Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Topsy turvy world

It was a day like any other in the American south in the American colonies. Except encamped around a fortified position were American and French forces. Inside were British troops under the command of General Cornwallis. Off shore stood the ships of the French Navy. As Cornwallis’ second came out to discuss the terms of surrender, a British drummer beat on his drum the tune ‘World turned upside down.’

That is how I feel as I read the reports emerging from Fallujah. That the world is truly upside down.

A Marine has been pulled off the line to be investigated if he violated the rules. Why has he been pulled? The allegation is he committed a violation of the law of armed conflict. Namely do not summarily kill a wounded combatant.
Mr. Sites video footage, as shown on Reuters, lets people in the comfort and safety of their computer room to see the events unfold. When the earlier version of the video was aired, the actual shot sequence was blacked out which let the mind of the viewer play all kinds of horrible games of ‘it must have been horrible if they blacked it out.’ The un-censored version still does not answer all the questions.

We see initially an M-1 tank parked. Some combat sounds are heard. Then we see three Marines with Sites following yelling if anyone is still in the building. Then the scene changes to an inside shot of what turns out to be a mosque. All the viewer sees as the Marine screams that the man in question is faking it and is still alive is a in the distance view since Sites’s camera is focused on an older man who is also still breathing at the time this happens. What is seen after the shot is the Marine commenting he is dead now, red spray on the wall behind the dead man, and then something unusual happens. A wounded man laid out beside a support pillar right near the Marine who shot starts to make noise and show himself. The Marines hastily back up to cover the suddenly alive man. The Marines hold their fire as the man gets out from under the covers while trying to talk to the Marines in a normal tone of voice, did not hear him screaming as he talked. Next the video cuts to a Marine Corps General who says the matter is under investigation and the Marine in question has been pulled from the combat area.

Where is the war crime? The video is not conclusive unless there is close up footage Sites shot of the dead man which shows perhaps the man clutching a grenade and before he could pull the pin for Allah and 72 virgins the Marine popped him. Or the man could have been unarmed We just do not know and we have the luxury of replaying that scene over and over again. Unlike that Marine, after being shot the day before and now back with his buddies is storming a building, who had seconds to decide whether the man was harmless or a killer. And if he was truly someone who stepped over the line, then why did the Marine allow the other wounded man live? Let the Marine Corps investigate the matter. Not the Monday morning quarterbacks who are safely tucked away in their news studios who perhaps have a political agenda to carry out.

As of right now this footage is another Tet image. It is being played every half hour on Al-Jazeera TV. And because of the immediacy of this footage, just like the Tet picture; when the truth does come out no one will notice or they will say it is a cover up. Meanwhile news coverage of the blonde woman found last week in Fallujah with her face disfigured, throat slit, and arms&legs hacked off has caused barely a ripple in big media. We shall see if the snuff video of Mrs. Hassan, a native of Britain who married an Iraqi years ago, will cause any sensation either. Until such barbarous acts do cause an outcry amongst people then truly the world is upside down.

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