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"Something was not right."
November 23, 2004 3:36 AM   Subscribe

"Something was not right." Kevin Sites, the cameraman at the centre of the recent controversial shooting in Faluja, has posted an open letter on his blog to the marines with whom he was embedded.
posted by Hartster (86 comments total)

 
the most interesting quote is in the final paragraph:

So here, ultimately, is how it all plays out: when the Iraqi man in the mosque posed a threat, he was your enemy; when he was subdued he was your responsibility; when he was killed in front of my eyes and my camera -- the story of his death became my responsibility.

The burdens of war, as you so well know, are unforgiving for all of us.

posted by matteo at 4:14 AM on November 23, 2004


Something is not quite right with Sites, IMO. I appreciate that he has a job to do -- I appreciate that he puts his life at risk.

But this could have - SHOULD have - been handled differently. Sites' actions may very well cost American lives.
posted by davidmsc at 5:11 AM on November 23, 2004


Instead, he pulls the trigger. There is a small splatter against the back wall and the man's leg slumps down.

"Well he's dead now," says another Marine in the background.

what was in the mind of that marine? i bet even he doesn't know. i know i'm not going to second guess him.

he's a kid, half my age, sent half way around the world to kill people and break things. that's what marines do and if you don't want that done, then you shouldn't fucking send them. (excuse my french)

claeswitz observed that war is politics pursued by different means. what i find hard to understand is how killing a wounded muslim inside a mosque serves any political goal other than to further embitter and harden the men who are no doubt at this moment plotting their revenge.

the itv reports that the british security services have thwarted four or five september 11-style attacks on targets including canary wharf and heathrow airport.

my wife works in the square mile... and i am seriously thinking that it may be time for us to move back to sweden where the rejection of violence as a political tool seems more and more like the bravest thing a country can do.

if anything happened to her, payback would become my obsession and my mission. i know i am not brave enough, or man enough, to turn the other cheek and it seems foolish to place my hopes in the belief that proud iraqi men feel any differently than i.
posted by three blind mice at 5:11 AM on November 23, 2004


Sites quoting Lieutenant Colonel Willy Buhl:

"We're the good guys. We are Americans. We are fighting a gentleman's war here -- because we don't behead people, we don't come down to the same level of the people we're combating."

Not having served in the military, I don't know how career soldiers and officers tend to view wars in general (rather than any specific conflict), but something about this comment seems odd to me. Personally, I'd consider not beheading people a minimum standard of decency for a superior military power, rather than a mark of uncommon honor; I suppose Buhl is trying to call attention to the humane manner in which our forces comport themselves, but civilians are still being killed in large numbers, while the goal of the war (as amply noted on MeFi for the past few years) is vague and tends to change. I guess I'm just surprised that someone could dissociate the manner of fighting from the war itself, its specific conditions and aims. To say nothing, of course, of the apparent distaste felt for the Iraqis, on whose behalf we have been said to be fighting.
posted by clockzero at 5:14 AM on November 23, 2004


Sites' actions may very well cost American lives.

Explain. I can see how it might save lives too.
posted by Dagobert at 5:14 AM on November 23, 2004


Something is not quite right with Sites, IMO. I appreciate that he has a job to do -- I appreciate that he puts his life at risk.

But this could have - SHOULD have - been handled differently. Sites' actions may very well cost American lives.


When you start thinking of the truth as a grenade you might want to examine what you are doing.
posted by srboisvert at 5:23 AM on November 23, 2004


if anything happened to her, payback would become my obsession and my mission 3blindmice :

One could understand the rage, the pain and the desire for retribution ...but revenge would, quite simply, serve no purpose other then gratify an harmed ego for a short while. It surely wouldn't resurrect, heal or really do anything objectively good for anybody ; on the contrary retribution often if not always spirals down into more revenge.

One gotta work by being pre-emptive on religious/political/social hatemongering
posted by elpapacito at 5:32 AM on November 23, 2004


Is this sensationalism or just not a slice of 'right' reality?
posted by garfield at 5:38 AM on November 23, 2004


three blind mice, so which is it? Four or five? Or do the security services stop counting after the first two or three?

Sorry, but I call bullsh*t on a 'news' report that 'understands' that terrorist attacks have been thwarted, when apparently the understanding doesn't stretch as far as actual information. Particularly when this report is on the same day as proposals for new 'anti-terrorist' measures are being introduced.
posted by veedubya at 5:53 AM on November 23, 2004


"We're the good guys. We are Americans. We are fighting a gentleman's war here -- because we don't behead people, we don't come down to the same level of the people we're combating. That's a very difficult thing for a young 18-year-old Marine who's been trained to locate, close with and destroy the enemy with fire and close combat. That's a very difficult thing for a 42-year-old lieutenant colonel with 23 years experience in the service who was trained to do the same thing once upon a time, and who now has a thousand-plus men to lead, guide, coach, mentor -- and ensure we remain the good guys and keep the moral high ground."

You know what? I think I like this man. This little clip makes sense to me.
posted by PossumCowboy at 6:06 AM on November 23, 2004


But this could have - SHOULD have - been handled differently.

So what would you have done differently, and why?
posted by GhostintheMachine at 6:10 AM on November 23, 2004


"When you start thinking of the truth as a grenade you might want to examine what you are doing."

The truth is almost always a grenade - take a stroll through the morning paper's headlines. However, to my mind, it's a grenade that needs to be thrown constantly and continually.

Don't worry about the naysayers. People like davidmsc will always say shit like that. It's commonly expressed as "aid and comfort to our enemies." But it's crap. Only cockroaches fear sunlight.
posted by Irontom at 6:29 AM on November 23, 2004


Sites' actions may very well cost American lives.

Doesn't the life of the men and women of Iraq count just as much? He might just have saved some of their lives. It's not them vs. us. It's humans vs. humans.
posted by Grums at 6:45 AM on November 23, 2004


The Marines have built their proud reputation on fighting for freedoms like the one that allows me to do my job, a job that in some cases may appear to discredit them. But both the leaders and the grunts in the field like you understand that if you lower your standards, if you accept less, then less is what you'll become.

There are people in our own country that would weaken your institution and our nation –by telling you it's okay to betray our guiding principles by not making the tough decisions, by letting difficult circumstances turns us into victims or worse…villains.


Something is not quite right with Sites, IMO.
posted by y2karl at 6:50 AM on November 23, 2004


Only cockroaches fear sunlight.

Or vampires. Or trolls, come to that...
posted by Grangousier at 6:57 AM on November 23, 2004


None of us who haven't been confronted with the daily madness that those Marines are facing should consider making any value judgements about their actions or their mental state.

