“If we accidentally shot a civilian, we could just toss the weapon on the body, and make them look like an insurgent.”

Why won’t people just take the military that suppressed that video at its word that it found RPGs and guns on the bodies? (Apart from it being irrelevant to their shooting the group when it wasn’t doing anything, let alone the unarmed people who came to rescue the wounded photographer.) Because there are a lot of soldiers out there who know how the game was played:

Washburn testified on a panel that discussed the rules of engagement (ROE) in Iraq, and how lax they were, to the point of being virtually nonexistent.

“During the course of my three tours, the rules of engagement changed a lot,” Washburn’s testimony continued, “The higher the threat the more viciously we were permitted and expected to respond. Something else we were encouraged to do, almost with a wink and nudge, was to carry ‘drop weapons’, or by my third tour, ‘drop shovels’. We would carry these weapons or shovels with us because if we accidentally shot a civilian, we could just toss the weapon on the body, and make them look like an insurgent.”

But I’m sure that didn’t happen in this case. Why would they lie AND suppress the video evidence?

Anyway, it’s a complete lie that the “Rules of Engagement” represent absolute contempt for Iraqi lives:

Jason Wayne Lemue is a Marine who served three tours in Iraq.

“My commander told me, ‘Kill those who need to be killed, and save those who need to be saved’; that was our mission on our first tour,” he said of his first deployment during the invasion.

“After that the ROE changed, and carrying a shovel, or standing on a rooftop talking on a cell phone, or being out after curfew [meant those people] were to be killed. I can’t tell you how many people died because of this. By my third tour, we were told to just shoot people, and the officers would take care of us.”

There’s more. A depressing – and, in the context, unsurprising – amount more. No wonder soldiers resort to dehumanising laughter to cope. And if you still think there’s no problem with the way the occupation is being prosecuted in our name in Iraq, and that we shouldn’t be concerned or demand change, then you should bloody well read it.

(Via Darryl Mason)

ELSEWHERE: Apologists for the killing go on the attack.

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44 responses to ““If we accidentally shot a civilian, we could just toss the weapon on the body, and make them look like an insurgent.”

  1. Jeremy
    Can you prove that weapons were “dropped” in the incident that has sparked off this debate?
    No of course you can’t. All you are doing is trying to muddy the waters and to slander every soldier who served in this war.

  2. I’m not “slandering” the soldiers. The people giving evidence in the above link ARE soldiers. The soldiers are just doing what they’re told. I’m condemning the military command, and the politicians and partisan chickenhawks who support it, for setting up this corrupt, deadly situation.

    You can’t prove that the weapons were found in that incident, either. But it’s irrelevant. The real issue is the helicopter gunner
    - opening fire on the group that wasn’t anything when it easily could’ve kept them in its sights and waited;
    - opening fire on the van that came to rescue the wounded soldier. It posed no threat at all.

    But as is your wont as a shamelessly dishonest partisan hack, I know you’ll ignore these issues to bang on about whether the first group had weapons or not, as if it would in some way justify what happened here.

  3. Splatterbottom

    The fact is that Jeremy has jumped the shark with this issue, naively falling for the Wikileaks scam. Hilariously he has decided to move the discussion away from the specific video, which is unexceptional, preferring to throw mud instead.

    One thing he will never do is recognise that there are significant benefits to the Iraqi people flowing from the replacement of Saddam by a democratic system. If it isn’t perfection it doesn’t count, except where you are talking about ‘progressive’ issues. Then he will have his lips vacuum sealed to the great green sphincter, gargling the torrent of shit as it distends his bloated belly. Shit he somehow mistakes for brainfood. This post is a classic example.

  4. “Scam”. You’ve seen the video, right?

  5. Splatterbottom

    I’ve seen a selectively edited video with a slanted commentary and no relevant context. It didn’t highlight the weapons the guerillas were carrying, and failed to point out that if guerillas carry on warfare in a civilian area, and without uniforms, they are responsible for any injuries or deaths, and failed to point out that they often took along cameramen to record propaganda for them, to service the huge appetite for such footage by the NYT and their idiot readers.

