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  1. #1
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    2 American Officials Apologize for Crime

    Should these soldiers, if found to be guilty, be prosecuted under Iraq's laws? If we are going to "free a country" shouldn't that freedom extend to obeying their laws while we are over there?
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    2 American Officials Apologize for Crime
    By EDWARD WONG
    Published: July 7, 2006

    BAGHDAD, Iraq, July 6 The United States ambassador and the top American military commander here together issued an unusual apology on Thursday for the rape and murder of a young Iraqi woman and the killing of her family, saying that the crime, in which at least four soldiers are suspects, had injured the "Iraqi people as a whole."

    The statement came just hours after Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki said at a news conference that he might ask the American military to scrap a rule granting foreign soldiers here immunity from Iraqi prosecution. Such a move would be a direct rebuke to the Bush administration, which has fought tenaciously to ensure that American soldiers are exempt from local or international laws when serving on foreign soil.

    "I'm about to talk to the multinational forces to reach solutions that will put an end to such practices," Mr. Maliki said of criminal behavior by soldiers. One possible course of action, he said, would be to "revise the issue of immunity."

    "Our people cannot tolerate that every day there is an ugly crime such as that in Mahmudiya," he added, referring to the market town near which the four Iraqis, including a young girl, were killed on March 12.

    Mr. Maliki's assertion, which followed similar remarks he made in Kuwait on Wednesday, signaled the growing furor within the Iraqi government over the latest crime. The incident first became public last week, when the Fourth Infantry Division announced that it was investigating the involvement of American soldiers in the rape and slayings.

    The rise in political tensions came as sectarian violence continued in Iraq. A suicide car bomber rammed his sedan into a Shiite shrine in the holy town of Kufa, killing at least 12 people, including five Iranians, and injuring dozens, Iraqi officials said. Iraqi and American forces have generally maintained tight security around the southern holy sites of Najaf and Kufa, to which Shiite pilgrims, including many Iranians, flock by the thousands.

    The strongly worded apology issued Thursday night by the top American commander in Iraq, Gen. George W. Casey Jr., and Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad revealed the deep concern among American officials over the criminal episode's potential to damage the entire American project in Iraq.

    "We understand this is painful, confusing and disturbing, not only to the family who lost a loved one, but to the Iraqi people as a whole," the two senior officials said in a written statement. "The loss of a family member can never be undone. The alleged events of that day are absolutely inexcusable and unacceptable behavior."

    The statement is all the more unusual because no soldiers have been convicted yet or even formally charged. On Monday, a recently discharged Army private, Steven D. Green, 21, was arrested in North Carolina on suspicion of rape and murder. Three soldiers, some of whom are reported to have admitted their roles in the crime to investigators, are confined to base in Mahmudiya, 20 miles south of Baghdad, and their weapons have been confiscated.

    Mr. Green was moved Thursday to Louisville, Ky., where, in a half-hour hearing in which he pleaded not guilty, a federal judge ordered continued detention for him. Prosecutors said that Mr. Green, who was discharged from the Army in May before his suspected role in the case was discovered, is scheduled to be arraigned on Aug. 8 in Paducah, Ky.

    The mayor of Mahmudiya, Mouayid Fadhil, said in a telephone interview on Thursday that American military investigators wanted to dig up the victims' bodies. But Iraq's Justice Ministry must first determine whether exhumation is allowed under Koranic law, he said. The victims' relatives are also reluctant to divulge the burial site out of shame over the fact that one of the dead, a girl as young as 15, was reported to have been raped by at least two American soldiers, the mayor said.

    Sexual assault is considered one of the most heinous and shameful crimes in Muslim society; even mentioning the subject is often considered taboo. "We don't want to talk about this," Mr. Fadhil said. "She was raped."

    The debate over exhuming the bodies could complicate the military investigation. American military officials declined on Thursday to talk about specifics of the investigation, but prosecutors undoubtedly want detailed forensic evidence to build as strong a case as possible against the suspects. The victims were examined by doctors at the local hospital months ago before being buried, Mr. Fadhil said, but the Americans want to check the corpses for themselves.

    The victim in the suspected rape was Abeer Qassim Hamzeh. The others killed were her younger sister, father and mother, Mr. Fadhil said.

    The case is one of at least five in which the military is investigating or prosecuting soldiers in the killings of unarmed Iraqi civilians. Four were announced in June alone. The Mahmudiya case is the only one that involves the rape of an Iraqi, making it especially incendiary.

    In another case, in which marines are suspected of killing 24 Iraqi civilians in Haditha last November, the second-ranking American officer in Iraq, Lt. Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, has completed his review of an inquiry into whether Marine officers tried to cover up the shootings and is expected to announce his findings and recommendations in the next few days, said two military officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the findings have not been made public.

