Ishaqi, Iraq massacre, US coverup, like in other cases?


Bush and Iraq war, cartoon

From Editor and Publisher (USA):

Press Accounts Suggest Possible Military ‘Cover-up’ in Ishaqi Killings

By Greg Mitchell

Published: June 03, 2006

NEW YORK The U.S military said Saturday it had found no wrongdoing in the March 15 raid on a home in Ishaqi that left nine Iraqi civilians dead.

But, as with the apparent massacre in Haditha, will a military “coverup” in this case come undone?

The Iraqi police charge that American forces executed the civilians, including a 75-year-old woman and a 6-month-old baby.

The BBC has been airing video of the dead civilians, mainly children, who appeared to be shot, possibly at close range.

Photographs taken just after the raid for Agence France-Presse, and reports at the time by Reuters and Knight Ridder, also appear to largely back up the charge of an atrocity.

Update on Ishaqi here.

2 thoughts on “Ishaqi, Iraq massacre, US coverup, like in other cases?

  1. Sat Jun 3, 2006 7:17 pm (PDT)
    From: “Papa John” papajohn@wildblue.net
    Subject: Haditha

    TIME.com: The Shame Of Kilo Company — Jun. 5, 2006 — Page 1

    In Haditha, Memories of a Massacre

    The Haditha Massacre

    Lawmaker: Marines deliberately killed Iraqis – Conflict in Iraq …

    Daily Kos: Breaking: Eyewitnesses to the Haditha massacre!!!

    The criminal events in the US-lead invasion of Iraq are too innumerable to recount.The inhumanity of the mindless execution of 24 Iraqis, in their home in Haditah is neither more nor less horrendous than any act of mayhem and murder.

    I have, on my computer, five videos that I downloaded from the Web, clearly showing American troops and contractors engaged in acts contrary to the established rules of war: one showing the cold-blooded murder of a wounded, incapacitated Iraqi and the US troops involved in his demise hollering and whooping like crazed psychos in celebration of their kill; another shows the nighttime slaughter of three or four unidentified individuals by a helicopter gunship, again involving the murder of a wounded individual; another shows, via the nose camera of a US aircraft, the bombing of a sizable group (24+ individuals) of unidentified people as they walk together down the middle of a street, with no noticeable intent of causing anyone any harm; and the final one, purported to be have been made through the rear window of an SUV, driven by US contractors (read mercenaries!), as they shoot one Iraqi vehicle after another as they approach the contractor’s unmarked vehicle. In the last video, the murderers don’t even slow down to see the damage they’ve caused as the struck cars and trucks veer off the highway and crash into other vehicles and objects along side the road. I’ve viewed other videos online that show equally heinous actions by US troops and heard returning soldiers testifying to these types of atrocities as being common place. [ “I see two soldiers kicking the heads around like a soccer ball.” ] I’ve read many accounts of US troops arbitrarily shooting with automatic weapons into groups of Iraqis who had the misfortune of merely being near improvised explosive devise (IED) attacks on US troops. The victims of this despicable action are the epitome of the innocent bystander, what the military propagandists refer to as “collateral damage”.

    Let’s call it what it is ­ the intentional destruction and murder of innocent lives as reparation and retaliation imposed on the many for the actions of a few . One does not deliberately drop a 500 pound bomb on a farm house and expect it to sort out the bad guys from the elderly, the infirm or the oh, so-very-innocent youth! This the act of terrorism taken to the nth degree. No one is made to feel safe and secure in the lands of ancient Babylon, neither the indigents nor the marauders.

    This, in turn, begs the question of who, exactly, are the “bad” guys? What the main stream media (MSM) and the current ersatz US administration call the insurgency is no more than a group of Iraqi patriots defending their homeland and trying to expel the occupying invaders of their sovereign nation.

    My question is this: Why the sudden interest and exposure in the MSM of the incident at Haditha? As Ted Ralls says, “Haditha, where two dozen were executed, was merely the 10,000th Haditha.” [ http://www.uexpress.com/tedrall/ ] What makes this particular horror more newsworthy? Why does the press chose to focus on this event, at this time?

