Friday, July 21, 2006

Enemy Press AP Spins Orders?

ElPasoTimes.com reports an Enemy Press AP story about the soldiers accused of murdering civilians during a raid on a suspected Al Qaida base. "Girouard, Spc. William B. Hunsaker, Pfc. Corey R. Clagett, and Spc. Juston R. Graber are charged with murder and other offenses in the shooting deaths of three of the men during the May 9 raid. Girouard, Hunsaker and Clagett are also charged with obstruction of justice for allegedly threatening to kill another soldier if he told authorities what happened. In sworn statements obtained this week by the AP, Girouard, Hunsaker, Clagett, and a witness, Sgt. Leonel Lemus, told Army investigators they were ordered to attack an island in northern Salahuddin province on May 9 and kill anti-Iraqi fighters with ties to al-Qaida."

What is the defense of the accused? "Four U.S. soldiers accused of murdering suspected insurgents during a raid in Iraq said they were under orders to 'kill all military age males,' according to sworn statements obtained by The Associated Press." So the rules of engagement for the operation were to kill all military age males? That doesn't sound right. Does the military order such things? Aren't these type of orders illegal and against the laws of war?

What drove the soldiers to start killing indiscriminately? Let's check out the rest of the story to see what happened during the alleged murders. "Girouard told investigators he expected he and his comrades would immediately be attacked when they landed on the island. Intelligence officials had warned that at least 20 al-Qaida operatives were hiding there. But it was only once the men moved to the northern half of the island that they found anyone, Girouard said. He said he and others shot and killed a man they spied in a window in one building and then rushed into a house where they found three other men hiding behind two women. A fifth man, holding a 2-year-old girl in front of him, later came out of another building, Girouard and Hunsaker told investigators. Girouard said the four surviving men were not immediately killed because of the human shields. Once the women and child were moved to safety, he told investigators, the men did not appear to pose a threat and the soldiers took them into custody. (So much for indiscriminate murder....) But Hunsaker said three of the men then attacked him and Clagett as the soldiers were trying to bind the men's hands with heavy-duty plastic ties. (In other words, the men re-opened hostilities after surrendering.) 'I had felt this action necessary for they had tried to use deadly force on me and my comrade,' Hunsaker wrote about the shooting. Hunsaker told investigators he was stabbed. Clagett said he was 'struck on the face with a fist or something.' Lemus, who only saw the men fall to the ground, told investigators he thought the killings were justified. 'Proper escalation of force was used when the detainee became hostile and armed himself with a weapon and wounded one soldier and struck another,' Lemus said. 'Our actions ... were in accordance to the ROE (rule of engagement) briefed to us prior to our mission and moments before our air assault was conducted.'"

This is bizarre! How on earth did these soldiers get charged with anything, if their story is true? They were on a legal mission, they accepted the surrender of the enemy and only used lethal force against them once the enemy re-opened hostilities. Why would any charges be filed? Perhaps this can explain it. "Officers from their unit initially cleared the soldiers of wrongdoing. Charges were filed when witnesses changed their testimony after repeated interviews with Army investigators...." Witnesses? What witnesses? Fellow soldiers? Or the enemy? We already know that the enemy will say anything to further their cause. They also know they have willing accomplices in the Enemy Press. Until we know who these witnesses are, why should we put any credence in their charges? We shouldn't.

It is possible these soldiers murdered the men, but more likely that events happened as they said it did. Morale is important in a war, as much as actual battlefield success. Any and all charges of atrocities against our soldiers from any source must be completely investigated before any charges are pressed. We cannot let lies from those who would destroy us be taken at face value. Let us hope the soldiers did follow the rules of engagement. It's imperative we win, and imperative we do so without being stopped by the lies of the enemy here and abroad.

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