Winter Soldier Testimony of atrocities committed by US soldiers in Iraq

Dahr Jamail has written about some of the testimonies of the soldiers in the Winter Soldier event recently held.  The stories told paint a brutal picture of a murderous occupation where rules of engagement are blurred and authority is abused to the max.  Here are a few excerpts:

One particular incident stands out in Hicks’s mind. “There was a tall apartment complex, the only spot from where people could see over our perimeter,” he recalls. “There would be laundry hanging off the balconies, and people hanging out on the roof for fresh air. The place was full of kids and families. On rare occasions, a fighter would get atop the building and shoot at our passing vehicles. They never really hit anybody. We just knew to be careful when we were over by that part of the wall, and nobody did shit about it until one day a lieutenant colonel was driving down and they shot at his vehicle and he got scared. So he jumped through a bunch of hoops and cut through some red tape and got a C-130 to come out the next night and all but leveled the place. Earlier that evening when I was returning from a patrol the apartment had been packed full of people.”

The language barrier also contributed to the abuse, Hicks says. “We didn’t have interpreters half the time when I was there,” he says. “We couldn’t communicate. They are not doing what you need them to do, so you freak out and beat the crap out of people all the time over there. It happened so much it’s not even worthy of note. People are just constantly getting their asses kicked over there, for no reason.”

Living under daily threat took a psychological toll. “Insane driving was even more common than beating people’s asses: 99 percent of the time you drive around in Iraq, and 99 percent of the way you get killed in Iraq is driving your vehicle into something that blows up,” Hicks says. “So you’re driving, scared to death, pissed off, you have a vehicle commander who’s looking at a map, yelling at a radio, being an asshole, and criticizing everything you do. He’s freaked out because he doesn’t want you to do anything stupid, and you don’t want to do anything stupid. Our tanks weigh seventy tons, our Humvees six tons, and we drove as fast as we possibly could.”

The temptation to misuse their powerful vehicles sometimes got the better of the soldiers. Iraqis “have these stands where they sell kebabs, motor oil, gas, and stuff, and one time we just got off the road and plowed through a whole row of these things,” he says. “We would just cruise through, make everybody run away. We would run over empty cars. I remember one time I saw a really shiny Mercedes. I asked my tank commander, ‘Sir, can I crush that car?’ He didn’t say yes, but he said, ‘I didn’t see anything.’ So I ran over the car.” Moon tells me of a soldier in his tent who used to boast of swerving intentionally to hit the kids that rushed to pick up the food tossed by patrol members and to run over the food so the kids couldn’t get it.“It was a game,” Moon said. “When the soldier who had thrown the food asked him why he had done it he said, ‘Yeah, I want to hit one of them. I want to kill one of those kids.’ ”

Moon brought back a video that shows his sergeant declaring, “The difference between an insurgent and an Iraqi civilian is whether they are dead or alive.”Moon explains the thinking: “If you kill a civilian he becomes an insurgent because you retroactively make that person a threat.”

See the entire article here:

http://dahrjamailiraq.com/hard_news/archives/iraq/000767.php#more

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