Alleged War Crimes in
May 20, 2004
By Joseph Arrieta
Media outlets around the world are filled with stories about the war crimes perpetrated in Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad by US forces, but it's abundantly clear a new war crime investigation will have to be initiated soon: allegations on the slaughter of Iraqi civilians during the siege of Falluja.
After four US "contractors" we brutally killed and their crisped corpses hung from a bridge, US Marines were orders to take the city and bring the perpetrators of that crime to justice. Very soon after the battle in Falluja had killed hundreds of "foreign fighters" numerous reports began to surface in the mainstream media with elements of Marine snipers:
NewsWales 04/14/08: "Suddenly a young boy was brought in. He had been shot in the head by an American sniper while his family had tried to leave their house waving a white flag."
Washington Post, 04/18/04: "He wept as he recalled his 8-year-old daughter, who he said was killed by a U.S. sniper in Fallujah a week ago." [Washington Post removed this article 05/18/04]
Associated Press 04/18/04: "Haqi Ismail was shot dead by an American sniper just after leaving his house for prayers at a nearby mosque, said his cousin Ismail Hamada."
BBC 04/23/04: "Dr Obaidi and Ms Wilding described cases of women, children and old men who appeared to have been shot by US soldiers. Dr Obaidi said he had seen the bodies of two men, one aged about 70, the other about 50, both shot in the forehead, in an area controlled by the US."
Sacramento Bee 05/16/04: "I keep hearing reports from my Marine buddies inside that there were 200-something civilians killed in Fallujah. The military is scrambling right now to keep the raps on that. My understanding is Fallujah is just littered with civilian bodies."
Desperate to bury the bodies, citizens of Fallujah simply obliterated a soccer field and turned into a cemetery. USA Today reported 04/11/04 that "Some headstones bore the names of women; others had markings indicating the dead were children."
"The Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 was specifically drafted to protect civilians in international armed conflicts. The convention regulates the treatment of civilians in occupied territories and forbids "grave breaches," including the "willful killing, torture or inhuman treatment" of civilians."
The US now faces two choices: it can attempt to ignore the widespread allegations of war crimes in Fallujah, or it can thoroughly investigate what happened in Falluja, make the findings public and prosecute any of those possibly responsible for alleged war crimes.
It should be obvious to anyone that an investigation is urgently needed—that citation from the Sacramento Bee is from a US Marine and is imminently credible. All of the Middle East and indeed the whole world is now extremely suspicious that US Marine forces slaughtered civilians in Fallujah indiscriminately.
Not only that, it appears Marine snipers did a lot of killing. This is not some errant bomb or missile that created "collateral damage," it's the alleged deliberate, careful sighting of civilian targets with spotters targeting men, women, children and ambulances.
It's abundantly clear that war crimes have occurred at Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad. It's also abundantly clear that US Marine forces are under extreme suspicion for committing them in Fallujah.
Should the Bush Administration and the Pentagon attempt to ignore these allegations it will be yet another heinous aspect of this ruinous war in Iraq. The Bush Administration seems to think that not being held accountable in the press or to Congress leaves them guiltless and responsible for nothing, but make no mistake: the US and all of its citizens will pay an extremely heavy price if the Fallujah allegations of slaughtering civilians are ignored.
Hatred against US forces in Iraq will fester and kill more of our troops. US credibility as an enforcer of justice and righteousness will suffer yet another devastating blow. Many terrorists will be spawned by these allegations, driven by revenge. Morale among the troops who take the Geneva Conventions seriously will be shattered.
Most damaging of all will be the knowledge among Bush Administration officials and the Pentagon that, despite overwhelming evidence that heinous war crimes may have occurred, they can simply skate and not be held accountable. It leaves the door wide open for extremely dangerous future military operations—if they can get away with Fallujah and no oversight, what might they attempt in the future if they know there will be no accountability?
Joseph Arrieta is a writer and web producer living in San Jose, California. Special thanks to Steve Soto of The Left Coaster for the Sacramento Bee link.