Is It A War Crime Or Is It War?

The release of thousands of documents concerning operation of American forces in Afghanistan has raised interesting issues regarding the legality of establishing hit lists of people to kill during wartime. Actually, in most wars, there are either formal or informal lists of those in enemy forces you desire to kill. Task Force 373 was provided lists containing names of the enemy they were supposed to kill. I guess in wartime we say, “kill,” rather than “murder.” but what the heck, in the end, the person is dead. The documents reveal incidents like an operation in June, 2007, when Task Force 373 set out to kill a militant leader and in the ensuing fight, by accident, killed members of the Afghan National Police. The military would term their deaths, “collateral damage.” In another operation, Task Force 373 fired rockets in an attempt to kill an al-Qaeda leader, and failed in the attempt, but also killed several children.

The enemy shoots at you, fire is returned. That is war. But, is it war to fire rockets into civilian areas in order to kill a member of the enemy forces even though there is a strong likelihood civilians might get caught in the cross fire? Is this war? Is this criminal behavior? That is the question to be decided.