Iraq War - Fighting a War without Identifying the Enemy
- March 16, 2003: In what will go down as the most costly and bloody blunder in U.S. history, America invaded Iraq. By misidentifying the enemy, America empowered the very foe which had terrorized it. As a result, over the next 25 years Muslims will wreak sufficient havoc in America to destroy the nation's freedoms and prosperity. The death toll will climb from thousands to millions.
Ignoring the fact that the Islamic suicide bombers responsible for 9/11 confessed to their crime by shouting the Islamic Prayer of Fear, "Allahu Akbar," the United States invaded a nation which had nothing to do with that crime - even doing so under false pretenses. As a result, the misguided and stumbling country now holds press conferences before flags emblazoned with "Allah is the Greatest." Aiding and abetting the enemy, the United States paints this same slogan on the tanks, fighting vehicles, and armored personnel carriers it gives to the Islamic government in Iraq. It is why Yahweh said in Hosea 4:6: "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge."
There are three things I'd like you to consider about the Iraqi invasion, all of which I postulated publicly and in writing long before America plunged itself into a winless war. First, if Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction sending over a hundred thousand Americans into his lair was the most immoral thing the nation could do. If Saddam had chemical and biological weapons he would have used them on the advancing American troops. If he didn't have them, which turned out to be the case, the nation had no business invading Iraq. And it was this either-or that the nation never debated because it led to the same conclusion: do not go there.
Second, the Iraqi military including the elite Republican Guards, Saddam loyalists, and Ba'ath Party members didn't fight Americans in either invasion under the two Bushes. The first Gulf War wasn't a "war" but instead a mass retreat and surrender. The second was fought only by those the U.S. said it was liberating. Iraq's Islamic militants are the only ones willing to risk their lives to kill Americans. This in itself ought to be sufficient to demonstrate who the enemy is and is not. If you'll read the story behind Casey Sheehan's death on April 4th, 2004 you will understand this important truth.
Third, if the final justification for the war were true, that people needed to be liberated from their murderous dictator, then America went to the wrong place and did the wrong thing. By turning Iraq over to clerics from the religion of submission, America moved the Iraqis in the wrong direction. The Islamic government has been ten times more lethal on its own people than the secular one it replaced. Further, if good deed doing were the goal, America should have invaded the Sudan where the United States could have saved 2.7 million innocent lives and counting.
I will chronicle America's invasion of Iraq over the course of this review. While Muslims killing American soldiers is a guerilla tactic rather than an act of terrorism, America's response to Islamic terrorism has been focused almost entirely on Iraq so understanding what has happened there is crucial. Moreover, America's blunder in Iraq has caused detrimental regime change. The newly empowered religious establishment has used terrorism to kill over 30,000 Iraqis over the past three years.
A word of warning: I was stunned by what I discovered and I think you will be too. The bottom line is that mishaps and mistaken identities have claimed the lives of 99.98% of the American soldiers who have died in Iraq. The regime George Bush went in to depose is responsible for the rest.
- March 17, 2003: It is enough to make you want to sit down and cry. Five American soldiers who were part of an Air Force rescue team lost their lives today in Afghanistan when their HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter crashed into a mountain at night while on the way to help two injured Afghan children who had suffered head trauma in Ghazni.
The names of the four men and one woman were: John Teal, 29, of Dallas, Texas; John Stein, 39, of Bardolph, Illinois; Jason Plite, 21, of Lansing, Michigan; Michael Maltz, 42, of St. Petersburg, Florida; and Tamara Archuleta, 23, of Los Lunas, New Mexico. Tamara, the co-pilot, had a three-year-old son. She was on the list for promotion to captain and looking forward to her June wedding.
An Air Combat Command investigation into the crash targeted three factors. "First, the refueling tanker was flying 150 feet below the required altitude of 500 feet. Second, limited light reduced the effectiveness of night-vision goggles, which led to spatial disorientation and loss of situational awareness. Third, the terrain's high altitude 9,000 feet above sea level, combined with the 30-degree bank during the refueling aircraft's climbing turn made it difficult to maintain the helicopter in the refueling position." What the report did not say, but what became evident later, was that the rescue team had been ordered to fly in stormy weather.
As a pilot, I'd like to personally express my concern. Unless it is to rescue American soldiers in a war zone, flying a rescue mission at night, in 9,000-foot-high mountains, is reckless and unjustifiable. Unless it is to rescue American soldiers, flying a helicopter beyond its fuel limitations is an inappropriate risk, bordering on insane when it is coupled by the conditions cited above. Unless it is a critical combat mission that can be conducted no other way, flying an aircraft in the proximity of another 500 feet above the ground, much less 350 feet AGL in unfamiliar jagged mountainous terrain is foolish beyond words. Having to bank an aircraft 30 degrees at night in a lightless environment is almost sure to create disorientation for someone using night-vision glasses to look outside of the aircraft as opposed to at their instruments. At 350 feet AGL in the mountains and in proximity to another aircraft it is an accident waiting to happen. Whoever sent these five soldiers on this mission should be court-martialed. Whoever wrote this report, blaming the pilots rather than the military procedures and orders, lacks moral judgment.
- March 20, 2003: As "shock and awe" went on display in Iraq today, one person died and fourteen were wounded in Baghdad.
- March 21, 2003: Abid Hassan Hamoodi, 72, the patriarch of one of Basra's most prominent families, gathered everyone into the storeroom of his home, thinking it would be the safest place to hide. As they slept, 10 members of his family were killed when two missiles fired from a British aircraft destroyed his home, causing considerable resentment in Basra.
The same level of hostility was engendered in Nasiriyah when 12 members of one family were killed by an American bomb which destroyed their home. Nasiriyah residents claim that American cluster bombs killed 50 men, women, and children in the first days of the war.
- March 21, 2003: News coming out of Iraq today was not good. Jay Aubin, 36, of Waterville, Maine; Kendall Waters-Bey, 29, of Baltimore, Maryland; Ryan Beaupre, 30, of Bloomington, Illinois; and Brian Kennedy, 25, of Houston, Texas, became the first four American soldiers to die as a result of George Bush's ill-advised crusade to depose Saddam Hussein. They were killed accidentally when a Marine Corps CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter crashed in an aborted mission near the Kuwaiti-Iraqi border.
Also killed in the same crash were Jason Ward, 34; Mark Stratford, 39; Ian Seymour, 28; Les Hehir, 34; Philip Guy, 29; Llywelyn Karl Evans, 24, and John Cecil, 36, of the United Kingdom and Sholto Hedenskog,25, of South Africa - who were all Royal Marines. In total, 12 souls were inadvertently extinguished in pursuit of an ignorant and immoral political agenda.
Since I know what is about to unfold before your eyes I want you to be aware that this eminently avoidable accident was the start of a horrible trend. Over the first few months of the war mishaps and lapses in judgment would claim three times more lives than militant Muslims and thirty times more lives than the regime Americans were sent in to depose.
Jay Aubin was so kind, he was known as "Sweet Pea." He was one of the nicest guys on the planet. Jay was an outstanding pilot, but man's machines are not made to operate in sandstorms. Without sufficient regard for the lives of the soldiers they were sending into harm's way, the Pentagon ordered Aubin to fly his transport helicopter into a tempest of sand. Recognizing that the assigned mission was suicidal, Jay aborted, but it was too late. The aging Sea Knight's turbines had ingested too much sand; they choked and failed, causing the helicopter to fall from the sky. In such conditions there was nothing Sweet Pea could have done. Jay left a loving wife and two young children, Alicia 10, and Nathan, 7.
At Kendall Waters-Bey's funeral, a Catholic priest said: "We come together today as Catholics, Jews, and Muslims, not to mourn the death but to celebrate Kendall's life." Had this young man lived past his 29th year it is certain that Muslims would have seen him as their enemy and tried to kill him in accordance with Allah's orders. Kendall's sister was considerably more enlightened. She said: "It's sad that this war is going on and that we have to lose so many good people over nothing." Waters-Bey left a wife and a ten-year-old son. His wife saw television footage of the crash and recognized the identification markings on the helicopter. She knew that her husband had died before the Marines knocked on her front door.