I believe that their being in the situation at all is pointless and wrong, and I hate to see anyone subjected to such insanity unnecessarily.

I wonder what psychological damage they will have to live with even if they survive.
posted by Enron Hubbard at 7:06 AM on November 23, 2004


It's not about value judgements. It's about a clear case of a Marine shooting an unarmed, wounded combatant. It was a total loss of bearing on his part and if I, as an officer, had been caught on tape doing it, my career would be over and I'd have been charged with murder, plain and simple.

This enlisted Marine needs to be dealt with, as an example to others that we have a code of conduct, and we're supposed to fucking keep it.

Honor. Courage. COMMITMENT.

What the fuck do you people think COMMITMENT means? It means staying committed to the principles that lead you to be in this country in the first place.
posted by taumeson at 7:17 AM on November 23, 2004


Enron Hubbard - I'm going to play Devil's Advocate here...

None of us who haven't been confronted with the daily madness that those Marines are facing should consider making any value judgements about their actions or their mental state.

Can't the same be said of the insurgents? Let's say somebody invades my country and were responsible for killing upward of a 100K people, the majority of whom were non-combatant women and children. Let's say one of those children was my daughter. I would get pretty pissed off as well.

Chopping a prisoner's head off makes effective television, but if I managed to capture one of the invading soldiers then I'd try for something a lot more painfull and long lasting. Beheading would be far too quick.

So I guess what I'm saying is that your statement probably goes further to excusing the actions of the insurgents than it does the actions of the Marines.
posted by skaffen42 at 7:23 AM on November 23, 2004


None of us who haven't been confronted with the daily madness that those Marines are facing should consider making any value judgements about their actions or their mental state.

I believe the majority of people here are in agreement with you. At least, that's from my reading comments for the past several months. I personally agree. To be sure, though, it is possible to talk about these events in hopes of highlighting the disasterous mental consequences, without simply claiming to be morally superior. I believe this is is not only right, but necessary, to ensure that people who will never be in a situation like Iraq have at least an idea of the pain and suffering normal people can experience there, as well as the truly sad consequences of such experience.

But this could have - SHOULD have - been handled differently. Sites' actions may very well cost American lives.

davidmsc, I'm new here. Would you do me the courtesy of either explaining your position or linking to material that does explain it? I'd much prefer the former, but if you find it taxing to explain such an odd position, I'll understand if you resort to links, or silence, instead.

[on preview: a lil' of what taumeson said, too.... also skaffen42 hits on something I try to explain to friends and family... I ask them to imagine if a foreign power literally invaded the U.S., if they would simply leave their home behind, or forgive the death of thousands as easily as they ask the Iraqis to do]
posted by odinsdream at 7:34 AM on November 23, 2004


I have to say that I am pleased that very little of the public discourse on this event in the US has been of the tenor "this guy is a stone killer"; instead, the vast, vast majority of comments I've heard is "how did we get one of our fellow Americans into a position where he felt that he needed to do such a dreadful thing?"

War is all hell, as General Sherman famously observed. We need not to take that lightly. When we ask our fellow citizens and their sons and daughters to go into that hell, we need to be very sure that it's worth it.
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:44 AM on November 23, 2004


But this could have - SHOULD have - been handled differently. Sites' actions may very well cost American lives.

He should have destroyed the tape, right, davidmsc? Just come back and say it so we know precisely what kind of person you are.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 7:50 AM on November 23, 2004


davidmsc, I'm new here. Would you do me the courtesy of either explaining your position or linking to material that does explain it?

odinsdream: since you're new here, you're unaware that davidmsc never does either of those things. He seldom has a coherent argument, and never has evidence.
posted by jpoulos at 7:59 AM on November 23, 2004


Kevin Sites is cute.
posted by contessa at 8:02 AM on November 23, 2004


I have to say that I am pleased that very little of the public discourse on this event in the US has been of the tenor "this guy is a stone killer"; instead, the vast, vast majority of comments I've heard is "how did we get one of our fellow Americans into a position where he felt that he needed to do such a dreadful thing?"

I'm pleased too.

At least ONE thing has changed since Vietnam.
posted by equipoise at 8:24 AM on November 23, 2004


This happens in all 'wars'. By definition, a war is a form of disease, of madness. You can't make sense of it, explain it, separate yourself from it. There are only two options: make sure it never happens; and if it is thrust upon you, do everything you can to stop its spread. Journalists need to realize that their role is more like an observer in an insane asylum: if they try to make sense of whats going on around them, they will be sucked into madness. Their job is to observe, clinically, objectively, un-Romantically. They must show the truth as unpleasant, as ugly, as violent as it is, as there is no other road out of madness than an unflinching confrontation with its pathology.
posted by buddhanarchist at 8:25 AM on November 23, 2004


I think what happened is horrible, but I think the immediate defense of the Marine, especially the Freepers who go as far as demanding Sites' head and calling him a traitor and saying that the killed insurgent "deserved it", is more disgusting than any "accusation" Sites makes in delivering this video. LGF is calling him a traitor and posting his contact information.

davidsmc, you have an obligation to explain your comment if you don't want to be labelled a troll here. It's clear that no one has any idea what your logic is in saying that more troops are in danger, or what your idea of "a different way" is.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:41 AM on November 23, 2004


What the fuck do you people think COMMITMENT means? It means staying committed to the principles that lead you to be in this country in the first place.

True. An immoral war leads to immoral actions.
posted by grateful at 8:51 AM on November 23, 2004


The madness of war doesn't mitigate the actions of this young marine.
He did shoot an unarmed wounded man.

We can recognize that as a failure without castigating him.

No one lives up to every moral principle they set for themselves or those set for them. Nor do people flawlessly engage in even the most commonplace tasks (traffic accidents come to mind).

We mostly even fail the simple goals we set for ourselves in our own environment.
"I shouldn't have another slice of pizza" or "I should really exercise today."
Perhaps we fall closer to life threatening situations when we cut someone off on the highway.

But then it so happens that your environment is war. The mistakes you make come at a higher cost.

Certainly this young marine should have lived up to the principles of the corps. He should also call his mother more and be kind to animals and greet the day with a smile - but this is in no way a gentlemans war (I'm with Gen. Sherman and Sidhedevil - no such thing).

The objective is to kill the enemy. Marines are trained to kill the enemy.

The decision to behead a prisoner or hostage is a political one, not a military one. It is not a tactical decision.
Shooting someone, anyone, in combat, is.
(Defining combat though gets fuzzy, is 'mopping up' combat? Considering 'major combat ops' are over - is what we're in now combat? - the lines between tactical and political can get fuzzy sometimes.)

Eventually you have to adopt tactics that work and these may well be similar to those of your enemy, the will certainly be in response to or (hopefully) in anticipation of your enemy.

