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Military baiting, killing Iraqis
September 24, 2007 12:29 AM   Subscribe

"Hey look at this shiny trinket, I think I'll pick it up and see what it---OH GOD MY FACE." A Pentagon group has encouraged some U.S. military snipers in Iraq to target suspected insurgents by scattering pieces of "bait," such as detonation cords, plastic explosives and ammunition, and then killing Iraqis who pick up the items, according to military court documents.
posted by null terminated (77 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
[Article contains additional info about planting evidence on the dead]

"That was done by one of the soldiers at the scene basically out of stupidity. The guys were trying to ensure that there were no questions at all about this kill," Drummond said. "It was done to overly justify a kill that didn't need justification."

Right.
posted by null terminated at 12:33 AM on September 24, 2007


Aiming for their hearts and minds, no doubt.
posted by Poolio at 12:39 AM on September 24, 2007 [25 favorites]


Reading these soldiers' words, I'm struck how they sound like kids playing soldier. "The bad guys" seems to be a universal term amongst them.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 12:44 AM on September 24, 2007


They are kids. Sandoval was 20 when this happened. So the military thinks its legitimate to identify bait-collectors as terrorists worthy of immediate execution, but it's not okay to plant evidence? I mean, come on, people, we're totally committed to the Dark Side on this one, but let's at least make some fucking sense.
posted by phaedon at 12:49 AM on September 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


"Mister, I don't want no trouble. I just came down town here to get some hard rock candy for my kids, some gingham for my wife. I don't even know what gingham is, but she goes through about 10 rolls a week of that stuff."
posted by 2sheets at 12:52 AM on September 24, 2007 [14 favorites]


@lupus_yonderboy: Referring to the enemy as "bad guys" was always how I heard it growing up as an army brat. There's really not a more polite way to put it.
posted by False Jesii Inc. at 1:12 AM on September 24, 2007


Brings to mind.
(Sorry, couldn't find the full scene, just this end part...)
posted by Sangermaine at 1:24 AM on September 24, 2007


Something tells me this thread about people getting shot for playing with wires won't get 600 outraged comments.
posted by limon at 1:44 AM on September 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


These snipers are courageously defending freedom, and we should salute their sacrifice.
posted by Meatbomb at 2:12 AM on September 24, 2007


Poor fuckers in a fucked up situation fuck up and fuck up some poor fuckup. Fuck war.
posted by srboisvert at 2:12 AM on September 24, 2007 [3 favorites]


Something tells me this thread about people getting shot for playing with wires won't get 600 outraged comments.

Well, I'm outraged. You can count this as an outraged comment. So, 500-something more to go.

And I too have, in recent years, been struck by the prevalence of this term "bad guys". It's in such wide use, from tippy-top people like Rumsfeld, to guards at Gitmo and on down to the lowliest private on patrol in Baghdad. It's like you talk about the movies, fer chrissakes, like you want to be a kid, talking about the guys in the black hats or whatever. And I think that's what it's all about, really. An absurdly ultra-simplified terminology that everyone can just swallow quickly, all nice and neat and black-and-white, before watching the commercials and then back to the sitcoms and American Idol.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 2:15 AM on September 24, 2007


From a soldier's point of view, the phrase 'bad guys' makes perfect sense. That's "anyone that wants to kill me". I would expect any soldier to use that thinking; it's how you stay alive in a combat zone.

It's up to us, in the safety of our nice air-conditioned armchairs, to think about nuance and finesse. Oh, and getting those young men the hell out of there. Nobody should have to grow up at war.

All these crimes we keep hearing about are symptoms, not causes. The actual problem is that the US armed forces are exactly the wrong tool for this job, and they always have been. This has always been a job for police, not armies, because you need careful investigation to sort out terrorists from civilians.

Our guys, very simply, don't know who to shoot, and they're trying desperately to figure it out. And, being 20 years old and without a lot of life experience, some of them are fucking it up. Hell, I'm pushing 40, and I'm not sure I'd do any better.

This is our fault for putting them in there, not theirs.
posted by Malor at 2:27 AM on September 24, 2007 [18 favorites]


From a soldier's point of view, the phrase 'bad guys' makes perfect sense. That's "anyone that wants to kill me". I would expect any soldier to use that thinking; it's how you stay alive in a combat zone.