Ryan Beaupre, a graduate of Wesleyan University, was the all-American kid. A soft-spoken man of character, compassion, and conviction, he quit an accounting job to join the Marines so that he could fly. Ryan and Jay were piloting the doomed craft. Their mission had been to drop British and American troops in southern Iraq, near the Faw Peninsula, nine miles from the Kuwaiti border. There was no hostile fire, just mechanical failure, according to the military. The Pentagon reported: "The advanced age of the CH-46 Sea Knight fleet, dating back to the 1960s, has been a cause for concern to Marines who sought to replace it with V-22 Osprey." The machines were nearly twice as old as some of the men inside.
While no one was convicted, a crime was committed here. This loss of life was the result of reckless endangerment resulting in manslaughter. The United States military knew that the region was engulfed in a fierce sandstorm and they knew that the aging Sea Knight fleet was not designed to fly through it. And yet, they sent these men out anyway. Why?
That was a question Lianne Seymour, whose husband, Ian Seymour, died in the crash discussed in her meeting with George Bush. She said, "Mr. President you have been saying that our husband's lives weren't lost in vain but that is not true. You went into this war to destroy weapons of mass destruction that did not exist. What you have done is wrong"
- March 21, 2003: Therrel Shane Childers, 30, a Marine from Saucier, Mississippi was shot in the abdomen and killed leading an assault on an oil pumping station in Southern Iraq. The Department of Defense Central Command says only that he was "shot in a firefight to secure the pumping station at the Rumaila oilfield." This means that the first American soldier to die inside Iraq was killed following an order to lead an assault on an oil facility. That was indeed telling.
In my quest to learn who killed Lt. Shane Childers, I found this letter to his parents: "I was the Marine standing beside Lt. Childers when he was shot. He was the most dedicated Marine I have ever known. I was his first squad leader in second platoon A company. That was one of the worst days of the war for me and I will never forget every detail of the horrible situation. If there are any questions concerning that day I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will never forget Lt. Shane Childers. Jesse Odom, Former Marine of Greenwood SC." I sent Jesse an email but he did not respond.
A Naval officer wrote: "I flew in support of Lt. Childers during the push across the border. I flew F/18 Hornets and ran several CAS missions in support of his company and battalion. I can't say that I spoke with the Marine, but I know for a fact I rocked the Iraqi's world in front of his company."
A reporter from the Orange County Register in Southern California was embedded with Shane's unit and says he saw some of what happened. "After approaching Pumping Station No. 2 at the Rumeila fields in the murky confusion caused by a pipeline fire, Shane's unit was flushing disorganized units of Republican Guards out of their underground bunkers when Iraqis tried to flee on a motorcycle and an unmarked pickup truck. In the hail of AK-47 fire directed at the U.S. Marines, Shane was hit in the lower abdomen." According to the reporter, Shane died instantly. According to the Department of Defense he was medivaced to a field hospital in Kuwait and died on the operating table.
Saddam's Republican Guards were his best-trained and best-equipped units. Of all Iraqis, they would be the least "disorganized" and the least likely to be driving "a motorcycle" and "an unmarked pickup truck." Laying in wait," "civilian vehicles, and "a hail of fire from AK-47s," all suggest that the indiscriminate gunfire which killed Shane came from Iraqi civilians who were retreating in their own vehicles to fight another day. If there were Republican Guards, they were hiding in their bunkers.
The Rumaila Oil Field had been set ablaze during the air assault. Since it was no longer useful, it would be incredulous to think that the best trained soldiers in the Iraqi Army would remain there to defend it. So the "Iraqis whose world was rocked by the F/18s" bombs were probably civilians, the people who were being liberated. And what were American soldiers doing charging into the oil field on foot, exposed?
Shane Childers was a fine, courageous, bright, and disciplined man. He was a graduate of the Citadel (class of 2001) and a Christian. Rinker Buck wrote a book about him entitled: Shane Comes Home. In it we learn that the Marine's body was flown to Billings, Montana in a plain cardboard cargo container. There was no flag-draped casket and there were no photographers. The Bush Administration didn't want Americans to associate photos of flag-draped coffins with his colossal blunder. Shane's family was not there to greet him either - just a fierce, cold wind.
Shane's body had become emaciated and his skin had turned black because his corpse had not been embalmed for four days. I share this with you not only because this courageous Marine deserved better but because it reveals that the American military was poorly prepared for what was going to happen. Embalming fluid, a respectable coffin, and a flag to drape over it are bare minimums for men who have been asked to risk everything for their country. A hero's welcome would also have been appropriate.
Attributing Shane Childers' death to the hail of bullets that came from gunmen fleeing in civilian vehicles is misleading. His being there was a mistake. The notion of sending Marines into a burning oilfield on foot, and unprotected, was irresponsible.
- March 21, 2003: Jose Gutierrez, 22, from Hawthorne, California, was "killed in combat in southern Iraq" according to the Defense Department. For those who oppose "illegal aliens," Jose's story is a sobering one. After both of his parents died when he was only four, Gutierrez grew up an orphan on the streets of Guatemala City. He made the perilous border crossing through Mexico and entered the United States illegally when he was 14-years-old. He dreamed of becoming an architect and of bringing his sister, Engracia, from Guatemala. She arrived just in time to meet her brother's coffin.
Relishing the publicity, Cardinal Roger Mahony eulogized the man he never knew before a standing-room only crowd. Engracia read a poem Jose wrote at his funeral. "Thank you God for permitting me to live another year and for dreams that don't die. May the firearms be silent and the teachings of love flourish."
Jose died fighting in a country he did not know and for a country that he was not a citizen. His last breath was in the Iraqi post city of Umm Qasr. His unit was ambushed by armed Muslims. "Jose Gutierrez lost his life trying to secure the Rumaila oilfield" was all the U.S. Central Command would ever admit. He died alongside Shane Childers.
- March 22, 2003: Once again it was equipment failures and poorly advised tactics, not the Iraqi military which was to blame for 7 additional British and American fatalities. Today, two Royal Navy Sea King helicopters collided shortly after takeoff over the Persian Gulf killing: Mac Lawrence, 26, of Westgate-on-the-sea, Kent, Philip Green, 31, of Lincolnshire, England, Anthony King, 35, of Helston, England, Andrew Wilson, 36, of Cornwall, England, James Williams, 28, of Falmouth, England, and Philip West, 32, of Budock Water, England.
Thomas Adams, 27, a Navy exchange officer assigned to the British Royal Navy, was among those killed in the crash. He was 27 from La Mesa, California. Adams was a 1997 graduate of the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis.
- March 22, 2003: In advance of the British invasion of Basra, the United States dropped cluster bombs on the town killing 50 to 77 Iraqis. Previous to this, "Shock & Awe" bombardments on the Rutba customs office and on Umm Qasr, had killed 3 Iraqis.
- March 22, 2003: Officials from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), an American ally, said that the Islamic Society of Kurdistan base near Khormal was targeted by 50 to 70 American cruise missiles (at a cost of $25 to $35 million) killing 45 members of the Islamic group in Northern Iraq. Qatar-based Al-Jazeera confirmed that at least 45 people were killed in the U.S. cruise missile attack. They reported: "The positions of Ansar Al-Islam group (Supporters of Islam) and Al-Jamah al-Islamia (Islamic Group) in Khormal, northern Iraq, were completely destroyed and bodies were blasted to pieces." Unfortunately, four missiles went aerie and killed 33 civilians in a neighboring town. The loved ones of those killed in error said: "This makes us hate America."
This attack was telling because both groups were completely independent of the Iraqi government. And they were both fundamentalist Islamic organizations.
The Khormal site was identified last month by U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell as an alleged chemical weapons plant of Ansar al-Islam. That turned out not to be true. Ansar al-Islam, which had an estimated 800 fighters based in a cluster of around 16 villages, had been battling the secular PUK, which had been the organization which had targeted them. It is also interesting to note that Mullah Krekar, the Islamic imam responsible for Ansar al-Islam, enjoys political refugee status in Norway.
Also interesting is that the Turkish government announced that it now had 1,500 troops in Northern Iraq. They weren't there to assist the Americans or topple Saddam Hussein, but instead to harass the Kurds.
Also killed by an American missile strike, this one in Mosul, were four Jordanian students who were driving out of the city en route home.
