Monday, May 31, 2004

Abuse of civilians by occupying forces -- same old, same old

The New York Times > International > Middle East > Military: Army Is Investigating Reports of Assaults and Thefts by G.I.'s Against Iraqi Civilians
WASHINGTON, May 30 — The Army is investigating at least two dozen cases in which American soldiers are accused of assaulting civilian Iraqis or stealing their money, jewelry and other property during raids, patrols and house-to-house searches, senior Defense Department officials said Sunday.

In some instances, investigators say, soldiers were reported to have stolen cash from Iraqis they stopped at roadside checkpoints, apparently under the pretext of confiscating money from suspected insurgents or their financial backers.

The Army's Criminal Investigation Command is also examining at least six cases in which soldiers on missions reportedly kicked, punched or beat civilian Iraqis, or fired their weapons near the Iraqis to scare or intimidate them.

Those statistics and broad descriptions are included in an internal summary prepared earlier this month by the investigation command at the request of senior Army officials who are struggling to understand the scope of mistreatment and potential crimes committed by American soldiers in Iraq beyond the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison and other Army-run detention sites.

... The Army has acknowledged it is investigating 37 deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan involving prisoners in American custody. Other confidential Army documents have chronicled a widespread pattern of abuse involving prisoners in American custody in Iraq and Afghanistan that implicates more military units than previously known.

I read of this last year, during a time when Iraqi's were blogging pretty actively. It sounded like theft of liquor, household goods, money, etc was pretty common. Sometimes there was internal conflict; some officers and soldiers forced others to return stolen goods.

I suspect by historical standards our forces aren't doing badly, but the standards of occupying forces are pretty low. If we'd had enough forces in place, with appropriate force protection, rest, supply and troop rotation, I think we'd have done a lot better.

No comments: