Nasty Letters To Crooked Politicians

As we enter a new era of politics, we hope to see that Obama has the courage to fight the policies that Progressives hate. Will he have the fortitude to turn the economic future of America to help the working man? Or will he turn out to be just a pawn of big money, as he seems to be right now.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Countless My Lai Massacres in Iraq

By Dahr Jamail
t r u t h o u t | Perspective

Tuesday 30 May 2006

The media feeding frenzy around what has been referred to as "Iraq's My
Lai" has become frenetic. Focus on US Marines slaughtering at least 20
civilians in Haditha last November is reminiscent of the media spasm
around the "scandal" of Abu Ghraib during April and May 2004.

Yet just like Abu Ghraib, while the media spotlight shines squarely on
the Haditha massacre, countless atrocities continue daily, conveniently
out of the awareness of the general public. Torture did not stop simply
because the media finally decided, albeit in horribly belated fashion,
to cover the story, and the daily slaughter of Iraqi civilians by US
forces and US-backed Iraqi "security" forces has not stopped either.

Earlier this month, I received a news release from Iraq, which read, "On
Saturday, May 13th, 2006, at 10:00 p.m., US Forces accompanied by the
Iraqi National Guard attacked the houses of Iraqi people in the
Al-Latifya district south of Baghdad by an intensive helicopter
shelling. This led the families to flee to the Al-Mazar and water canals
to protect themselves from the fierce shelling. Then seven helicopters
landed to pursue the families who fled … and killed them. The number of
victims amounted to more than 25 martyrs. US forces detained another six
persons including two women named Israa Ahmed Hasan and Widad Ahmed
Hasan, and a child named Huda Hitham Mohammed Hasan, whose father was
killed during the shelling."

The report from the Iraqi NGO called The Monitoring Net of Human Rights
in Iraq (MHRI) continued, "The forces didn't stop at this limit. They
held an attack on May 15th, 2006, supported also by the Iraqi National
Guards. They also attacked the families' houses, and arrested a number
of them while others fled. US snipers then used the homes to target more
Iraqis. The reason for this crime was due to the downing of a helicopter
in an area close to where the forces held their attack."

The US military preferred to report the incident as an offensive where
they killed 41 "insurgents," a line effectively parroted by much of the

On that same day, MHRI also reported that in the Yarmouk district of
Baghdad, US forces raided the home of Essam Fitian al-Rawi. Al-Rawi was
killed along with his son Ahmed; then the soldiers reportedly removed
the two bodies along with Al-Rawi's nephew, who was detained.

Similarly, in the city of Samara on May 5, MHRI reported, "American
soldiers entered the house of Mr. Zidan Khalif Al-Heed after an attack
upon American soldiers was launched nearby the house. American soldiers
entered this home and killed the family, including the father, mother
and daughter who is in the 6th grade, along with their son, who was
suffering from mental and physical disabilities."

This same group, MHRI, also estimated that between 4,000 and 6,000 Iraqi
civilians were killed during the November 2004 US assault on Fallujah.
Numbers which make those from the Haditha massacre pale in comparison.

Instead of reporting incidents such as these, mainstream outlets are
referring to the Haditha slaughter as one of a few cases that "present
the most serious challenge to US handling of the Iraq war since the Abu
Ghraib prison scandal."

Marc Garlasco, of Human Rights Watch, told reporters recently, "What
happened at Haditha appears to be outright murder. The Haditha massacre
will go down as Iraq's My Lai."

Then there is the daily reality of sectarian and ethnic cleansing in
Iraq, which is being carried out by US-backed Iraqi "security" forces. A
recent example of this was provided by a representative of the Voice of
Freedom Association for Human Rights, another Iraqi NGO which logs
ongoing atrocities resulting from the US occupation.

