“During the course of my three tours, the rules of engagement changed a lot,” Washburn’s testimony continued, “The higher the threat the more viciously we were permitted and expected to respond. Something else we were encouraged to do, almost with a wink and nudge, was to carry ‘drop weapons’, or by my third tour, ‘drop shovels’. We would carry these weapons or shovels with us because if we accidentally shot a civilian, we could just toss the weapon on the body, and make them look like an insurgent.”

Hart Viges, a member of the 82nd Airborne Division of the Army who served one year in Iraq, told of taking orders over the radio.

“One time they said to fire on all taxicabs because the enemy was using them for transportation…. One of the snipers replied back, ‘Excuse me? Did I hear that right? Fire on all taxicabs?’ The lieutenant colonel responded, ‘You heard me, trooper, fire on all taxicabs.’ After that, the town lit up, with all the units firing on cars. This was my first experience with war, and that kind of set the tone for the rest of the deployment.”

Vincent Emanuele, a Marine rifleman who spent a year in the al-Qaim area of Iraq near the Syrian border, told of emptying magazines of bullets into the city without identifying targets, running over corpses with Humvees and stopping to take “trophy” photos of bodies.

Although the testimony from the vets in this article is from the 2008 Winter Soldier hearings, they are a pertinent reminder that the actions by military personnel in the Wikileaks video were not unusual and probably were within a vague and flexible ‘shoot anything that moves’ ROE. How can you blame troops for behaving like barbarians when its Army policy to disregard the safety, and often the humanity, of civilians in a situation where it can be difficult to tell who’s a threat and who’s not? I accept that war is hell, but the Iraq occupation was and is a hopeless clusterfuck that should never have happened.

  1. Rectal Dysfunction says:

    #31 – B as in bullshit, S as in bullshit.

  2. denacron says:

    I think this newest post from Fred Reed fits the topic at hand.

  3. Jim in Seattle says:

    I’m a fan of John, I’m a fan of Cranky Geeks, and I’m a fan of this blog—but why has this blog gone anti-American military all of a sudden? The reason we all sleep soundly in our beds to due to our fighting forces, keeping us safe.

  4. Phydeau says:

    #35 Uh, Jim, it’s not anti-American military to want to get our military out of an unwinnable situation. We’re creating more terrorists with every innocent civilian we accidentally (or intentionally) kill. Their families immediately become America haters.

    We cannot kill our way out of this situation.

  5. Phydeau says:

    #32 Unless you’ve been there, it’s all just conjecture and arm chair quarterbacking.

    Uh, right, and the soldiers quoted in the article were there and are telling some pretty disturbing stories. And they are pretty clear that US Army Regulations and the UCMJ went by the wayside.

    Did we learn nothing from Vietnam?

  6. sargasso says:

    The last time a western army at war ordered troops to shoot unarmed civilians indiscriminately, they hung every last man Jack of the generals and politicians involved at Nuremberg. Just saying.

  7. clancys_daddy says:

    38 what happened to the Japanese generals who did the same thing?

  8. An Iraq Veteran says:

    I’m so glad to see that the Iraq War propaganda has returned to Dvorak.org/blog. I’m lapsing into nostalgia.

    As a person who deployed to Baghdad in 2008-2009 our ROE conformed to the highest moral codes and the Geneva Conventions.

    But what do I know? I just spent a year there and left our area better off than it was when we first arrived.

  9. Animby says:

    I’m sorry? You can’t find anything going on with the wars in, say, the last year to write about? You have to back up a couple of years to find a soldier talking about events that ocurred even earlier? Talk about a slow news year!

    By the way, from my time in Afghanistan I can promise you: there is no one more dangerous than a Kabul taxi driver. Except maybe a Kabul taxi driver at rush hour. In winter snow.

  10. Traaxx says:

    Yeah, I really really believe a commie demoncrat at face value. If any of this was true it would be plastered all over the new just like Vietnam.

    I refuse to believe that a Demoncrat lead congress and a Demoncrat President Hussein would allow all this kind of wanton killing to occurr. If they are maybe we should put the Demoncrat leadership on trial for their continued support of these conflicts 🙂



  11. amodedoma says:

    Why do certain persons always take offense at criticism of the war. Patriotism hasn’t always been reduced to blindly accepting the actions and justifications of your leaders. Whatever happened to ‘I may not agree with what your saying but I’d fight to the death to defend your right to say it’. Patriotism seems to change with time too. I did my 4+ years in the Navy, I got nothing against our troops. Many of my friends were jarheads, even got to know a seal pretty well. They’re just these guys, you know? I’m against all war, but especially cowardly little wars with doubtful motivations and hidden agendas. War is currently part of the human essence, hopefully someday we’ll outgrow it.

  12. O'Really says:

    Phydeau said, on April 9th, 2010 at 11:51

    Uh, right, and the soldiers quoted in the article were there and are telling some pretty disturbing stories. And they are pretty clear that US Army Regulations and the UCMJ went by the wayside.

    Did we learn nothing from Vietnam?

    So just because a Soldier says something means it’s the absolute truth. We Soldiers live by a set of Values but we’re still people and have personal agendas and views.

    Have you been to Iraq? I have and have seen the improvements that have been made. I no many many Soldiers that been wounded and a few that have paid the ultimate sacrifice in order to protect these civilians. It’s a common practice for the insurgents to dress and act as civilians and keep kids with them in order to be harder to combat.

  13. RBG says:

    You have to understand that people like honeyman want these atrocity stories to be true so bad they can taste it. That much is obvious.

    They don’t care about the people who live there. They don’t care that they strengthen an enemy that kills our troops. They don’t care how long they prolong the killing, or even about success in that country.

    For people like honeyman, it’s all about their own selfish and petty politics at any cost.


  14. MikeN says:

    Wasn’t the original Winter Soldier hearings when a bunch of fake vets testified to war crimes?

  15. honeyman says:

    #46 RGB

    Seems to me you want these atrocity stories to be false so bad you are willing to ignore the shabby reasons and lies that put your troops in harms way. You can fantasise about how the American invasion of Iraq brings success for that country all you like. That’s your cross to bear.

    This article simply illustrates that the ROE in Iraq were so vague that it lead to many unnecessary civilian deaths and incidents like the one depicted in the leaked video. It also gave the scope for troops to act like barbarians.

    Your patriotism blinds you, sir.

  16. Sombody says:

    But then we voted in a Democrat House, Senate and Chief Executive and, as promised, they got the boys home by Christmas.

    And we all lived happily ever after.

  17. gmknobl says:

    As one pundit keeps saying “now WE are the bad guys.”

    And this also makes me think how the military recruits more people of lower education. My guess is it’s easier to control them and get them to do what you order without thinking. They can be good little dumb robots.

    This is NOT what we as a nation should ever want nor what we use to do. A small cadre of profession soldiers my foot! A bunch of trigger happy jerk-wads running things is more like it. If anyone says that’s not so, more and more evidence proves my statement.


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