Understood. Soldiers in the field are one thing, and I wouldn't blame them, particularly, for using the term. I do blame Rumsfeld and Bush and all the other bigwigs who actually use this term frequently, thus setting the tone on down the chain of command.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 2:34 AM on September 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Something tells me this thread about people getting shot for playing with wires won't get 600 outraged comments.

1. Clearly you haven't seen many other threads about the war.

2. I didn't realize it was a competition.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:38 AM on September 24, 2007


Americans kill with impunity. Film whenever.
posted by pompomtom at 2:43 AM on September 24, 2007 [3 favorites]


Well, I guess it beats driving around in a humvee and gunning down anyone following too closely, acting shifty, or looking at them. Buuuut not by much.
posted by tehloki at 3:01 AM on September 24, 2007


I find it a bit ironic that this was on MSNBC, which has done a little baiting of its own. I guess this answers the question in the linked thread "What if they were doing this to terrorists?"
posted by TedW at 3:50 AM on September 24, 2007


Their friends are being killed and someone is setting mines. They are told by their commanding officers that we gotta start bringing the body count up and here is how we are going to accomplish this mission. A second sniper team meanwhile is caught sleeping on duty and to save their asses they point to snipes that are doing worse things. Commander says he did not tell them to kill innocent civilians, just to increase the body count of "bad guys". Now the EMs are gonna take the fall for all. What a great war and an outstanding way to win unit cohesion. Commander gets the medal and great record for promotion. EM go to jail and Dickless Cheney ( What, serve in Viet Nam, no I have more important things to do!) and Halliburton become richer, Ho Rah!
posted by Rancid Badger at 4:16 AM on September 24, 2007


Muhammad Ali: I am a baaaaaad man.
James Brown: I'm super-bad

From a soldier's point of view, the phrase 'bad guys' makes perfect sense. That's "anyone that wants to kill me". I would expect any soldier to use that thinking; it's how you stay alive in a combat zone.

Most of my friends in the service (in Iraq) speak in much more professional/clinical terms about objectives, targets and impediments, rather than to resort to such cowboys vs. indians babble. The "bad guys" thing I always attributed to George W and Rummy and how, in order to explain to us what's happening in Iraq, they felt like they needed to condescend to the American public if we were all six years old.
posted by psmealey at 4:24 AM on September 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Ya FUBAR in THE SUCK!
posted by Rancid Badger at 4:26 AM on September 24, 2007


Well, yeah. There's that too.
posted by psmealey at 4:30 AM on September 24, 2007


Speaking as a new daddy here, if I saw what I thought to be munitions out on the street, I would remove them thinking it would be better not to have kids pick them up.

Ok, so count this as another outraged comment. If I were an Iraqi, I'd most likely already be dead.
posted by newdaddy at 4:41 AM on September 24, 2007 [3 favorites]


Do they at least put up signs in the area saying not to touch UXOs?
posted by furtive at 4:52 AM on September 24, 2007


Aren't two differetn stoires being combined here? One about planting evidence by US soldiers after they've killed civilians, and the other about tactics used to assess who might be likely to target them in the future?

The first refers to a crime that is being treated as such and the second, well, the planning of the whole Iraq adventure has been such an abomination that it's no surprise they thought this wouldn't be a bad idea.

I don't know that could plan a war any better, but I think I can say with confidence I would not do it any worse. Which is a sad fucking thing to think.
posted by From Bklyn at 5:00 AM on September 24, 2007


bloddy hell, typos all over like I'm faced at 2 in the afternoon...<
posted by From Bklyn at 5:06 AM on September 24, 2007


It's nice that they're offing people who hate litter.
posted by bshort at 5:24 AM on September 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


I beleive that is what is referred to in military slang as "Lollipop-Napalm".
posted by Pollomacho at 5:26 AM on September 24, 2007


Why do I have a feeling that the US Military is conducting this operation while simultaneously running a propaganda campaign - "if you see a suspicious device, turn it in to the occupation authorities"?
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 6:18 AM on September 24, 2007 [3 favorites]


They are kids. Sandoval was 20 when this happened.

You aren't a kid when you're 20. What the fuck? If you don't know what's right from wrong when you're 20, chances are an adult in your life probably should have worked a little harder.
posted by chunking express at 6:38 AM on September 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


Vela's father, Curtis Carnahan, said he thinks the military is rushing the cases and is holding the proceedings in a war zone to shield facts from the U.S. public.

"It's an injustice that is being done to them," Carnahan said. "I feel like you can't prosecute our soldiers for acts of war and threaten them with years and years of confinement when this program, if it comes to the light of day, was clearly coming from higher levels. . . . All those people who said 'go use this stuff' just disappeared, like they never sanctioned it."


But of course.
posted by mediareport at 6:48 AM on September 24, 2007


chunking express: "They are kids. Sandoval was 20 when this happened.

You aren't a kid when you're 20. What the fuck? If you don't know what's right from wrong when you're 20, chances are an adult in your life probably should have worked a little harder.
"

Society disagrees with you, since a 20 year old soldier can't even drink yet. They're old enough to carry a gun, and sort out right from wrong, on the fly, in a combat zone.... but not responsible enough to handle alcohol?

Something is seriously messed up there.
posted by Malor at 6:52 AM on September 24, 2007


'"You know - we've had to imagine the war here, and we have imagined that it was being fought by aging men like ourselves. We had forgotten that the wars were fought by babies. When I saw those freshly shaved faces, it was a shock. "My God, my God - " I said to myself, "it's the Children's Crusade."' - K.V.

20, for the intents and purposes of going out and killing people in the name of the greater good, is still a kid.
posted by absalom at 7:25 AM on September 24, 2007


"Anyone that runs is a VC. Anyone that stands still is a well-disciplined VC."
posted by kirkaracha at 7:25 AM on September 24, 2007


I agree with newdaddy, I'd be dead too - but not because I wanted to keep potentially dangerous items away from the kiddies. I'd pick it up because I'd simply be curious what it was.
posted by Liosliath at 7:35 AM on September 24, 2007


I'll never be old enough to shoot people for picking up interesting stuff they find on the ground.
posted by pracowity at 7:37 AM on September 24, 2007 [3 favorites]


These pickup lines are killing me.
posted by furtive at 7:51 AM on September 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


A friend of mine was a Marine Corp company commander in Nam and also oversaw sniper school. He said he seriously thought about trying to close the school and asked for psy evaluations of all the snipers. He felt too many were "disturbed" and really enjoyed killing.
posted by cedar key at 8:07 AM on September 24, 2007 [3 favorites]


"Hey look at this shiny trinket, I think I'll pick it up and see what it---OH GOD MY FACE."

No, with a sniper its more like "Hey look at this shiny trinket, I think I'll pick it up and see wha--- *splat* "

You know, in a country like Iraq -- a country with a ruined economy (thanks largely to us, of course) -- collecting trash and discarded objects for resale is a viable way to make a living. Copper wires could probably get a pretty good price, and hell, "ammunition" is always in high demand in Iraq. Any poor sucker who even stumbles across some unused Semtex probably thinks he can resell it for enough money to feed his family for a month. Of course he's going to take it. Any of us would do the same.

We're not killing bad guys. We're killing junk collectors and then labeling them "bad guys" to pad our stats. I realize I'm preaching to the choir here, but I'm having trouble not believing that this isn't a out-and-out war crime.

And I thought we couldn't get any more morally bankrupt...
posted by Avenger at 8:15 AM on September 24, 2007 [5 favorites]


It's interesting to compare this tactic to those used by the Russians in the occupation of Afghanistan during the 80's, when they were accused of scattering bombs diguised as toys throughout the country. Reagan and (if I remember correctly) Rumsfeld castigated them for it at the time.

This is a small difference in degree, but not of type.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 8:57 AM on September 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Well, anti personnel cluster bombs have long come under attack for their friendly bright appearances that invite kids to pick them up.
posted by edgeways at 9:02 AM on September 24, 2007


Geez, wouldn't someone pick something like this up if only to give to US soldiers?
posted by xammerboy at 9:06 AM on September 24, 2007


They should scatter some LEDs out there. In the wrong hands those things are deadly.
posted by Artw at 9:13 AM on September 24, 2007


You would think that with the gov't upping the amount of soldiers we're sending over there, there'd be enough bad guys running around for us not to have to resort to such ridiculous, appalling tactics as these. Seems as if we have decided that it's easiest to just go after anything that moves.
posted by misha at 9:18 AM on September 24, 2007


Something tells me this thread about people getting shot for playing with wires won't get 600 outraged comments.