    Mr. Maliki said at the news conference on Thursday that the Iraqi government would conduct its own inquiry into the Mahmudiya crime.

    But Iraqi courts have no power to prosecute the soldiers. An order issued under the American-led Coalition Provisional Authority, which ruled Iraq after the American invasion until June 2004, said that foreign troops, missions and their consultants here are immune from Iraqi law. Orders issued by an occupational authority usually expire when the authority leaves, but the Iraqi Constitution has extended the decrees.

    Mr. Fadhil said that a committee of local officials was prepared to carry out its own criminal investigation but was awaiting orders from the national government. "Now, the subject has many dimensions," he said. "It's become an international affair."

    Complicating matters, "the family doesn't want to say where the bodies are," he added. "The family didn't involve the police when the crime took place. We found out about it only when the Americans revealed it."

    The American military began its investigation after a soldier described the crime in a counseling session in late June and said he had been involved. American soldiers were notified by Iraqis of the crime on March 12, the day it took place, military officials said. But the Iraqis who had stumbled on the bodies had speculated that other Iraqis had done the killing, since the area is a caldron of sectarian violence. So the Americans did not think of investigating then, officials said.

    A senior American commander in Mahmudiya visited Mr. Fadhil and other local officials on Thursday and "expressed sorrow for the killing of the family and the behavior of the soldiers," Mr. Fadhil said.

    He added that the local investigative committee intended to examine the victims' home. The American soldiers are accused of trying to cover up the crime by burning both the body of Ms. Hamzeh and the house. But the body was sufficiently intact for local doctors to find multiple bullet wounds, Mr. Fadhil said.

    The violence in Iraq on Thursday threatened to ignite further sectarian bloodletting. The suicide car bomb in Kufa had been following two buses carrying Iranian pilgrims and was detonated when the pilgrims disembarked, said Capt. Salem Ghanem, the assistant director of tourist security in Najaf, which adjoins Kufa. Iraqi vendors who had gathered around the pilgrims were among the victims.

    The explosion ripped into the two buses and left behind pools of blood, shredded shoes and bags with food that the pilgrims had been carrying.

    Officials in the Shiite holy cities of Najaf and Kufa are hoping that religious tourism will help strengthen the local economy.

    In Baghdad, two car bombs exploded near a high school, killing at least three people and injuring six. Gunmen in the town of Musayyib shot up a minivan, killing two girls who were just 4 and 6 years-old. Police found two bodies in the insurgent stronghold of Hawija; both the victims had been handcuffed and tortured.

    In his afternoon news conference, Mr. Maliki said that the government has decided to ban all political activity on university campuses because of rampant violence.

    He also said that a police force with thousands of members assigned to protect government buildings and other installations was filled with criminals and murderers. The declaration was an unusually blunt acknowledgment of the corruption that has plagued the Iraqi security forces. "It didn't really protect the ministries," he said of the force, called the Facilities Protection Service. "On the contrary, it turned into a partner in the killing."

    .

  2. #2
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    Re: 2 American Officials Apologize for Crime

    Should these soldiers, if found to be guilty, be prosecuted under Iraq's laws? If we are going to "free a country" shouldn't that freedom extend to obeying their laws while we are over there?
    I agree, it happened on Iraqi soil, the provisional coalition authority was only meant to serve as an interim government while the Iraq govertnment was still forming and normally when a US soldier commits a henous crime on foreign soil he/she is subject to that country's laws is in the case of the 95 rape in Okinawa by several US serviceman
    http://www.cnn.com/WORLD/9511/japan_rape/pm/
    Originally posted by Americanadian
    Palin: Omit the "i" and you're left with "Pain".

  3. #3
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    Re: 2 American Officials Apologize for Crime

    Rape? Murder? Deception? Corruption? It sounds like America more and more every day.
    MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!!

    On a serious note, these soldiers, if found guilty, should be turned over to the Iraqi Government for processing. If they are turned over to Iraq there is still a chance we will be called Liberators. If they are not turned over, then we are nothing more than Crusaders.

  4. #4
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    Re: 2 American Officials Apologize for Crime

    General Faults Marine Response to Iraq Killings

    By ERIC SCHMITT and DAVID S. CLOUD
    Published: July 8, 2006

    WASHINGTON, July 7 The second-ranking American commander in Iraq has concluded that some senior Marine officers were negligent in failing to investigate more aggressively the killings of 24 Iraqi civilians by marines in Haditha last November, two Defense Department officials said Friday.

    The officer, Lt. Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, concluded that in the deaths, including those of 10 women and children and an elderly man in a wheelchair, senior officers failed to follow up on inaccuracies and inconsistencies in the initial reporting of the incident that should have raised questions.

