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Marine commanders in Iraq knew within two days of the killings in Haditha in November that gunfire, not a roadside bomb, had killed Iraqi civilians but they saw no reason to investigate further, The New York Times reported on Saturday.
A senior Marine officer told the Times that commanders informed investigators they had not viewed the early discrepancies in accounts about how the two dozen Iraqis died as unusual, and that they had no information at the time suggesting that any civilians had been killed deliberately.
But a senior Marine general familiar with the investigation told the newspaper "It's impossible to believe they didn't know," referring to mid-level and senior officers. "You'd have to know this thing stunk," the general, who was granted anonymity along with others who described the investigation, was quoted as saying.
Haditha is Not an Aberration
Would somebody please tell me that the corporate news media is talking about U.S. war crimes in Iraq besides just the civilians killed in Haditha?!
Nuremberg Tribunal Charter
- Principle VI: "The crimes hereinafter set out are punishable as crimes under international law: (b) War crimes: murder, ill-treatmentof civilian population of or in occupied territory; murder or ill-treatment of prisoners of warplunder of public or private property, wanton destruction of cities, towns, or villages"
At least 26 prisoners have died in American custody in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2002 in what Army and Navy investigators have concluded or suspect were acts of criminal homicide, according to military officials.
In Fallujah, 40% of the buildings were completely destroyed, 20% had major damage, and 40% had significant damage. That is 100% of the buildings in that city.
- (c) Crimes against humanity: Murder, exterminationand other inhuman acts done against any civilian populationwhen such acts are donein execution of or in connection with any crime against peace or any war crime."
Abu Hammad said he saw people attempt to swim across the Euphrates to escape the siege. "The Americans shot them with rifles from the shore," he said. "Even if some of them were holding white flag or white clothes over their heads to show they are not fighters, they were all shot." Hammad said he had seen elderly women carrying white flags shot by U.S. soldiers. "Even the wounded people were killed. The Americans made announcements for people to come to one mosque if they wanted to leave Fallujah, and even the people who went there carrying white flags were killed."
The Geneva Conventions
- Protocol I, Article 75: "(1)persons who are in the power of a Party to the conflictshall be treated humanely in all circumstances(2) The following acts are and shall remain prohibitedwhether committed by civilian or by military agents: (a) violence to the life, health, or physical or mental well-being of persons(b) outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment, enforced prostitution and any form of indecent assaultand threats to commit any of the foregoing acts."
The investigation of the 800th Military Police Brigade by Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Taguba found that "intentional abuse of detainees by military police personnel" included the following:
- Punching, slapping, and kicking detainees; jumping on their naked feet
- Videotaping and photographing naked male and female detainees
- Forcibly arranging detainees in various sexually explicit positions for photographing
- Forcing detainees to remove their clothing and keeping them naked for several days at a time
- Forcing naked male detainees to wear women's underwear
- Forcing groups of male detainees to masturbate themselves while being videotaped
- Arranging naked male detainees in a pile and then jumping on them
- Positioning a naked detainee on a MRE Box, with a sandbag on his head, and attaching wires to his fingers, toes, and penis to simulate electric torture
- Placing a dog chain or strap around a naked detainee's neck and having a female soldier pose for a picture
- A male MP guard having sex with a female detainee
- Using military working dogs (without muzzles) to intimidate and frighten detainees, and in at least one case biting and severely injuring a detainee
- Protocol I, Art. 70:"The Parties to the conflictshall allow and facilitate rapid and unimpeded passage of all relief consignments, equipment and personneleven if such assistance is destined for the civilian population of the adverse Party."
Convoys sent by the Iraqi Red Crescent to aid the remaining population (in Fallujah) have been turned back. Marked ambulances were repeatedly shot at by U.S. troops during the April, 2004 siege of Fallujah and troops prevented the distribution of medical supplies.
- Protocol I, Art. 35: "In any armed conflict, the right of the Partiesto choose methods or means of warfare is not unlimitedIt is prohibited to employ methods or means of warfare which are intended, or may be expected, to cause widespread, long-term and severe damage to the environment."
