Saturday, June 03, 2006

That's a Kill

Now that the US military have cleared US troops of any wrong-doing in the most recent accusations regarding a family killed a Ishaqi, and with the Haditha investigation ongoing, This Modern World reminds us of an article from October of 2004 about an incident back then that ought to give us pause about just what it is that the US military considers to be the "rules of engagement" in Iraq.

Seymour Hersh speaking in Berkeley on October 8, 2004:
HERSH: I got a call last week from a soldier -- it's different now, a lot of communication, 800 numbers. He's an American officer and he was in a unit halfway between Baghdad and the Syrian border. It's a place where we claim we've done great work at cleaning out the insurgency. He was a platoon commander. First lieutenant, ROTC guy.

It was a call about this. He had been bivouacing outside of town with his platoon. It was near, it was an agricultural area, and there was a granary around. And the guys that owned the granary, the Iraqis that owned the granary... It was an area that the insurgency had some control, but it was very quiet, it was not Fallujah. It was a town that was off the mainstream. Not much violence there. And his guys, the guys that owned the granary, had hired, my guess is from his language, I wasn't explicit -- we're talking not more than three dozen, thirty or so guards. Any kind of work people were dying to do. So Iraqis were guarding the granary. His troops were bivouaced, they were stationed there, they got to know everybody...

They were a couple weeks together, they knew each other. So orders came down from the generals in Baghdad, we want to clear the village, like in Samarra. And as he told the story, another platoon from his company came and executed all the guards, as his people were screaming, stop. And he said they just shot them one by one. He went nuts, and his soldiers went nuts. And he's hysterical. He's totally hysterical. And he went to the captain. He was a lieutenant, he went to the company captain. And the company captain said, "No, you don't understand. That's a kill. We got thirty-six insurgents."
It is hard to discount that this is happening on a far more routine level than the Pentagon is ever going to admit. How can they? What they need to do is put a stop to it. It sounds like ground commanders are filling mission kill quotas, like state troopers handing out speeding tickets.

As I said before, this is not the way to win any war. It is, in fact, exactly the wrong way to do it.


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