But we cannot engage in scapegoating one marine.
http://tarlton.law.utexas.edu/lpop/etext/okla/kershen22.htm


If this marine is tried fairly and found guilty, fine. If innocent, fine.
We certainly cannot of course forsake our ethical standards, but neither can we blind ourselves to our responsibilities.

Not only can we not blame that marine for the situation he is in, we cannot blame him for his creation.

"The soldier is applauded who refuses to serve in an unjust war by those who do not refuse to sustain the unjust government which makes the war." - Thoreau

Like Thoreau I would argue that marine is a tool, a "small movable fort"



Unlike Thoreau, I would praise this act.

We say "He signed up for it" or "He knew what he was getting into."

I had a professor ask me if I knew when I joined that I would be giving up all my rights as a citizen, that the military could treat me like a slave.

"Yes," I said. "That's the sacrifice."

You swear to uphold the constitution, but you also swear to follow the orders of your superiors. That means killing or dying and that means right when you swear it.

I am not arguing a Hobbsian point of view


that we must expect to kill people, nor am I arguing we can blithely walk through the world unprepared.

I am saying that this preparation, this dedication, this recreation of ourselves into tools that serve the state is the sacrifice and that it is the responsibility of that state to use those tools efficiently and with proper support.

The most important thing about the use of force is the ability to put down the weapon afterwards.

Sometimes it's hard to know when it is 'afterwards'.

With enough light on this matter beforehand, with enough MPs around, with enough support this young marine might not have strayed from his duty.
Then again, he might've. So we split the hairs and try him for murder in the middle of a slaughter where pilots drop bombs that kill hundreds of civilians. But because this act was on film, it becomes political.

Nothing of this can be called 'good'. Not even - as honorable as it is - Sites dedication to the truth.

It's all just practical necessity to serve other motives, some good, some not so good.
posted by Smedleyman at 9:03 AM on November 23, 2004


Look, the Iraqi terrorists/insurgents are largely comprised of true war criminals. Attacking civilians at any point, generally, is a war crime. Hostage taking is a war crime. Torture, not to mention beheading, is an international war crime. Throw in feigning surrender then shooting. On top of that, our troops have experience with booby trapped bodies being rigged.

All of this should be factored in when discussing this topic. Sites' did his job, I think, and it is the decision to embed hostile/unsympathetic journalists that has made this what it is. It is not like this Marine was in some fantasy land thinking that Iraqis play dead and then shoot.
posted by pabanks46 at 9:10 AM on November 23, 2004


This enlisted Marine needs to be dealt with, as an example to others that we have a code of conduct, and we're supposed to fucking keep it.

it would be nice, taumeson, if that sentiment also applied to the chain of command that put that marine there.

as an example to others.
posted by three blind mice at 9:11 AM on November 23, 2004


Hostage taking is a war crime.

Col. David Hogg, commander of the 2nd Brigade of the 4th Infantry Division, said tougher methods are being used to gather the intelligence. On Wednesday night, he said, his troops picked up the wife and daughter of an Iraqi lieutenant general. They left a note: "If you want your family released, turn yourself in."

Torture, not to mention beheading, is an international war crime.

Taguba’s report, however, amounts to an unsparing study of collective wrongdoing and the failure of Army leadership at the highest levels. The picture he draws of Abu Ghraib is one in which Army regulations and the Geneva conventions were routinely violated, and in which much of the day-to-day management of the prisoners was abdicated to Army military-intelligence units and civilian contract employees. Interrogating prisoners and getting intelligence, including by intimidation and torture, was the priority.

I'm not sure I understand your point.

it is the decision to embed hostile/unsympathetic journalists that has made this what it is

Reporting the truth isn't "hostile" or "unsympathetic". It's also not propaganda.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 9:27 AM on November 23, 2004


XQUZYPHYR : some people don't care being called names, dude. Eventually, that plays well for such people who want to later say others "see, how much hateful they are ? They call me names ! " ..that's an ages old "tactic" to make the message look "right" because the messenger was "attacked"..while obviously the message and the messenger are distinct (but that's not some obvious to some honest simple people)

Take, for instance, this comment about Kevin Sites on the frontpage on some blog ...that I will not publicize, as the trick is to ask for "having a link to the full text published" so that I can prove that I didn't edit anything out of it ( as if the burden was on me) ..this way the blog is linked and publicized. Nice trick eh ? Ok, I didn't paste all the comment, go search for it :)

But if the ultimate objective of any war is to win, then having people like Sites accompany soldiers on life-and-death missions, when his objective is not to win but to record and publicize and play everything “straight down the middle,” is a very dangerous situation.

So here somebody starts by casting Sites as a danger..the objective is to shoot the messenger, because it's harder to counter the message( message being, something horrible happened among Marines ranks). Notice how the different "final objectives" are underlined...the soldier are here for the (maybe supreme) purpose of winning the war, while Sites is here to "record and publicize" events..this paints Sites on the wall of "residual" to war effort and as a danger to the war effort.

The immediate and ongoing exploitation of the video by Arab news services and internet jihadis for incitement against Americans can in no way be seen as a positive development for the overall war effort. It’s a defeat. It gives ammunition to the enemy on the field of ideas, and it hurts us both here in the US and overseas.

Obviously no link or proof of the exploitation is offered, neither proof that the video did any damage : it's just assumed that somebody will make propaganda out of it. That's entirely possible, but the consequences (if any) are not measured and maybe are not measurable ...so better just say he did harm anyway..nobody will go measure the effect anyway or extablish a cause-effect relationship..one of the hardest thing to prove.

I can’t really blame Sites for releasing the video to the pool. Once it was on tape and others knew about it, what else could he do? But the bigger, entirely pragmatic issue is: if winning is important, why was he even there in the first place?

This helps casting more doubt on Sites purpose, by working on the implicity assumption that Sites effort can't be but dangerous to the war effort , shifting the burden of proof (that it's actually a danger) from the ones who imply his reporting is dangerous to those who are supposed to prove his effort is not dangerous, but actually beneficial to the supreme purpose of winning :)

You see..sometime not answering is the best way to answer, if the provocation is made so that the answer will look inconclusive.
posted by elpapacito at 9:39 AM on November 23, 2004


XQUZYPHYR, I agree that david SHOULD provide some reasoning here but I also don't think it's any more complicated than this: Sites should shut up and bury that tape. Parse what you will from what others have said but this is most likely the heart of davids argument (if that's what we're calling it).

Sad, david can't see the forest through the Bush's
posted by j.p. Hung at 9:44 AM on November 23, 2004


Your examples are in applicable; we are talking about one particular Marine and whether or not his assessment of the Iraqi as a hostile enemy lying in wait rather than a captured enemy over whom he had the duty to be a custodian. None of the links above, for example, implicate this particular Marine in any way.