- March 22, 2003: Since Muslims attacking coalitions soldiers is technically gorilla fighting rather than an act of terrorism, the Ansar al-Islam attack in the Kurdish region of Northern Iraq today was just the third terrorist incident in Iraq this year. At least four people were killed, including an Australian cameraman, and nine others were injured when a suicide car bomber blew himself up at a checkpoint in Sayed Sadiq. The bomber drove up to the car carrying cameraman, Paul Moran and another journalist Eric Campbell, both from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and then blasted himself down into Allah's presence. The fundamentalist Islamic Ansar al-Islam organization publicly claimed responsibility for the attack, stating that it was carried out in retaliation for the U.S. air strikes against Ansar al-Islam strongholds.
- March 22, 2003: Brandon Tobler, 19, a member of the Army Reserves from Portland, Oregon, became the first teenager to die in Iraq when his Humvee, which was part of an engineering company motor-pool, crashed. It wasn't Brandon's fault; his unit had been ordered to drive through a blinding sandstorm at night. Unable to see, the driver of the Humvee Brandon was riding in, drove it into the back of the vehicle in front of them. The driver had an excuse for his blindness, but not the man who had sent him there.
Brandon, who had been working at a local Best Buy store before he was sent into Iraq, had joined the Army Reserves to earn money for college. He was an only child.
- March 22, 2003: Also dying in a vehicle accident in Iraq today was Nicolas Hodson, 22, from Smithville, Missouri. He was within two months of completing his four-year stint. He leaves behind an infant son Marius, and Nicolas, who was born four months after his father's death.
The Defense Department wouldn't release any further details regarding the accident which took their father's life, probably because they were complicit in his death for having rushed into a battle against an unknown enemy.
Dustin Ferrell, who was riding in the Humvee Nick Hodson was driving filed a revealing report. He wrote: "On March 22, 2003, life as I knew it changed forever. On the third evening of Operation Iraqi Freedom, my infantry battalion raced north on a starless night through the wide-open desert of Southern Iraq, headed for uncertain dangers. I sat patiently in the backseat of a HMMWV (High Mobility Multi-purpose Wheeled Vehicle or Humvee), contemplating what lay ahead, and falling in and out of uneasy slumber. I wore a Kevlar helmet and flak jacket, keeping my gas mask in a carrier strapped to the side of my waist opposite of my pistol. It was the third day of the war.
Sergeant Nicholas Hodson drove my vehicle, a Humvee crowded with radios and other equipment. Hodson was a lanky 22-year-old from outside Saint Louis with a quick wit and charm that made the journey much funnier, if not easier. When he wasn't driving or asking for the peanut butter packet from my MRE (meals ready to eat) pack, Hodson repaired much of the battalion's equipment.
The afternoon continued with our convoy dragging along through a traffic jam in the middle of nowhere. Thousands of Army and Marine vehicles ‘raced' toward a mission I only vaguely understood. At one stretch, I took time to shave and write in my journal, resting my flak jacket against a tire on the Humvee to create a makeshift chair. The only battle I fought that afternoon was against complacency. But some time after my rest, something happened that I don't remember. My memory skips from the heat of mid-afternoon to the dead of night.
‘Lieutenant, squeeze my hand! Good job! Keep your eyes open, sir! Someone get an I.V. now!' I stared into the desperate faces of Navy corpsmen and Marines assessing a situation I could not yet grasp. Flashlights pierced the darkness around me. I felt as though I had the wind knocked out of me, only tenfold. My eyelids grew heavy, and I struggled to stay awake. With my body in shock, I finally spoke: ‘Am I going to live?'
‘Yes, sir, you'll be fine.' I wasn't convinced. But I did not feel like I was dying. What does dying feel like? I asked a second question, later wishing it had been the first: ‘How are the others?'
‘We don't know, sir!' I did not feel any pain, but my face was numb, and I could taste blood. A Navy corpsman stepped in front of me and muttered an expletive. I weakly responded to urgent yells to stay awake, squeeze fingers and hold on. Trying in vain to straighten my left leg, I decided it was broken. Men with scissors stripped me of my chemical protective suit and all other clothing.
I was placed on a stretcher and loaded onto an Army Blackhawk helicopter. I screamed as the crew tried to straighten my leg. I faded in and out of coherence, with only one thing certain - the war was over for me. Two full days passed before I remember hearing another voice.
‘You're in Germany.' I looked up, searching the small room with squinting eyes. Machines beeped and hummed around me. The doctor continued his greeting. ‘You've sustained some very serious injuries. We have you hooked up to a ventilator as a precaution.' The doctor read a laundry list of my wounds.The debacle broke most of the bones in my face, shattering my jaw and knocking loose 14 teeth. A bruised lung made upper body movement difficult, and a dislocated left hip kept me off of my feet. Facial swelling threatened my airway during the MEDEVAC, and an Army medic performed a tracheotomy to save my life. Since I could not speak, I now communicated with pen and paper.
After one week in Germany, and surgeries to reconstruct my shattered face, I was loaded into the back of an airplane bound for Andrews Air Force Base. I could see casualties stacked three persons high on stretchers suspended from the ceiling of the aircraft. I settled into my rack, up front on the left bottom row.
Ten hours later, a chartered bus brought the wounded to Bethesda Naval Medical Center in Maryland. Hospital staffers wheeled my stretcher inside. I saw my wife Rachael and my mother but they did not recognize me because of my swollen and disfigured face.
Whenever I asked about my accident, medical staff explained that a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) had hit our vehicle. When a visiting general repeated the account, I accepted the story at face value. Later, through my own queries, I discovered that the true cause had been a horrific collision with an Army truck while we traveled over 60 miles per hour. There was no investigation into the matter.
Nearly one year later, as I write this account, the thought of lying helplessly on Iraqi soil is a blur, obscured by morphine and shock, as well as the passage of time. Rachael provides constant support and motivation when times are tough. While my face is nearly healed, I have at least one full year of dental surgeries remaining. My hip occasionally clicks and pops, and a permanent blind spot obscures my vision.
My driver was not as fortunate. Sergeant Hodson rests in the Coastal Carolina State Veterans Cemetery, only a couple of miles from my home aboard Camp Lejeune. He left behind a pregnant wife and a young son. I can always hang my Purple Heart on the wall of an office cubicle; Sergeant Hodson's medal is among his son's few reminders of a father he closely resembles."
There are many lessons here. First, by the third day of the war there was no sign of Saddam Hussein's Army. Second, there is no justification for a Humvee traveling at over 60 miles per hour, especially through a precarious and unfamiliar desert. Third, a general lied to create the false impression that an enemy other than the United States had inflicted Dustin Ferrell's wounds and had caused Nick Hodson's death.
- March 22, 2003: Eric Orlowski, 26, of Buffalo, New York, was killed when an American .50 caliber machine gun accidentally discharged. Whoever was responsible for making and deploying these guns should be shot. Way too many Americans died because this weapon failed them.
Eric Orlowski was a reservist on his first deployment. He leaves behind a wife and three-year-old daughter
- March 22, 2003: Chris Seifert, 27, of Easton, Pennsylvania was shot in the back and killed, and 14 additonal members of the 101st Airborne were injured, one fatally, when a Muslim U.S. soldier tossed several grenades into as many tents and then unloaded his M-4 rifle into them as soldiers awoke and tried to flee. It wasn't an accident.
Gregory Stone, 40, of Boise, Idaho, who was fatally injured by the American Muslim's grenade and gunfire would suffer for three days before dying on March 25th.
The Muslim U.S. soldier, Hasan Akbar, shouted anti-American slogans at the soldiers he was trying to kill. He even confessed that he was killing his comrades because Islam was more important to him than America. While he was still firing at men fleeing the tents he had just blown up at one o'clock in the morning, he yelled: "You guys are coming into our countries and you're going to rape our women and kill our children."
"The first thing I thought was some sort of commando attack, or a terrorist raid," said the commander of the division's 1st Brigade, Col. Frederick B. Hodges, his right arm bandaged in three places and his fatigue pants smeared with his own blood from a grenade wound.
The colonel said he and command sergeant major Bart Womack struggled to get out of the tent after a grenade rolled in and exploded. "I ran into something and realized the tent was on fire," Hodges said. "I was crawling on the floor trying to find my weapon and gasmask."
Hodges had stumbled into his executive officer, who emerged from the small tent's entrance, only to be shot in the leg by the Sgt. Hasan Akbar. Womack said Akbar had been lying in wait by the tent entrance with his M-4.
