Haditha is just one more in a mountain of US war crimes
By Mike Ferner
Journal Contributing Writer
Jun 6, 2006, 00:46
Please! Would somebody please tell me that the corporate
news media are talking about U.S. war crimes in Iraq besides just the civilians
killed in Haditha.
I can only hope that my fellow citizens are not being told
that this latest outrage tumbling out of Iraq is some isolated incident; that
Herr Rumsfeld will diligently investigate it, and dispense timely justice to
all guilty parties (below the rank of lieutenant, of course).
Just in case your Uncle Bob or Aunt Sophie has been asking
you, �Exactly what the hell is going on in Iraq?� and you�re looking for hard
facts to help them get off the fence, here you are.
Keep in mind these are just a few instances compiled by one
citizen sitting in Toledo with an old computer connected to the Internet � an
indication that there just might be even more going on.
Keep in mind also, that the following acts are criminal
violations of the law not just because they are really horrid inhumanities, but
because Congress, the U.S. Constitution, and international law (yes, there are international laws binding on the
U.S.) explicitly prohibit the very kinds of atrocities now rotting at the feet
of George W. Bush. Each section below begins with the relevant law or treaty
violated in Iraq or Afghanistan. Every one of them, and more, are documented at
the Veterans For Peace website..
Principle VI: �The crimes hereinafter set out are
punishable as crimes under international law:
(b) War crimes: . . . murder, ill-treatment . . . of
civilian population of or in occupied territory; murder or ill-treatment of
prisoners of war . . . plunder of public or private property, wanton
destruction of cities, towns, or villages . . .
Afghan prisoners who died in American custody in Afghanistan in December
2002 were chained to the ceiling, kicked and beaten by American soldiers
in sustained assaults that caused their deaths, according to Army criminal
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.
Fallujah, 40 percent of the buildings were completely destroyed, 20
percent had major damage, and 40 percent had significant damage. That is
100 percent of the buildings in that city.
against humanity: Murder, extermination . . . and other inhuman acts done
civilian population . . . when such acts are done . . . in execution of or in
connection with any crime against peace or any war crime.�
decided to swim . . . but I changed my mind after seeing U.S. helicopters
firing on and killing people who tried to cross the (Euphrates)
were tied up and beaten despite being unarmed and having only our medical
instruments,� Asma Khamis al-Muhannadi, a doctor who was present during
the U.S. and Iraqi National Guard raid on Fallujah General Hospital told
reporters later. She said troops dragged patients from their beds and pushed
them against the wall. �I was with a woman in labour, the umbilical cord
had not yet been cut,� she said. �At that time, a U.S. soldier shouted at
one of the (Iraqi) national guards to arrest me and tie my hands while I
was helping the mother to deliver.�
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 a 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.�
Article 75: �(1) . . . persons who are in
the power of a Party to the conflict . . . shall be treated humanely in all
circumstances . . . (2) The following acts are and shall remain prohibited . .
. whether 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 assault . . . and 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:
slapping, and kicking detainees; jumping on their naked feet.
and photographing naked male and female detainees.
arranging detainees in various sexually explicit positions for
detainees to remove their clothing and keeping them naked for several days
at a time.
naked male detainees to wear women�s underwear,
groups of male detainees to masturbate while being videotaped.
naked male detainees in a pile and then jumping on them.
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.
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.
military working dogs (without muzzles) to intimidate and frighten
detainees, and in at least one case biting and severely injuring a
Protocol I, Art. 70: �The Parties to
the conflict . . . shall allow and facilitate rapid and unimpeded passage of
all relief consignments, equipment and personnel . . . even if such assistance
is destined for the civilian population of the adverse Party.�
sent by the Iraqi Red Crescent to aid the remaining population (in
Fallujah) have been turned back.
ambulances were repeatedly shot at by U.S. troops during the April 2004
siege of Fallujah and troops prevented the distribution of medical
Saqlawiyah, Dr Abdulla Aziz told IPS that occupation forces had blocked
any medical supplies from entering or leaving the city. �They won't let
any of our ambulances go to help Fallujah,� he said. �We are out of
supplies and they won't let anyone bring us more.�
Protocol I, Art. 35: �In any armed
conflict, the right of the Parties . . . to choose methods or means of warfare
is not unlimited . . . It 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.�
April 1, 2003 the residential al-Hilla in the outskirts of Babylon was 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 percent to 7 percent. 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
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.
Convention III, Art. 5: �Should any
doubt arise as to whether persons, having committed a belligerent act and
having fallen into the hands of the enemy (are prisoners of war under this
Convention), such persons shall enjoy the protection of the present Convention until
such time as their status has been determined by a competent tribunal.�
Bush issued an order on February 7, 2002, specifying that the U.S. would
not apply the Third Convention to members of al Qaeda. That order set
forth policies that led to the willful killing, torture, or inhuman
treatment; and great suffering or serious injury to body or health, of prisoners
in U.S. custody in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Guantanamo Bay.
Need more documentation? Try the 1996
War Crimes Act; the U.S. Constitution�s Supremacy
Clause, Article VI (par. 2); or the above-mentioned
treaties such as the Geneva Conventions, the Nuremberg Principles, U.N. General
Assembly resolutions, and others.
Just as the news media�s fascination with Abu Ghraib was way
after the fact and limited in scope, so, too, is its present fascination with
the Haditha killings. As they used to say during WWII, �There�s a war on, ya
know!� Exactly what do Americans think
happens when their nation goes to war?
Dr. Jonathan Shay, a psychologist with years of experience
treating Vietnam vets with PTSD and author of the seminal �Achilles in
Vietnam,� gave his prescription for preventing that disease and preventing the
breakdown of character that would likely happen to any of us in combat. It
wasn�t better training, or better diagnoses, or better drugs. He said �Abolish
war.� It�s time we took his advice seriously.
Mike Ferner served as
a Navy Corpsman during Vietnam and is a member of Veterans For Peace, whose slogan is �Abolish War!�
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