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Saturday, March 17, 2007


The "rules" of engagement

Here's my previous description of the U.S. "rules" of engagement in Iraq:
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 it turns out, that wasn't quite right. A British court has now confirmed that precisely those same "rules" apply in the case of coalition soldiers as well:
A British coroner investigating the friendly-fire killing of a British soldier by a U.S. warplane during the invasion of Iraq in 2003 ruled Friday that the death was a "criminal" act.

"I don't think this was a case of honest mistake," said Oxfordshire Assistant Deputy Coroner Andrew Walker, concluding his probe into the death of Lance Cpl. Matty Hull, 25. Walker, who had earlier blasted an "appalling" lack of cooperation from the U.S. military, said he believed the pilots who fired on Hull's convoy did not take steps they "could easily have taken" to identify their target.

In his ruling Friday, Walker concluded that the pilots "broke with the combat rules of engagement in failing to properly identify the vehicles and seek clearance before opening fire."
Needless to say, the U.S. commitment to the "rule of law" didn't extend to actually cooperating in this investigation. Quite the contrary.

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