  6. “I’ve seen a selectively edited video with a slanted commentary and no relevant context.”

    “Selectively edited”? Where? It goes from several minutes before the incident to 39 minutes later. What are these sinister “edits” to which you refer?

    And what “context” justifies the gunner opening fire on the group not doing anything, or on the unarmed van?

    “failed to point out that if guerillas carry on warfare in a civilian area, and without uniforms, they are responsible for any injuries or deaths”

    You show me where in the video they “carry on warfare”. They were doing no such thing, as anyone watching the camera feed from the Apache can see.

  7. Splatterbottom

    The guerrillas had with guns and RPGs (something the editors of the clip didn’t bother to tag). There was no need to throw and weapons or shovels, as the guerrillas were armed.

    There was an ambush going on up the road, and these guerrillas needed to be taken out to protect the soldiers. The van that came later also needed to be taken out. It wasn’t an ambulance. Most likely it came to collect weapons and/or booby trap bodies.

    Clearly the guerrillas were committing war crimes (ununiformed combatants operating in a civilian area), but that doesn’t excite a peep from you in your indecent haste to blame America first.

    Killing Mahdi Army guerillas and those that run with them is entirely virtuous.

  8. what guerrillas? what are you on about? the people in the video are news reporters and their bodyguards

    god i wish wordpress had an ignore feature…

  9. Splatterbottom

    Sure, karl, and you are the 13th Imam.

  10. I think SB has gone past the regular digestion of Fox News stupid and has started injecting it directly into the blood stream.

    What exactly is it that makes you so sure this is “Clearly guerrillas were committing war crimes”?

    I dont see any RPG’s in the footage. There is a history of Coalition forces trying to cover up these sorts of incidents, and training US troops involves the dehumanisation of Arabs. Is it so far fetched that these people were actually reporters and their bodyguards??

    As for this crap about Iraqis being better off without Saddam. That probably is true, however there is more than one way to remove a dictator and most of them dont involve the debacle that you’re so strongly defending.
    Also – why do you never respond the fact the GOP supported Saddam when he was commiting the worst of his atrocities?

    At the end of the first gulf invasion when the Kurds and the southern Shia tried to rise up against Saddam did the US (under Bush Snr) assist Saddam instead in putting these rebellions down?

  11. baldrickjones

    *Formerly Cemil here, had to change logins due to someone playing around with my profile

    That panel was run by an anti-war organisation and had none of the testimony tested – which does not neccesarily mean that it’s true, only that it should be regarded as inherently bias. Hell, people pick on Fox all the time here for exactly the same reason. Concerning the issue of “soldiers just following orders” – any soldier can refuse to carry out what they believe to be an illegal order. This is certainly the case in the Australian military (who have far more stringent ROE, sometimes to the insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistans benefit) and I am fairly sure that this is the case in the U.S. military. So if these soldiers were “testifying” to what they “did” they they could be court-martialled as easily as their commanders. Oh and BTW – pilots of choppers are either officers or Warrant officers – people with rank, not just average grunts (not to offend grunts!).

    However after a bit of research (no, not on Fox news sites) to develop a picture of the context of this action, I believe that the U.S. chopper crew could have exercised more restraint, but the fact that the insurgents had ambushed the convoy headed in the direction of the action and it appeared that some of the reporters companions were armed, its a tragic case of mistaken identity. If you go wandering around a conflict zone, best carry a sign that you are not a combatant!

    Insurgents use the civilian population to cover their activities, therefore they are apparently not too concerned about casualties amongst their own people. They violate the LOAC and the Geneva Convention but we never hear too much about that.

  12. baldrickjones

    “which does not neccesarily mean that it’s true”

    replace with:

    “which does not neccesarily mean that it’s NOT true”

  13. Splatterbottom

    BT: “I dont see any RPG’s in the footage.” There is one shown early on in the group behind the Reuters stooges.