As Bart Womak watched, Hasan Akbar ran to the next tent a few paces away and tossed another grenade inside. When an officer came running out, Womack said, "Akbar just stopped, and then shot the officer (Chris Seifert) in the back when he paused to put on his mask. Then he kept on running."
When Sgt. Hasan Akbar was overpowered by a 101st Airborne major, he was carrying two more grenades and another incendiary grenade, along with a standard-issue M-4 assault rifle. His leg was bleeding, apparently cut by shrapnel form one of the grenades he had detonated.
What had happened was as obvious as why it had occurred. So why then did the media botch the story so badly?
CBS News reported the incident this way: "‘10 U.S. soldiers were hurt in a grenade attack today, March 22, 2003 - six or seven of them seriously. The grenade and small arms attack occurred at Camp Pennsylvania in northern Kuwait,' CBS News Correspondent Mark Strassmann, who is traveling with the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division, reported. Strassmann said the grenades were rolled into two commanders' tents at the camp. When officers ran from the tents, they were hit by small arms fire. ‘From our reports it appears that a terrorist penetrated Camp Pennsylvania, one or more terrorists threw two hand grenades into a tent,' said George Heath, spokesman at Fort Campbell, home base of the 101st."
The second CBS release read: "An American Muslim soldier is among three people being questioned in connection with a grenade and small-arms attack that injured at least 10 U.S. soldiers at Camp Pennsylvania in northern Kuwait, reports CBS News Correspondent Mark Strassman."
An hour later the CBS release was edited and the most informitive word in the report was removed: "An American soldier is among three people being questioned in connection with a grenade and small-arms attack that injured at least 16 U.S. soldiers at Camp Pennsylvania in northern Kuwait, reports CBS News Correspondent Mark Strassman, who is on the scene with the Army's 101st Airborne Division." The word "muslim" had been excised from the article completely. Why?
The Fox News coverage of the grenade attack in Camp Pennsylvania in Kuwait wasn't much better. At first, reporter Doug Luzader, who was in Kuwait quoted the Associated Press and Reuters in his on-air discussion with anchor Tony Snow, now White House Press Secretary. He said: "Apparently one or more terrorists infiltrated the perimeter of this camp." He went on to speculate that the incident "indicates not only are these camps somewhat vulnerable, but also the fact that they may have terrorist operatives, perhaps even coming in from Iraq over the border."
A few moments later, Snow turns to Sky News reporter Stuart Ramsay by telephone from Camp Pennsylvania itself. Ramssay reported: "It seems that two Kuwaiti or Arab nationals entered the headquarters tent in Camp Pennsylvania....It seems, and this is not confirmed at the moment, that these two foreign nationals, were possibly on the translating staff or working at the headquarters tent. Now that's not been confirmed, but it seems that they may have had a reason to be in the camp. These two men were apparently wearing desert camouflage gear, one apparently was wearing a helmet."
Snow then summarized the news for viewers who tuned in late. "Once again, we have reports that at Camp Pennsylvania...there has been an attack, presumably by a couple of men, who were serving as translators."
When the dust cleared and the blood had been wiped away, 101st Airborne spokesman, George Heath, who now had all of the facts at his disposal, including the Muslim's confession and the eyewitness acounts, said: "Akbar had been having what some might call an attitude problem." No, idiot, he had a religious problem.
With the benefit of time, here is the truth: An African American Muslim Army sergeant who wanted to stop U.S. troops from killing his fellow Muslims was convicted by a military jury on April 21st, 2005 of murdering two American soldiers and wounding 14 others in a premeditated grenade and rifle attack. He was sentenced to death. The killer learned about Islam at the Masjid (Mosque or Place of Prostration) Bilal Islamic Center - a predominately African American mosque in South Central Los Angeles.
Hasan Akbar, who turned 34 the day his verdict was announced, faces the death penalty for what he did at Camp Pennsylvania in Kuwait. Prosecutors were able to prove that Hasan Akbar (the Greatest) carefully planned to achieve maximum carnage. The jury, deliberated for 2 1/2 hours at Fort Bragg in Fayetteville, N.C., before delivering its guilty verdicts on murder and attempted-murder charges.
Both the prosecution and the defense said that Akbar - who became a Muslim as an adult - wanted to stop the soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division from killing Muslims. A defense lawyer argued that Akbar was mentally ill, a condition afflicting all Muslims. Defense lawyer, David Coombs said, "Akbar came from a very poor family, he did not have loving parents, and there was evidence of child molestation in the home." He said "Akbar grew up in a racially and religiously intolerant area." If these qualify as justifications for Muslims to murder, every Muslim terrorist needs to be exonerated.
The attack jarred Camp Pennsylvania not long after 1 a.m. March 23, 2003, as members of the 101st Airborne Division, known as the Screaming Eagles, were preparing to move from central Kuwait to Iraq. Grenades were rolled into several tents, setting off loud explosions, and shots were fired by Akbar at the soldiers as they fled. Capt. Robert McGovern, the military prosecutor in the case, demonstrated that Akbar acted with premeditation, executing the attack with stolen grenades.
Nothing about Akbar's upbringing, short of his conversion to Islam, predisposed him to murder. He was born Mark Fidel Kools, but changed his name to Hasan Akbar. He had risen out of the rough Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles to earn aeronautical and mechanical engineering degrees at the University of California at Davis. That education was evident in Akbar's computer diary. Even before he was deployed overseas he carefully detailed his attack plan against the 101st, before he carried it out.
"He is a hate-filled, ideologically (religiously) driven murderer," chief prosecutor Lieutenant Colonel Michael Mulligan said. He added, "Akbar wrote in his diary in 1997: ‘My life will not be complete unless America is destroyed.' Another entry said, ‘I will have to decide to kill my Muslim brothers fighting for Saddam Hussein or my battle buddies. I am hoping to get into a position so I don't have to take any crap from anyone anymore.' Elsewhere, he wrote, ‘I may not have killed any Muslims, but being in the army is the same thing. I may have to make a choice very soon on who to kill.'"
Akbar's mother, Quran Bilal of Baton Rouge, La., told reporters that he had skipped the 1991 Persian Gulf War because it conflicted with his religious faith. Military officials initially said they did not believe Akbar's religious beliefs had anything to do with the attack he was accused of committing in Kuwait. But not long after his arrest, Akbar's mother told reporters that she sensed his Muslim beliefs were creating tensions in his battalion as it prepared to invade a predominantly Muslim nation.
One of the men Akbar killed - Air Force Maj. Gregory Stone, 43 - was pelted by 83 pieces of shrapnel. His body was so mutilated the Army forbid his family to open his coffin upon his return. He had two sons, Alexander, 11, and Joshua, 7. He suffered for five days before he died. The other victim, Army Capt. Christopher Seifert, 27, was shot in the back by Akbar. Fellow soldiers exhorted him to live for his wife and his four-month-old son.
Seifert and Stone were both denied the Purple Heart because the Army said that their wounds were not caused by an enemy in combat. I disagree. The enemy combatant is now in Fort Leavenworth prison living on death row.
- March 22, 2003: Eighty Iraqis were killed in American bombing runs and missile strikes over Basra, Karbala, Mosul, and Nasiriyah. Some of these air raids extended into the 23rd.
- March 23, 2003: If we are to believe the press accounts, nine U.S. Marines were killed in a rather unsettling episode near Nasiriya, Iraq. Following a firefight, a group of Iraq guerillas indicated that they wanted to surrender. But when the Marines approached in a troop carrier, the Iraqis opened fire with rocket-propelled grenades. Once the shrapnel had cleared, the bodies of the Marines were removed from the unarmored, and now burned out, troop transport. At least that was the story.
The names of the Americans who were alleged to have been murdered so ruthlessly were: Jose Garibay, David Fribley, Michael Bitz, Jorge Gonzalez, Philip Jordan, Thomas Slocum, Brian Buesing, Randal Rosacker, and Frederick Pokorney. There is no question that all of these men are dead. It is certain that they all died on March 23, 2003 in Nasiriyah, Iraq. But this is not how they died - not even remotely - even though details of the contrived surrender were broadcast on the nightly news.
Before we examine what really happened, please consider this accounting from a Marine who was there. He reported that the Marines had been given the mission of securing two bridges, one over the Euphrates, the other over the Saddam Canal. As they approached the area, Marines met up with elements of the US Army 507th Maintenance Unit (we'll read about them in a moment) just south of the city. They advised the battalion that they had been hit by Iraqis acting as if they were surrendering.
