View Full Version : Fallujah: wounded man made no sudden movements...

11-22-2004, 08:14 AM
NBC journalist who filmed Marine shooting of wounded Iraqi says injured man made no movements

EDWARD HARRIS, Associated Press Writer

Monday, November 22, 2004

The NBC correspondent who filmed the fatal shooting of an apparently injured and unarmed Iraqi by a U.S. Marine inside a Fallujah mosque has written on his Web site that the wounded man made no sudden movements before he was shot.

Before the opening of the Nov. 8 assault on the rebel-held city, Marine commanders told infantrymen that the rules of engagement allowed for use of deadly force against men of military age deemed holding hostile intent, even if the enemy didn't fire on the Marines first.

In a posting on his Web blog dated Sunday, Kevin Sites, a freelancer on assignment for NBC, wrote that he didn't see the wounded Iraqi make any movement before the Marine shot him -- but that only the Marine can explain his mental state before the shooting.

"Through my viewfinder I can see him (Marine) raise the muzzle of his rifle in the direction of the wounded Iraqi. There are no sudden movements, no reaching or lunging," Sites writes.

"However, the Marine could legitimately believe the man poses some kind of danger. Maybe he's going to cover him while another Marine searches for weapons. Instead, he pulls the trigger. There is a small splatter against the back wall and the man's leg slumps down," Sites writes.

"'Well he's dead now,"' says another Marine in the background.

"I was not watching from a hundred feet away. I was in the same room," Sites writes. "Aside from breathing, I did not observe any movement at all."

"I can't know what was in the mind of that Marine," the posting reads. "He is the only one who does."

The U.S. military is investigating the Nov. 13 incident by a member of the 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Division, footage of which has been broadcast worldwide, inflaming anti-American passions in the Arab world and among Iraq's Sunni minority.

Military investigators also are looking into whether more than one wounded insurgent was shot in the mosque. Two other men visible on the NBC video appear to be suffering from what the network described in a broadcast as fresh and fatal gunshot wounds.

The shooting occurred when a Marine unit entered the mosque and found five men wounded in fighting at the site the day before, when another Marine unit clashed with gunmen apparently using the mosque to fire from, according to Sites' broadcast.

In the video, as the cameraman moved into the mosque, a Marine can be heard shouting obscenities in the background, yelling that one of the men was only pretending to be dead. The Marine then raises his rifle toward an Iraqi lying on the floor of the mosque and shoots the man.

Two other men are seen slumped by a wall. Sites' account said the men, who were hurt in the previous day's attack, had been shot again by the Marines.

Earlier in the footage, as the Marine unit that Sites was accompanying approached the mosque, gunfire can be heard from inside.

Sites writes in his Web diary that the Marine, angry moments before firing, quickly became apologetic when he realized the incident had been caught on camera.

"The Marine who fired the shot became aware that I was in the room. He came up to me and said, 'I didn't know sir -- I didn't know.' The anger that seemed present just moments before turned to fear and dread."

Sites -- a well-built, goateed man who jogged around U.S. military bases near Fallujah that frequently come under mortar and rocket attack -- wrote that perceptions of him as an agitator for peace are incorrect.

"This week I've even been shocked to see myself painted as some kind of anti-war activist. Anyone who has seen my reporting on television or has read the dispatches on this Web site is fully aware of the lengths I've gone to play it straight down the middle -- not to become a tool of propaganda for the left or the right."

Sites wrote that he considered destroying tape of the incident, rather than sharing it with the pool that shared footage among networks covering the fight in Fallujah.

"I considered not feeding the tape to the pool -- or even, for a moment, destroying it. But that thought created the same pit in my stomach that witnessing the shooting had ... I would be faced with the fact that I had betrayed truth as well as a life supposedly spent in pursuit of it."

Link (http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/news/a/2004/11/22/international0431EST0427.DTL)

11-22-2004, 08:18 AM
A Shot Seen Round The World

A Marine fires on a wounded man in a Fallujah mosque, and the world asks: Was it a war crime?


Monday, Nov. 29, 2004
Rules of engagement. That's code for what U.S. soldiers are allowed to do on the battlefield, and it's never simple. So when troops prepped for the invasion of Fallujah, a city filled with rebels without uniforms, their commanders warned them they could shoot only armed men. But the brass also told them they could shoot first and ask questions later. Maddeningly, both orders made sense, depending, as the worn caveat goes, on the circumstances.

On Nov. 13, a freelance photojournalist working for NBC videotaped a Marine shooting first, apparently killing a wounded Iraqi lying on the floor of a Fallujah mosque. Three days later, the footage aired around the world and the damage was done.

