View Full Version : Be Most Careful in Judging This Marine
11-18-04, 06:36 AM
Be Most Careful in Judging This Marine
By Raymond Perry
The current media blitz on the shooting of an injured Iraqi insurgent by a Marine in Fallujah last Saturday highlights the current inability of the news media today to provide informed and accurate background to a story (for example, see “Military Investigates Shooting of Wounded Insurgent,” CNN.com, Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2004). It is of vast importance that in the initial coverage of a story of this kind that the media intelligently and accurately place this story in full context, but so far, this has not occurred.
First the Geneva Conventions impose limits on warfare to reduce unnecessary suffering and protect combatants and noncombatants alike. These conventions were written to constrain organized armed forces that are subservient to a sovereign and will obey organized laws.
In the present case in Iraq, the insurgents not only are not subservient to a sovereign but have made it eminently clear that they will not abide by any set of laws. They have chosen to exercise a level of inhumanity unseen since the Mongolian Hordes overran much of the known world. Just consider their kidnapping and likely murder of Iraqi civilian aid worker Margaret Hassan.
As an organized and humane nation, the United States nevertheless holds itself to these standards regardless of the opponent’s adherence or lack of it. This is not because of any threat of penalty of international law but because of what we think about ourselves as a free and courageous nation.
Second, the Geneva Conventions proscribe further destructive or injurious actions by individuals or formations when an opponent has become hors de combat. The alleged killing of an injured and apparently incapable insurgent by this one Marine is the crux of the issue.
What the media has ignored in the hullabaloo over this potentially criminal act and its videotaping is the obligation of the insurgent or the insurgent forces under that same international code.
The Geneva Conventions impose on those that become hors de combat the obligation to cease all combatant actions. The booby-trapping of insurgents’ bodies to cause injury or death to coalition soldiers is clearly in gross violation of these conventions. Similarly, the secreting of a weapon so that an injured insurgent may “take one more Marine with them” is equally in violation.
There is an obligation for the fourth estate and human rights organizations such as Amnesty International to understand the full scope of the Geneva Conventions and apply them equally to both sides. That it is enormously easier to tell only one side of the story is no excuse for effectively slanting the story and discredits these organizations.
Finally, the context in which these Marines or any other member of the armed forces of this nation operate must be effectively communicated. In this case, this Marine – like the other troops in Fallujah – was operating in a combat environment where he and others must make life-or-death decisions in a split-second.
The Iraqi insurgents, like their counterparts throughout the world, have themselves asserted the right to do whatever inhuman acts that appear to suit their cause. In the case of these young Marines in Fallujah, that means that they booby-trap bodies and conceal weapons for a final attempt to kill.
The crux of this issue is that if this one Marine, in his heart, saw something that he felt was a threat to him or his team, he was fully justified under the Geneva Conventions in acting as he did. In reviewing his actions, Marine Corps and Central Command officials must search for the full truth of what he was thinking in the minutes or seconds preceding the shooting.
In my experience, when a criminal acts, he shows certain characteristics. In this kind of case, it would be to isolate a victim followed by the act of demonstrating power over that victim. From what I have seen in the videotape excerpts, these elements were missing. The Marine acted immediately after entering the room and discovering the wounded insurgents.
Employing the ruse of injury to deceive our soldiers into coming within deadly range of a weapon is a patently illegal act. The insurgents have chosen this tactic and the news media must clearly provide “equal time” in news coverage to confirming the illegality of the insurgents’ choice. The acts taken by those such as this Marine to protect himself and his team must be viewed with this lens and no other.
When organizations such as Amnesty International do not seek to hold both sides of the conflict fully responsible for their part of adhering to the Geneva Conventions they are effectively advancing the interests of the favored side – the Iraqi insurgents who have already ignored the laws of war. In one recent online news article presenting Amnesty International’s assessment, it is clear that the group has chosen to ignore the responsibility of the insurgents to proscribe continued warlike acts by those that become hors de combat. In ignoring this key element, the human rights activists themselves lose credibility over this issue.
