Thursday, June 01, 2006


Two, three, many Hadithas

When Dahr Jamail published an article two days ago entitled, "Countless My Lai Massacres in Iraq," that was hardly news to most Left I readers, who have been reading about these things as they occur. What's actually more remarkable to most of us, I suspect, is that these things are finally being acknowledged in the corporate media. Tonight there are reports of Marines in who are in the brig, and on the verge of being charged with the cold-blooded murder of one Iraqi man in Hamandiyah (and planting a shovel on the body to make it appear he was planting IEDs), and a second report, originating with the BBC, about the possible murder of 11 more Iraqis in the town of Ishaqi in March. Once again, information suggests that the soldiers covered up the murders to make it appear that the victims were killed by a collapsing house.

An apologist for the military being interviewed by Anderson Cooper on his show tonight kept emphasizing how this was "aberrant," and how 99% of the troops don't do such things. Perhaps. I'm not convinced. Remember, some substantial percentage of the troops in Iraq aren't even on the front lines. Of the troops who are actually conducting raids, or knocking down doors, I'd bet it's much higher. But let's say it's only 1%. With 135,000 troops in Iraq, that's more than 1,000 "bad apples" running around gunning down Iraqis. With that many, is it any surprise there are two, three, many Hadithas?

Let's remember something else--the only cases that are going to surface like this are the clearly deliberate murders. When an incident happens in a city, and let's say a shot is fired at the soldiers, how often have they responded by randomly firing in what might or might not be an appropriate direction, killing bystanders? Killings like that aren't even questioned, much less prosecuted. Nor are checkpoint killings, no matter how trigger-happy the soldiers staffing the checkpoint might have been. It just isn't going to happen.

Back to that 1%. I'm not going to quibble with regard to ground troops, even though we have clear evidence (like the story filed by Knight-Ridder's Tom Lasseter which so ominously presaged the Haditha massacre) that the attitude which leads to such massacres is not only not suppressed but actively encouraged. But I'm willing to bet that close to 100% of the pilots flying combat missions have committed similar acts, dropping bombs or firing missiles at buildings which were "suspected" al Qaeda hideouts or where "suspected" insurgents were located, without seriously attempting to even verify that information, much less to find out who else might have been in that building. This is simply the nature of the U.S. air war. The day the first pilot gets charged for such crimes, well, I was trying to think of something to promise to do, but it isn't worth it, because it simply isn't going to happen. They'll just chalk it up to "bad intelligence." That one's been working for George Bush so far.

Hey military and media--while you're busy investigating, how about looking into the murders of Nazem Baji and Salem Hassan?

And for our quote of the day:

Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki lashed out at the American military on Thursday, denouncing what he characterized as habitual attacks by troops against Iraqi civilians.

Mr. Maliki said violence against civilians had become a "daily phenomenon" by many troops in the American-led coalition who "do not respect the Iraqi people."

"They crush them with their vehicles and kill them just on suspicion," he said. "This is completely unacceptable."
Update: Here is my contemporaneous coverage of the Ishaqi massacre, and here is a new summary from Reuters of more than a dozen suspicious incidents involving U.S. troops and the death of Iraqi civilians. Note that it doesn't include such things as the wholesale slaughter of the people of Fallujah, but it does actually include a few incidents of aerial massacres, such as the famous wedding massacre of May, 2004. No incidication that any of those are "under investigation," however, even though the U.S. military clearly lied in that incident, claiming as I noted then that the U.S. aircraft "returned fire after coming under attack from militants" even though the attack occured at 2:45 in the morning. Note also that in that case, as in Haditha, there were survivors who have even talked with U.S. media, but despite that the incident quickly faded from the press.

Why stop here? There's more...

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