At the Pentagon, military officials say the video lacks enough context to draw any firm conclusion about whether the Marine had legitimately defended himself or committed a war crime. But several officers interviewed by TIME concede that the images look bad and could indeed lead to a court-martial. In the battle for Fallujah, during which 51 Americans, 8 Iraqi allies and an estimated 1,200 insurgents have been killed, it was a propaganda coup for the other side. "I'm upset if this Marine murdered in cold blood," says Bernard Trainor, a retired Marine three-star general who faced combat in Korea and Vietnam. "But I also feel a great deal of sympathy for him." In the streets of Iraq, the verdict is already clear. "Shame on America," says Laila Hamid, a Fallujah-born Baghdad secretary. "All their lectures on democracy and human rights ... and then they show us what is really in their hearts."

Aside from the public-opinion debacle, questions still outnumber answers when it comes to the circumstances of the shooting. The bare facts are these: a unit of the 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment went to the mosque with cameraman Kevin Sites in tow. The mosque had been taken the day before by other Marines, but Sites' unit had heard that insurgents had reoccupied it. As the Marines approached, shots rang out, but they could not tell if the shots had come from the mosque. The widely aired footage shows the Marines entering the mosque, their strides confident but their voices clenched with anxiety. Inside, they see five wounded Iraqis lying on the floor. One voice says that these are the same men wounded the day before. Suddenly a Marine gestures toward one of the Iraqis and yells, "He's f____ing faking he's dead!" Another Marine responds, "Yeah, he's breathing." The injured Iraqi did not appear to be armed or threatening in any way, Sites reported later. "In fact there were no weapons visible in the room, except those carried by the Marines." But without pause, a Marine in the camera's eye raises his rifle and shoots the Iraqi in the upper body, splattering his blood against the wall. "He's dead now," a Marine says.

Afterward, off camera, Sites informed the Marine he had killed a wounded prisoner. The Marine replied, according to Sites: "I didn't know, sir. I didn't know." Sites reported that three other injured Iraqis may also have been shot in the mosque that day. The corpses of four Iraqis have been shipped to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware for autopsies, and the Marine shooter in the video, who has not been identified, has been removed from the battlefield. Marines in Fallujah have launched an investigation into the shooting.

Sites, the civilian who knows the most about what happened that day, has said little since his initial reports aired on NBC. A network spokeswoman says he expects to be deposed. But three days before the shooting, Sites, 42, an experienced war correspondent, had posted a telling dispatch on his weblog. "The Marines are operating with liberal rules of engagement," he wrote. As the unit entered Fallujah, a staff sergeant announced that "everything to the West is weapons free." That meant, Sites explained, the Marines could "shoot whatever they see." Many of the Americans were grieving and exhausted, he wrote. "Almost to a man, the Marines I'm embedded with have all lost friends in this protracted war of attrition. They are eager 'to get some,' to pay [the enemy] back for the car bombs and improvised explosive devices that have killed or maimed so many of their brother 'Devil Dogs.'"

Some officials point to other potentially mitigating circumstances. The Marine who shot the Iraqi had been wounded the day before. There were stories circulating of fellow Marines being killed by booby-trapped Iraqi bodies. "These are insane conditions," says Eugene Fidell, president of the National Institute of Military Justice and a partner in a Washington law firm that defends soldiers who get in trouble. "Everything you thought was off the chart in terms of enemy behavior is turning out to be possible. Who could think of anything so ghoulish as booby-trapped bodies?"

But booby-trapped bodies are hardly new. U.S. soldiers encountered them in Korea, Vietnam, the first Gulf War and Afghanistan. The strain of this war may be unimaginable to civilians Stateside, but it is nevertheless what the troops are trained to manage. And they know that under the Pentagon's Uniform Code of Military Justice and the Geneva convention, a soldier who shoots an unarmed, wounded combatant can be found guilty of murder.

This case is not the only shooting in Iraq under U.S. investigation. Several soldiers have been charged in connection with the death of an injured teenager in Baghdad last August. An Army captain is accused of murder for finishing off the wounded driver of an aide to militant leader Muqtada al-Sadr. One of his men has called it a mercy killing.

In interviews with some 20 Iraqis last week in Baghdad, not one gave the Marine in the mosque the benefit of the doubt. "I can only imagine how many other Fallujans were killed like that," said Jassim Abu Hamid, a schoolteacher. The outrage will probably grow once residents return en masse to Fallujah, a deeply conservative place known as the City of Mosques. Dozens of mosques have been hit by heavy fire, and some were obliterated. Journalists embedded with U.S. forces said some soldiers had urinated and defecated in mosque rooms where worshippers ritually cleanse themselves.

In Arab countries last week, the furor over the NBC video drowned out news of the atrocious execution of Margaret Hassan, the director of CARE International in Iraq and the wife of an Iraqi. Al-Jazeera, the most-watched news network in the region, received a tape of Hassan's killing but declined to air it to protect the sensitivities of viewers and of hostages' families, according to spokesman Jihad Ballout. Al-Jazeera has shown parts of other executions before, censoring the gore. The network did air the unedited Marine shooting repeatedly. U.S. channels blacked out the actual killing.