On the other hand, the above things I mention DO implicate this particular Iraqi. It should be obvious from his wounds, and likely his placement, that he was an enemy combatant just involved in fighting in Fallujah. All of the above things, torture, feigning surrender, etc. are all tactics used and defended by the exact people the US is fighting in Fallujah. Therefore, unlike your above examples, particularly the Abu Graib one, this Iraqi would have no particular reason to think that the person he was just trying to shoot and kill was part to war crimes. The same cannot be said of this Iraqi. Factor in the link I provided and the circumstances, and you will see why it was acceptable and not a war crime to treat this Iraqi in the manner he was.

Also, the point about embedded press was simply that, from all sides, the press can never win. To conservatives, it is liberal bias. To liberals, the press parrots the administration's talking points. The purpose to give this unprecedented access was to assuage concerns of sceptics about Bush&Co.'s actions. This was naive. If, instead, we just gave access to the degree we did in Kosovo, Gulf War I, reporting would not be sensationalizing border line decision making of troops on the ground, especially given the nature of the enemy of the close proximity in time to being fired upon. That would not be propaganda nor would it prevent the "truth". Your "truth" is different than mine with regards to this incident I assume, so maybe it is possible, actually, that your perception is just more guided by the reporter's potentially irresponsible spin/perception of the incident than mine. How about switching out "truth" with "opinion" since, looking at the video on the whole and knowing how things are to an extent through reading, there is a lot of quite different ways to take it in.
posted by pabanks46 at 9:45 AM on November 23, 2004


On the other hand, the above things I mention DO implicate this particular Iraqi. It should be obvious from his wounds, and likely his placement, that he was an enemy combatant just involved in fighting in Fallujah. All of the above things, torture, feigning surrender, etc. are all tactics used and defended by the exact people the US is fighting in Fallujah.

What on earth are you talking about? How would the fact that insurgents use kidnapping and torture "implicate this particular Iraqi"? And if it somehow did, why wouldn't the fact that the US has used torture and kidnapping similarly "implicate" the marine who shot him?
posted by Armitage Shanks at 9:57 AM on November 23, 2004


Armitage,

Abu Graib and the incident you referred to in the Washington Post involved different Marines than the group fighting in Fallujah. The 20+ torture chambers, the beheadings, the hostages, as well as chemical weapon manufacturing etc., all too place in Fallujah. This Iraqi is implicated in all of that because, while the civilians were told, and did, stay indoors, he chose to fight alongside and defend these people committing war crimes. It is a safe assumption that his presence in Fallujah, and his willingness to fight instead of stay indoors and avoid harm, makes him a likely participant in the host of war crimes that occurred while the insurgents controlled this city. None of these assumptions are as likely with this Marine. That point should have been obvious from my prior post.
posted by pabanks46 at 10:02 AM on November 23, 2004


Also, the point about embedded press was simply that, from all sides, the press can never win. To conservatives, it is liberal bias. To liberals, the press parrots the administration's talking points.

And to the informed, the press is about sensational stories to sell papers. What's your point?

How about switching out "truth" with "opinion" since, looking at the video on the whole and knowing how things are to an extent through reading, there is a lot of quite different ways to take it in.

Granted, it should be viewed in context. So should the beheadings. But it doesn't excuse either action, now does it?
posted by iamck at 10:06 AM on November 23, 2004


On top of that, our troops have experience with booby trapped bodies being rigged.
...
It is not like this Marine was in some fantasy land thinking that Iraqis play dead and then shoot.

Yesterday, I'd only be able to address the first of these statements. With this post, and the first-hand information it includes, I can now address both. If a body was rigged with explosives, what is the first thing you should not do?

I'll give you a hint, you should not target it with high-speed projectiles, like bullets. Some practical considerations of why this man was not acting in the belief that the body was rigged: If a body is rigged, perhaps the trigger is hand-held, and if the body dies, the explosives are detonated. Clearly, it would make no sense to kill the man. More importantly, killing someone strapped with explosives does nothing to dissuade said explosives from detonating. This served no tactical purpose.

On your second point, the account clearly mentions several other "insurgents" in the room who were equally, if not more, threatening from the standpoint of someone hiding weapons on them. Particularly, the individual who was covered with a blanket. Of course, from the account, it's apparent that these people are literally just struggling to survive at this point.

Again, what this soldier did is clearly not a matter of tactical necessity or self defense.

In addition, when asked if the individuals were armed, all we hear of in response is a shrug. If you're worried about your security, I think you'd give more than a shrug. That's just me, though.
posted by odinsdream at 10:07 AM on November 23, 2004


Abu Graib and the incident you referred to in the Washington Post involved different Marines than the group fighting in Fallujah.

So if it was a another group of marines more likely to have been involved in those crimes, insurgents would be justified in treating them differently?

I can understand the argument with respect to "playing dead", but how does *possible* involvement in torture and kidnapping justify shooting him *in that context*?
posted by Armitage Shanks at 10:11 AM on November 23, 2004


iamck,

If you look at the context that I have provided, I would say his action is excusable in war time. As part of this discussion, I would hope that maybe someone has a better reasoned, or more persuasive argument for an alternative context to shake me from this conclusion. Armitage rightly points out US errors, but I don't think that this Marine rightly can be held accountable for those. However, I think there is a great deal pointing to this Iraqi being involved in a host of war crimes. Because of this, and because of experience with Iraqis playing dead and then firing, this Marine made a judgement call which he was legally allowed to do in a time of armed conflict. What context can you provide to negate, not ignore these points, in order to take the video we've both seen, and turn it into a war crimes case against this Marine?
posted by pabanks46 at 10:12 AM on November 23, 2004


Armitage,

The point about the war crimes is simply to point out that, while two war crimes does not make a right, this insurgent likely was a very hostile and depraved enemy who can plausibly be thought to be playing dead to gain an advantage. The videos show marines yelling/communicating, and in reference to the man under the blanket, it was only when they shot the one Iraqi that the man in the blanket responded and showed his hands. Their not actually being armed is not of concern; in cases of self-defense, it is the reasonable apprehension of imminent, serious bodily harm or death that allows you to kill another. Here, the war crimes, the history of playind dead, and the refusal of a man to respond to a US Marine with an automatic weapon all goes to whether or not this Marine had a reasonable belief that this Iraqi was a threat. I think it does.
posted by pabanks46 at 10:19 AM on November 23, 2004


pabanks46, I really wonder if you're capable of imagination. I can't see any hint from your posts that you are. It seems you're unable to imagine yourself as an Iraqi in this situation. If a foreign power with vastly superior technology and weaponry invades your country, lays siege to your city daily with bombing runs from 10,000 feet above your home, destroys all the infrastructure of your city beyond repair lasting anything less than a decade...

