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Monday, November 22, 2004

Kevin Sites on the Shooting He Filmed 
NBC cameraman and veteran war correspondent explains what happened on his blog here-his account of which is a nice, heartfelt piece of journalism in its own way.

I have not seen the film. Originally I felt that the marine was probably guilty of murder, but the extenuating circumstances were compelling.

Reading Sites' account, it seems clear that the marine in question didn't realize that the wounded Iraqis had already been disarmed, and expressed remorse at the time. More importantly, though, it seems to me that a case can be made that since this marine didn't know the bodies had already been cleared, he thought that the wounded Iraqi was still a clear and present danger to him and his squadmates.

Given the precedent the muj have already set boobytrapping their wounded and dead, I would likely be willing to give the marine the benefit of the doubt. I think a reasonable man would certainly have doubts here.

But should an investigation go forward?

Yes.

I've gotten a lot of hate mail over this one. Some rational, some not. I can only imagine what Kevin Sites is receiving.

But I'm a commissioned officer, and it's my job to uphold the rule of law, even when it's not popular.

International law clearly prohibits the shooting of troops rendered hors de combat from wounds. Yes, it's possible that this wounded Iraqi could have been concealing a grenade. But ANY wounded ANYWHERE could be concealing a grenade. And so when we allow the shooting of wounded on the assumption that they are carrying grenades, then the Geneva convention prohibition on killing those who are hors de combat, and even those who are actively trying to surrender, become meaningless.

There are great arguments to be made that since the Fallujah muj are illegal combatants, since they frequently do not carry arms openly, do not typically wear uniforms recognizeable at a distance, were illegally using places of worship as pillboxes, and generally do not conduct themselves according to the laws of war, then they cannot be entitled to Geneva convention protections.

I would be sympathetic to such an argument myself. I think letting the world know that if they act like rabid dogs, we will hunt them down like the rabid dogs they are will probably send a healthy message to the human pondscum like those fighting us in Fallujah.

But if so, this is not a matter to be decided at the E-3 level. let the JAGs and the senior command go on record with it. Force them to. Clarify it for the troops and for the rest of the world.

Splash, out

Jason

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