Aug 7, 2006
Military investigators concluded August 2 that there is evidence that U.S. Marines deliberately shot unarmed civilians in the Iraqi town of Haditha last November. Twenty-four Iraqis were killed, including women and children.
In this case, and others, enlisted soldiers are being held responsible for murdering unarmed civilians. And yes, what they did was atrocious.
But in all of the cases we’ve seen recently, prosecutors and the generals above them try to pretend that the soldiers on trial are just a few bad apples, a few loose cannons. They point to the trials as the demonstration that the integrity of the military is doing “just fine.”
If that were true, then as soon as such an event happens, the soldiers would be arrested and put on trial. That’s anything but the case.
Official statements officially blamed the Haditha civilian deaths on a roadside bomb. The military hierarchy didn’t start “investigating” until Time magazine reported in March – four months later – that Marines killed these people deliberately.
This military cover-up wasn’t carried out in order to protect a few Marines. It was done to protect the officers far above them, who have ordered this policy across the country. It’s not a matter of a few loose cannons – not even close. It’s a conscious policy being carried out in all military branches, all over Iraq.
In the case of three Army soldiers accused of gunning down two unarmed Iraqi men in a raid north of Baghdad on May 9, several other soldiers revealed that their commanding officers ordered soldiers to “kill all military-age males who were not actively surrendering” – an order that’s just vague enough to include just about anybody. These officers also kept kill counts for all the soldiers, and actively encouraged a competition for the most kills.
And if officers are putting out such abominable orders, you can bet that similar orders came to them from much further up, to “subdue the area at all costs” – that is, no matter how many civilian casualties.
Bush and Rumsfeld will deny up and down that they ordered this to happen, but it’s only the specifics they didn’t order. When a country like the U.S. attacks a whole population as in Iraq, terror and indiscriminate killing are automatically part of the plan. Charging a few foot soldiers with murder is just a way to cover up that fact.