While soldiers pledge to obey their superior’s orders they do so in view of the uniform code of military justice and the constitution. As such, soldiers “should not” obey illegal commands. Establishing the legality or illegality of a command has over the years has raised controversial ethical issues. Under the UCMJ, articles 90 to 92 hold that willful or un-willful disobedience of lawful orders from a senior officer is a criminal offence (Mason, 2011). During war, article 90 further stipulates that such an action is punishable by death (Mason, 2011). Unlawful orders are those that are repugnant to the Constitution seeing as the constitution is the supreme law of the land. The constitution derives form societal ethics and religious doctrines. However, the constitution does not take into account all societal ethics and religious standings of a people (Mason, 2011).
There are many examples of illegal or potentially unethical orders issued every day in the army and other military organizations. This paper examines two accounts of death orders. The first example is that of William Calley 1968 during the Vietnam War (Thomas, 2012). The then Second Lieutenant claimed to have received orders from his superior to open fire and subsequently kill civilians. He then passed these orders to his juniors who, like him opened fire on innocent, unarmed civilians in the absence of duress (enemy fire) (Thomas, 2012). In 1971, William received a life sentence with the charge of premeditated murder. The aftermath of the sentence aside, Lieutenant William was guilty of murder while following the orders of a superior (Thomas, 2012). With the rise of terrorism threats cases of inhumane, unconstitutional mistreatment of prisoners is on the rise. A second example is an incident that occurred in the year 2004 during America’s invasion of Iraq. The 343rd Quartermaster Company on 13th