    The MSM has become no more than the mouthpiece of Cheney/Rove/Bush and the radical rightist group of Neo-conservative Dominionists and their corporate pimps and warmongers. Will these Machiavellian/Strausian proponents of a high-jacked political party use Haditha as they did Abu Ghraib? Will they disingenuously attempt to show the world that “rogue elements” within the military are responsible, that the Department of Defense will police itself and mete out the appropriate “justice”, thusly restoring the virtuous intention of an imperialistic administration to spread democracy throughout the world, so everyone can go on their way and leave the slaughter to us? Or, as Bush, the cheerleader mascot, admonished in his rah-rah insipidness , “Go shopping.” [ Shopping is Patriotic, Leaders Say ]

    Like

  2. What Happened at Haditha

    Democracy Now!. Posted June 3, 2006.

    Was the U.S. Marines’ murder of 24 innocent Iraqi civilians an isolated incident
    — or part of a larger cover-up?

    Editor’s Note:The following is an edited transcript of an interview from Amy
    Goodman’s syndicated radio show Democracy Now!.

    Amy Goodman: This is Abdul Salam Al-Kabaissi, spokesperson for the Muslim
    Clerics Association, speaking at a news conference in Baghdad on Sunday:

    Abdul Salam Al-Kubaissi [translated] The situation has reached a level when
    the U.S. soldier becomes a professional killer, who kills with premeditation and
    deliberation. This should be among war crimes, and the ones who should be put on
    trial are the U.S. commanders and not the U.S. soldier, because the commanders
    are the ones who instruct those (soldiers) and justify their acts as it happened
    in Abu Ghraib’s scandal.

    Amy Goodman: That was Abdul Salam Al-Kubaissi speaking on Sunday. One of the
    reporters who first broke the Haditha story, Aparisim Ghosh, joined us in our
    Firehouse studio in March. He’s the chief international correspondent for Time
    magazine. We wanted to go back to replay a clip of Aparisim from that day. I
    began by asking him to tell us about his story in Time called “One Morning in
    Haditha.”

    Aparisim Ghosh: Haditha is a small town northwest of Baghdad, a very, very
    dangerous place. It’s in the heart of what’s known as the Sunni Triangle, and
    Marines and soldiers who operate in that area are under constant threat. On the
    morning of the 19th of November, a four-Humvee patrol going through town was hit
    by an I.E.D., an improvised explosive device, which sheered off the front of one
    of the Humvees, killed one of the soldiers inside. What happens next is a matter
    of some debate, as you pointed out. Initially the Marines claimed that a total
    of 23 people were killed on the spot, 15 of them innocent civilians, all of whom
    the Marines said were killed by the I.E.D., and eight of them, enemy combatants
    who were shot by the Marines.

    Amy Goodman: In addition to the 15?

    Aparisim Ghosh: In addition to the 15. We looked into this case, and the more we
    dug, the more we thought that something didn’t quite add up. And when we finally
    got our hands on this videotape, it became very clear to us that these people
    could not have been killed outdoors by an explosive device. They were killed in
    their homes in their night clothes. The night clothes are significant, because
    Iraqi women and children, especially, are very, very unlikely to go outdoors
    wearing their night clothes. It is a very conservative society.

    When we first approached the Marines with this evidence, they responded in quite
    a hostile fashion. They accused us of buying into enemy propaganda. That aroused
    our suspicions even further, because it seemed to be excessively hostile on
    their part. And we dug even more. We spoke to witnesses. We spoke to survivors
    of this incident. And then we became quite convinced that these people were
    killed by the Marines. What is left to be seen is whether they were killed in
    the course of the Marine operation as collateral damage or by accident, or
    whether the Marines went on a rampage after one of their own had been killed and
    killed these people in revenge.

    Amy Goodman: You are very graphic in the piece, “One Morning in Haditha.”
    Describe what the survivors say happened when the U.S. military went into the
    nearby houses around where the roadside bomb had exploded.

    Aparisim Ghosh: Well, the survivors claimed — let me back up a little bit. The
    Marines claim that they received small arms fire from nearby homes and that they
    responded to this fire, they shot back, and then they went into the homes to try
    and flush out the bad guys, the terrorists who were in there. It’s clear from
    the video that those homes don’t have any bullet marks outside, which would
    suggest that there was very little, if any, shooting by the Marines at the
    facades of these homes. But there are lots of signs of bullets inside.

