Don't tell me: they must ALL be lying right?
FIFTY US veterans describe atrocities against Iraqis
1:05PM Thursday July 12, 2007
By Leonard Doyle
WASHINGTON - It is an axiom of American political life that the actions of the US military are beyond criticism.
Democrats and Republicans praise the men and women in uniform at every turn.
Aside the odd bad apple in Abu Ghraib, the US military in Iraq is deemed to be doing a heroic job under trying circumstances.
That perception has taken a severe knock today with the publication in The Nation magazine of a series of in-depth interviews with fifty combat veterans of the Iraq war from across the United States.
In thousands of pages of typewritten interviews, veterans described in stark detail the everyday acts of violence in which US forces have abused or killed Iraqi men, women and children with impunity.
The report steers clear of widely reported atrocities - such as the massacre in Haditha in 2005 - but instead unearths instead a pattern of human rights abuses through the testimony of veterans of the war in Iraq.
"It's not individual atrocity," said Specialist Garett Reppenhagen, a sniper from the 263rd Armor Battalion, "It's the fact that the entire war is an atrocity."
A number have themselves returned home bearing mental and physical scars from fighting a war in an environment in which the insurgents are supported by the population.
Many war veterans interviewed have come to actively oppose the US military presence in Iraq, joining the groundswell of public opinion across the United States that views the war as futile.
This view is being echoed in Washington where increasing numbers of Democrats and Republicans are now openly calling for an early withdrawal from Iraq.
And the Iraqi quagmire has pushed President George W. Bush's poll ratings to an all-time low.
Journalists and human rights groups have published numerous reports, drawing attention to the killing of Iraqi civilians by US forces.
The Nation's investigation has for the first time presented named military witnesses who openly back those assertions - some participated themselves.
Through a combination of gung-ho recklessness and criminal behaviour born of panic, a narrative emerges of an army that frequently commits acts of cold-blooded violence, with innocent civilians often bearing the brunt.
A number of interviewees revealed that the military frequently attempts to frame innocent bystanders as insurgents, often after panicked American troops have fired into groups of unarmed Iraqis.
The war veterans also provided disturbing evidence that the troops involved would round up any survivors and accuse them of being in the resistance while planting Kalashnikov AK47 rifled beside corpses to make it appear like they had died in combat.
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