This account is important because it confirms that the United States military was criminally negligent when they sent clerks in a maintenance convoy through Nasiriyah before the town or its bridges had been secured. Good men would die as a result of bad judgment. Also, the Pentagon knew that the nine men listed above had not been killed in a feigned surrender and yet they did nothing to dissuade the myth being propagated in the media.
The eyewitness to the events encountered by the Marines wrote that they encountered heavy fire moving through the city - mostly from civilian militias using guerilla tactics. Early on, an Amphibious Assault Vehicle (AAV) was hit with an RPG. It continued north with the rest of the company, although it took a considerable amount of small arms fire and more RPG impacts along the way. After reaching its destination, Charlie Company unloaded some vehicles from the AAV under heavy indirect fire, machine gun fire, and a barrage of rocket-propelled grenades. Several Marines were wounded but it was impossible to land a medevac helicopter in the midst of so many RPGs.
The firefight continued with Charlie Company confronting civilian militias peppered with Iraqi troops. The Marines fired a mixture of machine guns, SMAW rockets, M16s, mortars, and artillery at their assailants while others loaded their wounded onto several AAVs which retreated south.
Another group of Marines consolidated casualties in the city of Nasiriyah in hopes of evacuating them. A rescue party took these wounded soldiers south to a point where a helicopter airlifted them to safety. Tanks and other elements of the battalion then pushed north to join up with Charlie Company at the bridge.
The main contingent of Charlie Company continued to fight the Muslim militias north of the bridge. According to a Marine who was there, "The intense indirect fire from machine guns, RPGs, and small arms was coming from several directions at once and lasted for nearly three hours." He reports: "Finally the enemy fire began to lift and they withdrew. At the end of the fight, we had 18 killed in action and 14 wounded in action who were medevac'd. We also had 7 out of 12 AAVs destroyed or immobilized. It was a hard fought battle, but the company inflicted a serious blow to the enemy north of the bridge and we held it after defeating the Iraqis there."
While that put a heroic spin on things, it wasn't completely accurate. He knew it too. The Marine said: "There were several different fights in Nasiriyah that day throughout the battalion and many acts of heroism. This is just one man's account of what happened on that day. There was some involvement of a U.S. aircraft that day as well but I am unable to speak of it at this time."
All of that was true, at least as far as it went.
- March 23, 2003: When I first read what had happened next in Nasiriyah, Iraq on this day, I asked, "How is it that the United States Marine Corps could send these men into battle and then lose track of them for five to twenty-one days?" Before I answer that question, here is what the Department of Defense announced on March 27th, 2003: "The identities of eight Marines whose status had been listed as Duty Status Whereabouts Unknown (DUSTWUN) has been changed to Killed in Action." According to the Pentagon's initial release, "Eight Marines who were engaged in operations on the outskirts of Nasiriyah, Iraq are missing." When their remains, at least most of them, were recovered five days later, the Pentagon said that they were "killed during a fierce gun battle that followed an ambush by guerilla fighters."
The Marines who were claimed missing initially, and then pronounced killed in a guerilla ambush, were: Patrick Nixon, 21; Michael Williams, 31; Brendon Reiss, 23; Tamario Burkett, 21; Thomas Blair, 24; Kemaphoom Chanawongse, 22; Donald Cline, 21; Jonathan Gifford, 20, of Macon, Illinois; and Nolen Hutchings, 19, of Boiling Springs, South Carolina.
The Marines told Tamario Burkett's parents: "Their son was helping secure a bridge near Nasiriyah when his unit came under fire. They dispersed and that was the last they saw of him." It wasn't true.
Although Tom Blair was one of the Marines who fought this day, he was declared Missing in Action until his remains were recovered five days later. The same is true of Pat Nixon and Mike Williams.
Brendon Reiss' parents were notified that their son was missing in action on April 9th - three weeks after his death. Marines later told his family that Brendon's 12-member unit came under fire from nearby buildings. They told his father that his unit was forced to abandon their vehicles and seek cover while medical evacuation units retreated under attack. "That was the last time he was seen," Mr. Reiss said. "It appears that all 12 are missing." Considering what actually happened, the military may have wished they were missing, but in reality, all that was missing was an accurate account of how they were actually killed.
Chuckles Chanawongse's parents were first told that their son was missing in action on March 23 after a firefight near Nasiriya in southern Iraq. Three weeks later, his family was told that Chuckles and six other Marines were killed in an ambush. Neither account was true.
Twenty-one days after Don Cline had been killed, on April 13th, the United States Department of Defense changed its status report from Whereabouts Unknown to Killed in Action. Neither version was consistent with the facts. Marines told Don's widow: "Your husband has been recommended by his unit for the nation's third-highest medal for bravery for rescuing wounded comrades under fire. Don and three other members of the 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade died when their amphibious vehicle was hit by enemy fire during an ambush in the southern Iraq town of Nasiriyah." Don Cline's body was so lacerated with bullets. His mother said that military officials had to use DNA testing to identify her son's remains.
Tina Cline said she had heard numerous stories of her husband's heroic efforts to save fellow Marines. A letter from Cline's company commander in May told her he pulled wounded U.S. soldiers to safety while under fire just before he was killed by a grenade blast. "His heroic actions most certainly saved the lives of his fellow Marines," Capt. Daniel Wittnam wrote in that letter. While there is no doubt that Don Cline did these heroic things for his fellow Marines, that is not how he died and the lives of his fellow Marines were not spared. The military was eyeball deep in a massive cover up.
Nolen Hutchings, of Boiling Springs, South Carolina was the last Marine listed among those killed in Nasiriyah. A year after his death the Department of Defense acknowledged that Nolen was actually killed in the "worst friendly fire incident of the Iraqi war."
Here is the sad truth: On the fourth day of the war, around the city of Nasiriyah, in the chaos of fighting, 13 of the men whom I have listed above, were on one of two Marine Amphibious Assault Vehicles that were mistakenly strafed by two U.S. A-10 Thunderbolt close-air support aircraft. While some of these men had been wounded by Nasiriyah guerrillas, they were actually torn apart and killed by .30 mm rounds fired from the seven-barrels of Avenger gatling guns mounted on the noses of U.S. Thunderbolts.
Albeit late, very late, a year late, the U.S. military has finally admitted that of the 18 Marines killed around Nasiriyah on March 23rd, at least 10, maybe more (actually 13), died as a result of the errant A-10 attack.
After the U.S. Central Command finished its investigation of the friendly fire incident, officials briefed the Hutchings' family for several hours in late April, 2004. The Hutchings' family said they were told their son was killed by an A-10 attack. Nolan's father, Larry, said he still wants to know how low the plane was flying and other details because he thinks the pilots may have been able to see American forces and should have held fire.
A Marine forward air controller cleared two A-10 attack planes to fire on the vehicles, not realizing they were American, officials have said. Nolan Hutchings' father has read the 800-page report, one-third of which is still classified. He said those involved in the incident should be held accountable, including the pilots.
There is something very troubling about the initial testimony of Nolen Hutchings' father. It confirms what I suspect, that the Marines had to know initially that these men had been killed by the .30 mm ammunition fired from the A-10's machine guns during the time they were blaming it on an "enemy RPG." Mr. Hutchings said that they were initially told: "The Marines were in the area to rescue wounded soldiers from the ambushed maintenance unit (which was not true) and to secure bridges (after the maintenance unit passed through). They came under attack as they tried to secure a crucial bridge over the Euphrates River. At least some of the six were in or near an amphibious assault vehicle when a rocket-propelled grenade or some other explosive killed them. Beyond that, though, details are murky." Nolen Hutchings' dad went on to say that they had been told by their casualty assistance officers, "The blast that struck the vehicle was believed to have been fired by Americans. The errant strike may have been from an American plane providing air support, and it caused a mass explosion." But a military official cautioned against drawing any conclusions about cause.
Having started a rumor regarding the American fatalities in Nasiriyah, Lt. Cmdr. Charles Owens, a spokesman for the United States Central Command in Qatar, said, "The best way is to let the process work and don't go on rumors. It took the "process" a year to determine that the .30 mm ammunition that shredded these men's bodies didn't come from a crude RPG.