...then somehow (this is unclear to me) transmits to your family the key information that, to be spared imminent death from shelling (if you haven't already been inadvertently targetted), you should either 1. leave your city's borders and make your way into the unforgiving desert, or 2. stay in your home, lacking running water, communications, sewage, food supplies, etc, and hope someone in your family isn't later kidnapped and held for ransom by local gangs.

Now, assuming this position is something you can imagine, I find it hard to believe that you like either of those options, especially if they're coming straight from the people who just vaporised your brother's farmhouse along with his wife and your month-old niece.

I further find it hard to believe that you wouldn't be actively engaged in trying your best to stop this advancing army any way you see fit. I also find it highly likely that your activities could very well include finding an old rusty rifle, holing up in a deserted church, and trying your best to put a bullet in at least one skull for each of your relatives, all the while hoping your heat signature isn't picked up on infra-red goggles in the multi-tonne tanks searching you out.

The motivation is what's so sickening about this horrible war. You will not reason with these people, and they will be unforgiving in their retribution. Exactly as many here would behave under similar circumstances.
posted by odinsdream at 10:24 AM on November 23, 2004


odinsdream,

I don't need to imagine that for the sake of this post. We're talking about whether or not this Marine committed a war crime and directly related issues to that transaction. You basically are laying the foundation to justify Iraqi war crimes. Don't need to do that. Maybe, at least you could imagine a way to stay somewhat on topic instead of trying to be a self-righteous apologist for these actions.

But if you can't do that, one question: does executing and dismembering a female member of CARE that spent her entire life helping Iraqi people count as retribution against the big, bad, US? Bet not. And that is exactly where your bleeding heart should begin to clot.
posted by pabanks46 at 10:29 AM on November 23, 2004


Here, the war crimes, the history of playind dead, and the refusal of a man to respond to a US Marine with an automatic weapon all goes to whether or not this Marine had a reasonable belief that this Iraqi was a threat.

Once again, in that context, how does the fact that he might have been involved in kidnapping in the past make him more of a threat to you in the present?

Your whole argument seems to be that since they're a bunch of bad guys who do bad things, we're free to ignore any rules of engagement. That's the sort of logic that eventually leads to My Lai.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 10:30 AM on November 23, 2004


But if you can't do that, one question: does executing and dismembering a female member of CARE that spent her entire life helping Iraqi people count as retribution against the big, bad, US?

Oh good grief. Maybe, at least you could imagine a way to stay somewhat on topic instead of trying to be a self-righteous apologist for these actions.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 10:31 AM on November 23, 2004


Armitage,

If you can't look at the prior post and see where the "off-topic" stuff came from, I can see why we're not getting anywhere.
posted by pabanks46 at 10:35 AM on November 23, 2004


It is a safe assumption that his presence in Fallujah, and his willingness to fight instead of stay indoors and avoid harm, makes him a likely participant in the host of war crimes that occurred while the insurgents controlled this city.

sorry, pabanks, you got it wrong.

If an enemy is firing from one mosque, that mosque loses its protected status. But a second mosque would not lose its protected status, unless it posed a threat. The criteria for determining whether its a threat will be spelled out in the unit's rules of engagment and tactical procedures.

If an enemy is not following the rules of war then the tactical procedures and rules of engagement are modified to account for that.

This Marine's behavior is bound by these Rules of Engagement and tactical procedures, not by past actions of the enemy. The actions of the enemy are a factor that go into forming Rules of Engagement and the tactical procedures. Follow? It's important if you want to understand how the military will judge this Marine's actions.

Hopefully this will help illustrate one difference between a professional military and a bunch of armed individuals running around in groups.
posted by forforf at 10:38 AM on November 23, 2004


"The actions of the enemy are a factor that go into forming Rules of Engagement and the tactical procedures."

Again, I point you to this. This does not justify us to shoot every person that looks dead or injured, so we need other evidence to help paint a picture where this particular Iraqi posed a threat. You don't need to look far in Fallujah to find reasons to think that this person can be thought to pose an increased danger.
posted by pabanks46 at 10:45 AM on November 23, 2004


That's the sort of logic that eventually leads to My Lai.

Armitage - logic doesn't lead to that. Combat stress does.

It's an error.

Forforf makes a good point on this - if the enemy changes tactics the rules of engagement are modified accordingly.

It's the helpful myth that tells us the redcoats were standing in nice neat rows while the colonials fought from the woods.
posted by Smedleyman at 10:47 AM on November 23, 2004


On your second point, the account clearly mentions several other "insurgents" in the room who were equally, if not more, threatening from the standpoint of someone hiding weapons on them.

From what I've read, it appears that a couple other insurgents were clearly alive in the room but only one could have been suspected of playing dead.


Of course, from the account, it's apparent that these people are literally just struggling to survive at this point.

Might seem completely different from someone else's account, no?


This is a regrettable incident but spinning it into the next Abu Ghraib is stupid. Given the tactics used by the insurgents, I can see why the Marine would err on the side of caution. And in terms of the value of human life, I'd rather preserve that of the Marine than that of an insurgent who chose to try and kill from the cover of a protected religious building.
posted by Krrrlson at 10:48 AM on November 23, 2004


Forforf makes a good point on this - if the enemy changes tactics the rules of engagement are modified accordingly.

He does make a good point, and you missed it.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 10:52 AM on November 23, 2004


pabanks46, if the Marine thought that the wounded Iraqi was "boobytrapped" with explosives, then how would shooting him have helped the situation in any way? Now, I do not have the benefit of Marine training, but my basic firearms edumacation suggests that firing a weapon near explosives is a Bad Idea.

And you're also, as they say, "assuming a lot of facts not in evidence" about the dead Iraqi. All we know about him was that a) he was in Fallujah, and b) he was one of a number of people rounded up in that mosque. Most of those people were armed insurgents, but some of them were people who seemed to have just been in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The fact that the Marine was surrounded by armed insurgents, in an atmosphere of crazy violence and torture, makes me believe that his action was a result of overwhelming stress. However, it's still not an action I endorse. Nor is it one the USMC endorses.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:54 AM on November 23, 2004


pabanks46, your argument is bizarre.

Basically what your saying seems to be:

An individual US soldier cannot be automatically considered to be a participant in the war crimes of the general US occupation. Therefore, it is illogical and immoral for an Iraqi to attempt to kill any individual American soldier as an act of revenge, because it is unlikely that particular soldier is a war criminal.

