Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The Fog of War Crimes

Who’s to blame when ‘just following orders’ means murder?

By Frida Berrigan

"A Marine squad was on a dusty road in Iraq, far from home. Suddenly, a deadly roadside bomb explodes the early morning calm and kills a lance corporal and wounds two other Marines. The mission: tend to the wounded and find those who were responsible … Or make someone pay? Three sleeping families awaken to the sound of grenades and guns.

By the end of the “operation,” 24 people were dead, including three women and six children. Bullets, fired at close range, tore through bodies and lodged deep in walls. A one-legged elderly man was shot nine times in the chest and abdomen. A man who watched the violence from his roof across the road told The Washington Post that he heard his neighbor speak to the Marines in English, begging for the lives of his wife and children, saying, “I am friend. I am good.” All the family was killed except one: 13–year-old Safa. Covered in her mother’s blood, she reportedly fainted and appeared dead.......

While these projects inch forward, soldiers are taking matters into their own hands. In March 2008, Iraq Veterans Against the War will convene new Winter Soldier hearings, modeled on the February 1971 meetings in a Detroit Howard Johnson’s. In the shadow of the My Lai massacre revelations, the hearings provided a platform to more than 125 Vietnam veterans to describe the atrocities they participated in and witnessed. This effort could once again give the United States a chance to listen to soldiers and Marines as they break the silence, hold themselves and each other accountable and demand the same from the architects of the war."

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