I think the brutalization of Iraqi civilians and the maltreatment of American citizens in airports are related, even if only tangentially. Wars are often used to test out methods of usurping civil liberties overseas before implementing them at home.
posted by jonp72 at 9:26 AM on September 24, 2007


Wars are often used to test out methods of usurping civil liberties overseas before implementing them at home.

Are you implying that the Government is going to post snipers on buildings to pick off people in the United States or equating being screened at an airport to being shot in the head? I think either your tinfoil hat is getting a little tight or you might want to get a doctor to check out you hyperbothalamus.
posted by Pollomacho at 9:37 AM on September 24, 2007


You know, in a country like Iraq -- a country with a ruined economy (thanks largely to us, of course) -- collecting trash and discarded objects for resale is a viable way to make a living. Copper wires could probably get a pretty good price, and hell, "ammunition" is always in high demand in Iraq. Any poor sucker who even stumbles across some unused Semtex probably thinks he can resell it for enough money to feed his family for a month. Of course he's going to take it. Any of us would do the same.

Just travelled through Laos and seeing this fpp, had exactly the same thought. If people are collecting scrap they know is dangerous, because they're desperate, they're certainly going to check out that shiny bit of metal on the ground in an area that hasn't been saturated by bombs.
posted by dreamsign at 10:08 AM on September 24, 2007


Well, anti personnel cluster bombs have long come under attack for their friendly bright appearances that invite kids to pick them up.

I was reading an article about that and it appears that military is addressing that with this new design. It is designed to deter people from using their hands on it.
posted by Mr_Zero at 10:09 AM on September 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


Something tells me this thread about people getting shot for playing with wires won't get 600 outraged comments.

Is it the 100th fpp this year on similar occurrences at U.S. airports? I hadn't noticed. Not that each occasion wouldn't be worthy of notice, but, you know, not everyone would think it appropriate to pollute the thread with "this also sucks" comments when they have nothing else to say. Or are you suggesting that like numbers aren't reading this thread? Until view counts are visible, I don't think these kinds of criticisms can really stand. I regularly read, and appreciate, theads I do not comment in, as I think many do.
posted by dreamsign at 10:11 AM on September 24, 2007


posted by limon Something tells me this thread about people getting shot for playing with wires won't get 600 outraged comments.

Something tells me this thread will be yet another excuse for you to post your sanctimonious condescension.
posted by fandango_matt at 10:54 AM on September 24, 2007


They are going to try this on us USians next, only they will leave copies of the bill of rights lying about, and blast us with the pain gun when we pick 'em up, teaching us to hate our freedoms (just like the faceless Iraqi "bad guy" cocksuckers who bombed the WTC or what have you).
posted by Mister_A at 10:58 AM on September 24, 2007


furtive is my new hero
posted by cowbellemoo at 11:19 AM on September 24, 2007


Something is seriously messed up there.

Well, it's pretty simple, actually.

You have to be able to drive at 16, so that you can work crap minimum wage jobs -- otherwise how will we get our lattes?

You have to be able to fire a gun at "the enemy" that young, too -- otherwise how else will we get our oil?

But drink? Oh, no, that requires the capacity for critical thinking and taking responsibility for your own actions. We can't have you doing that until you're 21, because our system of numbers is base-ten, and so a special symbolic threshold is crossed at 20. And, you know, plus-one.

sigh
posted by davejay at 1:23 PM on September 24, 2007


U.S. Aims To Lure Insugents With 'Bait"
posted by hortense at 1:23 PM on September 24, 2007


"Certainly there is no hunting like the hunting of man, and those who have hunted armed men long enough and like it, never really care for anything else thereafter." Ernest Hemingway. A great article on a USMC legend who help establish the USMC establish a scout and sniper school. A true hero who saved his fellows at great cost to himself. It is ironic that he died from Multiple Sclerosis. Sniping is more about scouting than killing and you have to be highly disciplined to do this, this is not the work of children. You see those you will kill before, during, and after.
posted by Rancid Badger at 1:34 PM on September 24, 2007


At one time the explosive C4 was used to replace the "gunpowder" in enemy shells. Firing one of these rounds would kill you.
posted by Rancid Badger at 1:41 PM on September 24, 2007


How old do you have to be to have sufficient moral sense to refuse a monstrous order? Fuck the "I was only following orders" defence- if you're setting traps and shooting innocent people to death, and you're older than about six, I don't give a shit who told you it was okay.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:42 PM on September 24, 2007


At one time the explosive C4 was used to replace the "gunpowder" in enemy shells. Firing one of these rounds would kill you.

