Western evidentiary standards versus Islamic religious taboos. Something’s gotta give:

“Chief among our concerns is carrying out justice. But when you get town officials or an imam saying that exhuming the body doesn’t jive with our cultural sensitivities, that creates a massive stumbling block,” a U.S. military official in Baghdad close to the investigation said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to media.

Without forensic evidence, prosecutors must rely heavily on statements from the suspects. Defense lawyers will doubtless claim those statements were made under duress and seek to keep them from the jury.

While some evidence has been collected at the home where the assault allegedly occurred, officials say none of it confirms guilt.

Someone I respect sent me the link to this post calling me out over our coverage of this story, so I feel like I have to respond. First, yeah, I’m aware of the allegation that SHE WAS TWELVE! I’ve looked at the photo of the victim’s Iraqi ID card five times now and I still don’t see how it proves that SHE WAS TWELVE! The date on it looks to me like 1991, not 1993 — and the AP agrees:

A photograph of the girl’s Iraqi identity card, viewed by The Associated Press in Baghdad, showed the girl was 14 at the time of the attack, with her birthdate listed as Aug. 19, 1991. The identity card was issued in 1993 and shows a picture of the girl as a toddler.

Needless to say, I don’t think the key distinction in a case involving American soldiers raping a young girl and killing her and her family depends upon whether she was fourteen or whether SHE WAS TWELVE!

Second, the fact that some of the soldiers involved confessed at the stress debriefing after Tucker’s and Menchaca’s kidnapping doesn’t prove that the kidnapping was “tied” to the rape. It does suggest that the suspects feared that possibility, but if it was all just a big revenge scheme, why didn’t the jihadis just say so at the time? Why isn’t it just as likely that the “revenge” they were seeking was for the killing of Zarqawi, which occurred only eleven days earlier?

Third, without further evidence, this:

And here’s a little more horrific speculation for you– what if Menchaca, Tucker and Babineau were in on it too? Would that be causal enough for you? What if the whole squad, in the spirit of friendly camaderie went on that little joyride? Dead men tell no tales, and they can’t be charged either. And their memories are sacred, no?

is beneath contempt. It is worth noting, though, that the FBI affidavit attached to the complaint charging Steven Green alleges that four people were directly involved in the attack: Green, two other soldiers who provided information and one additional soldier who did not. According to the charges filed last week, though, four soldiers in addition to Green are being charged with rape and murder. The affidavit would seem to be incomplete, then; it may be that additional info implicating another soldier came to light after the complaint against Green was filed.

Anyway, FYI.