Meanwhile, on U.S. blogs, while many have expressed a complicated compassion for the Marine and the insurgent, some have posted death threats against Sites, accusing him of betraying the Marines by sharing the footage. The accusation stands in vivid contrast to Sites' blog, which shows his clear affection for the troops. He had posted poignant portraits of Marines, and their relatives had thanked him in a message board linked to the site. "Mr. Sites, my son sent me your site so I could see what he is going through," wrote a mother the day before the footage aired. "Thank you for your courage and for being our eyes to what is happening." Last week, that message board was shut down.

Link (http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1101041129-785341,00.html)

11-22-2004, 11:55 AM
Before you condemn this young man, consider this: he's fighting a war,where the enemy is "unknown"...he was shot in the face, the day before. when he entered that room he was probably, angry, afraid, jittery...Back here in the civilized USA...there are many "justifiable shootings"each year, by our police, against unarmed, non-violent unfortunates.
If that was me, I'd have shot up the whole room, including the photographer.....
"I thought the camera flash was gunfire"
IT"S *****'ng WAR

Cueless Joey
11-22-2004, 12:24 PM
I bet this will get more air time on Arab tv than the beheading of innocent people.

11-22-2004, 02:47 PM
Of course it will, Joey. It already said how "outraged the Arab world is" after viewing the shooting. Oh, but nobody says anything about the SHOOTING AND DISMEMBERMENT of a LADY THAT WAS LOVED BY ALMOST ALL IRAQIS. Nobody expresses any outrage about all the other BEHEADINGS, but of course only SHOOTINGS IN THE HEAT OF BATTLE BY AMERICAN SOLDIERS. How stupid is that? All I ever see coming from the "arab world", the ones who get angry at Americans but say nothing about fellow arabs committing heinous crimes, is HYPOCRISY. Al Jazeera should be nuked. That station is responsible for alot of hate in the arab world against the west.

11-22-2004, 09:36 PM
I have to say I would be very hesitant to check the man out in a similar situation. As you say, this is war, and the combatants don't exactly play fair. If you go over to check the injured enemy, you don't know if he will explode a booby trap to kill you too. They have shown many times that they are quite capable if such behavior. Maybe the marine, should have watched from a safe distance, and let the cameraman check the enemy. I'm not sure it is necessary or desirable to have so many tv cameras entrenched in war zones. These people don't have to be there, and most are paid very well for capturing sensational images. If the man had been booby trapped and killed several marines, the cameraman would still get his prize this way as well. I don't need to see these things, and unless the cameramen are actual combatants they don't need to be there. JMHO

11-22-2004, 09:48 PM
The Media is making this 'Nam all over again.

The North Vietnamese didn't beat us on the battlefield; they beat us on the streets of American.
The "reporters" need to get the F**K out of the way, and let the Soldiers do their job.



11-22-2004, 10:25 PM
I'll second the motion!!

Cueless Joey
11-22-2004, 11:36 PM
One "friendly" fire might get them outta there. /ccboard/images/graemlins/grin.gif

11-22-2004, 11:40 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Cueless Joey:</font><hr> One "friendly" fire might get them outta there. /ccboard/images/graemlins/grin.gif <hr /></blockquote>

OH $#IT man... are you serious??? That was a camera??? It sure as hell looked like a Rocket launcher from here??? Oh well... /ccboard/images/graemlins/ooo.gif /ccboard/images/graemlins/laugh.gif /ccboard/images/graemlins/wink.gif /ccboard/images/graemlins/grin.gif /ccboard/images/graemlins/cool.gif

11-23-2004, 10:08 AM
If that was me, I'd have shot up the whole room, <hr /></blockquote>

I bet this will get more air time on Arab tv than the beheading of innocent people...
Of course it will, Joey. It already said how "outraged the Arab world is" after viewing the shooting.
<hr /></blockquote>

I have to say I would be very hesitant to check the man out in a similar situation. As you say, this is war, and the combatants don't exactly play fair. <hr /></blockquote>

The Media is making this 'Nam all over again.

The North Vietnamese didn't beat us on the battlefield; they beat us on the streets of American.
The "reporters" need to get the F**K out of the way, and let the Soldiers do their job.
<hr /></blockquote>

One "friendly" fire might get them outta there. <hr /></blockquote>

Can't help wondering how we all might feel if things had been the other way around?

Imagine for a moment how Americans would have reacted if it had been an Iraqi insurgent/terrorist caught on film in the act of shooting to death a wounded, immobile, un-armed, and un-resisting American soldier?



11-23-2004, 10:37 AM
I would like to point out that these are not soldiers, they are terrorists. Many vow to fight to the death. They don't represent a government or recognized legititmate leader. They don't wear uniforms. They don't adhere to any rules of combat, even though they would like for us to. The answer is not as black and white as some may think.

11-23-2004, 11:16 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote SnakebyteXX:</font><hr>
Can't help wondering how we all might feel if things had been the other way around?

<hr /></blockquote>

Can't help wondering how you would have felt if you were that Marine.