Sunday, February 13, 2005

Godawful stories are circulating about the second seige of Fallujah:

"One story is of a young girl who is 16 years old," he says of one of the testimonies he video taped recently, "She stayed for three days with the bodies of her family who were killed in their home. When the soldiers entered she was in her home with her father, mother, 12 year-old brother and two sisters. She watched the soldiers enter and shoot her mother and father directly, without saying anything."

The girl managed to hide behind the refrigerator with her brother and witnessed the war crimes first-hand.

"They beat her two sisters, then shot them in the head," he said. After this her brother was enraged and ran at the soldiers while shouting at them, so they shot him dead.

"She continued hiding after the soldiers left and stayed with her sisters because they were bleeding, but still alive. She was too afraid to call for help because she feared the soldiers would come back and kill her as well. She stayed for three days, with no water and no food. Eventually one of the American snipers saw her and took her to the hospital," he added before reminding me again that he had all of her testimony documented on film.

Another story is of families being ordered to leave their homes carrying white flags -- and then being cut down by snipers in cold blood.

And another is of soldiers deliberately attacking hospitals.

That last one is known to be true. At least twice over.

As to the rest -- you'd like to reflexively disbelieve that Americans would do anything like that. Just like at Abu Ghraib. But it's worth noting that the avowed purpose of the force seizing one hospital was "to end its use as a source of anti-U.S. propaganda." Which is to say, anything that would contradict their own propaganda line, which has proven to be less than entirely reliable. That hospital was left structurally intact. The other was razed to the ground, ending its use for just about anything -- including medical treatment. If you'd like to believe that they scrupulously observed the Geneva conventions in all other respects, you're welcome to your view. I'm sure it helps you sleep easier at night than I do these days. But it was an American general that said that "It's a hell of a lot of fun" to shoot people down. And another that said "War is hell."

And remember, while you're at it, that the official position of Dubya's crew is that it wouldn't matter. That the President can order any action, regardless of laws or treaty obligations, let alone basic human decency. Patriot Act coauthor John Yoo recently explained it to Jane Mayer like so:

As Yoo saw it, Congress doesn't have the power to "tie the President's hands with regard to torture as an interrogation technique." He continued, "It's the core of the Commander-in-Chief function. they can't prevent the President from ordering torture." If the President were to abuse his powers as Commander-in-Chief, Yoo said, the Constitutional remedy was impeachment.

And the odds of that, from a Congress run on strict party loyalty, are nil.

The founding fathers had a lot to say, in the Federalist papers and elsewhere, about the danger of politicians driven by a "spirit of faction." Yet one of their deliberately chosen models was the Roman Republic. There would be some irony if the Republic they built goes the same way, gaining the world at the cost of its soul, so that one day people might say of them both: Ubi solitudinem faciunt, pacem appellant.

via King of Zembla

Then again, as a reminder that you can't believe everything you see on the web, I offer this report which says it's quoting a French official document, then gives the translation. A translation which is remarkably exact, as the purported French original contains the English words "community", "coupled", "is", "it", and "the" -- evidently in places where some second-rate automated English to French automatic translator didn't know what to do with them...


Anonymous Anonymous said...

These are three men I knew who were killed by a grenade while delivering supplies to a Children's Hospital.

You need to actually READ the Geneva convention as it states clearly that any violation of the rules will result in a forfeiture of protections. Any use of a 'hands off' site such as a church, hospital, museum, etc for any purpose in support of the war automatically negates that place's protections under Geneva.

10:22 AM  
Blogger charles said...

Do you mean to argue that an attack on a supply convoy which was heading to a hospital in one place justifies a bombing raid that levels a hospital under control of opposing forces somewhere else? I'm not sure that all scholars of international law would agree...

1:28 PM  

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