    The victims told us that the Marines came in and they killed everybody inside.
    In one house they threw a grenade into a kitchen. That set off a propane tank
    and nearly destroyed the kitchen and killed several people in that home. The
    scenes that were described by the survivors and the witnesses were incredibly
    bloody and very graphic. But they are, unfortunately, very commonplace in Iraq.

    Amy Goodman: Inside, you talked to — you have the description of a
    nine-year-old girl.

    Aparisim Ghosh: Yes.

    Amy Goodman: Tell us about her and her family and what she says happened.

    Aparisim Ghosh: Well, she was indoors with her family when the explosion took
    place. The explosion was loud enough to wake everybody up in the neighborhood.

    Amy Goodman: The bomb that killed the Marine.

    Aparisim Ghosh: The first explosion, yes. And she says when she heard gunshots –
    of course, she’s a child, she was frightened. When the Marines stormed towards
    their home, her grandfather slipped into the next room, as is, apparently, was
    his custom to pray, to reach out for the family Koran and pray to God that this
    crisis would pass. On this occasion, the Marines came into the home. They
    entered the room where the grandfather was, and other members of the family, and
    killed him.

    Amy Goodman: And she was left alive.

    Aparisim Ghosh: She survived, yes.

    Amy Goodman: And her little brother.

    Aparisim Ghosh: And her brother was injured by a piece of — either by a bullet
    or a piece of shrapnel, we’re not sure.

    Amy Goodman: But her parents, her mother, her father, her grandparents —

    Aparisim Ghosh: Her parents, her grandparents, I believe her uncle, were also
    killed.

    Amy Goodman: And then, another house.

    Aparisim Ghosh: Four houses in all, involving a total of — indoors, total of 19
    people, and four people outside.

    Amy Goodman: [That was] Aparisim Bobby Ghosh on Democracy Now!, on March 23 of
    this year. On Saturday, the Marines released their first official statement
    about the Haditha killings. It read in part, “All Marines are trained in the Law
    of Armed Conflict and our core values of honor, courage and commitment. We take
    allegations of wrong-doing by Marines very seriously and are committed to
    thoroughly investigating such allegations. We also pride ourselves on holding
    our Marines to the highest levels of accountability and standards. The Marines
    in Iraq are focused on their mission. They are working hard on doing the right
    thing in a complex and dangerous environment. It is important to remember that
    the vast majority of Marines today perform magnificently on and off the
    battlefield. Tens of thousands have served honorably and with courage in Iraq
    and Afghanistan.”

    Again, those, the words of the U.S. military. We invited a representative of the
    Pentagon to be on the program. They declined our request.

    We’re joined now in studio by John Sifton, an attorney and researcher at Human
    Rights Watch, where he focuses on Afghanistan, Iraq and military and
    counterterrorism issues. We’re joined been the telephone by Nancy Youssef. She’s
    the Baghdad Bureau Chief for Knight Ridder.

    And we’re joined on the phone from the Bay Area of California by independent
    journalist Dahr Jamail, who has written a piece for TruthOut.org called
    “Countless My Lai Massacres in Iraq.” He spent more than eight months in Iraq.

    Nancy Youssef, what is the response in Iraq right now? I mean, this actually,
    the Haditha killings, took place in November. What is the response of Iraqis to
    the renewed interest in this?

    Nancy Youssef: Surprisingly quiet. I think there is a feeling here that there
    are a lot of people being killed every day in this country, whether it be by
    U.S. forces or by militias or by gangs. And it hasn’t sort of gained a sort of
    energy or anger that you’re hearing in the U.S. On the contrary, it’s been quite
    quiet. The Parliament met the day before yesterday and did not even mention this
    case.

    Amy Goodman: Dahr Jamail is an independent journalist based for more than eight
    months in Iraq. Your response to this latest news?