Do guns now use electrical pulses to fire?

'cause that's not how C4 works.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:55 PM on September 24, 2007


Mister_A: They are going to try this on us USians next, only they will leave copies of the bill of rights lying about, and blast us with the pain gun when we pick 'em up, teaching us to hate our freedoms

You're obviously a sleeper agent, no American would use the term "USian".
posted by spaltavian at 1:56 PM on September 24, 2007


"C4" like" gunpowder" Treating C4 with gas give RDX
posted by Rancid Badger at 2:17 PM on September 24, 2007


The OIC must not have things wrapped up too tight as he has people sleeping at their station and maybe killing civilians. The sniper teams go after high value targets. Going after a civilian target potentially exposes the position and with only the 2 of you out there... Philip G. Zimbardo Professor Emeritus of Psychology at Stanford University has a great book out "The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil" His book focus on the Abu Ghraib and why and how this breakdown in discipline /command occurs. As much as we would like to distance ourselves with moral indignation, he says that it's more the circumstance and lack of defined boundaries that set up problems. His prison experiments are classics & this is a good summary. "The line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes nor between parties either — but right through the human heart."
— Alexandr Solzhenitzyn
posted by Rancid Badger at 3:37 PM on September 24, 2007


This baiting technique sucks, seems totally unethical and makes me sick.

Calling the enemy "bad guys", doesn't seem right to me either.

But I suppose it's much easier than calling them "Islamic insurgents representing various factions wishing to fill the leadership void". But then again, that's what friggin acronyms are for.
posted by snsranch at 4:06 PM on September 24, 2007


I hear there’s people with masks on actually cutting people open. Apparently some folks have diseases and they go to hospitals thinking they will be helped. But what happens is they get butchered by these masked people who remove the disease from them, but do it by cutting them open with evil sharp knives.

It’s a poorly written article. As stated above two issues, planting evidence on a civilian is a crime and should be investigated and prosecuted.
Baiting is a whole other issue. It should indeed be examined meticulously. But there aren’t a lot of reasons to pick up det cord or other explosive ordinance unless you intend to sell it or otherwise get into trouble with it. Ammo you can use for a number of things including self-defense, explosives not so much.
The question then is how much investigation is going on with respect to the habits of the locals (etc.). Is it common to pick up explosive compounds? Is it being done in high traffic areas? How exactly is the trap being set such that the bait is effective? Or is it indeed poorly being used? Or is it by design to provoke people? Either it’s a foulup or it’s evil.

But what if they’re actually sucessfully killing insurgents?
‘Cause that’s sorta what snipers are supposed to do. It’s a pointless waste of time and energy to shoot innocent civilians in ones and twoes. There is a massive amount of training and equipment invested in making that one shot count.
If you’re going to shoot innocent civilians makes a lot more sense to have some basic infantry do it with assault rifles than wasting that kind of time and money, like using a brain surgeon to work on a headache. And then why shoot them at all?

And special operations are secret for a number of excellent reasons, one of which being it can be misinterpreted by civilians who know nothing of the particulars much like surgery looks like a grisly task without some knowlege of the expertise, investigation, and purpose involved.

Of course, even if the tactics are perfectly executed and “insurgents” are being successfully targeted that doesn’t legitimize the overall strategy or the premise of the war.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:19 PM on September 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


Smedley, you make a really good point about secrecy and intended misinterpretation.

I just hope that they aren't shooting everyone who finds those artifacts interesting. Kids, of course, being my main concern, even if it's been proven that kids are on the fight too.

To broaden it a bit, those folks, like anyone during any war, are scavengers. Scraping together every little bit and piece that might earn them some cash, food, influence etc.

So leaving those artifacts out there as bait rubs me the wrong way.
posted by snsranch at 4:50 PM on September 24, 2007


Smedleyman wrote: I hear there’s people with masks on actually cutting people open. Apparently some folks have diseases and they go to hospitals thinking they will be helped. But what happens is they get butchered by these masked people who remove the disease from them, but do it by cutting them open with evil sharp knives.

