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US Soldiers Told to Kill Iraqi Detainees

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    Sergeant Tells of Plot to Kill Iraqi Detainees ROBERT F. WORTH New York Times July 28, 2006 http://www.uruknet.info/?p=25171 - For more than a month after the
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 31, 2006
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      Sergeant Tells of Plot to Kill Iraqi Detainees
      ROBERT F. WORTH
      New York Times
      July 28, 2006
      http://www.uruknet.info/?p=25171


      - For more than a month after the killings, Sgt. Lemuel Lemus stuck to
      his story.

      "Proper escalation of force was used," he told an investigator,
      describing how members of his unit shot and killed three Iraqi
      prisoners who had lashed out at their captors and tried to escape
      after a raid northwest of Baghdad on May 9.

      Then, on June 15, Sergeant Lemus offered a new and much darker account.

      In a lengthy sworn statement, he said he had witnessed a deliberate
      plot by his fellow soldiers to kill the three handcuffed Iraqis and a
      cover-up in which one soldier cut another to bolster their story. The
      squad leader threatened to kill anyone who talked. Later, one
      guilt-stricken soldier complained of nightmares and "couldn't stop
      talking" about what happened, Sergeant Lemus said.

      As with similar cases being investigated in Iraq, Sergeant Lemus's
      narrative has raised questions about the rules under which American
      troops operate and the possible culpability of commanders. Four
      soldiers have been charged with premeditated murder in the case.
      Lawyers for two of them, who dispute Sergeant Lemus's account, say the
      soldiers were given an order by a decorated colonel on the day in
      question to "kill all military-age men" they encountered.

      Many questions remain about the case, which is scheduled for an
      Article 32 hearing on Tuesday in Iraq. But whatever the truth about
      that day, Sergeant Lemus's sworn statement — which was obtained by The
      New York Times — provides an extraordinary window into the pressures
      American soldiers face in Iraq, where wartime chaos and the imperative
      of loyalty often complicate questions of right and wrong.

      When investigators asked why he did not try to stop the other soldiers
      from carrying out the killings, Sergeant Lemus — who has not been
      charged in the case — said simply that he was afraid of being called a
      coward. He stayed quiet, he said, because of "peer pressure, and I
      have to be loyal to the squad."

      The mission that led to the killings started at dawn on May 9, when
      soldiers with the Third Brigade Combat Team of the 101st Airborne
      Division landed in a remote area near a former chemical plant not far
      from Samarra, according to legal documents and lawyers for the accused
      soldiers. It was the site of a suspected insurgent training camp and
      was considered extremely dangerous.

      Just before leaving, the soldiers had been given an order to "kill all
      military-age men" at the site by a colonel and a captain, said Paul
      Bergrin and Michael Waddington, the lawyers who are disputing Sergeant
      Lemus's account. Military officials in Baghdad have declined to
      comment on whether such an order, which would have been a violation of
      the law of war, might have been given.

      The colonel, Michael Steele, is the brigade commander. He led the 1993
      mission in Somalia made famous by the book and movie "Black Hawk Down."

      The two lawyers say Colonel Steele has indicated that he will not
      testify at the Article 32 hearing — the military equivalent of a grand
      jury hearing — or answer any questions about the case. Calls and
      e-mail messages to a civilian lawyer said to be representing Colonel
      Steele were not returned.

      It is very rare for any commanding officer to refuse to testify at any
      stage of a court-martial proceeding, said Gary D. Solis, a former
      military judge and prosecutor who teaches the law of war at Georgetown
      University.

      During the raid, the soldiers discovered three Iraqi men hiding in a
      house, who were using women and children to shield themselves,
      Sergeant Lemus said in his statement. The soldiers separated out the
      men, blindfolded them and bound their hands with plastic "zip ties,"
      restraints that are not as strong as the plastic flex cuffs often used
      in Iraq.

      Then, Sergeant Lemus told investigators, his squad leader, Staff Sgt.
      Raymond L. Girouard, was told by another sergeant over the radio, "The
      detainees should have been killed."