    Dahr Jamail: Well, two responses really. First is that this type of situation,
    like Haditha, is happening on almost a daily basis on one level or another in
    Iraq, whether it’s civilian cars being shot up at U.S. checkpoints and families
    being killed or, on the other hand, to the level of, for example, the second
    siege of Fallujah, where between 4,000 and 6,000 people were killed, which I
    think qualifies as a massacre, as well. But even that number hasn’t gotten the
    attention that this Haditha story has.

    And the other really aspect of that, I think is important to note on this, is
    the media coverage, again, surrounding what has happened around Haditha simply
    because Time magazine covered it, and thank heavens that they did, but this has
    gotten so much media coverage, and in comparison, so many of these types of
    incidents are happening every single week in Iraq. And I think that’s astounding
    and important for people to remember, as well.

    Amy Goodman: We’re going to go to break…. John Sifton, the U.S. military
    investigations of this, can you explain what they are, if they are reliable?

    John Sifton: Well, after Time magazine published their account, the Navy
    Criminal Investigative Service did open an investigation, and it is on going.
    And in fact, what we know now —

    Amy Goodman: But even that took some work.

    John Sifton: Yeah. It took a lot of work for Time magazine to convince the Navy
    commanders to order that investigation. But once it took place, it actually did
    find a lot of disturbing things, and the new information we have is in large
    part due to that investigation. The second investigation, which is much more
    important in some respects, is the investigation into the possibility that
    officers lied about the incident when it occurred, tried to cover it up. The
    question isn’t “Did a lie take place?” because definitely the first accounts of
    the incident were erroneous and appear to be falsified. The question is how high
    up the chain of command those lies went.

    Amy Goodman: And again, the first reports being that there was a roadside bomb
    that killed a Marine and killed all these people. That’s what they originally
    said.

    John Sifton: Yeah. The initial Marine communique on November 20 was entirely
    false. It was an account about an I.E.D. killing 15 civilians. And the hospital
    staff later told Time, you know, these were gunshots. There were a lot of holes
    in that report. It essentially fell apart under the scrutiny of Time magazine’s
    reporting. And that’s what started the investigation in March. The problem now
    is the second investigation, I don’t think a lot of people realize how serious
    that is, because as your earlier commentator said, there’s a lot of incidents in
    Iraq every day, so we shouldn’t be just focused on Haditha. We should be focused
    on the credibility of the Marines and also the possibility that all kinds of
    incidents take place which don’t get reported and don’t get investigated.

    Amy Goodman: And the second investigation, who is conducting it?

    John Sifton: Well, it’s not within the Marines. You know, there are different
    parts of the military. There is the Army Criminal Investigative Division,
    there’s the Navy Criminal Investigative Service. So this has been taken outside
    of the Marines, which is a good thing. I mean, the thing is sometimes these
    criminal investigators can do a very good job, if they are allowed to. And
    that’s the question facing the military: are they going to let this
    investigation really run an independent course? There’s a lot of problems with
    the military justice system in Iraq and Afghanistan, and I think it’s time for
    Congress to start considering whether it needs reform. It’s just not independent
    enough.

    Amy Goodman: And this Lance Corporal Roel Ryan Briones, who told the Los Angeles
    Times he was not involved with killings but took photographs and helped remove
    the dead bodies and said, “They range from little babies to adult males and
    females.”

    John Sifton: Well, if these allegations are true, then this is clearly a war
    crime. I mean, we’re not talking about a firefight or an ambiguous situation
    where we might wonder if the Marines made a justifiable mistake. This appears,
    from the allegations made by witnesses, to be murder and a war crime.

    Amy Goodman: I wanted to turn to another story of killings that took place right
    about the same time, the exposing of the killings, as the Haditha massacre. A
    few days after that story broke, the military launched another investigation
    into the killing of Iraqi civilians by U.S. troops. In March, Knight Ridder news
    agency obtained an Iraqi police report accusing U.S. forces of murdering eleven
    civilians by rounding them up in a room of a house near the city of Balad and
    shooting them. The U.S. military stated only four civilians were killed in the
    raid and that they came under fire while trying to capture an al-Qaeda suspect.
    The reporter who broke the story for Knight Ridder, Matthew Schofield, was
    interviewed by Democracy Now! in March. Here is an excerpt of that interview:

    Matthew Schofield: There are two accounts. There’s a U.S. military account,
    and then there’s an Iraqi police account of what happened.As you know, the U.S.
    military account is that after showing up and getting into a shootout to get
    into this house, the house collapsed during the shootout. People were killed
    either in the shootout or by the collapsing house. They left. They found four
    bodies and left. They found this suspect. They arrested him. And that’s pretty
    much that story.

