Inside look at collateral damage

December 15, 2011 | By | Reply More

Many of us have wondered what really happened to the Iraqi civilians in the town of Haditha.Look what was accidentally left behind in Iraq, as reported by the New York Times: Interview transcripts describing the conduct of American soldiers serving in Iraq.

One question these interrogation transcripts raise is why these sorts of documents should have ever be considered classified. Their disclosure illustrates the abject immorality of the Iraq occupation, rather than revealing any particular strategy or tactics. Thus, it would appear that they were kept secret in order to help pretend that the United States does not do the sorts of horrific things that it does. Until their recent disclosure, the secrecy allowed us to maintain that the United States is the “greatest country in the world” regardless of the facts.

But the accounts are just as striking for what they reveal about the extraordinary strains on the soldiers who were assigned here, their frustrations and their frequently painful encounters with a population they did not understand. In their own words, the report documents the dehumanizing nature of this war, where Marines came to view 20 dead civilians as not “remarkable,” but as routine. Iraqi civilians were being killed all the time. Maj. Gen. Steve Johnson, the commander of American forces in Anbar, in his own testimony, described it as “a cost of doing business.”

Why aren’t similar records being maintained and disclosed to the public?

[Maj. Gen. Thomas Richardson]said that over the course of several weeks he had burned dozens and dozens of binders, turning more untold stories about the war into ash.

“What can we do with them?” the attendant said. “These things are worthless to us, but we understand they are important and it is better to burn them to protect the Americans. If they are leaving, it must mean their work here is done.”

In your name and my name they carried on this war under false pretenses. In your name and my name they keep atrocities secret.



Category: Iraq, Military, Secrecy, 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.

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