In a DefenseWatch article in August 2004 (“On the New Front Lines”), I wrote that the ongoing War on Terrorism will be partly won or lost as the sum of many, many small decisions by those Americans serving in law enforcement. In the same vein, our soldiers must feel that their decisions, taken in the split seconds of deadly combat, will be supported and defended. If we do not do this, they will slowly learn to avoid making them. This nation cannot allow such a self-defeating process to begin.
Since the Iraqi insurgents have chosen to attempt to continue combat actions after injury or even death, under the Geneva Conventions it is irrelevant that this particular insurgent was incapable of further action. By the previous actions of the group, the insurgents have given up those protections.
Injured insurgents must now be proven, one by one and with great care, to harbor neither intent nor capability of inflicting injury to our soldiers. Until that is proven, our soldiers are fully justified in reacting instinctively to perceived threatening acts of whatever nature.
Based on a careful reading of press accounts thus far, I believe that this nation must find it in its heart to sustain this young Marine’s decision as it stands, unless officials investigating the incident can confirm a clear case of criminal intent on the Marine’s part.
It is of equal importance that the news media learn to understand the whole of the issue – in particular the severe choices confronting this one Marine – and fully and intelligently inform the American people of the full context of this tragic incident.
Finally, it is incumbent on the rest of us to take with a grain of salt – or where appropriate, ignore altogether – those international organizations that do not equably apply the Geneva Conventions to both sides in the bitter Iraqi conflict.
Lt. Raymond Perry USN (Ret.) is a DefenseWatch Contributing Editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please send Feedback responses to email@example.com.
11-18-04, 07:30 AM
You can tell Lt. Raymond Perry USN, has never seen action, up close and personal.
He tries to sugar coat something he knows nothing about, it doesn't help the Marine only makes it look like this USN Lt, is willing to sugar coat something that does not need it.
This is WAR, plain and simple.
The insurgent, enemy never signed a Geneva Convention Card, nor do they carry it. They are terrorist, muderous individuals without protection and their willingness to mutilate bodies, kidnap and be-head civilians, attack innocent civilians makes them animals to be dealt with, without mercy, without seeing them as human beings. They are not, they have no soul.
Kill them all, without reservation.
The only hesitation a Marine should feel when he pulls the trigger in this type of a combat zone, is the recoil from his weapon.
Those are my thoughts.
11-18-04, 07:45 AM
yep i am with you cook all the way brother....
11-18-04, 08:41 AM
As I read it, he has more or less said what you have, only in more of a legal-ize format.
Right you are Sparrowhawk. Seems to me some guy named John Kerry did the same thing. We can't let them hang this Marine for doing his job.
Where will it end ?
Still reflecting on some of the potential fall out on this, IF, big IF, we let this Marine fall under the P.C. agenda of the left.
Let us suppose, for the sake of argurement, that this Marine is found to have committed a war crime :no:, by shooting an unarmed man.
My question is, WHERE WILL THAT THINKING END ??
An enemy combatant's weapon jams. While attempting to clear, he is KIA'd :yes:
Does someone charge THAT shooter with a war crime? His weapon was jammed. He was unble to pose an immediate threat. He should have been taken captive. Lethal force was not justified.
THAT thinking is BOVINE SEWAGE. But the principle remains the same, if we allow this Marine to be subjected to this
type of thinking. This is the time to draw a line in the P.C. sand, and say enough is enough.
This Marine did his JOB, his DUTY.
He did it decisevly. He did it without reservation, save that he protect his brothers.
NON- Combat veteran
I like to think I would have done the same.
11-18-04, 09:55 AM
You would have done the same Terry aint no doubt in my mind just because you never served in combat does not mean you wouldnt have done what this Marine done. I have seen several Marines what i call Vapor lock and had to have someone hollor its you or them and That Marine snapped out of it and done what he was trained to do. This Marine will come out of this alright i think with all the screaming and holloring present and former Marines and every other service member is doing and Mothers of America crawling up our congress and our CIC asses he will be fine.
