Tag Archives: Fallujah

Not A Marine’s Finest Hour!

The invasion of Iraq stemmed from lies told by the president of the United States and the Secretary of Defense so it is little wonder deception, confusion, and disorientation became part of the process of fighting in Iraq. Sgt. Ryan Weemer is on trial for the murder of an unarmed prisoner during fighting in Fallujah. Today, Weemer and his comrades insist the prisoner tried to seize a gun which caused them to kill him. However, Captain Jonathan Vaughn says he clearly told Sgt. Weemer, “this was not a free-fire zone. We articulated the process by which the captured detainee was to be moved back from the fire fight.” Unfortunately, for Sgt. Weemer in 2006 he told Mark Fox, who worked with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service “we didn’t take any prisoners.. They didn’t have any weapons.. They were just sitting there.. I did one guy…”

War stinks but there are rules and regulations that govern war. Sgt. Weemer apparently spoke the truth to Fox and now must be judged by what he openly said on tape regarding his state of mind and his actions.

One tragedy is the absence of punishment for his superiors– President Bush and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld who encouraged disregard for rules of behavior in wartime. As usual, those on the front lines are punished while those sitting in offices far from the scene of conflict will spend their lives without any punishment.

Fallujah Killings Described In Court

A Marine charged with murdering an Iraqi detainee captured during fierce house-to-house fighting in Fallujah, said his squad leader asked for help in killing captives after weapons were found in their house. Sgt. Jermaine Nelson told investigators that his squad leader, Jose Nazario became furious after AK47s were found upstairs in the house and took a man into the kitchen and shot him through the eye. “So Nazario come up, he says, ‘I just did one. I’m not doing all of them myself so you’re going to do one. So I’m thinking I didn’t want to get shot myself.” Nelson is charged with a single murder count because at some point he decided o go along with the unlawful conduct of Nazario. His defense attorney argued the Marine should not be held responsible for obeying a direct order in combat.

Nazario’s defense attorney has argued the entire case rests on evidence supplied by Nelson and there is no forensic evidence to support claims against his client. In a separate case, a different squad was charged with killing 24 people n Fallujah but charges have been dropped aganst the squad leader. Four officers were charged with failing to invstigate the deaths, but the charges have been dropped against two of them.

War is definitely hell and humans do things in war the would not do in ordinary life. There is a difference between understanding emotional and physical dangers an individual faces during combat and condoning such illegal behavior. A persistent pattern in abuses in Iraq has been failure to ever bring charges against top level officers who were derelict in carrying out their responsibilities as leaders.

Return To Fallujah

Patrick Cockburn returned to Fallujah after being absent for a few years in order to examine what has happened to the Iraqi city in its fight against terrorism. There was definitely an absence of bombings and random killings, and although he counted 27 manned checkpoints, it was clear al-Qaeda and other militants had lost their ability to dominate the city. Cockburn spoke with the police chief who had previously been in the Saddam Hussein army. Col. Feisal’s brother controlled a 13,000 man which is part of the Sunni Awakening Movement. In visits to hospitals, Cockburn repeatedly was told about lack of medicine, clean water and electricity. The doctors also complained “The American provide us with nothing. They bring only destruction.”

There is little doubt the surge has lessend the ability of militants to proceed with their bombings and murders at the same rate as previously. But, as Fallujah indicates, the struggle for peace in Iraq is far from over. The United States has poured immense money into military development and far less to economic assistance. People lack jobs, they lack access to clean water, and they have sporadic use of electricity.

Surge Still Not Working In Fallujah

Fallujah was a militant stronghold and it has been quiet for months, but the success of the Surge still depends on creating conditions within the city that make its inhabitants feel confident peace will remain on a long term basis. Although Marines have not fired ashot in combat in nearly three months, basic facilities within the city are still not operating. Hamaed Ahmed, an influential tribal sheik, points out, “the government in Baghdad always said they couldn’t help because Fallujah was too dangerous and too filled with terroriists. Now Fallujah is more secure than Baghdad– and still there is no help.” According to Ahmed Rija al-Essavy, a Fallujah city councilman, “If Fallujah is ignored, if there is no forward proress now, the city will go back to how things were.”

The list of problems in the city is long and complex. Unemployment is about 70%, schools are overcrowded, fuel is too expensive and there is lack of power to fuel basic necessities. Iraq’s government claims it is just starting the task of restoring basic necessities, but even that may not be sufficient if people lack jobs and their children are unable to obtain a good education. President Bush, as always, emphasizes the wrong things about Iraq. Killing militants in itself will not lead to creation of a vibrant Iraq. He has never been able to understand the importance of political and economic action.