However, an individual Iraqi soldier can be reasonably presumed to be a war criminal, since some Iraqi soldiers have committed war crimes. Therefore, it is perfectly reasonable and moral for a US soldier to kill any individual Iraqi soldier.

In fact, it is so reasonable and moral, that if a US soldier commits a war crime while doing so - such as killing an unarmed and wounded man - it isn't even a war crime, since it's perfectly logical to presume that the unarmed, wounded man was about to commit a war crime himself, by virtue of being an Iraqi and all. Hence, Americans never commit any war crimes in the first place, thus proving your argument.

But war crimes committed by Iraqis are still, of course, war crimes.

What?

I'll assume I've missed your point, since that makes no sense whatsoever to me. Very sorry about that. Care to explain where I'm getting you wrong?
posted by kyrademon at 10:54 AM on November 23, 2004


We mostly even fail the simple goals we set for ourselves in our own environment.
"I shouldn't have another slice of pizza" or "I should really exercise today."


The worst kind of monday morning quarterbacking.
posted by lazymonster at 10:55 AM on November 23, 2004


Krrlson and everyone else--not everyone in that mosque was a) an armed insurgent, or b) an armed insurgent who had been using that mosque as a base for attacks.

I don't think anyone is trying to "spin" this into "the next Abu Ghraib". I think that the vast majority of people who see this as a terrible thing also see it as a tragic outcome of the effects of combat stress on a recently-wounded young Marine in an undermanned, undersupplied firefight zone.

I don't want to pin this kid to the wall--a military court-martial will evaluate the appropriate consequences for his actions. But I do want to question whether I want my government to be sending this kid, and thousands of others like him, into this situation at this time.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:57 AM on November 23, 2004


I'll assume I've missed your point, since that makes no sense whatsoever to me.

It boils down to this: Americans are a priori Good Guys. The people they fight are a priori Bad Guys. Twist justifications accordingly.

This is a regrettable incident but spinning it into the next Abu Ghraib is stupid.

Agreed.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 10:59 AM on November 23, 2004


kyrademon,

Your paraphrasing is what is causing you trouble. That is not what I am saying. I am not talking about Iraqi soldiers, first off, but insurgents/terrorists operating in Fallujah. That is the extent of this discussion. In Fallujah, at this mosque, there was a wounded Iraqi that likely was wounded as a result of attempting to kill US Marines. Given the types of horrific war crimes those fighting against the Marines participated in, and given the tactics of playing dead and then shooting that the Marines have had to adjust to, I am saying that shooting him as a percieved threat was one of many acceptable actions. This DOES NOT go for all Iraqi insurgents, and outside of Fallujah, the scrutiny should be higher. It is in this very narrow context, and special set of circumstances, that the shooting of this person likely does not rise to the level of a war crime. In short reference to my point about Abu Graib, I will say the same thing. Again, I am saying all of this only in Fallujah, under these circumstances, etc. does this not seem, to me, to rise to a war crime. As US Marines in Fallujah did not commit the above alleged acts, nor, aside from this shooting, are really accused of war crimes, I think it is clear that these Marines in Fallujah cannot be thought of as more dangerous or likely to commit crimes as those elsewhere in the country. In short, to bring up Abu Graib is off topic because we are talking about Fallujah, but to bring up beheadings is on topic, because we are talking about Fallujah.
posted by pabanks46 at 11:04 AM on November 23, 2004


Ah. I see your point now.

However, I would still argue that, by that logic, while the practice of "playing dead" would be on topic here, beheadings are as irrelevant as Abu Ghraib, even in Fallujah, in this particular circumstance. The wounded Iraqi wasn't about to kidnap and behead anybody.
posted by kyrademon at 11:11 AM on November 23, 2004


But this could have - SHOULD have - been handled differently. Sites' actions may very well cost American lives.

Yes! Bury it! Burn the evidence! things like war always go much better when anything wrong that goes on during them gets thoroughly covered up.
posted by clevershark at 11:15 AM on November 23, 2004


Given the types of horrific war crimes those fighting against the Marines participated in, and given the tactics of playing dead and then shooting that the Marines have had to adjust to

This is the one part of the story I haven't heard much about. What were the horrific war crimes that the Falluja rebels were committing during the most recent battle against the Marines? And where are the reports of the playing dead and then shooting? The problem with the news media is that they provide no context, I haven't seen a single story on any of these types of things. All I saw were snipers shooting and then big explosions.
posted by chaz at 11:15 AM on November 23, 2004


It always seems to be the little people on either side who get fucked. The best place to be in a war is in the war room, where it's harder to be videotaped doing mean things.
posted by Kleptophoria! at 11:16 AM on November 23, 2004


I don't think any of us who hasn't been in a war zone has right to pass judgement on this.

I'm just amazed at how much more loyal the Arab media is to the Arab cause than the Western media to the Western cause.

You'll note that Al Jazeera still hasn't shown the final hostage or execution video of Margeret Hassan, probably becuase it's too shockingly disgusting and overall bad PR for the insurgency. But give American or British journalists a video or photos of a injured guy being shot or a prisoner being abused and they can't wait to run it, even though they know it will probably cost American lives.

I don't think the insurgency would be as strong w/o the Abu Ghraib scandal and our media played it up as much as possible. Why are we continuing to play into their hands?
posted by b_thinky at 11:23 AM on November 23, 2004


Since it's apparent so many of you are arguing a rather stupid point about what the Marine was thinking or feeling or whatever. Why haven't any of you read the actual account of what happened from the reporter? Or is he to "tainted" by his "Liberal Media Bias" for you to actually beleive him when he details the following:

While I continue to tape, a Marine walks up to the other two bodies about fifteen feet away, but also lying against the same back wall.

Then I hear him say this about one of the men:

"He's fucking faking he's dead -- he's faking he's fucking dead."

Through my viewfinder I can see him raise the muzzle of his rifle in the direction of the wounded Iraqi. There are no sudden movements, no reaching or lunging.

However, the Marine could legitimately believe the man poses some kind of danger. Maybe he's going to cover him while another Marine searches for weapons.

Instead, he pulls the trigger. There is a small splatter against the back wall and the man's leg slumps down.

"Well he's dead now," says another Marine in the background.

I am still rolling. I feel the deep pit of my stomach. The Marine then abruptly turns away and strides away, right past the fifth wounded insurgent lying next to a column. He is very much alive and peering from his blanket. He is moving, even trying to talk. But for some reason, it seems he did not pose the same apparent "danger" as the other man -- though he may have been more capable of hiding a weapon or explosive beneath his blanket.

But then two other marines in the room raise their weapons as the man tries to talk.

For a moment, I'm paralyzed still taping with the old man in the foreground. I get up after a beat and tell the Marines again, what I had told the lieutenant -- that this man -- all of these wounded men -- were the same ones from yesterday. That they had been disarmed treated and left here.

