U.S. troops conduct a night raid on a family home in Baquba, Iraq in 2007.
(photo: Goran Tomasevic/Reuters)
"Just before the 11 PM closing time on May 24, 2000, two armed robbers walked into a Wendy's fast-food restaurant in Queens, New York. They forced seven workers into a walk-in refrigerator, bound, and gagged them, and shot each one in the head."
Sound horrific? Unimaginable? It came to be known as "The Wendy's Massacre." The public outcry was as swift as it was unyielding: "Justice for the victims!"
The release this week by McClatchy Newspapers of a secret U.S. diplomatic cable detailing the killing by U.S. forces of 10 Iraqi civilians -- in their homes, in the dark of night -- is hauntingly reminiscent of the Wendy's massacre.
Philip Alston, the U.N.'s Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, wrote in a memo dated April 6, 2006, (12 days after the killings):
"The MNF (American) troops entered the house, handcuffed all residents and executed all of them. After the initial MNF intervention, a US air raid ensued that destroyed the house."
Yes, there was a man of military age in the house, Faiz Hratt Khalaf, a local farmer, age 28, and shots were reportedly fired from the home at the U.S. American troops as they approached, but what follows is a mindless act of brutality carried out in a methodical manner normally associated with the worst mass killings in the annals of U.S. domestic crime.
Not only is everyone in the home bound at gunpoint, but each of the residents and guests is then shot in the head execution-style. And as if that weren't enough, a U.S. airstrike is conducted on the house to hide the evidence of the crime.
But it gets worse when you look at the identities of the victims. Besides Faiz Hratt Khalaf, the others in the home included: his wife Sumay'ya Abdul Razzaq Khuther (aged 24), their three children Hawra'a (aged 5), Aisha (aged 3) and Husam (5 months old), Faiz's mother Ms. Turkiya Majeed Ali (aged 74), Faiz's sister (name unknown), Faiz's nieces Asma'a Yousif Ma'arouf (aged 5 years old), and Usama Yousif Ma'arouf (aged 3 years old), and a visiting relative Ms. Iqtisad Hameed Mehdi (aged 23).
How do you bind the hands of a 5 month old child, no less fire a bullet into his or her head?
No, this is not what all American military personnel do. Many do not; would not. But that it can happen at all taints indelibly and irrevocably not only every American soldier, but every American. I was there. You were there. We were there. I am, you are, we are guilty, too.
There must be full disclosure by the Department of Defense. All of the troops involved, along with their commanders, must be subject to legal prosecution, including whoever approved the subsequent airstrike on the home, and anyone who had knowledge of the killings but did not report them.
There must be an immediate full congressional investigation into the incident, and appropriate action taken.
Right the ship. Do it now.
Additionally, it bears noting that none of this ever comes to light without the courage of Pfc. Bradley Manning, Julian Assange and the WikiLeaks organization. They are vindicated and their actions justified, once and for all.