    “Also – why do you never respond the fact the GOP supported Saddam when he was commiting the worst of his atrocities?” How is this in the least bit relevant?

  14. I posted this at Pure Poison, but I think it is relevant here as well :

    I’ve just taken another look at the video and I’m pretty near certain that there is an RPG being held by one member of the group — you can see it from about 3:40, it definitely has the pointed shape of an RPG round when he swings around at about 3:45, he is initially walking inbetween two guys who look to be carrying AK47’s or 74’s, he then stays at the back with a bloke in a striped shirt who is one of those carrying an AK.

    The presence of that weapon, if it can be confirmed, would tend to lend some justification to the action taken by the helicopter crew, it’s certainly not a weapon that would normally be carried when guarding someone.

    Jeremy,

    Articles from Truthout are hardly from an unbiased or reliable source.

  15. Splatterbottom

    “Truthout” is newspeak for lies and propaganda. At least on Fox you get a range of opinions. Truthout is pedal to the metal ‘progressive’ nonsense all of the time.

  16. “If it isn’t perfection it doesn’t count, except where you are talking about ‘progressive’ issues. Then he will have his lips vacuum sealed to the great green sphincter, gargling the torrent of shit as it distends his bloated belly. Shit he somehow mistakes for brainfood. This post is a classic example. – Splatterbottom ”

    That’s the problem with you right wing fucks. You think the most disgusting revolting things and then have the nerve to type them and stick them up on the net for the world to see. You are a sick fuck. What would your mother think?

    And then you have the nerve to crap on about morals and decency. I’m not sure you know what you believe. You just want to piss people off – constantly giving a contrary opinion even if what the person is saying makes perfect sense.

    I am not attacking your freedom of speech you have every right to say what you do and I would fight for your right to do so. But do you have to lower the discussion to this level?

    And if you have such a problem with what Jeremy has to say WHY THE FUCK ARE YOU HERE?

  17. SB “How is this in the least bit relevant?”

    I could have asked the same in regards to:

    “One thing he will never do is recognise that there are significant benefits to the Iraqi people flowing from the replacement of Saddam by a democratic system. If it isn’t perfection it doesn’t count, except where you are talking about ‘progressive’ issues.”

    You brought up the history, i merely thought you might want to discuss it more. However clearly that would be impossibly for you to do without coming across as a partisan ideologue.

  18. “Articles from Truthout are hardly from an unbiased or reliable source.”

    yep, its curious why these ex-soldiers would make up such vivid and detailed lies, en masse.

    surely they must be hoping for celebrity status(after the court martial and severance of benefits). the military wont verify their story, so it must be untrue…

  19. We well know your attitude towards the US Karl, it comes as no surprise that you would believe anything that is fed to you by a site such as Truthout.

    “surely they must be hoping for celebrity status(after the court martial and severance of benefits).

    If they are ex-soldiers, they can’t be court-martialed Karl and their benefits aren’t subject to their remaining silent after leaving the military.

    I’ll stay with my opinion thanks.

  20. Splatterbottom

    Fryer: “What would your mother think?” My mother would roll about laughing. She is a scatalogical genius. It is where I get my sense of humour from.

    “And if you have such a problem with what Jeremy has to say WHY THE FUCK ARE YOU HERE?”

    This is a fine blog populated by intelligent commentators (present company excepted). But in the heat of the moment crazy things are sometimes said, and I need to put matters to rights by pointing out the bleeding obvious.

    BT, the deposing of Saddam was the explicit purpose of the conflict now under discussion. What happened decades before is irrelevant.

  21. Interesting SB, I would have thought discussing the history of Saddam’s rule – how he came to power, how he maintained his rule for so long, who supported it and why etc would be relevant to a discussion on a war supposedly waged to depose him.
    Without such an analysis of such history, how can you be so sure that troops should even be in Iraq?

