Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Pathetic rationalization of killing innocents at Iraq checkpoints

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:
[c]heckpoint and 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".
Talk 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:

The 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 probes.

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:

The 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 massacres?

Then maybe, just maybe, it won't ring hollow.

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