right, Colonel, you have your recess.

Why didn't you tell me what you said?

I didn't remember. "Waste the motherfuckers".

That's brilliant. You didn't think that was important?

Why didn't you know about the goddamn recording?

You're supposed to know... I had a week to prepare this case.

I didn't realize what a fuck up I'm defending.

Well, now you know. Goddamn.

This is going to take us both down. How's that work?

You gonna spend the rest of your life in prison too?

I'm sorry.

I really screwed up in there, huh? Yeah, you really did.


So what happens now? Shit, I don't know.

I don't know.

Your Honor, the government calls Colonel Bin Le Cao... as a rebuttal witness. Objection, Your Honor.

What are the grounds for this rebuttal witness to be allowed?

Will counsel please approach the bench.

Who is Colonel Bin Le Cao? A North Vietnamese Colonel... who fought against Colonel Childers at the battle of Ca Lu.

What he has to say directly refutes statements made by Colonel Childers.

When was the battle of Ca Lu? 1968.

This is uncharged misconduct. It is not allowable under military law.

How do you know this witness is going to charge misconduct?

I'm assuming...

He knows because he was at the battle of Ca Lu.

Is that true? Yes, sir.

On what grounds are you calling your witness?

Colonel Hodges made Colonel Childers' combat experience... part of his defense.

Furthermore, Colonel Childers testified... that he never shoots unarmed people.

My witness has an important perspective on that statement.

I'm gonna allow the witness.

Do you swear or affirm... that the evidence you shal I give in this case... shall be the truth, the whole truth... and nothing but the truth, so help you God?

Yes, I do.

Will you please state your name for the court?

My name is Bin Le Cao. In 1968, you were a colonel... with the North Vietnamese army, B3 regiment, involved in a fight... with American marines at Ca Lu in the Quang Tri province?

Yes, I was.

Will you tell the court about that battle?

We were aware that small units of Americans... ryere ryeryr my company of men.

We found ourselves behind your forces.

This was lucky for us because we were out numbered.

Do you recognize this man?


Did he capture you and your radio operator that day? Yes.

Did he remove your weapons and place you under armed guard?


Did you consider yourself a prisoner of war?


Did he execute your radio operator?


You personally saw him shoot a fellow prisoner of war?


Where did he shoot him?

In the head.

Thank you. No further questions.

Were your men annihilating that platoon of marines?


Did Colonel Childers force you to call your men off?


Do you believe his actions were calculated to save... the lives of American marines? Yes.

Would you have done the same thing Colonel Childers did... if the situation had been reversed?

Colonel Cao, would you have shot... a captive American radio operator in the head if you thought... it would persuade Colonel Childers to spare the lives of your own men?


No more questions.

This court is in recess until tomorrow at 09:00.


General, good to see you. Perry, good to see you too.

I want you to meet my grandson.

Hi. Nice to meet you, sir.


Colonel Terry Childers is a decorated war hero, a trusted leader of American marines, and I wish that was all there was to it.

Unfortunately, there are 83 dead Yemeni citizens, many of them women and children.

Colonel Hodges would have you believe that this crowd was armed.

He would also have you believe that there is a videotape... proving this to be true.

There is no tape exonerating Colonel Childers.

There is no evidence exonerating Colonel Childers!

Is Colonel Childers a man capable of killing defenseless, unarmed people?

Is he capable of ordering the execution... of innocent men and women?

Is he capable of executing P.O.W.s with his own hand?

Unfortunately, we have shown that he is.

You have heard the sad testimony of Colonel Cao... who witnessed Colonel Childers' barbarism firsthand.

You've even heard Colonel Childers' own admission... that his desire was to "waste" them, regardless of who they were.

Now, we are faced with the difficult prospect... of convicting one of our own.

None of us wants to do this, but you've heard the facts, and it is unavoidable.

Colonel Terry Childers ordered the senseless slaughter... of a peaceful crowd!

Now, as marines, we do not get the luxury of covering up our mistakes.

We must air them, there by ensuring that they never happen again.

Thank you.

That's sovereign United States territory... as much as if it were in Ohio or Maryland.