    Also, this particular topic as far as I can tell was not about the invasion and occupation in general, but about one specific incident and the RoE surrounding this incident.

    I understand you do like to maintain the scope of discussion to be just large enough for you to dribble this sort of stuff: “Then he will have his lips vacuum sealed to the great green sphincter, blah blah blah”, but not so large as to illuminate the flaws in the ideology you’re wedded to.

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  23. “I’ll stay with my opinion thanks.”

    what would make you change your mind?

    obviously evidence from the horses mouth, and videos of indiscriminate carnage aren’t enough.

    what if the president admitted he invaded a whole country on a lie?

    is there anything at all that would pierce your trance about the “noble motive” in iraq?

  24. If you look REALLY closely, you can see Saddam’s WMD’s . They were in the back of the van all along.

  25. “I’ve just taken another look at the video and I’m pretty near certain that there is an RPG being held by one member of the group — you can see it from about 3:40, it definitely has the pointed shape of an RPG round when he swings around at about 3:45, he is initially walking inbetween two guys who look to be carrying AK47’s or 74’s, he then stays at the back with a bloke in a striped shirt who is one of those carrying an AK.” – gavm

    When I first saw that I thought it was a spade, then I wondered if it was an RPG, but I sunno.

    At one point it looked like the guy carrying it used it as a spade, at another point it appeared he leaned on it. Hardly what you’d do with an RPG, and the way he carries it, he swings it around easily considering if it was loaded it’d weigh 10 kg unevenly distributed.

    Admittedly I have thought about it a fair bit, but my initial impression was it was a spade. (What the guy would have a spade for is another question. Maybe it was just clearing rubble.)

    The other guys with him are carrying AKs by the look of them. Both those weapons are used by the insurgents and the Govt forces in Iraq tho. The AKs are clearly distinguishable too. The alleged PRG isn’t.

    In the chopper crew’s defense I will say that sometimes, in heated moments it possible to see what you expect not what is there. Apparantly there’s an explanation for it, similar process to the way strangers faces seem like people you know in a crowd sometimes.

    You see enough information to confirm your bias and your brain fills in the details cos you have already identified whats happening. SO as far as the potential RPG goes thats an understandable mistake.

    That doesn’t change the fact that the guy carrying the camera, I think his name was Nameer, was clearly not carrying a weapon of any sort, it was obviously a camera.

    And he was the individual that was primarily targeted. Considering the US’ record wrt killing journos in Iraq its not good enough.

    And its clearly not a weapon, that whole confirmation bias thing I was talking about shouldn’t apply there. These people are trained in observation and those details are clear enough.

    The US military has been the subject of criticism from its former soldiers since Vietnam too gav. With good reason. The absolute best you can say about this incident is that people with judgment that poor shouldn’t be flying Apache choppers in an area that will contain civilians.

    Thats the most positive spin available.

    They just massacred a bunch of people, clearly targeting someone with a camera first, and in the process shot up kids.

    Thats what happened.

    Real people. Shredded.

    Inexcusable.

    Breaker Morant was hung for less.

  26. “is there anything at all that would pierce your trance about the “noble motive” in iraq?”

    I’ve often stated that I don’t believe the coalition should have invaded Iraq at that time Karl, so the whole premise of your post is incorrect.

    Hello Jules,

    I think we are pretty much on the same page, I think the initial incident was a case of mistaken identity, understandable given the situation at the time, which was then made worse by the all too quick decision to fire on the van.

    As far as the RPG is concerned, I’m still pretty sure it is one, and there is no real issue with leaning on one, even when loaded, as long as the projectile is secured and the safety is on — they are a very sturdy piece of equipment.

  27. an RPG… because bodyguards for Reuters staff generally run around busting tanks… mad max style?

    is there anyone sane analyzing this video?

  28. Karl – not anybody sane in any position to do anything about it.

  29. SB, I believe you were asked a question about the “selective edits” you claimed were present (or absent, as the case may be).

