June 7, 2006
Now HERE is some news that will help win the hearts and minds of the Iraqis. According to US Defense officials
(subscription required), the amount of innocent Iraqi civilians killed
in cold blood at US checkpoints has dropped to one per week from
roughly one per day back in July 2005. What's even more
disgusting is the admission that:
convoy shootings are almost always the result of mistakes in which
confused or disoriented Iraqi drivers don't respond to initial warnings
from U.S. forces to slow down or back off, U.S. officials say. U.S.
forces, worried about their own security and that of their colleagues,
must make split-second decisions to fire warning shots or open fire.
And who says we aren't making significant progress? Seriously, if
this is all the "good news" that we can get our of Iraq, that is pretty
pathetic. Of course, this doesn't include Haditha where the
murder of innocent Iraqis was done on purpose. Nor does it count those innocent Iraqi civilians that are killed in raids resulting from "bad intelligence".
about splitting hairs. We are reducing the number of innocents
that we open fire on. But we are only talking about some
innocent Iraqis in certain situations. And, oopsie, they were
just accidents anyway. So, "no harm, no foul", right?
What this tells me is, for starters, that hundreds
of innocent Iraqis, at a minimum were killed at checkpoints, and dozens
are STILL being killed at checkpoints. Now forgive me here, but
if this is due to "confusion", then shouldn't we have people at
checkpoints that speak the same fucking language as those who they would be shooting at?
Predictably, this doesn't sit too well with the Iraqi leaders, or the
population itself. I mean, who would have thought that people
would be pissed off if hundreds of their own were being murdered and
injured based on "confusion" or "bad intelligence" and then these acts
are either glossed over or covered up altogether. Don't they
realize that this is "freedom and democracy on the march"?
Between this and Haditha, I just can't fathom how those damn ungrateful
Iraqis don't kiss our feet for the freedom that we are bestowing on
them. But alas, they just don't see the benefit of our kindness:
shooting of civilians in such instances has angered Iraqi civilians and
political leaders. It also likely has helped fuel the insurgency. Last
week, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki lashed out at U.S. forces
for showing "no respect for citizens, smashing civilian cars and
killing on a suspicion or a hunch." Mr. Maliki's comments were driven
in part by the news that U.S. military investigators had opened a pair
of formal probes into the mid-November incident in Haditha in which
Marines allegedly killed two dozen unarmed civilians, including several
women and children without provocation. Evidence indicates that the
Marines tried to blame the incident on a roadside bomb and an ambush
from insurgents, say lawmakers and U.S. officials familiar with the
Even though the US estimates that these checkpoint shootings "only result" in
cold blooded murder "civilian casualties" around 12% of the time, that is a wild guess since everyone knows that "we don't do body counts".
The only small bit of positive news here is that Lt. Gen Peter
Chiarelli, the #2 military official in Iraq since January has been
critical of the US military for "using force" too quickly. He has
actually ordered investigations into each and every "incident" where an
Iraqi was either seriously injured or killed, or there has been
substantial property damage (around $10,000, for what it is worth).
While that is nice and all, I don't know how well that still sits with
the families of the hundreds who have been brutally murdered at
checkpoints to date.
The words do seem a bit hollow after the news of last week, when 2 women, including one that was about to give birth were killed at a checkpoint. I guess that was the quota for last week and this week?
Try selling these piss-poor excuses to the family of these people who were brutally gunned down back in 2003:
killing of seven women and children by US troops who poured cannon fire
into a vehicle approaching a checkpoint near the embattled Iraqi town
of Karbala has sparked outrage throughout the Middle East and beyond. Pentagon
officials have dismissed the incident as an unfortunate accident, while
insisting that the soldiers involved behaved appropriately.
The company commander of the 3rd Infantry Division unit manning the
roadblock ordered his troops to fire a warning shot, but, according to
a graphic account published in the Washington Post Tuesday, saw no
action taken. As the four-wheel-drive Toyota drew closer he ordered the
soldiers to "Stop him." At least one Bradley Fighting Vehicle opened up
on the vehicle with 25mm cannon fire.
"You just f---ing killed a family because you didn't fire a warning
shot soon enough," the Captain reportedly yelled over a radio to his
platoon leader. Packed
inside the vehicle was an entire family, 13 people in all, who were
fleeing the fighting. The victims included five children age five or
under. At least one of the wounded was not expected to survive.
Good luck explaining it to the family of this civilian who was also a "casualty" of a checkpoint shooting:
I am sure that the Iraqis won't forget how the US vigorously defended it's right to shoot unarmed civilians in the name of "self defense". Or the fact that a number of journalists have been shot at or killed at checkpoints.
All this leads me back to the callousness and casual dismissal of human
life by the US military. "So we are killing less civilians by
accident at checkpoints". Well, bravo....now how about doing
something about the killings of innocent Iraqis in raids, "errant"
bombs, blanketing of cities in white phosphorus, or in cold blooded
Then maybe, just maybe, it won't ring hollow.