Wednesday, February 06, 2008


(Cross-posted to the Out of Iraq Bloggers Caucus.)

I have said oh so many times that it's the little things, the little things that go seemingly unnoticed that get me. In this case, the thing itself is by no means little but the fact that it seems to have passed unnoticed is some degree of qualification. And by any measure it is a great example of a classic I. F. Stone "shirttail," the good stuff at the tail end of an article.

Omar Khadr is a Canadian citizen captured after a firefight in Afghanistan in 2002. He has been at Gitmo ever since and is now facing a military tribunal there on a boatload of charges relating to the accusation that he threw a hand grenade that killed a US solider in that fight. However, he was 15 at the time, so, Reuters reported, he
should not be tried as a war criminal because he was a child soldier for al Qaeda, too young to voluntarily join its forces, his military defense lawyer told a U.S. war court on Monday.

Navy Lt. William Kuebler asked a military judge to throw out the charges....

"He is a victim of al Qaeda, not a member of al Qaeda," Kuebler said.
It certainly is a story worth knowing if only because it's another case of people having been held for years without trial or even charges. The fact that he was a child soldier and the questions that surround it add to its worth. However, that's not actually the part I'm concerned with. This is the end of that same article:
The court released documents describing the battle in which Khadr was captured. U.S. forces entered the suspected al Qaeda compound after an aerial bombing and were fired upon with a rifle and with the grenade that killed [Sgt. Christopher] Speer, it said.

An unidentified witness, who is apparently a member of the U.S. armed forces, said he found two wounded people still alive inside - a man lying near an AK-47 assault rifle, whom he shot in the head and killed, and Khadr, who was seated on the ground facing away.

The witness said he shot Khadr twice in the back and that Khadr replied repeatedly in English, "Kill me."

Khadr was instead given medical treatment and sent to Guantanamo.
The Miami Herald says the revelation was unintentional and casts doubt on the prosecution's claims.
At issue is, with the revelation that another person was alive and fighting inside the compound, how the military can be certain that Khadr threw a grenade that killed
Sgt. Speer? Yes, that certainly is an issue for the trial. But it's not the issue that struck me hard, one that neither of these articles nor any of the (admittedly few) others I checked addressed:

By the military's own account, a US soldier summarily executed a wounded fighter and shot another wounded, unresisting fighter in the back - twice.

God fucking damn it, these are war crimes! Why isn't that soldier in the dock? Why isn't he in chains in some dark cell somewhere awaiting a trial that maybe will happen someday? More disturbingly, why didn't any account find what he did worthy of notice? And even more disturbingly, even frighteningly, is it because it simply didn't occur to them to question the actions of a US soldier?

And I don't want to hear one bleeping bit of a defense that "maybe they were faking" or "maybe one of them was hiding another grenade" or whatever. By that argument you are saying you are comfortable with a scorched Earth policy or with soldiers going down streets just shooting down everyone they see, because - and you can't deny it - any one of those people "might" have a hidden gun or a grenade. (By the way, if "anything goes" is not right for "them," it's not right for "us." So neither will I accept any defense along the lines of "if you'd even been in combat" unless you're an avowed pacifist arguing that war destroys all vestiges of humanity in its participants and so should not be engaged in by anyone.)

It's been said to death that "9/11 changed everything." But of course it didn't. And contrary to the development of nuclear weapons, which, Einstein said, "has changed everything except our way of thinking," 9/11 actually changed nothing - except our way of thinking, especially regarding the level of decency we expect from ourselves.

No comments:

// I Support The Occupy Movement : banner and script by @jeffcouturer / (v1.2) document.write('
I support the OCCUPY movement
');function occupySwap(whichState){if(whichState==1){document.getElementById('occupyimg').src=""}else{document.getElementById('occupyimg').src=""}} document.write('');