"We needed to find a way so that we could get the bad guys the right way and still maintain the right military things to do," Michaud said. "But if we push this a little bit more, you know: 'Hey, did you feel threatened?' Bottom line: 'Yeah, I felt threatened.' Then it's OK."
Under Hensley, the sniper unit's kill rate increased. Only one sniper kill had been recorded in the 5 1/2 months before his arrival. On Hensley's first mission, the section shot five Iraqis dead. Soldiers attributed the success to his training and drills. He also enjoyed a close relationship with the sergeant major, one of the top enlisted officers in the battalion, soldiers said. Defense attorneys allege that the baiting practice came from the sergeant major and the battalion commander, if not from higher authorities.
But the rising kill rate brought greater scrutiny. After two specialists in the sniper unit were caught sleeping on watch, they alerted Army officials to what they suspected was the baiting program.
The sniper unit was investigated for three incidents. Hensley is accused of shooting an unarmed man April 14 and of ordering Spc. Jorge G. Sandoval Jr. on April 27 to kill a man who was cutting grass with a scythe. Both Hensley and Vela face charges in the May 11 shooting of the Iraqi man who had stumbled upon their sniper position.