I'm trying to connect this paragraph with the situation at hand but I think trying to do so just gave me a stroke. *gack*

But there aren’t a lot of reasons to pick up det cord or other explosive ordinance unless you intend to sell it or otherwise get into trouble with it. Ammo you can use for a number of things including self-defense, explosives not so much. The question then is how much investigation is going on with respect to the habits of the locals (etc.). Is it common to pick up explosive compounds?

Whoa whoa whoa. Stop right there.

So it's okay to kill people who pick up bait designed to look like bomb-making material? Because they might sell it? Or, killing them is okay as long as most of them don't pick up our bait most of the time? Huh?

Picking up trash to sell is pretty widespread in fucked-up countries (see my post above) -- we're going to kill these people for trying to make a living?

And special operations are secret for a number of excellent reasons, one of which being it can be misinterpreted by civilians who know nothing of the particulars much like surgery looks like a grisly task without some knowlege of the expertise, investigation, and purpose involved.

This argument might have worked in the 60's, but no longer. The level of trust that I have for the government is, on a scale of 1 to 10, roughly -147. We can't just say "Well, this is a secret operation so we have to trust our military leaders when they say that they aren't doing something horrendously evil." No, that dog doesn't hunt here anymore.

Of course, even if the tactics are perfectly executed and “insurgents” are being successfully targeted that doesn’t legitimize the overall strategy or the premise of the war.

Fair enough. Still, I'm seriously doubting that this strategy is leading to the deaths of any actual insurgents. Truth is, the family members of the deceased will probably become insurgents in short order, if they aren't already.

Also, (*puts on insurgent thinking-cap*) if insurgents are getting killed while collecting bomb supplies, they'll simply start sending 12 year old boys and girls to collect supplies for them. Either the Americans decide that it's important enough to directly kill innocent children, or the Americans will let them go.

(*takes cap off*)

Sadly, here in New America, that decision has likely already been made.
posted by Avenger at 4:56 PM on September 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


It's interesting to compare this tactic to those used by the Russians in the occupation of Afghanistan during the 80's, when they were accused of scattering bombs diguised as toys throughout the country. Reagan and (if I remember correctly) Rumsfeld castigated them for it at the time.

As an extra layer of fucked-upedness, supposedly the Russians calculated an explosive charge designed to blow off a limb or two without actually killing the children picking up the toys. The idea being a psychological warfare ploy designed to create living reminders of the Afghanis helplessness to protect their children.
posted by BrotherCaine at 6:30 PM on September 24, 2007


Smedleyman on the mark. I go to the clinic up at my local VA hospital to get pain meds so I can wash my dishes and I am lucky. There are people up there who are much worse, like a 18 yo that will never see again, a star athlete who will never walk. When a guy detonates a mine ripping all sorts of thing off,the first thing he wants to know is if his dick is still there. So this is a 2 way street, those explosive packed in a a roadside penetrator are fashioned to maim or kill. One of those things go off and it punches a neat hole through the side of a vehicle and now there is molten copper flying around the compartment and fear is so real that you really do shit yourself. Here on this post is an anger directed at a MIGHT have problem and a concern for a theoretical civilian. Were was the anger and sickness when we went to war... and the really sad part is that some of ya had friends who were Iraqis and few, very few did anything. How many went to protest, I didn't see any burning monks. How many have been out to Andrews AFB when they bring the wounded and crippled back or met the burn patients coming down to Brooks to get their skin stripped off daily for a few months. What about watching the planes coming in to Dover AFB morgue carrying those terrible flag draped coffins down the ramp: our war dead. Talk is really cheap and just like Vietnam you can see blame coming back to haunt those who gave. War is never clean or fair, it's not a kickball game and when your buddy brains are in your lap; tell me about morality and fairness. That Iraqi who goes out to set the trap has my respect but I will kill him, because it's not about Bush or the USof A or SUV's; it's about my friends and how much I love them. Secrets also save lives. No one knew about the cracked Japanese Naval codes. As a result some of you are here who would not have been had it not been about keeping that a secrete. That secrete saved American lives and probably a good number of Japanese lives as well. Feel you can handle secretes join the CIA, NSA or the Military; it will be the last time you sleep well. Sitting behind a desk eating a Twinkie and typing about how you are offended by whats going on... Do something for others, protest, engage in the political process, join the military, go to the VA and read a book to a bind vet, send flowers to a family that lost there kid..just do something! I do not know why I bother with this; nobody reads it, and I end up in tears.
posted by Rancid Badger at 9:22 PM on September 24, 2007 [4 favorites]


“I'm trying to connect this paragraph with the situation at hand but I think trying to do so just gave me a stroke. *gack*”

So *you* don’t understand what *I’m* saying, so therefore *I’m* stupid?