      The man accused of making that remark, First Sgt. Eric J. Geressy, has
      denied it. In his own sworn statement, he told an investigator that
      during the radio call, "I was wondering why they did not kill the
      enemy during contact." But he added, "At no point did I ever try to
      put any idea into those soldiers' heads to execute or do any harm to
      the detainees."

      Sergeant Lemus gave investigators the following account of what
      happened next: About 10 minutes later, the squad leader gathered
      Sergeant Lemus and three other soldiers in a house nearby, telling
      them to "bring it in close" so he could talk quietly to them. Sergeant
      Girouard spoke in a "low-toned voice" and "talked with his hands,"
      making clear he was going to kill the three Iraqis.

      "I didn't like the idea, so I walked toward the door," Sergeant Lemus
      said in his statement. "He looked around at everyone and asked if
      anyone else had an issue or a problem." No one spoke.

      Soon afterward, Sergeant Lemus recounted, he was standing near the
      landing zone when he heard shouts and bursts of gunfire. He saw the
      detainees running and then falling to the ground. He walked back to
      the scene and asked Sergeant Girouard what happened.

      "But he couldn't answer," Sergeant Lemus said. "He just looked at the
      bodies and had this frozen look on his face. I asked him where my guys
      were, and he stuttered that they were in the building," getting first aid.

      Sergeant Girouard has been charged with premeditated murder, a capital
      offense, as have three other soldiers: Specialist William B. Hunsaker,
      Pfc. Corey R. Clagett and Specialist Juston R. Graber. Private Clagett
      and Specialist Hunsaker are accused of actually shooting the prisoners.

      Mr. Bergrin, the lawyer who represents Private Clagett, and Mr.
      Waddington, who represents Specialist Hunsaker, dispute Sergeant
      Lemus's account. They say the prisoners broke free as two soldiers
      were fixing the zip ties, which were coming loose. They say the
      prisoners stabbed Specialist Hunsaker and punched Private Clagett
      before trying to flee.

      But in his statement, Sergeant Lemus said he heard from the accused
      soldiers that it was Sergeant Girouard who cut Specialist Hunsaker in
      an effort to make the stabbing story sound plausible. He believed it,
      Sergeant Lemus said, because "they both have Ranger school backgrounds
      and they are pretty close friends," and he added, "They would always
      talk about the French Foreign Legion and renegade mercenaries running
      around from country to country."

      Three days later, Private Clagett "told me he couldn't stop thinking
      about it," Sergeant Lemus recalled. The private asked how Sergeant
      Lemus had responded to seeing dead bodies and shooting the enemy
      during his time in Iraq.

      "I told him it was all right that he felt like that," Sergeant Lemus
      said. "He was really stressed because when he slept the few hours he
      did, he dreamed about it over and over."

      Two initial investigations of the killings by commanders found no
      wrongdoing. It is not clear who eventually came forward to tell
      commanders that there was another version of what happened on May 9.

      At one point, Sergeant Lemus said in his statement, Sergeant Girouard
      gathered the men who had been present before the killing and told them
      "to be loyal and not to go bragging or spreading rumors" about what
      had happened. Sergeant Girouard added that "if he found out who told
      anything about it he would find that person after he got out of jail
      and kill him or her."

      Sergeant Lemus said he laughed off the threat at the time. But there
      may have been other threats. In addition to murder, the four accused
      soldiers are charged with threatening to kill Pfc. Bradley L. Mason,
      one of the men in the squad, if he told what he knew about the shootings.

      ===

      "Waiting to Get Blown Up"
      http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/072706Z.shtml


      Some soldiers in the 2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, 1st Armored
      Division - interviewed over four days on base and on patrols - say
      they have grown increasingly disillusioned about their ability to
      quell the violence and their reason for fighting. The battalion of
      more than 750 people arrived in Baghdad from Kuwait in March, and
      since then, six soldiers have been killed and 21 wounded. "It sucks.
      Honestly, it just feels like we're driving around waiting to get blown
      up, that's the most honest answer I could give you," said Spec. Tim
      Ivey, 28, of San Antonio, a muscular former backup fullback for Baylor
      University. "You lose a couple friends and it gets hard." "No one
      wants to be here, you know, no one is truly enthused about what we
      do," said Sgt. Christopher Dugger, the squad leader.