    General Chiarelli faulted the senior staff of the Second Marine Division, commanded at the time by Maj. Gen. Richard A. Huck, and the Second Regimental Combat Team, then headed by Col. Stephen W. Davis, and recommended unspecified disciplinary action for some officers, said the two defense officials, who have been briefed on General Chiarelli's findings. They said they would discuss the report, after being promised anonymity, because it showed that the military takes these incidents seriously and fully investigates them.

    "He concludes that some officers were derelict in their duties," said one of the officials, who declined to identify which or how many officers were singled out.

    If Marine commanders are found to have been negligent in pursuing the matter, the punishments could range from a relatively mild admonishment to a court martial that potentially could end their military careers.

    It was not clear Friday whether General Huck or Colonel Davis, or Maj. Gen. Stephen T. Johnson, the senior marine officer in Iraq at the time, would be personally implicated. But if they were to be disciplined, they would be among the most senior American officers punished since the Iraq war started in early 2003.

    An officer who served in Iraq with the Second Marine Division at the time of the killings in Haditha noted that a spate of recent cases in which American troops were being investigated for killing unarmed Iraqi civilians including the rape and murder of a young Iraqi woman and the killing of her family in Mahmudiya had raised concerns that commanders may be under pressure to make an example of Marine officers in the Haditha incident.

    "We're all waiting anxiously to see how this one gets taken on," said the officer, who requested anonymity because he is not authorized to talk about the unit or any part of the investigation. "Major General Huck is about as thorough and detailed a guy as you are ever going to see."

    In a brief statement issued from Iraq on Friday, General Chiarelli's headquarters said he had finished reviewing a lengthy investigation by Maj. Gen. Eldon A. Bargewell of the Army into the actions or absence of actions by Marine leaders in Haditha, as well as the training that marines had received and the command climate their superiors had fostered.

    But the statement gave no details of General Chiarelli's findings or recommendations, which will now be sent to his boss, Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the top commander in Iraq. A senior Pentagon official said it could be several days before Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld receives a complete briefing on the matter, and before a redacted version of General Chiarelli's findings are made public.

    In addition to General Chiarelli's review, a separate inquiry by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service is examining whether crimes were committed when a squad of marines killed the 24 Iraqi civilians after a roadside bomb killed a member of the Third Platoon of Company K, Third Battalion, First Marine Regiment, in the early morning of Nov. 19.

    In April, when the Third Battalion returned to Camp Pendleton, Calif., from Iraq, the battalion and company commanders were relieved of their commands for what their commander said was "a lack of confidence in their leadership."

    According to one of the defense officials, General Chiarelli embraced all of General Bargewell's findings and expanded upon some of them. In one instance of a missed opportunity to investigate further, the official said, General Bargewell noted that the comptroller of the Second Marine Division, who was responsible for making condolence payments to families of the Iraqis killed, told the unit's staff judge advocate that additional investigation was needed. That review never happened, and the Marines paid a total of $38,000 to families of 15 of the civilians killed.

    In his own set of conclusions, General Chiarelli recommended that American forces in Iraq receive additional counterinsurgency training both in the United States before deploying, and once in Iraq. "From your basic recruit to commanders, he's calling for a refinement of the counterinsurgency approach," said one of the defense officials.

    Since the military inquiries into the Haditha killings began, the accounts given by some marines involved and their lawyers have conflicted in important details with descriptions of what investigators have found, officials familiar with their findings have said.

    After the roadside bomb went off, marines who survived the explosion said they believed they were under sustained attack and that they were entitled under their rules of engagement to use lethal force as they searched surrounding houses for those who they believed were responsible for the bombing.

    But investigators and townspeople told reporters that the marines overreacted to a fatal roadside bombing and shot the civilians, only one of whom was armed, in cold blood. The 24 Iraqis killed included five men in a taxi and 19 other civilians in several houses, which marines and their lawyers say they cleared using grenades and blind fire.

    But investigators have also concluded that most of the victims in three houses died from well-aimed rifle shots, not shrapnel or random fire, according to military officials familiar with the initial findings. The houses where the killings took place show no evidence of the violent room-clearing assault described by the marines and their lawyers, the officials said.

    General Bargewell was assigned by General Chiarelli to look at how commanders responded to the incident, including whether there was any attempt at covering up what happened or whether discrepancies in accounts of the incident should have been investigated.

    Marine commanders in Iraq have said that they became aware within two days of the killings that civilians had died from gunfire, not from the bomb explosion. They told investigators that they did not view the discrepancies in accounts of what happened as unusual in the aftermath of combat and that they had no reason to think at the time that any civilians had been killed deliberately.

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  5. #5
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    Re: 2 American Officials Apologize for Crime

    she was only a teen-ager, she was only 15 years old, not a woman yet, just a teen-ager!

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