Wednesday, May 31, 2006


Another in a long line of checkpoint shootings

It's happened again. "It" isn't another checkpoint shooting in Iraq, "it" is the fact that it's one of those rare ones that actually got reported:
U.S. forces killed two Iraqi women--one of them about to give birth--when the troops shot at a car that failed to stop at an observation post in a city north of Baghdad, Iraqi officials and relatives said Wednesday.
Before I go any further, let me say that, in the light of the recent injury of CBS reporter Kimberly Dozier, I am not blaming the media for the fact that stories like this don't get reported. The responsibility lies entirely with the U.S. military, who without question are the recipients of internal reports on every such incident, but routinely "roundfile" them or otherwise just keep them quiet.

Back to this story. Let me start by repeating a post from last March:

How common are "checkpoint" shootings like that of Giuliana Sgrena which has made the news? This from AP:
"Yarmouk hospital - just one of several large medical facilities in Baghdad - receives several casualties a day from such shootings, said Dr. Mohamed Salaheddin."
And, to no one's surprise:
"Shooting deaths of Iraqi civilians are so common they're rarely reported in the media."
The blood-splattered little girl whose picture appears at the top of this page? If an embedded reporter hadn't been accompanying the patrol which killed her parents and left her and her five brothers and sisters orphans, the chances that you (or I) would have ever learned of her story are slim and none.

Say it with me now. Out Now! When you are occupying a country and your "soldiers carry signs asking people to stay away," isn't that about as clear a sign as possible that you don't belong there?

Which brings us back to the "dueling stories" from today's murder. From the U.S. military:
The U.S. military said coalition troops fired at a car after it entered a clearly marked prohibited area near an observation post but failed to stop despite repeated visual and auditory warnings.

"Shots were fired to disable the vehicle," the military said in a statement e-mailed to The Associated Press.
And from the driver, who lived:
Jassim's brother, who was wounded by broken glass, said he did not see any warnings as he sped his sister to the hospital. Her husband was waiting for her there.

"I was driving my car at full speed because I did not see any sign or warning from the Americans. It was not until they shot the two bullets that killed my sister and cousin that I stopped," he said.
Which brings us back to the murder of Nicola Calipari, riding in a car with Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena. I analyzed then the fiction that the U.S. troops could have possibly fired any kind of warning shots in a manner timely enough to have allowed the car to stop before they fired their deadly shots. And now in this case, we have the claim that "shots were fired to disable the vehicle." Wouldn't that require shooting either the tires or the driver, rather than the occupants? And take a look at this picture from AP, which is from the site of the hospital to which the car was en route:

If this is the kind of "warning" sign that the U.S. troops are posting and expecting drivers to stop for, it's no wonder Iraqis are being shot every day as a result. I can barely read the top line in the sign in this picture, which appears to have been taken from about 20 feet away from the sign. Imagine trying to read a sign like this from a speeding car, at a distance far enough away to allow stopping the car!

The names are different in today's murders. The conclusion is the same. Out Now!

Why stop here? There's more...

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