Wednesday, May 31, 2006


CNN's Arwa Damon in Haditha

Tonight's Anderson Cooper 360 broadcast a segment with embedded reporter Arwa Damon, in which she rebroadcast a segment she filmed in Haditha last October, shortly before the massacre (or "Massacre?" to use CNN's description) which has the world's attention at the moment. The segment praised the Marines Damon was with for their "restraint," describing for example an episode in which she and they were pinned down on a rooftop, taking fire for hours, but "they never fired a shot back" because they couldn't pinpoint the source of the fire. Finally, according to Damon, they identified (or thought they had identified) the source. And what did these "restrained" Marines do? Position a sniper to take out the attacker? No, they called in a tank which fired a shell at the suspected house, demolishing it. And then, the most amazing thing happened. Streams of injured civilians came pouring out of the house, and it didn't change Damon's opinion of the "restraint" at all! And, with scores of civilians coming out of this recently destroyed house, Damon didn't even ask the obvious question: was anyone killed when this tank shell ripped the house apart? It certainly seems likely that they were, but we'll never know from this piece.

The "rules of engagement" of the U.S. military, as illustrated by this episode, last week's massacre in Kandahar, or countless other examples, couldn't be clearer. If the U.S. military even thinks that a suspected enemy fighter is inside a building, they consider that they have the right to simply destroy that building, without even asking the question of who might be inside, much less actually attempting to find out. This is because the slightest risk to the life of one American soldier is evidently considered to outweigh a much more concrete risk to almost any number of innocent civilians (as long as those civilians are those barely-qualifying-as-human "foreigners" without, as far as we know, names, families, or emotions).

Why stop here? There's more...

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