Jun 12, 2006
Today a dozen marines are under suspicion of war crimes and three officers have been relieved of their duties, stemming from their involvement in the massacre of 24 Iraqi civilians more than six months ago. On November 25th last year, a U.S. convoy went through the town of Haditha, where a truck was hit by a roadside bomb, killing a marine. According to the official version at the time, the marines shot back against the insurgents, killing several insurgents and also some civilians. Any further investigation into this incident was squashed by the military hierarchy.
But in March 2006, a video made by an Iraqi journalism student finally appeared on several Arab television stations. It was then picked up by Time magazine. The video showed that marines angered by the death of one of their men went on an unprovoked attack against civilians. The video showed the bodies of women, very young children and old people who obviously weren’t involved in the fighting with their homes all shot up by U.S. soldiers. The video also showed a woman with a child being assassinated in cold blood by soldiers.
This blew the lid off the attempted cover-up.
This isn’t the first massacre of Iraqi civilians since the U.S. military invaded Iraq. The U.S. army carried out another massacre last March 15 in Ishaqi north of Baghdad. When it occurred, the military said only that four civilians had been killed in the collapse of their home while the marines were looking for an Al Qaeda fighter. Afterward, a BBC broadcast showed the bullet-ridden bodies of several children and a man as well as witnesses who said they were killed in cold blood. Then too, the brutal attack on civilians was covered up. A military spokesman announced that an investigation showed the soldiers had obeyed the rules and that the death of the civilians was only “collateral damage.”
Undoubtedly tens of thousands of civilians have been killed by missiles and bombs dropped from the air, more “collateral damage.” It’s also likely that in the more than three years since the U.S. invaded Iraq, marines or special forces have killed other civilians in cold blood, with no one surviving. In a dirty war of occupation, there will be such massacres, piled up one on top of another.
The massacres at Haditha and Ishaqi stir up bad memories among the older generation in this country – memories of what the U.S. army did during the war in Viet Nam, killing innocent villagers. Increasingly, the invasion of Iraq resembles what happened in Southeast Asia thirty years ago. And it’s leading to the same horrible fiasco – for the Iraqi civilians as well as U.S. troops.