At that point the Marine who fired the shot became aware that I was in the room. He came up to me and said, "I didn't know sir-I didn't know." The anger that seemed present just moments before turned to fear and dread.
________________________________

Now the most relavent part of that whole exchange comes right here : He came up to me and said, "I didn't know sir-I didn't know."

The marine did not know. The marine did not have the proper information to assess the situation correctly. He was under the impression that these were men who were just engaged in combat, so still classified as field combatants. They were viable targets in the Marine's scope of operation given his intel. Once Sites changes the situation by informing the soldier that his intel was wrong and his actions were beyond the scope of engagement, the soldier quickly changes his mode of engagement and the situation is reported to the commanding officer. If you wish to think of this as a war crime, it is a crime of bad intel and lack of communication between fire teams. The Marines are an engagement force, sent in to sweep and destroy any targets that engage them. End of story. If they are not informed before they go into a room that the people they will find there are not targets, they will and should engage them as targets, hostiles, whatever. It is very simple.

The other accounts I have heard and read about enemies booby-trapping bodies and failing to surrender is a rather weak distortion of the reality of armed engagement. An enemy combatant is not neutralized until he is a) dead, b) missing most of his appendages, or c) unable to respond due to being disarmed. Any time a marine squad enters a room, they are facing a possible trap. This is the nature of urban warfare. You do not have the option of distance. You are in a rats nest of obstacles that you have to navigate around and try and know what is in every corner of every room while you seek out hostile targets. Just because a target is not moving does not mean it is dead or unarmed. This is the reason why the soldiers first action was to shoot first. Any thing that cannot be immediately assessed as a non-threat is a threat.

Yes it's overtly obvious. Yes, I have rambled on and on. But trying to paint this picture as some kind of attrocity is utter bullshit and you have to realize that. Painting Sites as some kind of demon for recording and publicizing this incident is contemptable and utterly ridiculous considering it is a very dramatic object lesson in the rules of engagement. The soldier will stand trial, but so will his chain of command.

The final note of this whole episode is that argueing about whether this footage is "good" or "bad" is moronic. It is a lesson. It is a reminder. This is the war we have chosen to fight. These are the people we have chosen to stir up and engage in combat on their terms (urban guerilla tactics). These are the choices that our military is using to engage.

I just think there are better tactics that sweep and burn to clear out the city of insurgents. So far from the reports, they are using the same tactics that got many a marine killed in the beseiged cities of southern vietnam when they were engaged in house to house searches for combatants. Why are the Marines using 30 year old tactics that have been proven to be ineffective (at least from the casualty stand point) when engaging snipers and small squads of entrenched enemies? Everybody remember the final scene from Full Metal Jacket?

Joker you are one cold mother f***er (sic).


Now someone's going to ask me what would be a better way of rooting out the insurgents...
posted by daq at 11:26 AM on November 23, 2004


If you look at the context that I have provided, I would say his action is excusable in war time.

And I know you're trying to look at the particular here, but don't disregard the overreaching general implication - "the excusibility of a war crime is based on the context." Assuming there is nothing inherently inferior in Iraqi's, then this should apply across the board. Making beheadings subject to inquiry of their moral standing.

I understand the importance of defining a war crime from a legal standpoint. I think the discussion here is more one of morality.
posted by iamck at 11:34 AM on November 23, 2004


I'm just amazed at how much more loyal the Arab media is to the Arab cause than the Western media to the Western cause.

Yeah, why don't we just get rid of the pesky media altogether and just put out propaganda instead?

I don't think the insurgency would be as strong w/o the Abu Ghraib scandal and our media played it up as much as possible. Why are we continuing to play into their hands?

Why do I get the feeling that you're more bothered by the media "playing it up" than the actual events themselves?
posted by Armitage Shanks at 11:35 AM on November 23, 2004


Again, I point you to {link to report of dead, booby-trapped insurgents}. This does not justify us to shoot every person that looks dead or injured, so we need other evidence to help paint a picture where this particular Iraqi posed a threat. You don't need to look far in Fallujah to find reasons to think that this person can be thought to pose an increased danger.

For me to understand your point, you'd have to provide information on the unit's rules of engagement (either direct knowledge or supposition). Were the Marines authorized to shoot on sight? Or did there have to be hostile intent first?

The thing that matters are the rules of engagement, and whether that Marine was operating in a context that allowed the use of deadly force given the situation he faced.
posted by forforf at 11:36 AM on November 23, 2004


I don't think the insurgency would be as strong w/o the Abu Ghraib scandal and our media played it up as much as possible.

A total crock. The western media, as far as I could tell, wrote off the entire thing as nothing more than frat-boy pranks, and totally ignored the torture with dogs and child rape that apparently occurred at Abu Ghraib.

If you are worried about the consequences of these crimes being publicized, maybe you should direct your complaints at the criminals who committed them.
posted by sonofsamiam at 11:42 AM on November 23, 2004


To clarify my last point -

Saying "enemies have been known to play dead as a ploy, so shooting him was justified" is a legitimate argument, although I don't agree with it. That's about response to the immediate situation.

Saying "these people behead innocents, so anything we do to them is justified because they are depraved" is not a legitimate argument. That's just guilt by association followed by execution without trial, and it could just as easily be applied to any US soldier.
posted by kyrademon at 12:02 PM on November 23, 2004


not everyone in that mosque was a) an armed insurgent, or b) an armed insurgent who had been using that mosque as a base for attacks.

Is there more information on this? I got the impression they were insurgents wounded in a previous battle at the mosque.

And where are the reports of the playing dead and then shooting?

This one is not exactly about playing dead but similar.
posted by Krrrlson at 12:10 PM on November 23, 2004


The Marines are an engagement force, sent in to sweep and destroy any targets that engage them. End of story. If they are not informed before they go into a room that the people they will find there are not targets, they will and should engage them as targets, hostiles, whatever. It is very simple.

Yes, it's so simple. If this was a viable explanation, I'd expect to see a video of marines rushing the room, all acquiring targets, firing succinctly at all bodies in the room and eliminating the opposition.

This is not what happens. This is what I'd expect, given your explanation. We all know what happens instead. There is no sense of urgency or guardedness in the video. We do not see marines in combat-ready stances. We see the aftermath of a battle, and those involved in the situation understood that these "insurgents" had been there dying for over a day.
posted by odinsdream at 12:18 PM on November 23, 2004


This is a regrettable incident but spinning it into the next Abu Ghraib is stupid. Given the tactics used by the insurgents, I can see why the Marine would err on the side of caution.

