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Signs of the Times for Thu, 23 Mar 2006

Signs Editorial:

Kurt Nimmo
Wednesday March 22nd 2006

In late November, 1969, Time, Life and Newsweek magazines reported extensively on the My Lai massacre, the premeditated murder of 500 civilians in the Quang Ngai Province of South Vietnam. In early 1970, as a young antiwar activist, I remember how this single event more than any other contributed significantly to turning millions of fence-sitting Americans against Nixon's illegal war and subsequently swelled the ranks of the antiwar movement.

If not for investigative journalist Seymour Hersh reporting on the revelations of the soldier Ronald Ridenhour-and the willingness of the media at the time to publish the story-chances are the My Lai Massacre would slipped under the wire and never made it on the public radar screen. Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird wanted to "sweep under the rug the atrocity photographs" and National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger agreed, but since the newspapers had the photos and planned run them, Kissinger and Laird decided to blame a "low-level officer, who must have been insane" (The Kissinger Telcons, National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 123). The "low-level officer" was William Calley and on March 31, 1971, he was sentenced to life in prison. Calley served three and a half years of house arrest in his quarters at Fort Benning, Georgia.

Fast-forward nearly four decades: "The US military is investigating two incidents in which American soldiers killed at least 26 Iraqi civilians and then claimed that they were either guerrillas or had died in cross fire," writes Patrick Cockburn for the UK Independent. "The growing evidence of retaliatory killings of unarmed Iraqi families, often including children, by US soldiers seemingly bent on punishing Iraqis after an attack, will spark comparisons with the massacre of Vietnamese villagers." In fact, reports of the attack on civilians in Haditha sound disturbingly similar to the My Lai Massacre.

"According to eyewitnesses and local officials interviewed over the past 10 weeks, the civilians who died in Haditha on Nov. 19 were killed not by a roadside bomb but by the Marines … who went on a rampage in the village after [an IED attack on Kilo Company], killing 15 unarmed Iraqis in their homes, including seven women and three children. Human-rights activists say that if the accusations are true, the incident ranks as the worst case of deliberate killing of Iraqi civilians by U.S. service members since the war began," writes Tim Mcgirk for the Media Channel.

Bassem Mroue, writing for the Associated Press, describes a videotape of the aftermath of the revenge killings. "A videotape taken by an Iraqi shows the aftermath of an alleged attack by U.S. troops on civilians in their homes in a western town last November: a blood-smeared bedroom floor and bits of what appear to be human flesh and bullet holes on the walls…. The video, obtained by Time magazine and repeatedly aired by Arab televisions throughout the day, also showed bodies of women and children in plastic bags on the floor of what appeared to be a morgue. Men were seen standing in the middle of bodies, some of which were covered with blankets before being placed in a pickup truck."

Of course, there is a big difference between 26 dead Iraqi civilians and the 500 slaughtered Vietnamese peasants at My Lai. However, the incident in Iraq demonstrates the same grisly dynamic at work-once normal young men, thrown into the chaotic environment created in Iraq by the Straussian neocon dominated Pentagon, are turning into psychotic revenge killers in short order. Moreover, there are numerous incidents of U.S. soldiers killing innocent Iraqis for fun (we know this because "trophy" videos have emerged showing both soldiers and contractors engaged in the disgusting practice).

In America, few people seem to care about all of this (the above link points to a video of a soldier killing an Iraqi-down on the ground and apparently unarmed-a video taped by CNN and presumably run on the news network and thus viewed by thousands, possibly millions of Americans). If the dismal turn out at last week's antiwar demonstrations across the country means anything, it is that less and less people care about the illegal and immoral-it is a war crime to kill civilians, "trophy" or otherwise-Iraqi invasion and occupation. It appears the longer the occupation continues, the more apathetic people become, even though polls show clear majorities of people are opposed to the war.

Of course, when these boy next door psychopathic killers return home and become police officers-veterans receive preferential treatment at police departments around the country-average Americans will be alarmed and outraged when these former soldiers abuse citizens the same way they abused Iraqi civilians. Some may even wish they did something a lot sooner after their cars are shot up at the local "screening point" (as recommended by Bush's whitewash commission)-that is if they live to tell the story.

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