11-18-04, 11:28 AM
WAR CRIME ? THIS MARINE WILL NOT BE CONVICTED OF ANY CRIME. ALL THIS TALK WHILE OUR TROOPS ARE STILL THEIR FIGHTING IS BEYOND BELIEF. WE HAVE HEARD FROM THE MARINES THAT ARE THERE AND THIS IS NOT HELPING THEIR MORALE....I THINK A LITTLE FRIENDLY FIRE IN THE CAMERA MANS AREA MAY BE IN ORDER. KEEP KILLING ANYTHING THAT MOVES AND FORGET ABOUT IT.
11-18-04, 01:28 PM
SAD part is many Navy Ships have JAG's on board to verify that the Rules of engagement were followed. Glad this is not happening in infantry units but it may be the wave of the future
11-18-04, 01:52 PM
:marine: This combat Marine should never have been removed from his squad/unit; plus, being singled out pending an investigation...if Marine Generals and the CIC [GW BUSH] make this decorated/combat Marine [their scapegoat];then, WTF are we doing in Diaper/head land in the first place??..playing at GI Joe or the local "paintball joint"??..."A Good Raghead is a Dead Raghead" [USMC Survivor's Manual]...Gung-F-Ho...SSGT CHRIS SARNO-USMC FMF :marine:
11-18-04, 07:09 PM
Guilty Until Proven Innocent
November 19, 2004
by Frank Salvato
In this era of 24-hour, on-demand access to the news, the American public has grown accustomed to the pre-judgment of individuals at the center of high-profile events. We saw it with the OJ Simpson case. We saw it with the Martha Stewart case. And we saw it with the Abu Ghraib prison scandal. In each, the mainstream media ran with analysis that included information that was relevant, irrelevant, rumor and innuendo - information that was not in context with the situations. The rational mind understands to take this analysis with a grain of salt. Sadly, we are not all gifted with rational minds.
The newest issue on the media's legal docket revolves around a young Marine in Fallujah. An embedded reporter with the 3 rd Battalion, 1 st Marine Regiment shot footage of what appeared to be a young US Marine shooting a wounded Iraqi lying in a Fallujah mosque. This news footage has created a stir that has started the media's pre-judgment machine.
Like it or not, the mainstream media has quite a bit of influence in the United States, as well as around the world. Although it didn't have enough influence to sway the last presidential election to an ultra-liberal with a past that includes actively campaigning against his country during a time of war, it does tend to be quite effective when wielding its power against those who don't have close to a billion dollars in the bank.
When thinking about that young Marine in Fallujah we must remember a few things in order to keep the images the mainstream media is providing us in context.
While the US troops, along with their coalition allies, are fighting this war against terrorism from within the boundaries of the Geneva Conventions their opposition is not. In fact, the terrorists are doing everything they can to make the Geneva Conventions a liability for our troops. They are exploiting the limitations of humanity.
It is against the conventions for the terrorists to be wearing clothing that would designate them as civilians, yet they do. This affords them the opportunity to blend in with the innocents of any given area while they move about in preparation for their next attack. This also puts all the innocents around them at risk, but then, when one is used to beheading innocents in order to make political statements, it can be assumed that they couldn't care less about putting innocents in harms way.
It is against the conventions for them to use places of worship as operational points for their aggression, yet they do. In fact, at a recently captured mosque there were signs on the walls of the great hall designating areas for each of the terrorist groups who had come to Fallujah to wage terrorist attacks. The allies have come across mosque after mosque that has been used for ammunition depots. And it has become commonplace for our troops to receive gun and rocket fire from within the walls of these "places or worship."
It is against the conventions for them to feign death when confronted with absolute defeat, yet they do. In many instances our troops have had to deal with bodies of defeated terrorists that have been rigged with explosives, booby-traps meant to take the lives of our soldiers and those of our allies. While the terrorists are well on their way to getting to know the "72 virgins" Allah allegedly gave them upon their "martyrdom," the true freedom fighters in Iraq are dealing with death rigged with death.