On April 1, 2003 the residential al-Hilla outskirts of Babylon were hit with an undetermined number of BLU-97 A/B cluster bombs. Each bomb releases 202 bomblets which scatter over an area the size of two football fields, with a dud rate of 5%-7%. Immediate reports stated that at least 33 civilians died and around 300 were injured in the attack. Amnesty International condemned the attack, saying that "the use of cluster bombs in an attack on a civilian area of al-Hilla constitutes an indiscriminate attack and a grave violation of international humanitarian law."
On March 22, 2003, reporters from CNN and the Sydney Morning Herald - Melbourne Age embedded with the 1st Battalion 7th Marines at Safwan Hill near Basra reported air strikes dropping napalm.
Was the U.S. Marines' murder of 24 innocent Iraqi civilians an isolated incident -- or part of a larger cover-up?
he following is an edited transcript of an interview from Amy Goodman's syndicated radio show Democracy Now!.
Abdul Salam Al-Kubaissi [translated]: The situation has reached a level when the U.S. soldier becomes a professional killer, who kills with premeditation and deliberation. This should be among war crimes, and the ones who should be put on trial are the U.S. commanders and not the U.S. soldier, because the commanders are the ones who instruct those (soldiers) and justify their acts as it happened in Abu Ghraib's scandal.
Dahr Jamail: First is that this type of situation, like Haditha, is happening on almost a daily basis on one level or another in Iraq, whether it's civilian cars being shot up at U.S. checkpoints and families being killed or, on the other hand, to the level of, for example, the second siege of Fallujah, where between 4,000 and 6,000 people were killed, which I think qualifies as a massacre, as well. But even that number hasn't gotten the attention that this Haditha story has.
And the other really aspect of that, I think is important to note on this, is the media coverage, again, surrounding what has happened around Haditha simply because Time magazine covered it, and thank heavens that they did, but this has gotten so much media coverage, and in comparison, so many of these types of incidents are happening every single week in Iraq. And I think that's astounding and important for people to remember, as well.
Matthew Schofield: We were talking with the police officer who was first on the scene earlier today. He explained the scene of arriving. He said they waited until U.S. troops had left the area and it was safe to go in. When they arrived at the house, it was in rubble. I don't know if you've seen the photos of the remains of the house, but there was very little standing. He said they expected to find bodies under the rubble. Instead, what they found was in one room of the house, in one corner of one room, there was a single man who had been shot in the head. Directly across the room from him against the other wall were ten people, ranging from his 75-year-old mother-in-law to a six-month-old child, also several three-year-olds -- a couple three-year-olds, a couple five-year-olds, and four other -- three other women.
In Haditha Killings, Details Came Slowly
Official Version Is at Odds With Evidence
Despite what Marine witnesses saw when they arrived, that official version has been allowed to stand for six months. Who lied about the killings, who knew the truth and what, if anything, they did about it are at the core of one of the potentially most embarrassing and damaging events of the Iraq war, one that some say may surpass the detainee abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib prison.
The Marine Corps is saying only that it would be inappropriate to comment while investigations are underway. But since that Saturday afternoon in November, evidence has been accumulating steadily that the official version was wrong and misleading. The more military investigators learned about what happened that day in Haditha, the more they grew disturbed.
The wife of a Marine staff sergeant from the same battalion accused of killing civilians in Haditha, Iraq told Newsweek that "a total breakdown" in disclipine including drug and alcohol abuse may have been partly to blame.
"There were problems in Kilo Company with drugs, alcohol, hazing, you name it," said the woman unidentified by Newsweek. "I think it's more than possible that these guys were totally tweaked out on speed or something when they shot those civilians in Haditha."
CIVILIANS who spent time at the Haditha Dam base of the Third Battalion of the First Marines describe the place as something out of Apocalypse Now or Lord Of The Flies. It was “feral” one said. Soldiers didn’t wash. They had abandoned regulation billets and had built make-shift, primitive huts bearing skull-and-crossbone signs. The place stank. One American civilian engineer attached to the camp, with the task of keeping the huge hydro-electric dam nearby operating, said he was terrified of the soldiers he had to live alongside.
....Waleed Mohammed, a lawyer representing some of the families, said the survivors were waiting desperately for news of criminal charges being pressed against the marines of Kilo Company. “They are convinced that the sentence will be like one for someone who has killed a dog in the United States,” he said, “because Iraqis have become like dogs in the eyes of Americans.”