Earlier this week news broke of a new investigation into “possible military crimes” committed in Fallujah in 2004 by US Marines. This is the third such investigation of squadrons from Camp Pendleton and the story is getting considerable coverage around the world … and even a tiny mention on Faux News. The Marines, during a battle in Fallujah, took between 5 and 10 “unarmed suspected Iraqi insurgents” prisoner, held them in an abandoned building, and then – when given orders to move out:
The Marine in charge radioed headquarters for instructions about what to do with the suspected insurgents. The laconic response – “They’re still alive?” – came back on the radio.
The leader took it to mean kill the Iraqis, Weemer said. Moments later the squad was ordered to move on. Guns were aimed, triggers were pulled, and the Iraqis died. The bodies were left where they lay.
One of the Marines in question apparently confessed recently to being “a party to an unlawful death” while taking a polygraph for a Secret Service job – and that led to the current NCIS investigation. But the same Marine had discussed the events in Fallujah earlier with a military “journalist” – Nat Helms – who reports that he “advised the penitent Marine to keep his mouth shut.”
But such shootings are a war crime:
David Glazier, who teaches the law of war at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, said it is a war crime to kill captives that do not pose an immediate threat unless they are escaping. Someone who has been taken into custody, they become protected under the law of war, no matter how egregiously they have behaved,” Glazier said. “They can only be shot subject to the sentence of a validly conducted trial.”
Helms disagrees – and in fact claims that:
If the alleged shootings had happened a few days later there might not have been an investigation. Two days after the alleged incident the ROE at Fallujah was “liberalized” to allow fleeing Iraqis to be killed if they refused to stop. It was only the beginning. By the end of the fight the rules for killing insurgents were extremely liberal, Marines who were there agree. Fallujah gave a whole new meaning to the word, one of them said.
Marines openly admit killing every military age male they saw at Fallujah. They used everything in the Marine Corps arsenal to do it; Javelins, TOWs, red phosphorous, white phosphorus, good ol Ma Deuce, and super-futuristic thermobaric warheads that ignite the air. (emphasis added, there is no mention of the prisoners attempting escape.)
Helms’ goes on to claim the investigation by NCIS and the prosecution of such war crimes is “the newest turn of events in political correctness.”
Coverage of Helms’ article is the lead feature on page one of the Marine Corps Times along with a link to the web site where he first published, WarChronicle – a site deeply involved in organizing a defense fund for the Haditha Marines and featuring links to such moral authorities as Michelle Malkin.
Sadly, I’m no longer shocked to learn that Marines allegedly killed unarmed prisoners – there have been too many such reports during the course of this occupation. But the apparently supportive coverage of Helms’ account and the linkage to sites which absolve the commission of war crimes … by the quasi-official paper of the Marine Corps … that still shocks.