Combine all of that with these facts:
* The day before the incident in question a booby-trapped corpse set-up by the terrorists killed a young Marine
* The Marine in question had been injured earlier on the same day as the shooting
* These Marines and allies had been conducting non-stop operations to free Fallujah from the terrorists who oppressively occupied that city
It is plain to see where the benefit of the doubt should be afforded.
All of that being taken into consideration, it is disappointing to hear US Ambassador to Iraq John Negroponte say, "no one can be happy" about the incident, "but the important point is that the individual in question will be dealt with." It should be even more disturbing that the mainstream media is leading the way in "dealing with" the young Marine in question.
We the People have to make a decision on whether or not we actually want to win this War on Terror. Listening to how the mainstream media and the liberal left in this country want us to deal with the issue of terrorism - fighting on an "uneven battlefield," legal action against our troops at the ready - it is hard to believe they want us to win.
11-18-04, 07:56 PM
:marine: Hey Salvati...you played both sides of this controversy..."butt the freakin' out"...you are not a wounded combat Marine in the assault phase of the attack on a hotly contested building...those wounded Ragheads had fired at this Marine assault unit with lethal force...entering this structure, Marine reaction is instantainious with no time for reading the Geneva Convention preamble to a resolute enemy...this combat Marine performed up to the highest Navy/Marine orders of the day...he deserves acclaim; not an ass-kicking!!:marine: Semper Fi, Mac
11-18-04, 08:09 PM
Hey l-n-l.....let's get up a squad, i'd take that Marine and damned day of the week. S/F Smitty
11-19-04, 10:20 AM
Take the gloves off!!
The RAGHEADS have posted rewards for dead Americans.Fark em',lets introduce them to the Virgins in Paradise they want to meet so bad.
Give our Leathernecks all the Ammo they can carry with instructions to use every round,then return for more.........
Dammit!!!why do the youngsters have all the fun!!!!
I want to play!!!!!
11-19-04, 10:47 AM
:marine:You know, Sarge, it's a crying shame to put this decorated/combat Marine under a microscope by "hindsight experts" who don't fathom the mindset of Marines in/during the assault phase of close combat...thank God some of us in here understands exactly, what this Marine did with zeal, dash and dispatch...yes, this young Fleet Marine Force warrior is consistant with all the other Marines from past eras...he's earned that distinction..I'd love to have him in "Our" squad anytime...and not thrown to these liberal/politically correct/ hacks and jackals who hate our Armed Forces...this would never have been exposed in the WW2 or the Korean War years...no siree!!; instead, he would have been "recommended for promotion" by his Skipper...my blood boils if this fine Marine gets any sort of reprimand!! Semper Fi SSGT CHRIS SARNO-USMC FMF:marine:
11-19-04, 11:12 AM
L-n-L The Corps need to train their DI's in the fine art of guerilla fighting like took place in Nam. Booby traps under their wounded, booby traps under our wounded and dead, booby traps EVERYWHERE. That Marine did his job to protect himself and his buddies. Has the Corps forgotten all the hard lessons that were learned in the Nam? I'm afraid so. They need to rethink their 0311 training just a tad bit from what i can tell. Semper Fi, Smitty
11-19-04, 11:18 AM
yes sgt smitty i agree with you also on the training of booby traps we learned alot about those in the Nam.
11-19-04, 03:56 PM
Photographer of shooting video refusing to comment
Friday, November 19, 2004
The photographer whose videotape of what appears to be a Marine shooting a wounded Iraqi is generating a storm of outrage in the Arab world maintained his steadfast silence on Wednesday, saying he wanted to continue reporting on the incident before commenting.
"As sensitive as this is, we want to make sure the world has an accurate picture of the events," said the photographer, Kevin Sites, an American freelance cameraman working for NBC News, to a reporter at the military base near Fallujah where he is staying.