"The representative … visited Fursan Village (Bani Zaid) with the Iraqi
Red Crescent Al-Madayin Branch. The village of 60 houses, inhabited by
Sunni families, was attacked on February 27, 2006, by groups of men
wearing black clothes and driving cars from the Ministry of Interior.
Most of the villagers escaped, but eight were caught and immediately
executed. One of them was the Imam of the village mosque, Abu Aisha, and
another was a 10-year-old boy, Adnan Madab. They were executed inside
the room where they were hiding. Many animals (sheep, cows and dogs)
were shot by the armed men also. The village mosque and most of the
houses were destroyed and burnt."

The representative had obtained the information when four men who had
fled the scene of the massacre returned to provide the details. The
other survivors had all left to seek refuge in Baghdad. "The survivors
who returned to give the details guided the representative and the Red
Crescent personnel to where the bodies had been buried. They [the
bodies] were of men, women and one of the village babies."

The director of MHRI, Muhamad T. Al-Deraji, said of this incident, "This
situation is a simple part of a larger problem that is orchestrated by
the government … the delay in protecting more villagers from this will
only increase the number of tragedies."

Arun Gupta, an investigative journalist and editor with the New York
Indypendent newspaper of the New York Independent Media Center, has
written extensively about US-backed militias and death squads in Iraq.
He is also the former editor at the Guardian weekly in New York and
writes frequently for Z Magazine and Left Turn.

"The fact is, while I think the militias have, to a degree, spiraled out
of US control, it's the US who trains, arms, funds, and supplies all the
police and military forces, and gives them critical logistical support,"
he told me this week. "For instance, there were reports at the beginning
of the year that a US army unit caught a "death squad" operating inside
the Iraqi Highway Patrol. There were the usual claims that the US has
nothing to do with them. It's all a big lie. The American reporters are
lazy. If they did just a little digging, there is loads of material out
there showing how the US set up the highway patrol, established a
special training academy just for them, equipped them, armed them, built
all their bases, etc. It's all in government documents, so it's
irrefutable. But then they tell the media we have nothing to do with
them and they don't even fact check it. In any case, I think the story
is significant only insofar as it shows how the US tries to cover up its

Once again, like Abu Ghraib, a few US soldiers are being investigated
about what occurred in Haditha. The "few bad apples" scenario is being
repeated in order to obscure the fact that Iraqis are being slaughtered
every single day. The "shoot first ask questions later" policy, which
has been in effect from nearly the beginning in Iraq, creates
trigger-happy American soldiers and US-backed Iraqi death squads who
have no respect for the lives of the Iraqi people. Yet, rather than
high-ranking members of the Bush administration who give the orders,
including Bush himself, being tried for the war crimes they are most
certainly guilty of, we have the ceremonial "public hanging" of a few
lowly soldiers for their crimes committed on the ground.

In an interview with CNN on May 29th concerning the Haditha massacre,
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Peter Pace commented,
"It's going to be a couple more weeks before those investigations are
complete, and we should not prejudge the outcome. But we should, in
fact, as leaders take on the responsibility to get out and talk to our
troops and make sure that they understand that what 99.9 percent of them
are doing, which is fighting with honor and courage, is exactly what we
expect of them."

This is the same Peter Pace who when asked how things were going in Iraq
by Tim Russert on Meet the Press this past March 5th said, "I'd say
they're going well. I wouldn't put a great big smiley face on it, but I
would say they're going very, very well from everything you look at …"

Things are not "going very, very well" in Iraq. There have been
countless My Lai massacres, and we cannot blame 0.1% of the soldiers on
the ground in Iraq for killing as many as a quarter of a million Iraqis,
when it is the policies of the Bush administration that generated the
failed occupation to begin with.


A must read article on this topic which addresses US and International
Law concerning this atrocity is "The Haditha Massacre" by Marjorie Cohn
posted here <>.

Marjorie Cohn is a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law,
President-elect of the National Lawyers Guild, and the US representative
to the executive committee of the American Association of Jurists. She
writes a weekly column for t r u t h o u t.

(c)2004, 2005 Dahr Jamail.


Post a Comment

<< Home