Michael Bitz left behind a wife and two one-month-old twins who he had never seen. Don Cline was also the father of two young boys, Dakota, 2, and Dylan, 7 months. Jorge Gonzalez was married and had a three-week-old daughter who he had not seen. Phil Jordan had a six-year-old son.
The 5 men originally thought to have been killed by an RPG fired into a troop transport following a feigned surrender, but were killed instead by "friendly fire" on March 23rd, outside of Nasiriyah, Iraq are: Jorge Gonzalez, 20, of Los Angeles, California, Thomas Slocum, 22, of Adams, Colorado (who also suffered from RPG fragments); Randal Rosacker, 21, of San Diego, California; Jose Garibay, 21, of Orange, California; and Michael Bitz, 31, of Ventura, California (who also suffered from RPG fragments).
The 8 men initially listed as missing in action, then killed as a result of a firefight with the enemy, but actually dying as the result of "friendly fire" from an American A-10 on amphibious vehicles operating on the Euphrates River in the vicinity of Nasiriyah were: Don Cline, of Washoe, Nevada; Nolen Hutchings, 19, of Boiling Springs, South Carolina; Brendon Reiss, 23, of Natrona, Wyoming; Patrick Nixon, 21, of St. Louis, Missouri; Jonathan Gifford, 20, of Macon, Illinois; Tamario Burkett, 21, of Erie, New York; Thomas Blair, 24, of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma; and Michael Williams, 31, of Phoenix, Arizona.
Frederick Pokorney, 31, of Jacksonville, North Carolina was killed in Nasiriyah on this day but the military says that he was killed by a mortar rather than the A-10. The same is true of Philip Jordan, 42, of Brazoria, Texas. Brian Buesing, 20, Cedar Key, Florida, was listed as one of the men killed in the feigned Iraqi surrender. The Pentagon now says that a mortar was to blame. Yet all we know for sure is that all three men were part of the same Battalion, Regiment, and Brigade that was victimized by friendly fire.
We do not know how David Fribley, 26, of Lee, Florida; died, only that his death occurred at this time and at this place. As with the other men who had been killed by the A-10's Avenger, David was a member of the 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade.
Kemaphoom "Chuckles" Chanawongse, 22, of Waterford, Connecticut, was said to have died of "artillery fire on the outskirts of Nasiriyah, but the U.S. Marines were the only ones firing cannons. He was among those the United States had lost track of for five days, calling him Duty Status Whereabouts Unknown (DUSTWUN).
The United States Military lied to the parents of these brave men, and to the nation that was supporting them, for one full year. What else do you suppose they have lied about?
- March 23, 2003: David Williams, 37, of Crickhowell, Wales and Kevin Main, 37, of Staffordshire, England were killed when their RAF GR4 Tornado aircraft was shot down by a U.S. Patriot missile near the Kuwaiti/Iraqi border. They were returning from a mission.
The land war against Saddam Hussein's regime was in its third day and already 45 soldiers had died - not one of them at the hand of Hussein's Army. Seventeen soldiers had died from "friendly fire" accidents, two of which were perpetrated purposely by a Muslim American. Two men had been killed in vehicle accidents. Twenty had lost their lives in non-combat helicopter crashes. Muslim civilians had killed six American soldiers.
That means that nearly ninety percent of the initial deaths in George Bush's and Tony Blair's invasion of Iraq were caused by mishaps (22 to aircraft and vehicle accidents) and mistaken identities (17 to friendly fire). Of the men killed by Muslim militias, two men lost their lives securing an inoperative oil pumping station. Four men lost their lives to unknown assailants during the civilian uprising at Nasiriyah. The most horrific fatalities occurred when an American Muslim soldier murdered his comrades, telling us that they too died as the result of a "mistake" - that of allowing Muslims to serve in the U.S. armed forces.
I wonder what the American and British people would have thought of their misguided leaders if that they had known that "friendly fire" in which a friend is mistaken for a foe, and mistakes in judgment, caused ninety percent of the carnage. Recognizing what these citizens may have thought, and how they might have reacted, may be what drove the Defense Department to deceive so many for so long.
Sadly the sacrifice of these brave souls symbolized the fog that surrounded the whole bloody affair. Misidentifying the enemy and confused thinking had taken its toll. But this was just the beginning...
- March 23, 2003: The circumstances surrounding the death of Donald Waters, 33, of Kansas City, Missouri are shocking. He was one of 18 U.S. soldiers involved in the ambush of a supply convoy by Muslim militants in Nasiriya, Iraq. A member of the 507th Maintenance Company, he was posthumously awarded the Silver Star for his actions on April 12th. Later in May, the U.S. military changed his official status from Killed in Action to Prisoner of War-Murdered after an investigation found that he was captured by militant Muslims who shot him twice in the back, stabbed him twice in the stomach, and dislocated his shoulder.
During the first of what would become an epidemic of roadside ambushes perpetrated by civilian Muslims, Robert Dowdy, 38, of Cleveland, Ohio; Johnny Mata, 35, of El Paso, Texas; Howard Johnson, 21, of Mobile, Alabama; Lori Piestewa, 22, of Tuba City, Arizona; Brandon Sloan, 19, of Bedford, Ohio; Ruben Estrella Soto, 18, of El Paso, Texas; Jamaal Addison, 22, of Roswell, Georgia; and James Kiehl, 22, of Des Moines, Iowa; all members of the 507th Maintenance Company, were killed when "the whole city" of Nasiriyah rose up to kill their liberators.
George Buggs, 31, of Barnwell, South Carolina was captured and then killed by these Muslims in the aftermath of the ambush. Involved in the same hellish event, Edward Anguiano, 24, of Brownsville, Texas was initially listed as missing in action after the civilian ambush. Ed was later declared dead when his remains were recovered on April 24th - a month after the massacre.
Eleven Americans lost their lives in this singular civilian assault and seven more were abducted. Rather than accept responsibility for sending a supply and maintenance convoy composed of clerks and cooks through a city that had not yet been secured, the United States military blamed the victims. They said: "The men and women of the 507th Maintenance Company got lost as they passed through Nasiriyah." In actuality, it was not these men and women who had lost their way but instead the officers and politicians who had ordered them to go where they did not belong.
The 507th Maintenance Company quickly found themselves in harm's way in a heavily populated Muslim neighborhood. The Department of Defense would list all of these soldiers, including the names presented below, as "Duty Status Whereabouts Unknown" on March 23 and would not revise its status of the soldiers listed above until April 5th, 13 days later.
Lori Piestewa, just 22 years old, of the 507th Maintenance Company was the first American woman killed in the Iraq invasion - and the first American Indian woman ever killed in combat. Lori was driving the truck that was carrying the now infamous Pfc. Jessica Lynch. Piestewa, and the master sergeant riding next to her, tried to hold off the brutal civilian onslaught. "She drew her weapon and fought. It was her last stand," said Rick Renzi, the Republican Congressman from her district. This will not be the last time images of Custer surrounded by savages will be evoked.
Lori Piestewa was the mother of two. She had joined the military to support her children after a divorce. Lori was buried in the Hopi Reservation in Arizona's painted Desert. She, like the men and women with whom she served, wasn't a warrior. They were all mechanics, cooks, clerks, and truck drivers.
Jamaal Addison was typical of those who died. He was deployed to Iraq immediately after his wedding and leaves a two-year-old son and a three-year-old daughter.
Edgar Hernandez, 21, from Mission, Texas; Joe Hudson, 23, from Alamogordo, New Mexico; Shoshana Johnson, 30, from Fort Bliss, Texas; Patrick Miller, 23, from Park City, Kansas; James Riley, 30, of Pennsauken, New Jersey; and Jessica Lynch, 19, from Palestine, West Virginia, were captured in the Nasiriyah ambush of the 507th maintenance Company. All but Jessica Lynch were rescued on April 13th, north of Baghdad.
The story of what happened here and why is as telling as any in the war. To inspire support for the war, Jessica Lynch would become a celebrity, credited with carrying out heroic acts during the assault on her unit. The Pentagon, knowing that it wasn't true, and media, which may have been willingly duped, portrayed Jessica Lynch as "fighting fiercely, firing her weapon until she ran out of ammunition, all the while suffering gunshot and stab wounds." None of that actually happened. Moreover, these heroics were demonstrated by another soldier, one who would die in anonymity.