“So it's okay to kill people who pick up bait designed to look like bomb-making material?”

No. It depends on the particulars of the op. I’d suggest that it isn’t as simple as tossing out some unexploded ordinance and waiting for -anyone- to pick it up. Obviously some targets are off limits from first principles, and typically sniper operations aren’t that simple. However given as you point out the track record of this administration, I have no idea what the actual goal is, or might be or what might be occuring. Of course, neither do you. But then, I’ve actually done this sort of thing.


“we're going to kill these people for trying to make a living?”

Yes. Explain to me how selling ordinance to someone who is going to use it to kill me and my men shouldn’t be stopped by any means possible. If I’m on the ground, I’m worried about getting home to see my kids, keeping (as Rancid Badger notes) my gonads in one piece and making sure my team mates are ok too. Stepping back from it, sure, it’s a matter of overall strategy. But in a tactical situation, whatever lowers the potential of getting killed is a good thing.
It’s on that basis I question this program. I don’t know that this is the best use of the time and energy of a sniper team especially without knowing what research and investigation they’re doing. Typically there is some meticulous intelligence that occurs beforehand, but that’s typically. If it actually is successfully targeting the enemy, then it’s a good tactic (by definition sniper fire doesn’t endanger civilians unless they’re targeting a civilian). If it’s not, it isn’t. Either way in the case of the latter it should be investigated, for criminal purposes, but also for best practices. If snipers are jerking off all day doing nothing, that wouldn’t be conducive to the situation either. Or shooting squirrels. Etc.

“This argument might have worked in the 60's, but no longer.”

The argument I’m making is for internal oversight over operations and civilian oversight over that internal oversight with barriers of classification to prevent the spill of information about actual on the ground tactics.
Or would you like everything we do to be vetted by some remf armchair quarterback who’s never seen any action and broadcast on CNN before we make any tactical moves?
That’s my point about surgery. You see this sometimes in hospitals, the angry family member grilling the surgeon about what’s going on and so forth. Well, it’s understandable, but you don’t invite that guy to supervise the operation because dispite his passion he doesn’t know what the hell is going on and a skilled technician doesn’t need some dufus questioning everything he’s doing while he’s doing it.

But the paucity of information from special ops - designed to prevent the leak of exactly those kinds of tactical particulars - is what creates the potential for misunderstanding. Therefore it should remain classified albeit with solid oversight as well as accountability for wrongdoing.
Of course, not a lot of back up for folks who have come out and blown the whistle on a number of wrongdoings going on (Bunny, and the guy Rummy outed come to mind first) but gee - who’s problem would that be if the military did their end of the work in exposing a wrong but got screwed anyway?
I know those stalwart democrats are trying oh so hard to stop the war aren’t they? And all the backup they’ve given the people who’ve come forward.
Yeah, must still be the military’s fault. War always is. They just love getting shot at, losing chunks of themselves and being away from their families for year. So much fun.

“if insurgents are getting killed while collecting bomb supplies, they'll simply start sending 12 year old boys and girls to collect supplies for them.”

Which is exactly why the tactics must remain secret. Of course, I would suspect they’re not doing this anymore given that it’s published. Ever actually talk to someone in SF? They’re not exactly publicity hounds. This is precisely why.