      Read entire article at:
      http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/072706Z.shtml

      ===

      Iraqi Resistance Report for events of Friday, 28 July 2006
      Translated and/or compiled by Muhammad Abu Nasr, member, editorial
      board, the Free Arab Voice.

      · Two US troops reported killed north of Baghdad Thursday night.


      · At least three occupation troops from El Salvador reported
      killed in Resistance bombing in ad-Diwaniyah Thursday evening.


      · Resistance bomb targets British tank in al-Basrah.



      Al-Anbar Province.

      Ar-Rutbah.


      Iraqi Resistance car bomb blasts two US armored vehicles apart in
      ar-Rutbah Friday morning.

      In a dispatch posted at 10:38am Makkah time Friday morning, Mafkarat
      al-Islam reported that a short while earlier an Iraqi Resistance car
      bomb exploded by a column of seven US armored vehicles in ar-Rutbah, a
      city in western Iraq near the Jordanian border.

      The ar-Rutbah correspondent for Mafkarat al-Islam reported that the
      blast destroyed and set ablaze two of the American armored vehicles.
      After the attack, US forces surrounded the area, making it impossible
      for the correspondent to ascertain details as to how the bomb was
      detonated or the nature and extent of US casualties.


      Ar-Ramadi.


      American occupation forces arrest 63 in mass raids in ar-Ramadi.

      In a dispatch posted at 7:22pm Makkah time Friday evening, Mafkarat
      al-Islam reported that US occupation forces carried out a series of
      new arrests in the city of ar-Ramadi, about 110km west of Baghdad.

      The ar-Ramadi correspondent for Mafkarat al-Islam reported a spokesman
      for the local puppet police as saying that the latest American
      campaign of mass arrests involved the capture of 63 so-called "suspects."

      The source indicated that those arrested range in age between 20 and
      50 years of age and come from different parts of the city.


      Baghdad.


      Sunni Mosque targeted by mortar shells during Friday worship services,
      five killed.

      In a dispatch posted at 5:52pm Makkah time Friday afternoon, Mafkarat
      al-Islam reported that five Iraqi Sunnis were killed during Friday
      prayers in the Mosque of al-'Ali al-'Azim in Baghdad.

      The correspondent for Mafkarat al-Islam reported a medical source as
      saying that while the Imam was delivering his sermon in the mosque the
      house of worship came under a mortar barrage of unknown origin. The
      mortar shells killed five worshippers and moderately wounded others.

      Puppet regime imposes vehicle ban in Sunni neighborhoods to prevent
      Friday prayer services.

      In a dispatch posted at 10:35am Makkah time Friday morning, Mafkarat
      al-Islam reported that for the sixth week in a row the US-installed
      Iraqi puppet authorities declared a ban on motor vehicles in Sunni
      neighborhoods of the occupied Iraqi capital from 11am local time until
      4pm. The ban is designed to prevent Sunni residents of the capital
      from attending Friday congregation al prayer services, which are held
      in the early afternoon.

      The correspondent for Mafkarat al-Islam reported that the car curfew
      was imposed only on Sunni neighborhoods, and that this was the sixth
      week in a row in which such a ban has been imposed.

      Two US troops reported killed north of Baghdad Thursday night.

      In a dispatch posted at 10:58am Makkah time Friday morning, Mafkarat
      al-Islam reported that an Iraqi Resistance bomb exploded by a US
      column on the road from the northern Baghdad suburb of at-Taji to
      Kirkuk late on Thursday night.