There are many lessons that can be learned from the experience of the Nasiriyah convoy. The two most important insights were confirmed by the highest-ranking American eyewitness to survive it. "It wasn't a small ambush. It was a whole city. And we were getting shot from all different directions as we were going down the road," Sgt. James Riley told the Washington Post. After 15 minutes of fighting, which claimed the lives of nine Americans, Riley, the ranking soldier, decided they should surrender. "We were like Custer. We were surrounded. We had no working weapons. We couldn't even make a bayonet charge. We would have been mowed down. We didn't have a choice," Jim Riley said.
Lesson one: the final justification for the Iraqi war, that being to liberate the citizens of Iraq, was now torn asunder. Even if Sgt. Riley exaggerated and only a majority of the townsfolk fought their liberators, America "didn't have a chance." The coalition could not kill ten million Iraqis and call that a success. Should Riley have been imagining enemies, making only twenty percent of the Shi'ites in Nasiriyah hostile to their liberators, the goal of freeing Iraq was rendered impossible. The war was lost because the real foe had been mistaken for a friend.
The civilian uprising at Nasiriyah was not an anomaly. It was replayed many times and on a much larger scale in places like Fallujah and Sadr City where two million people reside. Opinion polls taken in Iraq confirm what Sgt. Riley witnessed. Fifty percent of Iraqi Shi'ites and ninety percent of Sunnis think that killing Americans is justified. The United Kingdom Ministry of Defense reported in August 2005 that two out of every three Iraqis support attacks on coalition forces. Seventy percent of the people support Moqtada al-Sadr, the Shiite cleric whose Mahdi militia has been most responsible for killing American troops. Only four percent of those living in Baghdad see Americans as liberators. Two out of every three Shiites and Sunnis want an immediate withdrawal of U.S. forces.
The source and magnitude of the Nasiriyah uprising revealed that no matter how long Americans stay in Iraq, no matter how much money they squander there, or how many lives they sacrifice, in the end victory cannot be achieved. The situation in Iraq was worse than Vietnam.
The second important lesson was that American equipment malfunctioned - most all of it. The weapons did not work.
The third insight provided by Nasiriyah was that the United States military would obfuscate responsibility and blame those their horrid decisions had victimized. The Defense Department purposely and knowingly deceived the American people, here and elsewhere. While evidence for this has not yet been confirmed, it will be.
Here are the facts, the best we know them. As had been the case with most of the fatal episodes in Iraq, military blunders were to blame. The Army's investigation report states: "human error further contributed to the situation through a single navigation error that placed these troops in the presence of an adaptive enemy." The investigators found that "Capt. Troy King misunderstood the assigned route to this objective as he prepared to lead 33 soldiers in an 18-vehicle convoy in the first phase of ground operations for Operation Iraqi Freedom."
I beg to differ. The U.S. Army can pin the blame on Troy if they want, accusing him of getting lost in foreign town without street signs where most everyone is armed and hates Americans, but I lay blame on the Army officers who sent his convoy through the civilian killing fields of Nasiriyah before the town or its bridges had been secured - especially without a heavily armored escort.
The United States Army claims that on the morning of March 20, King was given a CD-ROM that contained his orders and route information. To get the convoy to its objective, Troy was "to follow Route BLUE to Route JACKSON, then return to Route BLUE." It's as if the United States Army painted the street and told the told the maintenance company to "follow the blue-brick road."
The young officer had at his disposal "annotated maps," meaning a graphic satellite picture with explanations on it, and a GPS system that provided "directional signals via a display arrow that indicated the direction and distance the convoy should go." In America, where every road has been surveyed and all routes have been analyzed, where signs are clearly evident, and the locals aren't shooting rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns, an audio-enhanced, large-screen GPS plotter is very helpful. But directional arrows in the midst of a war zone where Americans have never been, doesn't meet my criterion for being properly equipped. The equipment Troy King needed was a heavily armored escort. This convoy of clerks and cooks was sent out in advance of the Marines. The military had not yet secured either bridge through the city and they would eventurally lose 18 soldiers in the process. Therefore, what the U.S. Army was ordering the 507th to do was criminally negligent to the point of being manslaughter.
According to the Army report, "rather than follow Route BLUE to JACKSON back to BLUE, Capt. King had highlighted only Route BLUE on the annotated map and believed in error that BLUE was his assigned route." What followed, according to the Army, was a series of miscalculations that led the unit into harm's way and required the soldiers in this maintenance company, often referred to as "clerks," to rely on basic combat training for survival. The Army's report correctly revealed that in the process of exiting Nasiriya to return to the assigned route, the convoy broke up into three smaller groups and came under civilian fire.
Hidden in all of the finger pointing was one short paragraph about the disposition of Sgt. Donald Walters, the soldier who actually engaged the enemy and fought to the death. "Midway in the convoy a 5-ton tractor-trailer driven by PVT Sloan with SGT Walters became disabled. The vehicle behind it, a 5-ton wrecker with water trailer, driven by PFC Miller, with SGT Riley in the passenger seat, executed a combat pick-up of Sloan while moving under fire. It is unclear whether SGT Walters was picked up by others in the convoy or remained in the area of the disabled tractor-trailer. There is some information to suggest that a U.S. soldier, that could have been Walters, fought his way south of Highway 16 toward a canal and was killed in action. SGT Walters was in fact killed at some point during this portion of the attack. The circumstances of his death cannot be conclusively determined by available information."
Walters' mother, Arlene, believes that the heroic efforts falsely attributed to Jessica Lynch were in fact those of her deceased son, Don. Arlene said, "Right before the report came out in July I received a call from someone in the 507th who said that if we read anything about the heroics of a female soldier that it was really Don who was the hero. They said that what cinched it for them was the autopsy report which stated that Don was shot twice in the back and once in the upper right leg. He had a dislocated left shoulder and was stabbed twice in the abdomen. Some Iraqi civilians in Nasiriyah told us about this brave American soldier who fought even though he was shot twice in the back and stomach. Don Walters is the only soldier from Nasiriyah with these wounds."
Arlene Walters filed a Freedom of Information Act request because she wanted to read the debriefings of Jessica Lynch, Jim Riley and Pat Miller - three of the six Americans who were abducted during the assault and later rescued. Arlene thought that they might provide more information about what her son did out there. Mrs Waters explained, "The general who briefed us over the phone said "Sargeant Walters remained in Nasiriyah engaging the enemy.' So the ‘wounded hero who had fought bravely' had to be Don because he was the only soldier who wasn't accounted for and the only one whose wounds match those first attributed to Jessica Lynch."
Arlene Water's said: "I'm very supportive of the troops, but I'm upset that the Army isn't coming out and saying that Don is the person who did these things. They actually came out and said at one point that ‘we're pretty sure it's him, but we can't make it official because no American saw it happen.'"
Here is my assessment, one based upon the facts. The U.S. Army falsely and knowingly created a media star out of a female survivor and attributed another's heroism to her because they thought it would be good for public relations. Whereas acknowledging the heroism of a man who had been left behind by his unit, who had been shot twice in the back, who had been stabbed twice in the stomach, and who had his shoulder pulled from its socket because the Army was criminally negligent for having sent his convoy through Naririyah without any protection, was not good for recruiting. The truth might even lead to courts-martial.
Commenting on the General's lame excuse, Arlene Walters, said, "Well that's pretty funny. They can take the Iraqis' word when they told us where Jessica was and where the POWs were, but not when it comes to recognizing the truth about my son. Everything the Iraqis told the Army turned out to be right, so why not take their word in this situation when the evidence clearly confirms it?"
The mother of the forsaken hero said, "It's because they don't want to admit that a soldier was left behind. I can't imagine what it would be like to be left on the battlefield. But that's their problem and they can be polite as they want to me, but it's not helping. I'm 66 years old and I don't have 20 years to wait for my son to be recognized for what he did. It makes a difference. It's history. I know what Don did, but I want his children and grandchildren to know what he did. I want them to tell the story accurately. They've finally acknowledged that it wasn't Jessica who did these things. Who else could it be? Everyone else is accounted for."
Sadly, American politicians, the American media, and the nation's military, aren't concerned with truth anymore. The facts are irrelevant as is justice - so are the men's lives. A war based on lies thrives on deceptions. Even Muhammad had recognized this. He said: "War is deception and I have been made victorious with terror.".