    Care to answer the question? What selective edits?

  30. Splatterbottom

    Keri, as I mentioned above, an example of the selectivity of the editing process is the use of labels to identify cameras etc, but not to identify weapons. This no doubt served the purpose of the editor making it easier for credulous axe-grinders to leap all over this footage with their pious unequivocal conclusions. The truth may be a little more complicated than that.

  31. That’s not editing, SB, is it?

    You suggested that the video was “edited”, not that something wasn’t labelled.

  32. Do you know what a loaded RPG looks like Karl — if you do take a close look at the guy standing at the back next to the bloke in the striped shirt at about 3:40 to 3:46 on the clip, particularly when he swings the object he is carrying around and you can see clearly the pointed tip which looks very much like an RPG projectile.

    On another post I mentioned that an RPG is an unusual weapon to carry when guarding someone — which is why I think the initial action by the helicopter crew was understandable.

    They actually have the guy with the RPG targetted from about 3:48 through to about 4:01 or so.

    What isn’t understandable though is why they had the sights focussed on the journo, his camera looked nothing like a weapon of any kind.

    Sorry Keri, but labelling film footage is a form of editing.

  33. Splatterbottom

    Keri, I thought it counted as editing. Maybe it is sub-editing – aren’t they the people that supply the headlines in newspapers?

  34. Ah, so you weren’t suggesting they’d deliberately left stuff out. It just sounded like you were.

  35. Splatterbottom

    What they did was to appear to assume the role of adding labels pointing out relevant aspects of the video that viewers may not immediately pick up on. What they neglected to do was to tell us that they intended to ignore some highly relevant features because those did not support the political narrative of the editors. This production has about the same credibility of a truther video.

  36. Blast Tyrant

    SB, how about you justify having to invade Iraq to provide ” significant benefits to the Iraqi people flowing from the replacement of Saddam by a democratic system”.

    Oh that’s right, you can’t. Typical SB mo, bring up something new, and then ignore it once challenged.

  37. Splatterbottom

    BT you are missing the point.

    It was wrong to invade Iraq in the first place. The things that flow from that are both good and bad. In order to gain a balanced appreciation of what happened you need to look at all of the outcomes.

    I know this sort of complexity can baffle ideologues such as your good self. Maybe you just need to admit that the consequences of the invasion are, as of right now, still in the balance. Of course if you are just another loon with an agenda, everything is crystal clear, isn’t it?

  38. Blast Tyrant

    SB, i appreciate that they’re still in the balance. And that Saddam no longer being there is a good thing.

    At least we can agree that the invasion shouldn’t have gone ahead.

    However, If the point of the invasion was not to topple Saddam but for other more politically motivated reasons like Oil, then what makes you think that maintaining a troop presence is a good thing??

    If somebody invades your homes and wrecks the joint, it’s not like you’re going to ask them to stay around and help fix it back up now is it?

  39. Blast Tyrant

    Also, since you seem to have dislike Obama so much, have you watched any of the Onion’s new items on him and Joe Biden?
    I find them very amusing and I think you’re referenced the onion before…

  40. Splatterbottom

    BT, I don’t see maintaining the troop presence as a big issue. The Yanks still have troops in Germany. Every now and then they threaten to withdraw them and the Germans go nuts because of the economic value of having them there. I suspect the troops in Iraq are there only to stop large scale violence (eg from the Iranian factions or against the Kurds). It seems odd that the biggest winner from the Iraq war may well be Iran.

    I like the Onion, and not just for its political satire. Sometimes I link to this piece, which is sheer genius. I particularly like Praxitas, Duke of Those Willingly Led Astray.

  41. Blast Tyrant

    Oh yeah, i already read that after you linked it last time. It’s pretty good.
    Being kinda lazy and usually quite busy i kinda prefer the video news these days though.
    The realisation that Obama is actually bi polar and has shifted from “hope & change” to something like “despair and misery” is great.

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