By: E&P Staff
On a day when Iraqis carried out their own massacre in Baghdad, killing at least 50 Sunnis, the U.S. military announced that four more U.S. soldiers have been charged with rape and murder and another with dereliction of duty in the alleged rape-slaying of a young Iraqi woman and the killings of her relatives in Mahmoudiya.
Ex-soldier Steven D. Green was arrested last week in North Carolina and pleaded not guilty to one count of rape and four counts of murder.
The U.S. statement said the four soldiers still on active duty will face an Article 32 investigation, similar to a grand jury hearing in civilian law. The Article 32 proceeding will determine whether there is enough evidence to place them on trial. The names of the four soldiers were not released.
According to an FBI affidavit, Green and at least two others targeted the teenager and her family for a week before the attack, which was not revealed until witnesses came forward in late June. The girl may have been as young as 14.
The latest massacre of Iraqis by Iraqis in Baghdad day comes after the U.S. had declared a crackdown on violence in the city. The Washington Post reports that Iraq’s deputy prime minister for security affairs, Salam al-Zawbae, has accused the defense and interior ministries of working with the militias to carry out the violence.
“Interior and defense ministries are infiltrated [by militias] and there are officials who lead brigades who are involved in this,” Zawbae said in an interview on al-Jazeera television. “What is happening now is an ugly slaughter.”
The Los Angeles Times’ Solomon Moore reports today, “Brutality and corruption are rampant in Iraq’s police force, with abuses including the rape of female prisoners, the release of terrorism suspects in exchange for bribes, assassinations of police officers and participation in insurgent bombings, according to confidential Iraqi government documents detailing more than 400 police corruption investigations.
“A recent assessment by State Department police training contractors echoes the investigative documents, concluding that strong paramilitary and insurgent influences within the force and endemic corruption have undermined public confidence in the government.
“Officers also have beaten prisoners to death, been involved in kidnapping rings, sold thousands of stolen and forged Iraqi passports and passed along vital information to insurgents, the Iraqi documents allege.”
A New York Times article today by Robert Worth, meanwhile, looked at five current allegations of U.S. atrocities and concluded, “Some military officials and experts say the new crop of cases appears to arise from a confluence of two factors: an increasingly chaotic and violent war with no clear end in sight, and a newly vigilant attitude among American commanders about civilian deaths.”
Some of the men charged had done multiple tours in Iraq. “They can become almost numb to the killing,” Charles W. Gittins, a former marine and a lawyer who has represented marines in Iraq, told the Times. “The more you’re in it, the more you want to live through it. You think more about preserving your own life than about what’s the right thing to do.”
A Washington Post op-ed today by Andrew J. Bacevich, a professor of history and international relations at Boston University, drew major play on the newspaper’s Web site.
Titled “What’s an Iraqi Life Worth?”, it opens: “In Iraq, lives differ in value — and so do deaths. In this disparity lies an important reason why the United States has botched this war.”
Bacevich asks, “As the war enters its fourth year, how many innocent Iraqis have died at American hands, not as a result of Haditha-like massacres but because of accidents and errors? The military doesn’t know and, until recently, has publicly professed no interest in knowing. Estimates range considerably, but the number almost certainly runs in the tens of thousands. Even granting the common antiwar bias of those who track the Iraqi death toll — and granting, too, that the insurgents have far more blood on their hands — there is no question that the number of Iraqi noncombatants killed by U.S. forces exceeds by an order of magnitude the number of U.S. troops killed in hostile action, which is now more than 2,000.
“Who bears responsibility for these Iraqi deaths? The young soldiers pulling the triggers? The commanders who establish rules of engagement that privilege ‘force protection’ over any obligation to protect innocent life? The intellectually bankrupt policymakers who sent U.S. forces into Iraq in the first place and now see no choice but to press on? The culture that, to put it mildly, has sought neither to understand nor to empathize with people in the Arab or Islamic worlds?”
He concludes: “To start, the Pentagon must get over its aversion to counting all bodies. It needs to measure in painstaking detail — and publicly — the mayhem we are causing as a byproduct of what we call liberation. To do otherwise, to shrug off the death of Nahiba Husayif Jassim as just one of those things that happens in war, only reinforces the impression that Americans view Iraqis as less than fully human. Unless we demonstrate by our actions that we value their lives as much as the lives of our own troops, our failure is certain.”