Colonel Childers didn't volunteer to go over there.

He was ordered to go there because he was the best man for the job.

We armed him. We trained him.

We sent him over there to risk his life to save other Americans.

And then ask him not to return fire?

There are over 300 bullet holes in this building.

Colonel Childers didn't open fire. He returned fire.

And he waited until after three of his marines were dead... and another lay mortally wounded.

He waited until he was personally under heavy fire.

He waited until he saw that crowd holding weapons.

Only then did he order his men to return fire.

Under the rules of engagement, a civilian pointing a weapon... is no longer a civilian, and the use of deadly force is authorized... in order to save lives.

It's not murder.

It's combat.

Colonel Childers is the only man alive... who was in a position to see that crowd.

But the camera on the embassy roof had the same point of view.

The government would have you believe... there's no tape from that camera.

I have shown you that that tape was delivered to the State Department.

Do you believe that tape got up and walked out... of the State Department on its own?

By not producing that tape, the national security advisor, Mr. Sokal, has brought dishonor into this court.

Without that tape, I cannot show you that the crowd fired first... and that Colonel Childers is innocent.

But without that tape, they cannot prove... beyond a reasonable doubt that he's guilty!

Here's my case.

He's all I've got. Thirty-two years of service, thirty-two years of heroism as a United States Marine.

Regardless of what you decide here, Colonel Childers' career as a marine is over.

He will never again command men in combat.

The ambassador and his family are alive today because of him.

And I know how the ambassador feels, because Colonel Childers saved my life too.

I'm alive today because of him.

My son is sitting in this courtroom because of him.

I'm alive today, and I have a son, because of the heroism of Colonel Childers.

To ask this man to risk his life for his country,

to ask this man to watch his marines die in his arms... and call it murder when he's defending himself, call it murder for firing back when fired upon...

To call it murder for saving the lives of his countrymen... under the most extreme of circumstances, that's, uh...

My fellow Marines, that's hanging him out to dry.

It's worse than leaving him woundedon a battlefield.

That is something you do not do... if you are a United States Marine.

And it is something that I pray to God you won't do here either.

What'd you think? You're pretty good.

Yeah. Yeah.

Dad, you were awesome.

Thanks, son.

I'm very glad that I don't have to sit on that panel, son.

You made it awful tough on them.

15,000 to 25,000... Excuse me.

I said no interruptions.

I'm sorry, Mr. Sokal. It's very important.

Send him in.

Can we pick this up after lunch, gentlemen?


Close the door.

What is it, Colonel?

No matter what happens to Terry Childers tomorrow, I'm not going to leave thisjob until I find out... what happened to that tape. Good.

Think it'll ever turn up?


I don't either.

Well, then there's nothing more for us to talk about, is there?

You ever had a pissed-off marine on your ass?

Is that a threat?

Oh, yes, sir.

All rise.

Has the panel reached a verdict?

We have, sir.

Colonel Terry L. Childers, this court-martial finds as follows.

On the charge of breach of peace, the court finds the defendantguilty.

On the charge of conduct unbecoming an officer, the court finds the defendant not guilty.

On the charge of murder, the court finds the defendant not guilty.

This court-martial is adjourned.

Sentencing will be conducted at a time to be determined.

Thank you.

I need one more favor. Yeah.

Teach me how to fly-fish.

You are well aware that I know shit about fly-fishing.



You realize in light of Colonel Cao's testimony, we'll be pushing for charges on the Ca Lu incident.

That was 30 years ago.

You're going to have a hard time finding witnesses.

I thought maybe you'd be willing to testify.

I'll make you a deal.

If you can tell me right now what the life expectancy was... for a second lieutenant dropped into a hot L.Z. in Vietnam in 1968, I'll tell you everything I remember about Ca Lu.

One week. Negative.

Sixteen minutes, Major.

Sixteen fucking minutes.

And that's all I remember.


William Sokal was found guilty of destroying evidence.

He was forced to resign as the National Security advisor.

Ambassador Mourain was dismissed from the diplomatic corp. He was charged with perjury.

There was no further charges against General Colonel Terry Childers.