What it’s like to invade the home of an innocent Iraqi family

July 14, 2007 | By | 4 Replies More

Members of the U.S. military are now speaking up, as documented by DemocracyNow.  This set of interviews by DemocracyNow was provoked by a recent article by The Nation.  Here’s how DemocracyNow describes that article, entitled “The Other War: Iraq Vets Bear Witness”:

The Nation has published a startling new expose of fifty American combat veterans of the Iraq War who give vivid on-the-record accounts of the US military occupation in Iraq and describe a brutal side of the war rarely seen on television screens or chronicled in newspaper accounts. The investigation marks the first time so many on-the-record, named eyewitnesses from within the US military have been assembled in one place to openly corroborate assertions of indiscriminate killings and other atrocities by the US military in Iraq.

Here is an excerpt from interviews conducted by Amy Goodman:

AMY GOODMAN: The number of raids you were involved with?

SGT. JOHN BRUHNS: The number of raids I was involved with, I estimate probably about a thousand. What we would do — how these raids would occur and why we would go on the raids is this: let’s say there’s a roadside bomb, an IED goes off in our sector one day, and then the next day there’s an RPG attack, and then the day after there are some sporadic gunfire at US troops. Well, a battalion commander reasonably would call a mission, and he would say, “You know, let’s go into the sector. We’ll quarantine it, and we won’t let anybody in or out. And we’ll send the infantry in, and we’ll do cordons and searches,” which are raids, “and we’ll go house to house, and we’ll look for weapons, we’ll look for bomb-making material, we’ll look for anti-US propaganda, any intelligence at all that would lead to the insurgency.”

So you go there in the middle of the night, and you want to catch them — you want to catch the Iraqis off guard. So you enter the house fast and furious. You kick down the door, and you run upstairs, and you get the man of the house and you get him out of bed, and his wife is laying next to him. It’s Baghdad, it’s July, it’s August. His wife sometimes may be exposed, because of her night garments in the middle of the night, which is humiliating for that woman and for that man and for that family. And you separate the man from his wife, and if he has children, you put his family in a room, and, you know, you put two soldiers on the door, outside the door, to make sure that his family stays in that room. And then you get — we had interpreters, so we would take interpreters with us throughout the house. And we would have the man of the house, and we would interrogate him over and over again. “Who are the insurgents? Do you know who they are? Are you with them?” And, you know, basically we would tear his house apart. We would, you know, take his bed, turn that upside-down, dump his closets, his drawers, if he had them. I mean, just anything.

And I would say eight out of ten times we never really found any intelligence at all within these homes that would lead us to believe that these people were members of the insurgency. What they were was just Iraqis in their own communities. And we came in there, and we came in uninvited. And I believe — and I don’t blame this on the US military at all. I don’t. I blame this on George Bush. But when you’re involved in a military operation like that, you enter these homes as if you’re going after the enemy, as if you’re going after bin Laden himself, when, for the most part, they’re just families living in their homes, trying to get a night’s rest before they get up and go to work in the morning, if there is work for them. And it’s just — I believe that this created a lot of resentment among the Iraqi people, causing them to join a resistance movement against US and coalition forces in Iraq.

Here another excerpt from the article published by The Nation:

Many of these veterans returned home deeply disturbed by the disparity between the reality of the war and the way it is portrayed by the US government and American media. The war the vets described is a dark and even depraved enterprise, one that bears a powerful resemblance to other misguided and brutal colonial wars and occupations, from the French occupation of Algeria to the American war in Vietnam and the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory.

“I’ll tell you the point where I really turned,” said Spc. Michael Harmon, 24, a medic from Brooklyn. He served a thirteen-month tour beginning in April 2003 with the 167th Armor Regiment, Fourth Infantry Division, in Al-Rashidiya, a small town near Baghdad. “I go out to the scene and [there was] this little, you know, pudgy little 2-year-old child with the cute little pudgy legs, and I look and she has a bullet through her leg…. An IED [improvised explosive device] went off, the gun-happy soldiers just started shooting anywhere and the baby got hit. And this baby looked at me, wasn’t crying, wasn’t anything, it just looked at me like–I know she couldn’t speak. It might sound crazy, but she was like asking me why. You know, Why do I have a bullet in my leg?… I was just like, This is–this is it. This is ridiculous.”

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Category: Civil Rights, Iraq, Politics, War

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (4)

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  1. Tim Hogan says:

    "I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that his justice cannot sleep forever." Thomas Jefferson

  2. Erich Vieth says:

    CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. — A Marine corporal testifying in a court-martial said Marines in his unit began routinely beating Iraqis after officers ordered them to "crank up the violence level." . . .

    Lopezromo said a procedure called "dead-checking" was routine. If Marines entered a house where a man was wounded, instead of checking to see whether he needed medical aid, they shot him to make sure he was dead, he testified.

    "If somebody is worth shooting once, they're worth shooting twice," he said.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/huff-wires/20070715

  3. Erich Vieth says:

    What's it like to be a soldier in Iraq? Here's a video that will give you an idea of what it's like: http://www.guardian.co.uk/video/page/0,,2125978,0…

  4. Erich Vieth says:

    Here's other stories of some of our troops acting as bad-will ambassadors: http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/law/09/04/aclu.militar

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