But again, if the tactics are unlawful and the kills are illegal, yes, I want oversight, even if it does - and in some cases especially if it does - render the use of a given tactic moot.
If it’s not ‘evil’ and it producing engagement with the proper forces, then no, I’d like it to continue and remain secret so it can continue to produce.
That’s with the caviat that I don’t particularly believe “insurgents” are exactly that.
I like to fight with a particular point or goal or objective, not just because someone is fighting me.
And indeed, this all should have been in the state department’s hands years ago. I would go so far as to say any given tactic is baseless even if it is 100% effective and kills only the enemy (folks trying to kill our guys) since we shouldn’t be there in the first place.
But insofar as how the system works - that is how that system works and it’s possible it’s working the way it should.
Analgously - an engine might be at peak performance, but that doesn’t help if you’re driving the wrong way and about to crash.
posted by Smedleyman at 8:15 AM on September 25, 2007


Just keep in mind that Iraqis arn't really people.
posted by Artw at 8:31 AM on September 25, 2007


Yeah. Neither are the troops.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:38 PM on September 25, 2007


(they are, after all, "fungible")
posted by Smedleyman at 12:39 PM on September 25, 2007


Appearing as inspiring images glowing against a gigantic flapping stars and stripes is the only damn thing they're good for!
posted by Artw at 1:23 PM on September 25, 2007


*note to self: piss on rumsfeld’s grave*
Er...when he dies.
(Been wanting to do that to Nixon actually. Just have to drink more water next time.)
posted by Smedleyman at 4:30 PM on September 25, 2007


Smedleyman, that last large comment of yours sums things up nicely. I don't know much about you, but you really seem to know your shit.


Rancid Badger, not only am I reading and hearing you, I'm very glad that you've voiced your feelings and I have a very deep respect for U.S. service members and Vets.

I won't protest because not only would it kill my Dad, but I think it's an insult to troops. I did however make a visit to Ft. Rosecrans National Cemetery recently.

Will I piss on Rummy's grave with Smedley? Hell yea, and a lot after slugging a 12 pack of blue ribbon!
posted by snsranch at 5:44 PM on September 25, 2007


I won't protest because not only would it kill my Dad, but I think it's an insult to troops.

I understand the killing your dad part, but how is it an insult to the troops to exercise one of the rights they're putting their asses on the line to defend? The right to assembly and redress of grievances and all the other components of public protest enshrined in the constitution were understood at the inception of our nation to be routine mechanisms for exerting popular influence on the nations political leaders--that's why they were specifically enumerated. The founders, as revolutionaries themselves, occupied a country in which the people took to the streets frequently and vigorously without much second-guessing. It really seems a shame to me that we've lost touch with our nation's unruly populist roots to such an extent that we now consider "free-speech zones" to be consistent with our conception of liberty, and that we've somehow been hoodwinked into thinking it's an act of betrayal to honor the sacrifices of our fighting men and women by vigorously exercising and defending our fundamental democratic rights. Taking to the streets in protest was in former times practically understood to be a duty of citizenship. Now it's viewed as some kind of secret shame.

"God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented, in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions, it is lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. ... And what country can preserve its liberties, if it's rulers are not warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to the facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure."
--Jefferson

"We are descended in spirit from revolutionaries and rebels -- men and women who dare to dissent from accepted doctrine."
--Eisenhower

"To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men."
--Lincoln
posted by saulgoodman at 2:12 PM on September 26, 2007


saulgoodman , wow fantastic point and even more fantastic supporting quotes. However, as a vet myself and being from a very long line of vets, I see those public protests as being very demoralizing to those risking their lives in service. (Soldiers don't need to hear that they suck because the war sucks because the gov sucks.)

Do I live in the spirit about which you wrote above? You're damn right I do (listen to some of my recent songs on MeFi Music) and I appreciate your comment.
posted by snsranch at 4:26 PM on September 26, 2007


I see those public protests as being very demoralizing to those risking their lives in service.

snsranch: and they probably are in the current cultural climate. but they shouldn't be. seeing people fearlessly taking to the streets over the tiniest political grievance should enervate and revitalize the troops, reminding them of what they're fighting for. the fact that the revolutionary spirit that once defined our nation has waned to the point that mass protests tend to be little more than hollow symbolic gestures that require planning committees to orchestrate is sad in itself.
posted by saulgoodman at 4:41 PM on September 26, 2007


saulgoodman, I totally agree with you. But "raising my voice because it's my right" is very different from taking action to exact change. As much as I love your quotes in your previous comment, they do more to motivate than to spell out the means for change. (I must study more history.)

For example, my neighbor, a history prof, does massive research every time there is an election and shares it with the 'hood. That gives us some real power during the elections.

In any case, I think we only disagree on the details. The spirit is mutual.
posted by snsranch at 5:25 PM on September 26, 2007


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