    The other story is that the house was standing when the U.S. troops went in.
    They were herded into one room — eleven people herded into one room, executed.
    U.S. troops then blew up the house and left.

    We were talking with the police officer who was first on the scene earlier
    today. He explained the scene of arriving. He said they waited until U.S. troops
    had left the area and it was safe to go in. When they arrived at the house, it
    was in rubble. I don’t know if you’ve seen the photos of the remains of the
    house, but there was very little standing. He said they expected to find bodies
    under the rubble. Instead, what they found was in one room of the house, in one
    corner of one room, there was a single man who had been shot in the head.
    Directly across the room from him against the other wall were ten people,
    ranging from his 75-year-old mother-in-law to a six-month-old child, also
    several three-year-olds — a couple three-year-olds, a couple five-year-olds,
    and four other — three other women.

    Lined up, they were covered, and they had all been shot. According to the
    doctor we talked to today, they had all been shot in the head, in the chest. A
    number of — you know, generally, some of them were shot several times. The
    doctor said it’s very difficult to determine exactly what kind of caliber gun
    they were shot with. He said the entry wounds were generally small and round,
    the exit wounds were generally very large. But they were lined up along one
    wall. There was a blanket over the top of them, and they were under the rubble,
    so when the police arrived, and residents came to help them start digging in,
    they came across the blankets.
    They came across the blankets. They picked the blankets up. They say, at that
    point, that the hands were handcuffed in front of the Iraqis. They had been
    handcuffed and shot. And the Iraqi assumption is that they were shot in front of
    the man across the room. They came to be facing each other. There is nothing to
    corroborate that. The U.S. is now investigating this matter, along with the
    Haditha matter. That’s kind of where we stand right now.

    Amy Goodman: Nancy Youssef, can you respond to your colleague at Knight Ridder,
    Matthew Schofield’s report of what happened in Balad?

    Nancy Youssef: The name of the town is Ishaqi, and we have inquired about that
    report, and frankly the people in that town are fearful to talk about it and
    have told us to go to the Americans and that their findings are that Americans’
    version of things is correct and that they’re very hesitant now to talk about
    that case. And so, we’re very aggressively trying to find out why that is and
    what the status of the U.S. investigation is.

    Amy Goodman: John Sifton of Human Rights Watch, we’re reading now in the papers
    — this is months after the expose of a massacre in Haditha, and this was in
    Balad, the latest story that we’ve seen — that when reporters, news
    organizations like the New York Times will send someone in, say they’re an
    Iraqis historian, but they won’t identify them for fear of them being attacked.
    Can you talk about the significance of the second report that was exposed at the
    same time as the first?

    John Sifton: Well, there have been a lot of reports. It’s difficult to keep
    track of them, especially when a lot of things are going on all over the world.
    And that’s why the institutional issues are so important. I mean, we can talk
    about the Haditha incident or the Balad incident and about what evidence is out
    there, but at the end of the day what concerns us as a human rights group is
    whether the military has the capacity to self-report about abuses and
    investigate them properly. And it’s looking like it simply doesn’t. The question
    is whether the military needs to reform itself, whether Congress needs to
    consider reforms to the criminal justice system.

    Otherwise, the only way you’re ever going to hear about these things is when
    we’re lucky enough to have good reporters go in and interview. They can’t be
    everywhere at once. They can’t be all over Iraq in every village and every town.

    Amy Goodman: On Memorial Day, the Chair of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Peter
    Pace, said charges will be brought against U.S. Marines if an investigation into
    the alleged killing of unarmed Iraqi civilians uncovers wrongdoing. Major
    General Pace also said he still doesn’t know why it’s taken nearly three months
    for the Pentagon to find out about the November 19th incident in the town of
    Haditha, in which up to 24 civilians were killed.

