Tuesday, November 16, 2004

The Iraq War, War Crimes Within A War Crime

The latest video from Fallujah, Iraq is not pretty by any means. I've seen it several times now and even though the video is edited for gore, it still is dramatic. This is how yahoo-news reports the video footage.  
The dramatic footage was taken Saturday by pool correspondent Kevin Sites of NBC television, who said three other prisoners wounded a day earlier in the mosque had also apparently been shot the next day by the Marines. The incident played out as the Marines 3rd Battalion, 1st Regiment, returned to the unidentified Fallujah mosque Saturday. Sites was embedded with the unit.

Sites reported that a different Marine unit had come under fire from the mosque on Friday. Those Marines stormed the building, killing 10 men and wounding five, Sites said. The Marines said the fighters in the mosque had been armed with rocket-propelled grenades and AK-47 rifles. The Marines had treated the wounded, he reported, left them behind and continued on Friday with their drive to retake the city from insurgents who have been battling U.S.-led occupation forces in Iraq (news - web sites) with increasing ferocity and violence in recent months.

The same five men were still in the mosque on Saturday, Sites reported. On the video, as the camera moved into the mosque during the Saturday incident, a Marine can be heard shouting obscenities in the background, yelling that one of the men was only pretending to be dead. "He's (expletive) faking he's dead!"

"Yeah, he's breathing," another Marine is heard saying. "He's faking he's (expletive) dead!" the first Marine says.

The video then showed a Marine raising his rifle toward a prisoner lying on the floor of the mosque. The video shown by NBC and provided to the network pool was blacked out at that point and did not show the bullet hitting the man. But a rifle shot could be heard. "He's dead now," a Marine is heard saying.

The shooting is shown so quickly that it is impossible to tell whether the body was moving before the shot. The only movement which can be seen is the body flinching at the moment the bullet hits. The camera then shows two Americans pointing weapons at another Iraqi lying motionless. But one of the Marines steps back as the man stretches out his hand, motioning that he is alive. The other Marine stands his ground, but neither of them fires.

The blacked out portion of the videotape, provided later to Associated Press Television News and other members of the network pool, showed the bullet striking the man in the upper body, possibly the head. His blood splatters on the wall behind him and his body goes limp.

Sites reported a Marine in the same unit had been killed just a day earlier when he tended to the booby-trapped dead body of an insurgent. NBC reported that the Marine seen shooting the wounded Iraqi had himself been shot in the face the day before, but quickly returned to duty.
I'm not going to attempt to unravel whether this will be considered a war crime in itself. In my mind the whole war has been a war crime and our soldiers have been put into the position of making difficult decisions in the heat of battle. This incident is probably not isolated, these type of things can happen in a war zone. Not every movement of our soldiers is captured on video and it can't really be argued that these soldiers were acting with restraint because of the active press coverage.

Other war crimes have been committed by the United States in carrying out this illegal war. For instance, in the battle for Fallujah the water was cut off from the civilians that reside in the city, this is in violation of the Geneva Convention. Food and medical supplies were also blocked from entering Fallujah, again in violation of the Geneva Convention. And this is not the only city in Iraq that these measures were taken.

And let's not forget Abu Ghraib, where torture was committed on prisoners and detainees, most of whom were not even part of the Iraqi resistance. We know this because so many of the inmates at Abu Ghraib have been released. In fact when Donald Rumsfeld visited the prisoner of war camp nearly 300 detainees were released the next day.

Napalm has been used by the United States on the very first day of the war and at times up to today. As well cluster bomblets were dropped during the first month of the war. The use of naplam as a weapon has been banned by nearly every other country in the world except the United States. Cluster bombs have been criticized by much of the world for the last decade as so many of the bomblets remain unexploded and children are the usual fatalities.

The major problems have been the result of the leadership decisions in a war that was justified with false information and lies and that misinformation was presented to the United Nations as justification. The idea of preemptive war in the case of the Iraq War could be called illegal as the United States was in no danger of attack from Iraq. The Iraq War is a war crime and it is no surprise that war crimes within the war crime keep occuring.

The warmongers of the right would easily pass off anything that happens in Iraq with some such expression like "war is hell" but let's make one thing perfectly clear, Iraq has NEVER attacked the United States. President Bush made the determination to attack another country without any threat by that country to us. Plenty of voices prior to the war were poking holes in every piece of evidence (shadowy pieces that they were) presented concerning weapons of mass destruction. Those voices were correct, and as well show that if they had been listened to a preemptive war was completely unnecessary.

This preemptive war was illegal. Thus the United States as long as it continues to engage in this war must live up to every Geneva Convention to the letter of the law. Whatever mistakes made by the soldiers are really to be answered to by the leadership that decided to make war and wage it. That would be President Bush and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. A war crime commited by a soldier is a war crime approved by Rumsfeld and Bush. They are the ultimate war criminals in this war crime war.


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