The videotape shows a group of Marines entering a mosque in Fallujah, where several wounded Iraqi prisoners lay on the floor last Saturday. One Marine is shown shooting and apparently killing one of the Iraqis. The Marines were members of the 3rd Battalion, 1st Regiment, with whom Sites was embedded.
An unedited version of the videotape, which was distributed to other news agencies as part of a pool report, was being aired several times an hour on Arab satellite television stations on Wednesday, and US commanders have said it has already yielded a huge propaganda victory for the anti-American insurgency. Some Arab commentators have even compared it to the scandal surrounding mistreatment of detainees earlier this year at Abu Ghraib prison.
Yet many questions about the shooting remain unanswered, human rights advocates and senior military officials agree. In the videotape, the soldier can be heard yelling that the Iraqi prisoner was only pretending to be dead before firing at the prone body, suggesting that he may have believed he was acting in self-defense. It is unclear from watching it whether the prisoner was moving before the shot.
Sites would appear to be in a unique position to shed some light on what happened, but he declined repeatedly Wednesday to comment.
Sites did say he had received hate mail and threats since the footage aired, in edited form, on the initial NBC report. A comment section on a Web site he maintains has been shut down because of death threats.
A lanky man with shoulder-length hair and a goatee, Sites has maintained a low profile since emerging from the fighting in Fallujah, avoiding the area where other reporters on the base are billeted. Several other reporters said they believed he might be concerned about legal or other complications stemming from the shooting, and was staying silent for that reason. Agents from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service are conducting an inquiry, and the Marine who fired the shot has been removed from the battlefield.
A spokeswoman for NBC, Allison Gollust, said by e-mail: "Given that there is an investigation on behalf of the Marines into this incident, it just doesn't make sense for Kevin to be commenting on it at this point."
Kevin Sites' blog can be found at http://www.kevinsites.net/
11-20-04, 04:57 AM
From the Editor:
Judging ‘Marine X’
By Ed Offley
To fully understand what happened in that mosque in Fallujah last week, don’t watch the NBC videotape yet again. Rather, go to your local movie rental store and rent “The Longest Day.”
Compared with the harsh, weapons-effect accuracy of later war movies such as “Platoon” or “Saving Private Ryan,” Darryl F. Zanuck’s 1962 (pre-Vietnam innocent) tribute to the Normandy invasion contained one scene lifted directly from Cornelius Ryan’s D-Day history – and based on historical accounts – that provides the kind of context that has been totally missing in most of the news media accounts of the mosque shooting.
This is the scene: After surviving withering German small-arms fire and thrown hand grenades as they climb the cliffs at Pointe du Hoc, U.S. Army Rangers attacking one reinforced bunker are suddenly confronted at arm’s length by several enemy soldiers trying to surrender who, just moments earlier, had been trying to kill them. The Rangers instantly gun down the Germans, including one who is yelling, “Bitte, bitte” – German for “please.” One Ranger then asks a buddy, “What’s ‘bitte’ mean?”
This is what Cornelius Ryan and Darryl Zanuck meant to inform us from that incident: In the heat and fury of battle, soldiers kill. In the blur of a moment when death is everywhere and the only thing you have to prevent your own death is your weapon, your response to a perceived threat is to shoot – period. There is no time for indecision, nor is there time for second-guessing.
What images such as the Fallujah mosque convey is more troubling. They present us with a moment without full context, perhaps without *any* framework or perspective at all.
Along with everyone else, I saw the carefully edited videotape of the Fallujah shooting incident. Like the videotape of the Los Angeles police officers violently beating Rodney King in 1992, or the 1968 news film of South Vietnamese Gen. Nguyen Loc Loan executing Vietcong prisoner Bay Lop in the streets of Saigon with a pistol shot to his head, the image of an armed Marine firing his M-16 at a severely wounded Iraqi insurgent was graphic, stunning and horrible.
And like those two earlier examples, the intensity of the image all but defeats any attempt to place it in a fuller context.
