Rules of Engagement (2000) - full transcript

Hayes Hodges finds his career aspirations dashed when he's wounded in Vietnam combat. He then returns to America and becomes a disillusioned lawyer who goes up against the service to defend Colonel Terry Childers, who is accused of inciting an incident that leaves many demonstrators dead. Hodges in no position to decline: Childers heroically saved his life back in Vietnam.

Ca Lu, half a click that way,

- 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?

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!

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 of Tripoli in 1805.

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

Marine officers have
carried one ever since.

It's the symbol of a 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
of a 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 babysit, 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 better
look before 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!

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...

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.

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

You're facing
a general court-martial...

and charged with violation
of at 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 for 20 years.

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
of the 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?

- 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 after you.

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,

lawful 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,

forfeiture with 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
if a 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.


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
if you go 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.


Glad to 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?

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,

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. Counsel is 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...

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,


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?


January 25th.
Grenade thrown at police car.

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

- Go on, please.
- February 6th.

- 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 13th.
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.

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,
himself in 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.
Thank you, 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.


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
of the 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? Did he
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 Q 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
shall 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...

were near my company of men.

We found ourselves
behind your forces.

This was lucky for us
because we were outnumbered.

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,

when we'll hear closing arguments.

- 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?

we have shown that he is.

You have heard the sad testimony
of Colonel Cao...

who witnessed Colonel Childers'
barbarism first-hand.

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
wounded on 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
this job 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 defendant guilty.

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.

He retired with full military
honors from the Marine Corps.