Killing of Iraqi civilians at Ishaqi still an open question

Tuesday, June 06, 2006 at 05:56 PM

Iraqis have been complaining of U.S. soldiers' brutality to Iraqis for at least two years. The complaints were dismissed by the US gov't as exaggerations by people sympathetic to the insurgents, they were largely dismissed by the U.S. media on the say-so of the U.S. government, and were largely dismissed by most U.S. citizens on the say-so of the U.S. government, the perception that the Iraqis had a motive to exaggerate, and an unfortunate degree of racial/religious bias.

The US report recently absolving the military of any wrongdoing in Ishaqi is not satisfying the Iraqis or many in the American media.

For example, Editor & Publisher magazine has already raised what seem to be serious questions about the US report clearing the US of any wrongdoing at Ishaqi:

Published: June 03, 2006 1:40 PM ET

NEW YORK The U.S military said Saturday it had found no wrongdoing in the March 15 raid on a home in Ishaqi that left nine Iraqi civilians dead. But, as with the apparent massacre in Haditha, will a military "coverup" in this case come undone? E&P coverage from back in March, and other evidence, suggest that the official story may soon unravel.

The Iraqi police charge that American forces executed the civilians, including a 75-year-old woman and a 6-month-old baby. The BBC has been airing video of the dead civilians, mainly children, who appeared to be shot, possibly at close range. Photographs taken just after the raid for the Associated Press and Agence France-Presse, and reports at the time by Reuters and Knight Ridder, also appear to back up the charge of an atrocity.

After the attack, American officials said that they had demolished the house in an airstrike after insurgents fired from the building. One insurgent, two women and a child were killed in the attack, they said.
A spokesman for Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki said today's report, which cleared the U.S. soldiers, was unfair.
The government will demand an apology and compensation, the spokesman said.

More than two months ago, however, E&P covered the account by a Knight Ridder reporter who had obtained a police report on the incident. Here is our March 20, 2006, story, followed by the reporter's statements on a popular U.S. radio program.

NEW YORK-- Matthew Schofield, a Knight Ridder reporter in Baghdad, has obtained an Iraqi police report which, he reveals today, accuses American troops of executing 11 people, including a 75-year-old woman and a 6-month-old infant, in the aftermath of a raid last Wednesday on a house about 60 miles north of Baghdad.

The villagers were killed after American troops herded them into a single room of the house, according to the police. Then the soldiers burned three vehicles, killed the villagers' animals and blew up the house. Knight Ridder has distributed a copy of the report.

A U.S. military spokesman, Major Tim Keefe, said that the U.S. military has no information to support the allegations and that he had not heard of them before a Knight Ridder reporter brought them to his attention Sunday. "We're concerned to hear accusations like that, but it's also highly unlikely that they're true," he said. He added that U.S. forces "take every precaution to keep civilians out of harms' way. The loss of innocent life, especially children, is regrettable."

Just last week, Navy investigators announced they are looking into whether Marines intentionally killed 15 Iraqi civilians - four of them women and five of them children - during fighting last November in Haditha.

Schofield points out that the report of the latest killings "is unusual because it originated with Iraqi police and because Iraqi police were willing to attach their names to it....

An ABC report dated yesterday notes that "Iraqi anger is percolating over the incidents, and over an investigation that cleared U.S. forces in a third case."

I'm guessing that once the bubble of credibility is burst, you will be shocked by how many instances of unnecessary brutality and killings have occurred.

If you take overstressed, undermanned, undertrained military forces, convince them that the enemy is the epitome of evil and danger, and plop them down in the middle of a population that looks exactly like "the enemy," what in the hell did our government expect was going to happen?

I personally lay a considerable chunk of the blame on the top of the U.S. command--Rumsfeld--along with the never ending jingoism and veiled racism of the Fox News Network, which is widely watched by the troops in Iraq and even in the U.S. before they get to Iraq.