by John Hawkins | November 16, 2004 9:40 pm
A lot of people, particularly on the left, have been ripping the marines over this story. Me? I think the marine did the right thing. Here are the details…
“The incident played out as the Marines 3rd Battalion, 1st Regiment, came to the unidentified Fallujah mosque Saturday. Sites was embedded with the unit.
A day earlier, a different Marine unit came under fire from the same mosque. Those Marines stormed the building, killing 10 men and wounding five, Sites said. The Marines said the fighters in the mosque Friday were armed with rocket-propelled grenades and AK-47 rifles. The Marines treated the wounded, he reported, left them behind and continued on Friday with their drive to retake Fallujah.
The same five wounded men were still in the mosque on Saturday, when a another Marine unit – accompanied by Sites – came to the mosque, Sites said.
On the video, as the camera moved into the mosque Saturday, a Marine can be heard shouting obscenities in the background, yelling that one of the men was only pretending to be dead.
“He’s (expletive) faking he’s dead!”
“Yeah, he’s breathing,” another Marine is heard saying.
“He’s faking he’s (expletive) dead!” the first Marine says.
The video then showed a Marine raising his rifle toward an Iraqi lying on the floor of the mosque. The video shown by NBC and provided to the network pool was blacked out at that point and did not show the bullet hitting the man. But a rifle shot could be heard.
“He’s dead now,” a Marine is heard saying.
The blacked out portion of the videotape, provided later to Associated Press Television News and other members of the network pool, showed the bullet striking the first man in the upper body, possibly the head. His blood splatters on the wall behind him and his body goes limp.
It is unclear from the footage whether the body was moving before the shot. The only movement that can be seen is the body flinching at the impact of the bullets. Sites’ report said the slain man didn’t appear to be armed or threatening in any way, and there were no arms visible in the room.
The camera then shows two Americans pointing weapons at another man lying motionless. But one of the Marines steps back as the man stretches out his hand, motioning that he is alive. The Marines did not open fire on the man.
Sites reported that a Marine in the same unit had been killed a day earlier when he tended to the booby-trapped dead body of an insurgent.
NBC reported that the Marine seen shooting the wounded combatant had himself been shot in the face the day before, but quickly returned to duty.”
So let’s look at what we have here. These marines, who have been in combat, who have just had someone in their unit killed by a booby trapped body, walk into what they believe is a mosque occupied by hostile insurgents. They don’t encounter hostile fire, but they do run across wounded insurgents. These men are not bound or restrained in any way, the marines have no way of knowing whether they have weapons, and for whatever reason, somebody obviously believed one of the insurgents was faking being dead, which of course could likely mean he was trying to lure the marines in for an attack.
Given the situation, was the marine right to kill the guy? Absolutely. This isn’t an episode of “Cops.” It’s a war and if you’re not sure of the enemy’s intentions, you don’t give him the benefit of the doubt, you kill him.
Do I feel bad for the guy who was killed? Honestly, no, I don’t. These insurgents/terrorists are murderous thugs who follow no rules of warfare, deliberately murder civilians, and offer no mercy or quarter to our men if they’re captured. In fact, had the “insurgents” taken our men prisoner, we’d probably be watching them get their heads sawed off on video right now. So my sympathy level for any “insurgents” who get killed, under any circumstances, is pretty much zero.
Now that doesn’t mean that I support torturing or murdering Iraqi prisoners that we’ve already secured. We’re Americans — that’s not the way we operate — which is why the soldiers who got out of hand at Abu Ghraib are being prosecuted for what they did. But in a combat situation like this, I think our soldiers should be given a lot of latitude, particularly since they’re fighting the sort of savages who booby trap their corpses and have shown a propensity to blow themselves up if they can take our guys with them.
As far as I’m concerned, the life of one marine is worth more than the life of every “insurgent” in Iraq, so if there’s any doubt about whether to kill one of them or not, better safe than sorry.
*** Update #1 ***: By the way, I’m seeing a lot of misplaced hostility towards Kevin Sites, the guy who filmed and reported what happened, around the right side of the blogosphere.
But, Kevin Sites is not the bad guy here, he did nothing wrong. His job is to shoot footage and report what he sees. He did so. He’s not responsible for how people spin what he says and I haven’t seen any unfair quips from him either.
My view is that if the military doesn’t want this sort of thing to get out to the MSM, they shouldn’t allow people like Sites to go out with the units. And if they do allow journalists to go out on combat patrols, then nobody should complain when they do their jobs and report what they think are newsworthy events. That’s what reporters are SUPPOSED TO DO.
Like the old saying goes, you should never be surprised when a snake acts like a snake. Likewise, you should not be surprised when a reporter reports the news…
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