    John Sifton: It’s not as though the military can’t investigate when it wants to.
    I mean, when things happen like in Italy when a fighter jet hit a gondola, ski
    gondola, and knocked it down, a very quick investigation, court-martial
    happened. Canadian soldiers in a friendly fire incident in Afghanistan, very
    quick investigation and court-martial. It’s just a question of will, political
    will. And often the military is lacking in this regard. So that’s why we’re
    proposing for the military to have an independent prosecutor’s office, as
    opposed to this current system which is entirely at the whim of commanders.

    Amy Goodman: Dahr Jamail, I’m reading a report from Reuters, and it says, “A
    U.S. Defense official said Friday, Marines could face criminal charges, possibly
    including murder, in what would be the worst case of abuse by American soldiers
    in Iraq since the 2003 invasion.” Following up on the theme of your piece in
    TruthOut, can you respond to that?

    Dahr Jamail: Well, it’s very clear, actually, that willful killing, like
    everything that we’ve been talking about this morning, is considered a war crime
    under even the U.S. War Crimes Act. And people who commit these crimes,
    particularly when the victim dies, it’s punishable not just by life in prison,
    but the death penalty. And this, of course, goes for the people who committed
    the act, the people who helped cover it up, on up the chain of command logically
    to the people who set up this whole situation to begin with, including the
    Commander-in-Chief and the Secretary of Defense and other people in the
    administration.

    And I think that that’s what we need to keep in mind, that we’re talking about
    war crimes and atrocities on the level of the My Lai Massacre and I think even
    comparable to things that were done during, you know, that we had the Nuremberg
    trials for. And this is what people need to be held responsible for, and again,
    as it was mentioned earlier, not just the people who committed the act, but the
    people who set up the entire — all of the conditions that made all of these
    things possible.

    Amy Goodman: You mentioned Fallujah before. And I would say most people in the
    United States have heard of it as a city. But why do you think it needs to be
    investigated to the extent that we’re beginning to see with Haditha right now?

    Dahr Jamail: Well, it needs to be investigated because there is irrefutable
    evidence that war crimes have been committed there. I saw with my own eyes
    during the April 2004 siege, where I sat in a clinic and watched men and women
    and young kids brought in, all saying they had been shot by snipers, when
    Marines pushed into the city, couldn’t take the city, so they set up snipers on
    rooftops and just started a turkey shoot, which was exactly how it was described
    by one of the soldiers I ran into when I was leaving that city.

    Watching a ten-year-old boy die in front of my face, because he was shot by
    Marines, other war crimes reported heavily. And that was just from the April
    siege when 736 people were killed, and then the November siege where between
    4,000 and 6,000 people were killed. Indiscriminate bombings, snipers, war crimes
    being committed on the ground by hand, by U.S. Marines, as well, during that
    siege. And all of these are, of course, gross breeches of the Geneva
    Conventions. They are war crimes. And there is photographic evidence. There is
    video evidence. Doctors there to this day will talk to you about what happened.
    And there is absolutely no reason why all of these shouldn’t be investigated, as
    well.

    Amy Goodman: John Sifton is a person who has been researching these human rights
    issues for a long time. What does it take to break through? It obviously isn’t
    the case itself, a massacre or murders. As you said, this is happening
    regularly. What does it take?

    John Sifton: Well, in this case, we saw that Time magazine ran a story, there
    was an investigation, but then pretty much everybody forgot about it. And
    luckily, Representatives John Murtha brought it up a week or so ago, and that
    rekindled interest in the story, and so now some new facts are coming out. But,
    again, we can’t rely on press reports and pressure from the press, although it
    helps, to get accountability. Ultimately there are institutional problems in the
    military that need to be addressed. But otherwise we’re just going to see case
    after case getting covered up or forgotten.

    Amy Goodman: Nancy Youssef, you’re in Baghdad. The response of Iraqi politicians
    who could pick this up now?

    Nancy Youssef: Well, it’s actually been quite silent. There was an initial sort
    of outpouring from Sunni politicians after Times report and our report, but now
    there is not. There is this effort to say that we’re a coalition government,
    that we represent everyone. One Iraqi politician told me, “I don’t want to talk
    about it, because I’m afraid I’ll be viewed as sectarian. There are so many
    incidents of injustice, and if I only talk about one and I’m neglecting the
    others, then I could be labeled as sectarian.”

