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Regarding "Soldier gets two years in choking death of fellow GI" (article, Oct. 7): A soldier who is told to do something that he knows is an unlawful order (or illegal in the U.S. or abroad) does not have to follow that order, even if it’s in combat.

The ones who issue those orders know they are unlawful, and that they will not be charged with a crime; the soldier will be the one prosecuted at the end.

So, soldiers, do the right thing: If given those orders, do not execute them. Seek help. If you believe that an illegal order has been given to you (and you know when something isn’t right), you have the right, according to regulations, not to perform it. Consult the legal office for more information, not your buddy who’s sitting next to you. Remember, you will be the one in jail.

An order that is unlawful not only does not need to be obeyed, but obeying such an order can result in criminal prosecution of the one who obeys it. Military courts have long held that military members are accountable for their actions, even while following orders that are illegal.

Staff Sgt. Michael D. Smith (retired)Hopewell, Va.

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