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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Iraq - Possible War Crimes

Okay, I know the Iraq occupation is one big ol' war crime, but I'm talking about the recent revelation of "bait and kill" tactics, in which U.S. military snipers are instructed to scatter "bait," such as detonation cords, plastic explosives and ammunition, and kill anyone who picks them up.

Now, this is such a resoundingly bad idea that I'm at a loss to even take a wild guess at what kind of person might have thought of it. First of all, who's most likely to pick up something strange in the street? Little kids, right? Kids are curious, they'll pick up anything. God knows enough of them have picked up used condoms, dirty needles, and spent bullet casings in the relatively safe non-war zones of the USA.

In the streets of Iraq, where approximately 1 million Iraqis, nearly 4,000 U.S. servicemen and nearly 1,000 "contractors" have already been killed, what if a kid - any person between the ages of, say, three and 19, finds these "bomb makings"? Are we going to shoot them? Kill them? Paralyse or maim them?

And second, what about the rich plethora of opportunities this affords bored or psychopathic servicemen to shoot someone at random and then plant the "donated" evidence on the bodies? Judging from the reports coming out of Iraq, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians have been shot for much less already. What safeguards exist to ensure that someone who is going out of their mind with stress, or, worse yet, someone who has a vicious streak to begin with, like, say, Charles Granier or Steven Green won't randomly shoot some civilian passerby and plant evidence later?

Couldn't happen, you say? It has already:
The secrecy of the plan was ended during an murder investigation involving three snipers who allegedly used bait items to make shootings seem legitimate. While it's unclear whether the three alleged shootings, which took place within months of the program's implementation, were part of the classified program specifically, "defense attorneys argue that the program may have opened the door to the soldiers' actions because it blurred the legal lines of killing in a complex war zone."
This is nothing more nor less than a war crime. The Geneva Conventions state, in part, regarding the treatment of civilians:
(1) Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria.

To this end the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons:
(a) violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;
Fourth Convention, Part 1, Art. 3

U.S. military authorities themselves apparently believe this baiting might be criminal. And soldiers are permitted to refuse orders of a criminal nature.
The baiting program should be rigorously examined, says Eugene Fidell, the president of the National Institute of Military Justice, because it raises frightening possibilities.

"In a country that is awash in armaments and magazines and implements of war," he said, "if every time somebody picked up something that was potentially useful as a weapon, you might as well ask every Iraqi to walk around with a target on his back."
More revolting details right here.

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