Friday, June 02, 2006

Iraqi PM Finds "Habitual" Killing of Civilians "Unacceptable"

Iraq's prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, is mad as hell about all the recent reports of civilian slayings by U.S. troops.

As outrage over reports that American marines killed 24 Iraqis in the town of Haditha last year continued to shake the new government, the country's senior leaders said that they would demand that American officials turn over their investigative files on the killings and that the Iraqi government would conduct its own inquiry.

In his comments, Mr. Maliki said violence against civilians had become a "daily phenomenon" by many troops in the American-led coalition who "do not respect the Iraqi people."

"They crush them with their vehicles and kill them just on suspicion," he said. "This is completely unacceptable." Attacks on civilians will play a role in future decisions on how long to ask American forces to remain in Iraq, the prime minister added.

In addition to the massacre of 24 unarmed civilians in Haditha, new video and photographic evidence has emerged that, in the town of Ishaqi, U.S. forces deliberately killed 11 innocent Iraqis, including women and children, who were inside a house where the Americans had been told an Al Qaeda operative was hiding out.

Then there was the incident at Samarra, in which a pregnant woman was killed, along with her cousin, also female, while being rushed to the hospital to give birth to her baby.

Also, the Los Angeles Times reports that several members of the Marine Corps and a Navy corpsman are about to have criminal charges filed against them for fatally shooting an Iraqi man after dragging him out of his home in Hamandiya, and for their subsequent attempt to cover up the murder by planting a shovel and other evidence intended to make it look like the man was an insurgent trying to plant a roadside bomb.

War supporters in the U.S. may insist it's all a mountain over a molehill, but Iraqis, understandably, see it a bit differently. As Steve Benen put it, "Iraqi officials want answers. No one can blame them."

Maliki's angry comments must be particularly galling to the Bushies, though -- given that they are the ones who wanted al-Jaafari out and Maliki in.

... by the way, this guy who just Sister Souljah'd us, he's the NEW Prime Minister. You might recall that a month or so ago we got the OLD Prime Minister kicked out because Condi and George Bush didn't like him. Way to go George and Condi, this is YOUR guy that YOU forced into office, and now one month on the job he's pretty much declared all out war on US troops. Heck of a job you did on that one.

It's doubtful that the Iraqi government's outrage will be lessened by the U.S. military's declaration today that its just-completed "investigation" of the Ishaqi killings completely exonerates the American soldiers involved.

The U.S. military maintains there were four dead in the incident, including a guerrilla, two women and a child, and said they died after troops were fired upon from the house as they arrived to arrest an al Qaeda suspect.

The defense officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said an investigation found no wrongdoing by U.S. forces.

The officials said a military fact-finding inquiry determined that U.S. forces followed proper procedures and that the civilian deaths were unintentional.

This account is contradicted by Iraqi police officers and by witnesses to the attack, who told LAT "the day of the incident that troops had entered the house, hog-tied 11 residents and shot them through the head."

The videotape obtained by the BBC confirms the Iraqi version of what happened:

The US authorities said they were involved in a firefight after a tip-off that an al-Qaeda supporter was visiting the house.

According to the Americans, the building collapsed under heavy fire killing four people - a suspect, two women and a child.

But a report filed by Iraqi police accused US troops of rounding up and deliberately shooting 11 people in the house, including five children and four women, before blowing up the building.

The video tape obtained by the BBC shows a number of dead adults and children at the site with what our world affairs editor John Simpson says were clearly gunshot wounds.

There are also photographs, taken by Agence France Presse in March, when the slayings occurred. The photographs, which are posted (with a warning, because they are extremely graphic) at Raw Story, seem to indicate that the slain Iraqis were shot at close range. The text above the photographs indicates that the victims had been bound before being shot, which speaks to the intentionality of the killings . Four of the dead were women and five were children. All of the children looked to be younger than five; one was an infant of about six months.

None of this matters to the war cultists. As far as they are concerned, the fact that the U.S. military investigators have decided that the killings were unintentional and that only four civilians died, not 11, constitutes conclusive proof that the soldiers did nothing wrong or illegal.

Which does not stop them from excoriating the BBC for giving credence to a videotape obtained from a Sunni group opposed to the U.S. presence in Iraq -- even though the BBC editors cross-checked the images against others taken of the same events and has judged them to be credible. "ARE YOU KIDDING ME?" Rick Moran screeches. "Needless to say, for the BBC to fall for this only shows how far some people are willing to go to promote an agenda against America and the war."

Needless to say, that right-wing bloggers would fall for the idea that the U.S. military is an unbiased source of information and would never, ever cover up illegal civilian killings or dress them up to look legitimate, only shows how far some people are willing to go to promote their ideological, xenophobic, "America uber alles" agenda.

But seriously, folks: How can anyone logically defend trusting the same military that supports the war and defends the war to be accurate, objective, and fair about whether its own people have committed war crimes; and yet simultaneously condemn news outlets for trusting -- after independent cross-checking -- a videotape that comes from a Sunni organization that opposes the U.S. presence in Iraq? If sources opposed to the U.S. presence in Iraq are untrustworthy on anything to do with the U.S. presence in Iraq, then why would sources that support the U.S. presence in Iraq be trustworthy about anything to do with the U.S. presence in Iraq?

And now that I have written all of this, I must add that it really does not matter what right-wing bloggers, or the Bush administration, or any American, thinks or believes about the killing of Iraqis in Iraq. It's ultimately irrelevant whether Michelle Malkin or Sister Souljah or Rick Moran or anyone else in the U.S. are convinced as an article of faith that the U.S. military can do no wrong; that any intentional civilian killings in Iraq, if they happened at all, were the work of a few bad apples. It does not matter what Americans think of the Marines, or the U.S. military occupation of Iraq. Whose country is Iraq? Who will investigate Haditha?

Whose country Iraq is will in no small measure be determined by whether the Iraqis investigate what happened in Haditha. And possibly elsewhere.

Are we witnessing isolated incidents here? More properly if there are incidents of murder, they happened there. There would be Iraq, a place changing in view from within and without. How the rest of the Middle East views this will matter more than how people think this incident might be used for politics here. It's a peculiarly amerocentric world we live in, but the rest of the world lives elsewhere, whether we see that or not. Those people there should be allowed to investigate. Because Iraq is a sovereign nation, right?

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