Saturday, May 27, 2006

Iraq's My Lai

On November 19th, 2005, a group of US marines in Haditha, Iraq, were hit by a roadside bomb, killing one of them. In the aftermath, 24 Iraqi civilians were killed. The marines initially claimed that 15 of the Iraqis had died in the initial bomb attack, and 8 more were killed during the resulting gunfight with "insurgents". That didn't stack up, and after Time interviewed witnesses to the killings, the US military launched an investigation. Now, the New York Times reports that that investigation has concluded that US marines engaged in "extensive, unprovoked killings of civilians". Rather than the civilians dying in the bomb blast, they were murdered during a systematic sweep by a small group of marines, with some being murdered inside their own homes. It was in other words a series of revenge killings for the death of their buddy - the story of the invasion of Iraq in microcosm.

Murder charges are apparently likely, but if past performance is anything to go by, the US military will punish deliberate and systematic murder with a wet bus ticket. In recent cases, US military juries have, by handing out insultingly low sentences, effectively endorsed torture and murder (at least if its done to Iraqis). And going further back, Lt William Calley, the only man convicted for the My Lai massacre, served only three years of his life sentence. The US military seems to be constitutionally incapable of holding its own to account, and I don't really expect this to be any different. Of course, I live in hope...


"The US military seems to be constitutionally incapable of holding its own to account"

I pretty sure it's not the constitution that's stopping them holding their own to account...

I'd add also that William Calley's serving only three and a half years of his 'life' sentence was not the military's doing - it opposed and appealed his legal manoeuvring all the way.

Posted by Graeme Edgeler : 5/27/2006 09:44:00 AM

"Constitutionally" as in "in itself", by construction.

Posted by Anonymous : 5/27/2006 02:28:00 PM