      The correspondent for Mafkarat al-Islam reported a source in the Iraqi
      puppet police as saying that a bomb on the road went off by a US
      Humvee on the road north of Baghdad, killing two US soldiers and
      severely wounding a third.

      Death toll in Thursday car bombing of Badr Brigade headquarters rises
      to 34.

      In a dispatch posted at 10:50am Makkah time Friday morning, Mafkarat
      al-Islam reported that a medical source had announced that the number
      of persons killed in Thrusday's double car bombing in Baghdad's
      al-Karadah district had risen to 34, most of them members or
      supporters of the pro-American Shi'i sectarian Badr Brigade. The
      attack took place at the new headquarters of the Brigade and among the
      dead were also two Iranians.

      The correspondent for Mafkarat al-Islam reported that an addition 101
      people were wounded in the blast, most of them severely. The
      correspondent noted that Iran's ambassador to occupied Baghdad
      condemned the attack.


      Diyala Province.

      Ba'qubah.


      US occupation forces impose curfew on Ba'qubah, preventing Friday
      prayers.

      In a dispatch posted at 10:36am Makkah time Friday morning, Mafkarat
      al-Islam reported that a short while earlier US occupation forces
      imposed a curfew on the city of Ba'qubah, 65km northeast of Baghdad,
      from 11am until 4pm local time. The measure prevents Muslims from
      holding their weekly congregational prayer services which take place
      on the early afternoon of Fridays.

      The Ba'qubah correspondent for Mafkarat al-Islam reported that the US
      occupation forces also sealed off the city and used loudspeakers to
      impose the curfew on the pretext of "security precautions."


      At-Ta'mim Province.

      Kirkuk.


      Peshmergah gunman abducted Thursday night.

      In a dispatch posted at 11:10am Makkah time Friday morning, Mafkarat
      al-Islam reported that armed men abducted a member of the pro-American
      Kurdish separatist Peshmergah militia in the al-Qadisiyah area of
      Kirkuk in northern Iraq on Thursday night.

      The correspondent for Mafkarat al-Islam reported a source in the
      US-run "Joint Coordination Center" as saying that armed men driving an
      Oldsmobile without license plates abducted Karzan Ghazi, a Peshmergah
      gunman, from in front of his house. The source offered no further
      details.


      Al-Qadisiyah Province.

      Ad-Diwaniyah.


      At least three occupation troops from El Salvador reported killed in
      Resistance bombing in ad-Diwaniyah Thursday evening.

      In a dispatch posted at am Makkah time Friday morning, Mafkarat
      al-Islam reported that an Iraqi Resistance bomb exploded by a military
      column of American satellite troops from El Salvador in ad-Diwaniyah,
      120km southeast of Baghdad, on Thursday evening.

      The an-Nasiriyah correspondent for Mafkarat al-Islam reported
      eyewitnesses as saying that the explosion took place in the Ras
      at-Tablit residential area of ad-Diwaniyah, killing at least three
      Salvadoran occupation troops and wounding more of them.

      The correspondent reported that the occupation troops responded by
      opening fire indiscriminately around the area, killing or wounding
      five local civilians, one of them a young neighborhood boy.

      Later in the day the Salvadoran government officially admitted that
      the attack had taken place.


      Al-Basrah Province.

      Al-Basrah.


      Resistance bomb targets British tank in al-Basrah.

      In a dispatch posted at 10:55am Makkah time Friday morning, Mafkarat
      al-Islam reported that an Iraqi Resistance high-explosive bomb went
      off by a passing British military patrol in the southern Iraqi city of
      al-Basrah at 10am Friday morning.

      The al-Basrah correspondent for Mafkarat al-Islam reported
      eyewitnesses as saying that the blast, at the Military Hospital
      intersection, 5km north of the city disabled a British tank and
      wounded four British soldiers, one of them severely.

      A newly-formed Iraqi Resistance organization calling itself the Salafi
      Brigades of az-Zubayr ibn al-'Ulum took responsibility for the attack
      according to sources available to Mafkarat al-Islam.

      *********************************************************************

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