As the I Marine Expeditionary Force legal staff proceeds with its investigation of the Fallujah shooting incident, it is incumbent on all of us – particularly those of us safely watching events in our living room thousands of miles away – to set aside the inevitable emotional reaction from the imagery and consider some additional, much less sensational, facts about Operation Vigilant Resolve, the Iraqi insurgency and Fourth Generation Warfare.
* A few weeks ago in the town of Khaldiya, The Christian Science Monitor noted on Monday, Marines did not fire on a man who approached them in daytime bearing a white flag. Under the rules of engagement, civilians doing that are supposed to be taken into custody without being harmed. “In the suicide blast that followed,” the newspaper reported, “one Marine lost a leg. ‘We didn't shoot him, because of that flag,’ [one Marine] officer said.”
* The shooter in the Fallujah mosque, known only as “Marine X” while the investigation continues, himself was shot in the face by Iraqi insurgents the day before, but was able to return to his unit. The Los Angeles Times reported that a friend of “Marine X” had been killed the previous day by the booby-trapped corpse of an Iraqi insurgent.
* Throughout Iraq during the last 18 months, insurgents have ambushed soldiers with remotely-detonated car bombs or driven bomb-laden vehicles into convoys and military bases on suicide missions; they have kidnapped, tortured, beheaded and disemboweled civilian hostages; they have used other Iraqi civilians, including infants, as human shields; and like the slain insurgent in Fallujah, they fired from and took shelter in mosques. These inhuman killers are the so-called “fighters” that our Marines and soldiers were told to hunt down in the rabbit warrens of Fallujah.
Here’s what did not happen on June 6, 1944: The soldiers involved in the Pointe du Hoc shooting were not relieved of duties pending a legal investigation by their command; the incident was not televised worldwide; a veritable Greek chorus of human-rights activists, journalism professors and retired military officers did not burst into full cry, and the enemy did not instantly mount a propaganda campaign to assert moral equivalence between the 2nd Ranger Battalion and the SS camp guards at Auschwitz.
U.S. officials have confirmed that the body of the slain insurgent and three other dead Iraqis have been sent to the armed forces mortuary at Dover Air Force Base for detailed autopsies. Other news reports indicate that the Marines and coalition commanders are intent on finding out the full truth of what Iraq commander Gen. George W. Casey Jr. has called a “tragic incident.” Well and good.
But how dare we instantly judge and condemn “Marine X” before the facts are in, or without taking into the fullest account the maelstrom of adrenalin, fear and rage that is the psychological burden of every soldier or Marine that our commanders have sent into the streets of Fallujah?
Ed Offley is Editor of DefenseWatch. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please send Feedback responses to email@example.com. © 2004 Ed Offley.
11-20-04, 05:43 AM
:marine: I listen regulary to the Michael Savage Nation talk-radio in the evening...according to Savage, he blurted out that photographer, Kevin Sites, was allocated to this Marine unit with one purpose in mind to film a disclaimer hoping such a situation arose...he was ordered by the big honcho of NBC news, Allan Shapiro, who is a big favorite of the most liberal Hollywood anti-war bashers along with Shapiro's hatred towards our CIC [Pres GW Bush]...has the liberal media [as a whole] no decency or ethics, but to just try and bring a President down??...in this case senario, they could care less about a brave combat Marine, the United States Marine Corps and the Comander-in-Chief..just another angle to think about...Semper Fi, Marines...Semper Fi:marine:
11-20-04, 05:49 AM
Well said Cook. You speak for me. They have no souls and should be treated with no mercy! Kill 'em all!
11-20-04, 10:01 AM
Nobody second-guesses beheaders
November 20, 2004
The case of the Marine shooting in Fallujah pits a young warrior in the clutch of terror and nanosecond judgment against the Monday-morning quarterbacking of theoretical second-guessers. War truly is hell.
At issue is whether the shooting of a wounded, unarmed Iraqi insurgent by a young Marine during the siege of Fallujah qualifies as a war crime. On the surface, shooting anyone who is unarmed seems to fit the definition of a war crime.
