Conduct Unbecoming

Like everyone, I’m deeply disturbed by what appears to be the shooting of an unarmed and wounded Iraqi by a US Marine. Executing a wounded prisoner is a gross violation of the rules of warfare and absolutely against the principles of the United States military. If the soldier involved is found to have acted without reasonable justification, he should spend the rest of his life at Ft. Leavenworth.

However, as much outrage is appropriate in this case, it is important to note that the people who commit acts of deliberate murder on our forces faces the full power of the rule of military law. Our enemy butchers civilians by the scores every chance they can get. Already that day they had used a false flag of surrender to attack US Marines, had been using mosques as ammo dumps and positions for attack, and had booby-trapped their wounded — all disgusting violations of the rules of civilized warfare. We are facing an enemy that acknowledges no quarter and does not follow the same rules we do. We should and must demand absolute accountability to our soldiers, but at the same time we do a great disservice to everyone in uniform if we attempt to compare this incident to the butchery of the terrorists who threaten peace and security in Iraq.

UPDATE: Just to clarify, I don’t know any more than anyone else. I’ve amended the post to reflect that. Could the person have posed some kind of threat? He didn’t look like he was in any shape to carry a weapon, and bodies had been booby-trapped before. The Marine involved deserves the full benefit of a thorough investigation and trial. If he committed an act against the rules of war, he should be punished. If not, he was doing his job. What evidence I’ve seen suggests the former rather than latter – but I don’t have all the facts. What is clear is that the enemy we face is barbaric, inhuman, and desperate. Against such an enemy our soldiers have every right to exercise due discretion in protecting themselves.

UPDATE: I’ve finally seen the unedited tape. What the censored version seems to indicate is that the US troops kill the old man in the foreground of the shot. This isn’t the case – they actually fire on someone else farther away. There isn’t enough information to determine if the person who was shot constituted a threat or not. Certainly the Iraqi witness might be able to shed some light on the situation. There seems to be a much stronger case for self-defense when the censorship of the video is removed.

3 thoughts on “Conduct Unbecoming

  1. I heard the following today: The unit that found the soldiers who’s been left by an earlier unit had been unplesantly surprised earlier in the day, when an enemy soldier pretending to be dead had shot one of them. If you’ve seen or heard the tape, that’s what happened. They thought the wounded were all dead, when one moved. The soldier acted in what would have been the appropriate manner for their last engagement- had he known.

    And had it not been for the sensationalist reporting by NBC, this would not be an issue.

  2. The gross error was in AP and Reuter’s use of the term “wounded prisoner.” This terrorist never surrendered. Jay you have jumped to judgement and sentencing before all the facts are in. How was anyone to know he wasn’t concealing an IED or Grenade?

  3. Mr. Reding –
    Appreciate very much your commentary on the Marine shooting incident in Iraq. Contrary to what I’ve generally heard in the media, including, sorry to say, conservative commentators, it seems like you are evenhandedly trying to find out what the facts are. Thanks.

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