    I wanted to go back to a point earlier about the investigation. I think one
    thing to keep in mind is that it is very hard now to get Iraqis to talk to
    military investigators. The people in Haditha told us they don’t want to talk to
    the investigators. They don’t want soldiers in their house. They don’t want to
    — [inaudible] they’re not sure there’s any real resolution to it. And I think
    that’s one of the reasons it’s so hard to get these sort of investigations
    completed. The people tell us they don’t want to participate. They don’t see the
    benefit in it.

    Amy Goodman: They see the same people, for example, in Haditha, who came into
    their homes, the U.S. military, as the ones who are now coming to ask them about
    it? Are they afraid of being identified as, for example, eyewitnesses that could
    be used against the military?

    Nancy Youssef: Well, I’ll tell you, it’s like — when we went to Haditha, we
    talked to the uncle of one of the families in which everybody was killed but a
    13-year-old girl, and he started to tell his story. And in the middle of his
    story, he paused and looked up at us and said, “Please don’t let me say anything
    that will get me killed by the Americans. My family can’t take it anymore.” And
    I think that says it all. I mean, there is a fear to talk about it. There is a
    fear to challenge the soldiers, particularly after what they’ve gone through.

    Amy Goodman: Nancy Youssef is Knight Ridder Bureau Chief in Baghdad. Can you
    tell us the story that this man told you?

    Nancy Youssef: Sure. As was mentioned, there were several houses involved that
    the Marines entered, and this man is the uncle of one of the men, and his house
    is next door. And basically what happened was the Marines went in and, according
    to his niece who’s thirteen and who survived, her father went to the door to try
    to open it, and they heard the commotion, and they shot her father. And the
    father had separated — had put the women and children in a separate bedroom.
    Her mother was recovering from surgery. She was lying in a hospital. Her sisters
    were surrounding their mother in the arms of their mother, and she said the
    Marines came in. They shouted something in English. They didn’t know how to
    respond. The shooting started. She fainted. And when she woke up, her family was
    dead. Everybody was dead.

    And all she heard was her three-year-old brother moaning in pain. He was the
    only one still alive. And she said to him, “Mohammed, get up. Let’s go to
    uncle’s house.” And he said, “I can’t.” And so, she took him and she held him in
    her arms, and he was bleeding profusely. And she said she held him until he
    died.

    And she called over to her uncle’s house next door. Her uncle heard all the
    commotion inside; of course, didn’t know exactly what was happening. They kept
    trying to get to the house to help his family, and he was stopped by soldiers,
    he said. And this went on for several hours. And he never knew what happened
    until his niece showed up at the door and said, “Mohammed, my three-year-old
    brother, and the family are dead.” And he took his niece, and his wife and him,
    they cleaned her up. They took her and they fled, and they have never been back
    to their house.

    Amy Goodman: Nancy Youssef, speaking to us from Baghdad, the Bureau Chief for
    Knight Ridder, went into Haditha to investigate the story. John Sifton, is Human
    Rights Watch coming out with a report on this?

    John Sifton: Well, we’re still working on it, but Nancy pointed out the
    difficulties in doing this research. Our new approach, which we’ve been doing
    over the last year because of the security problems in Iraq, is to interview
    veterans themselves. And surprisingly, U.S. troops are very engaged to talk
    about what they’ve seen in Iraq. A lot of people don’t commit abuses. They
    witness abuses, though, and they want to talk about them. And we’ve been using
    that testimony to piece together facts about what’s going on. I mean, don’t get
    the wrong idea. There are people out there who see these things and are
    horrified and report them up the chain of command. And then nothing happens.

    Amy Goodman: And then, of course, there are the eyewitnesses, the victims.

    John Sifton: Yes. I mean, you have witness testimony on the victims’ side, but
    also, you know, other Marines, other soldiers who see what’s going on and are
    horrified and want to talk about it. And some of them talk to us. Some of them
    talk to military investigators. And when — we piece together things that way,
    too. It’s extraordinarily difficult, but it is feasible.

    http://www.alternet.org/waroniraq/36897/

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