A Few Good Men
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A Note Regarding Spoilers

The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags have been used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.

For detailed information about the amounts and types of (a) sex and nudity, (b) violence and gore, (c) profanity, (d) alcohol, drugs, and smoking, and (e) frightening and intense scenes in this movie, consult the IMDb Parents Guide for this movie. The Parents Guide for A Few Good Men can be found here.

When Jessup stood up & began to walk out he did so in violation of the court's rules: despite the fact that he's a Marine colonel, he's still a witness in the case and must abide by Kaffee's and the judge's authority. He wasn't given permission to leave by either one of them. In that sense, it makes Jessup look less than favorable to the jury: he's built a tremendous career and reputation as a Marine officer and believes that the court has no authority over him, especially since he believes he did his job without committing a crime.

It's a classic technique, especially with a difficult witness: Kaffee was trying to methodically chip away at Jessup himself. If the jury hears that Santiago hadn't made any attempt to pack his things even though Jessup kept insisted (and lying) that Santiago was going to be transferred off the base then they'll see that Jessup is a ruthless officer. Don't forget that Kaffee also presented the letters that Santiago wrote, asking (begging) to be transferred. Kaffee was trying to convince the jury that Jessup couldn't have cared less for the health of Santiago and only cared about his own reputation. In the end, Kaffee managed to work up the courage to stand up to Jessup, Jack Ross and the judge and get Jessup to admit his crime, so the evidence, though intricate, didn't really matter.

The answer is very much cut and dried. Even though the military jury of their peers found them not guilty of murder, they still had an obligation to Marine PFC William Santiago. Their commanding officer Colonel Nathan Jessup had issued an unlawful order to commit assault and battery on their comrade. All service members, especially enlisted personnel in all branches of the US Armed Forces, have both an obligation and a duty to carry out lawful orders issued by either superior officers or non-commissioned (NCO) officers in the USMC, the US Army and the US Air Force and to carry out lawful orders given by officers or petty officers in the US Navy or US Coast Guard. Unlawful orders issued by superiors can legally be challenged by subordinates, especially if those orders directly jeopardize the health, safety and/or well being of any enlisted person attached to any command/unit/ship/submarine. In essence, PFC Downey and Lance Corporal Dawson had the right to refuse and challenge Colonel Jessup's authority when he gave the order to assault PFC Santiago. All they had to do was to report him to another senior Marine officer who would have had the obligation to look into the matter. Instead, they carried out an unlawful order which resulted in their friend's death.

Simply put, because he didn't see another way out. Markinson clearly feels guilt over Santiago's death. He blames himself for it because he wasn't able to stop Jessup from ordering the Code Red. In addition, doing the right thing (telling Kaffee the truth) has put him in a position where he could lose everything: his job, his rank, his respect among his peers, and most importantly his honor. Unable to do the right thing without destroying his own life and consumed with guilt over the murder he feels responsible for, Markinson sees no other way to go than to shoot himself.

The original play was inspired by an actual Code Red at Guantanamo Bay. Lance Corporal David Cox and 9 other enlisted men tied up a fellow Marine and severely beat him, for snitching to the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. Cox was acquitted and later Honorably Discharged. In 1994, David Cox mysteriously vanished, and his bullet-riddled body was found three months later. His murder remains unsolved. The movie's screenplay is written by Aaron Sorkin, who wrote the original play.

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