By your logic, the police should have the right to err on the side of caution and shoot every black man they see in a bad neighborhood.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 12:43 PM on November 23, 2004


"Choose your enemies carefully, for you will come to resemble them" - Sun Tzu
posted by Rumple at 12:45 PM on November 23, 2004


By your logic, the police should have the right to err on the side of caution and shoot every black man they see in a bad neighborhood.

An insurgent hideout in the middle of a war zone is more than just a "bad neighborhood".
posted by Armitage Shanks at 12:47 PM on November 23, 2004


I can't imagine why he would have done that.....
posted by darren at 1:09 PM on November 23, 2004


It is not like this Marine was in some fantasy land thinking that Iraqis play dead and then shoot.
This may shed some light on the fighting.
A Dear Dad letter regarding Fallujah
...I have called the enemy cowards many times in the past because they have never really held their ground and fought but these guys in the city did. We can call them many things but they were not cowards...

Found this floating around the web. Think it's popularity is the containing tale about Corporal Yeager (Chuck Yeager's grandson).
posted by thomcatspike at 2:00 PM on November 23, 2004


and those involved in the situation understood that these "insurgents" had been there dying for over a day.
Not fully true. Per the man holding the camera; Also, the squad that entered the mosque on Saturday was different than the one that had led the attack on Friday.

I would hate to sit on his jury. Any one familiar with the way the Marines will handle this if it goes to trial. Will he have a jury or a board of judges?
posted by thomcatspike at 2:09 PM on November 23, 2004


I think it's clear that the marine was following the example set by his leader. Rules of engagement be damned: the distinction was that the international rules govern wars between countries but not those involving groups such as al-Qaida. "Terrorists don't comply with the laws of war. They go around killing innocent civilians," Rumsfeld added.
posted by lazymonster at 2:19 PM on November 23, 2004


Krrlson, you are correct, and I was wrong.

I had heard a radio report that suggested the people in the mosque were both those who had been holed up there and others taken into custody, but all subsequent accounts I can find suggest that all of the people in the mosque when the man was shot were the same people who were shooting from the mosque on the previous day.

However, they were unarmed at the time the second group of Marines came in, and it appears the Marines knew they were unarmed, according to all reports of unit members' conversations with their lieutenant after the shooting.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:51 PM on November 23, 2004


from thomcatspike's link:

My whole life I have read about the greatest generation and sat in wonder at their accomplishments.  For the first time, as I watch these Marines and Soldiers, I am eager for the future as this is just the beginning for them.  Perhaps the most amazing characteristic of all is that the morale of the men is sky high.  They hurt for the wounded and the dead but they are eager to continue to attack. 

"I am eager for the future as this is just the beginning for them." Yes, truly, how wonderful that they have many more wars all over the world to be a part of where they can kill people of all races and creeds. This is the beginning of another Greatest Generation. It's awesome to have enemies we're allowed to kill!
posted by papercake at 3:06 PM on November 23, 2004


He does make a good point, and you missed it.

Armitage Shanks did I miss the point that the marine may have appeared to act inappropriately but given past actions of the enemy probably didn't?

Perhaps you can enlighten me.

--------

The worst kind of monday morning quarterbacking

Really lazymonster?
I thought that is exactly what I said we must not do.
Perhaps I expressed it poorly.
People fail in even the most mundane tasks.
Depending on the objective here, this action can - taken as a whole - be regarded as a failure.
The decision was reasonable given the circumstances, but turned out poorly as the man was ultimately harmless.
We're not there to kill harmless civilians. This marine did.

But that does not change the fact that the decision in other circumstances would have saved his life and the life of his fellow marines.

daq makes a good point - the marine didn't know.
Perhaps he was told and didn't remember. Perhaps he wasn't told. Lots of things get mentally lost when people are shooting at you all day.


As I said, it is something that happens. An inquiry is fine, it's good to have oversight, but I wouldn't convict him of anything. I doubt he'll be charged unless there are some other factors involved.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:32 PM on November 23, 2004


We're not there to kill harmless civilians. This marine did.

Except he wasn't harmless, or a civlian. He was unarmed, but that's something else.

Like a lot of peeps, I find it hard to judge what people do in fucked up situations like this. I don't find it hard to judge Rumsfeld, Bush, Cheney, Perle, Wolfowitz, Rice, Powell, and the others who planned and launched the war.
posted by chaz at 5:21 PM on November 23, 2004


Smedleyman, I agreed with that part of your statement. I was just attaching a cliché to an arbitrary mention of gluttony and sloth. You know, a joke. I probably did not pick the best thread for doing that.

I have a lot of difficulty parsing the appropriate from the inappropriate killing. It's all killing to me. I wish 'we' weren't over there.
posted by lazymonster at 5:23 PM on November 23, 2004


You know, a joke.

Yeah, intonation is just one of the many things lost in this medium.
I probably should have picked up on that...D'oh!
Went right over my head tho'.
(Reminds me of Foghorn Leghorn: "Your built too low, put your arms up they're going over your head. I keep pitchin' 'em and you keep missin' 'em")

I don't know of anyone who enjoys the senseless destruction of war and the waste of human life....
...psychopaths perhaps.
posted by Smedleyman at 5:41 PM on November 23, 2004


You mean there was a plan for this war?

Now they tell me...
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:44 PM on November 23, 2004


Wingnut logic:

Fallujah: Iraqi insurgents deserve to be shot whilst unarmed and wounded cuz they pose a threat under the rules of warfare. Beeyatch.

Abu Ghraib: Iraqi insurgents do not deserve protection under the rules of warfare since they are not playing the game properly, i.e., they don't wear a uniform, they don't have a country, they don't have proper generals, etc.

As a practicing atheist, I find it weird that as of late I'm constantly quoting scripture: You reap what you sow. Your reap what you sow. You reap what you sow.

Hence, America is more than fucked. Where does this country get the moral hubris to tell another country how it should conduct its affairs?
posted by bardic at 6:39 AM on November 24, 2004


A Village Voice reporter that was embedded with the Marines in Iraq reports that
...the behavior of the Marine in the video closely conforms to training that is fairly standard in some units. Marines call executing wounded combatants "dead-checking."

"They teach us to do dead-checking when we're clearing rooms," an enlisted Marine recently returned from Iraq told me. "You put two bullets into the guy's chest and one in the brain. But when you enter a room where guys are wounded you might not know if they're alive or dead. So they teach us to dead-check them by pressing them in the eye with your boot, because generally a person, even if he's faking being dead, will flinch if you poke him there. If he moves, you put a bullet in the brain. You do this to keep the momentum going when you're flowing through a building. You don't want a guy popping up behind you and shooting you."
posted by kirkaracha at 1:58 PM on November 24, 2004


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