09 December 2004

Support our troops!

You can buy this thing. The ad copy reads
The Marine who killed the wounded insurgent in Fallujah deserves our praise and admiration. In a split second decision, he acted valiantly.
In case you've been living under a rock, this refers to an incident a few weeks ago.
A US Marine shot and killed a wounded and apparently unarmed Iraqi prisoner in a mosque in the former insurgent stronghold of Fallujah, according to dramatic pool television pictures broadcast today
Sites reported that a different Marine unit had come under fire from the mosque on Friday. Those Marines stormed the building, killing 10 men and wounding five, Sites said. The Marines said the fighters in the mosque had been armed with rocket-propelled grenades and AK-47 rifles. The Marines had treated the wounded, he reported, left them behind and continued on Friday with their drive to retake the city
The same five men were still in the mosque on Saturday, Sites said.

On the video, as the camera moved into the mosque during the Saturday incident, a Marine can be heard shouting obscenities in the background, yelling that one of the men was only pretending to be dead.

The video then showed a Marine raising his rifle toward a prisoner lying on the floor of the mosque.

The video shown by NBC and provided to the network pool was blacked out at that point and did not show the bullet hitting the man. But a rifle shot could be heard.

The blacked out portion of the video tape, provided later to other members of the network pool, showed the bullet striking the man
[Journalist Kevin] Sites’ account said the wounded men, who he said were prisoners and who were hurt in the previous day’s attack, had been shot again by the Marines on the Saturday visit.

The videotape showed two of the wounded men propped against the wall and Sites said they were bleeding to death. According to his report, a third wounded man appeared already dead, while a fourth was severely wounded but breathing. The fifth was covered by a blanket, but did not appear to have been shot again after the Marines returned. It was the fourth man who was shown being shot.
I respect that the Marine in question was a scared kid in a dangerous situation. You could argue that this isn't a misjudgement for which he should be punished. But "acted valiantly" just is not an expression to use here. As Zenyap at Under the Same Sun reminds us it's unbecoming to wear a t-shirt celebrating American war crimes.
Imagine a wounded, unarmed marine being left to die in a church in, say, rural Montana by, say, the occupying army. A day later another group of occupier soldiers come back, notice one of the wounded marines is still not dead, and shoots him, point blank, on camera. Then, all they talk about is how the shooter had the right to defend himself from the unarmed, wounded, dying man on the ground ...
In this situation, how can we hope to accomplish anything other than more hatred for the US?

Update: Digby comments further on the shirt.

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