woensdag, oktober 13, 2004

'Dude! You totally can't kill them - they're civilians!' 'Oh, no, dude, you don't understand: That's a kill. We got thirty-six insurgents.'

Seymour Hersh, the legendary journo who broke the story about the My Lai Massacre in Vietnam, as well as the whole Abu Ghraib dog and pony show in pages of the New Yorker, is going on a speaking tour at the moment, promoting his book about the war, Chain of Command : The Road from 9/11 to Abu Ghraib, which I haven't managed to pick up yet - and spoke last Friday in Berkeley at the California First Amendment Coalition Annual Assembly, detailing further some of the crimes perpetrated by Coalition forces in Iraq against civilians. You can stream his remarks from Berkeley Webcasts, but, briefly, he discloses a tale of a fresh massacre that is particularly chilling and very much echoes the pattern of behaviour Hersh uncovered thirty-odd years ago in Southeast Asia. The story has, so far as I can find, yet to be covered by the media.

Jonathan Schwarz, at A Tiny Revolution, kindly transcribed the key part of the address:

'HERSH: I got a call last week from a soldier -- it's different now, a lot of communication, 800 numbers. He's an American officer and he was in a unit halfway between Baghdad and the Syrian border. It's a place where we claim we've done great work at cleaning out the insurgency. He was a platoon commander. First lieutenant, ROTC guy.

'It was a call about this. He had been bivouacing outside of town with his platoon. It was near, it was an agricultural area, and there was a granary around. And the guys that owned the granary, the Iraqis that owned the granary... It was an area that the insurgency had some control, but it was very quiet, it was not Fallujah. It was a town that was off the mainstream. Not much violence there. And his guys, the guys that owned the granary, had hired, my guess is from his language, I wasn't explicit -- we're talking not more than three dozen, thirty or so guards. Any kind of work people were dying to do. So Iraqis were guarding the granary. His troops were bivouaced, they were stationed there, they got to know everybody...

'They were a couple weeks together, they knew each other. So orders came down from the generals in Baghdad, we want to clear the village, like in Samarra. And as he told the story, another platoon from his company came and executed all the guards, as his people were screaming, stop. And he said they just shot them one by one. He went nuts, and his soldiers went nuts. And he's hysterical. He's totally hysterical. And he went to the captain. He was a lieutenant, he went to the company captain. And the company captain said, "No, you don't understand. That's a kill. We got thirty-six insurgents."

'You read those stories where the Americans, we take a city, we had a combat, a hundred and fifteen insurgents are killed. You read those stories. It's shades of Vietnam again, folks, body counts...'

What was it that battery-operated Bush said of the insurgents a few days ago?

'We're dealing with an enemy that has no conscience. These people are brutal. They're the exact opposite of Americans.'