Army commanders pressured their elite “Painted Demons” sniper unit to up the body count, say members standing trial for murder, leading them to plant evidence and “bait” Iraqis. “It felt like, ‘What are you guys doing wrong out there?’” one sniper told the LA Times. “We needed to find a way so that we could get the bad guys.”
Under new Sgt. Michael Hensley, the Demons increased their body count by leaving weapons on the ground, then killing anyone picking them up. The army says this “baiting” tactic—and the outright evidence planting it led to—was Hensley’s idea. The defense contends that the Pentagon ordered the program. Hensley and another sniper are charged with killing two unarmed Iraqis.