But if judging a domestic shooting is nuanced and complex, requiring careful analysis of circumstances and intent, surely a wartime shooting is a Byzantine calculation that can't be judged by usual standards.
Strident voices on all sides - from the Arab world to Amnesty International - don't help matters. The Al-Jazeera network repeatedly has aired video of the shooting, prompting responses like this one from an angry Iraqi: "When I saw the video, I wished I had a stronger gun and (could) spray that soldier with 100 bullets in his head."
From Amnesty International we hear charges of potential war crimes as well as an indictment of military leaders who perhaps didn't teach their young well enough. AI spokesman Alistair Hodgett said he was especially concerned with past comments by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld calling the war on terror suspects "killers" and "the worst of the worst."
Forgive me if I beg to agree with Rumsfeld on this point. We've seen enough by now to recognize that insurgents are killers, often of civilians, and barbaric enough in their executions to qualify among "the worst."
The question in this case, as explained to me by a military lawyer, is whether the Marine's actions were "reasonable" under the circumstances. Ironically, film of the incident by an embedded cameraman working for NBC may provide the key to the Marine's exculpation even as it raises new concerns about the distorting power of the media.
As captured on film, the Marine in question and others came upon five insurgents lying inside a mosque. Three of the men were severely wounded; one was apparently dead; a fifth was lying under a blanket. When the Marine under investigation noticed the fifth insurgent breathing, he started yelling:
"He's (expletive) faking he's dead. He's faking he's (expletive) dead." Then he shot him. Note to the children: This is an appropriate use of profanity.
We now know the man was unarmed, though he might have been hiding a weapon under the blanket. We don't know whether he was faking being dead, though one could argue that pretending to be dead in order not to be killed is a reasonable reaction when U.S. Marines have just shot your companions.
What we do know is that Iraqi insurgents frequently fake death, booby-trap dead bodies and perform other ruses that have resulted in many GI deaths. In the context of that knowledge, is it possible that the young Marine acted reasonably? That he was acting in self-defense?
To those of us who can't imagine combat, the notion that war has rules seems odd. All is fair in love and war, right? But indeed there are strict rules of war as outlined by the Hague Convention, which governs the means and methods of warfare, including permissible tricks and ruses.
Among those rules: Don't fake surrender, and don't fake dead or wounded to gain an advantage and kill the enemy.
Meanwhile, at the same time the incident inside the mosque was taking place, a U.S. Marine was killed and five others wounded when the booby-trapped body of a dead insurgent blew up.
Insurgents and terrorists don't play by anyone's rules but their own. They're not held to the same standards, as the Hague Convention applies only to state actors. Technically, I'm told, the United States doesn't have to adhere to the conventions when fighting non-state actors such as terrorists either, but we do "because it's the right thing to do."
The Marine who fired the killing shot, ending the life of a man we now know to have been alive, unarmed and - at least in that instant - no threat, was a kid who obviously did know the rules and was attempting to balance that knowledge against his fear of being killed.
He himself had been shot in the face the day before but was back in the fray. By his words we can conclude that his mind was racing. His rapid-fire thoughts most likely went something like this: The man is faking; he intends to shoot me; if I don't shoot him, I will die.
His decision under those circumstances seems reasonable to me. The gravest concern, however, is that the Marine risked his life to voice his rationale, possibly aware he was being filmed and had to justify his actions for the media.
11-20-04, 10:46 AM
I doubt the Marine was trying to justify his actions for the media. Give me a break...that was the last thing on his mind. His actions were "reasonable" and warranted. Marines don't just "turn it on and turn it off"...You put on the war face and your training will take it from there....almost auto-pilot...This is not a swat team going into a civilian neighborhood...those guys have to put up with this sort of crap on a daily basis...You want the Marines to show up..then ask and you shall receive...BUT BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU ASK FOR....SEMPER FI DO OR DIE