Saturday, March 26, 2005

The guy shoulda behaved himself

The reason for the Bush Administration effort to deny the International Criminal Court jurisdiction over American soldiers may become a little clearer here. The International Criminal Court has jurisdiction over war crimes.

The Army has decided not to file previously recommended criminal charges against 17 soldiers involved in killing 3 Iraqi prisoners. The NY Times has some details about the case against 11 of them involved in the death of an Iraqi Army lieutenant colonel.

According to the NY Times the Iraqi prisoner was "determined by investigators to have died of 'blunt force injuries and asphyxia' at an American Forward Operating Base in Al Asad, Iraq, in January 2004." He had been beaten and hoisted by his neck with a baton.

The Army investigators had recommended that 11 soldiers face charges. However, the Special Forces Command had determined that the use of force had been lawful "in response to repeated aggression and misconduct by the detainee."

He was acting up. So they beat him, and choked him to death with a baton.

Even the full knowledge of Abu Ghraib and My Lai, it remains an article of Republican faith that we are the "good guys", and our enemies the "bad guys." (Can you imagine adult human beings talking this way? Thru the joint good offices of the media and Republican apparatchiks, most Americans can now imagine it, and indeed consider the terminology normal.) It is also an important article of Republican faith that only our enemies commit war crimes, and thus any effort to bring an American to trial for a war crime would just be--wrong.

But wait. Here we have clear evidence of a war crime, and a brutal one at that. Nevertheless, the investigators could only say, gently, gosh, it was negligent homicide--notice they put the facts of blunt force trauma and choking together, in the context of a prisoner of war death, yet cannot bring themselves to say "war crime" at all--and then the people who decide whether to actually bring charges back away even from that. Whoa! Did we hear negligent homicide? No way!

The Army Special Forces Command has a point: if their guys beat the prisoner and choked him till he ceased his misconduct, i.e., croaked, then clearly this could not be "negligent".

Case closed.

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