Properly crediting the bravery the Washington Post and the nation's television networks ascribed to Jessica Lynch to Don Walters, the man left behind, is just one of many issues which remain unresolved following the civilian Iraqi attack on the 507th Maintenance Company in Nasiriyah. The U.S. Army's report says that "human error was a major factor in the ambush, which resulted in the deaths of 11 soldiers, seven captured, and nine wounded." But the report doesn't acknowledge that the "human error" was manifest in the Army's chain of command.
The fact that the convoy, in which every vehicle was equipped with a radio, was lost in enemy territory for many hours isn't in dispute. But why were they sent into harm's way without an armored escort? Why didn't central command launch a rescue effort? Why wasn't anything done by Troy King's superior officers when radio silence confirmed that the convoy was in trouble and thus needed help? It would be absurd beyond reason to think that under these conditions, in this place, at this time, that the U.S. Army would not have as a standard operating provision the requirement for all vehicles in a convoy in enemy territory to check in by radio at least every fifteen minutes.
The truth is, the U.S. Army didn't care enough about its soldiers to keep track of them or protect them. It not only sent a virtually unarmed, completely unarmored, supply convoy driven by clerks into the killing zone of Nasiriyah ahead of the Marines and in advance of securing the town or its bridges, and without an escort, they had no provision for monitoring their status. Twenty-nine Americans lost their lives on this day because the United States military was ill-prepared, ill-equipped, and reckless. Worse, the Pentagon hid the truth about its own A-10 killing 12 American for one full year. They created a false hero for propaganda purposes, neglected the heroism of the man they had left behind, and never owned up to their own culpability in the deaths of the 11 members of the ambushed Maintenance Company.
Carl Bernard, a retired infantry colonel who served in World War II, Korea, Laos, and Vietnam, and is a recipient of the Distinguished Service Cross, seems to agree with my assessment. Regarding the Army's mismanagement as Nasiriyah, he said, "It is automatic that they'd be watching these vehicles and each of these units and constantly assuring themselves that everyone was in the right place. But they obviously did not track them. This is why I would go to the higher level to place fault. What you have here is an indication of incompetent and/or ignorant people making decisions that cost lives. This is a structural problem. I mean this to be an indictment of his superior officers."
The following excerpt was taken from the U.S. Army's official account of the attack on the 507th Maintenance Company at Nasiriya. Considering the cost and consequence, I present it for your consideration. It confirms that this convoy should not have been sent through Nasiriyah at this time, that they were improperly equipped, and that their equipment failed them. While the report does not confirm, it strongly suggests, that the United States believed that the Iraqi civilians living in Nasiriyah would be friendly, greeting the Americans as liberators, rather than actually being the enemy and being intent on killing them.
"The first group consisted of the following vehicles and occupants: #1 - a HMMWV, driven by PVT Dale Nace with CPT. Troy King in the front passenger seat, #2 - a 5-ton tractor-trailer driven by SGT Joel Petrik with SPC Nicholas Peterson in the passenger seat and #4 - a 5-ton truck with trailer, driven by SPC Timothy Johnson with SFC Anthony Pierce in the passenger seat. As this group fought its way south through the city, it received fire from all directions, primarily from the west side of Highway 7/8. Iraqis attempted to block the road with vehicles and debris. While under fire, PVT Nace, SPC Johnson and SGT Petrik successfully maneuvered their respective vehicles around and through obstacles and continued all the way through the city. Soldiers in this group returned fire while moving. About 10 kilometers south of the intersection of Highway 8 and 7/8, this group met elements of the 8th Tank Battalion Task Force Tarawa, U.S. Marines. After CPT King briefed the Marines on his unit's situation, the Marine unit immediately sent elements north on Highway 8 to attempt to rescue the remainder of the 507th." In actuality, there is evidence of only one attempted rescue and there were three convoy squads. The Marines acknowledge meeting the convoy but most of them went forward with their mission which was the capture and control Nasiriyah's two bridges.
"The second group consisted of the vehicles and occupants: #2 - a 5-ton tractor-trailer driven by SPC Jun Zhang with SGT Curtis Campbell in the passenger seat, #5 a 5-ton tractor- trailer driven by PFC Marcus Dubois with CPL Damien Luten in the passenger seat, #6 - a HMMWV with trailer, driven by CW3 Nash with SSG Tarik Jackson in the front passenger seat, #7 - a 5-ton fuel truck, driven by PFC Adam Elliot with SPC James Grubb in the passenger seat and #10 - a 5-ton tractor-trailer, driven by SGT Matthew Rose with CPL Francis Carista in the passenger seat. Corporal Luten attempted to return fire with the 507th's only .50 cal. machine gun, but the weapon failed." The failure of these guns to fire when needed was becoming epidemic.
"Luten was wounded in the leg while reaching for his M16. The group took increasing small arms and rocket-propelled grenade fire from all sides; and like the first group faced attempts to block the road with debris and vehicles. The tractor-trailer immediately in front of Cpl. Luten's tractor-trailer, crewed by SPC Zhang and SGT Campbell, was hit multiple times and became inoperable about 5 kilometers south of the city - but short of CPT King's final location farther south.
"Zhang jumped out of the disabled tractor-trailer and got on the tractor-trailer rolling immediately behind, occupied by Dubois and Luten. SGT Campbell was shot while attempting to fire Zhang's M16/M203. The HMMWV crewed by Nash and Jackson stopped to pick up Campbell, and was disabled a short distance farther south. SSG Jackson had received multiple wounds prior to stopping to rescue Campbell. Dubois, Luten and Zhang turned around and returned to the disabled HMMWV.
"SPC Grubb returned fire with his M16 until wounded in both arms, despite reported jamming of his weapon, while PFC Elliot maneuvered their fuel truck through the ambush. SGT Rose, driving a tractor-trailer, maneuvered through obstacles in the road while under fire. CPL Carista, who was riding with Rose, was wounded by shrapnel. The fuel truck, crewed by SPC Grubb and PFC Elliot, and the tractor-trailer, occupied by SGT Rose and CPL Carista, linked up with the soldiers already at the disabled HMMWV. This group formed a defensive perimeter, while Combat Lifesavers (Carista, Elliot, Rose and Zhang) under the leadership of SGT Rose tended to the wounded soldiers (Campbell, Carista, Grubb, Jackson and Luten). The Marines arrived at the scene and rescued the 10 soldiers at this location." While that was good news, sadly, no armed team went in search of the other two units. And the level of irresponsibility required to send a fuel truck through this place is almost unfathomable.
While we considered this paragraph earlier, it is required again for continuity. "Midway in the convoy a 5-ton tractor-trailer driven by PVT Sloan with SGT Walters became disabled. The vehicle behind it, a 5-ton wrecker with water trailer, driven by PFC Miller, with SGT Riley in the passenger seat, executed a combat pick-up of Sloan while moving under fire. It is unclear whether SGT Walters was picked up by others in the convoy or remained in the area of the disabled tractor-trailer. There is some information to suggest that a U.S. soldier, that could have been Walters, fought his way south of Highway 16 toward a canal and was killed in action. SGT Walters was in fact killed at some point during this portion of the attack. The circumstances of his death cannot be conclusively determined by available information."
That brings us to the doomed contingent. "Group 3 consisted of the following: #8 - a 5-ton tractor-trailer, driven by PFC Howard Johnson with PVT Ruben Estrella-Soto in the passenger seat, #9 - a 5-ton truck with trailer driven by SPC Jamaal Addison with SPC James Kiehl in the passenger seat, #12 - a 5-ton wrecker, driven by PFC Patrick Miller, with SGT James Riley and PVT Brandon Sloan as passengers, #13 - a HEMTT wrecker towing a 5-ton tractor-trailer (Vehicle #18), driven by SPC Joseph Hudson with CW2 Johnny Mata in the passenger seat, #15 - a HMMWV with trailer, driven by PFC Lori Piestewa with 1SG Robert Dowdy in the front passenger seat, and PFC Jessica Lynch, SPC Edward Anguiano and SGT George Buggs in the rear, and #16 - a 5-ton tractor-trailer, driven by SPC Edgar Hernandez, with SPC Shoshana Johnson in the passenger seat."
Howard Johnson was killed as were Ruben Estrella-Soto, Jammaal Addison, James Kiehl, Johnny Mata, Brandon Sloan, Lori Piestewa, Robert Dowdy, Ed Anguiano, and George Buggs. Collectively, these 9 men and 1 woman represented 10 of the eleven fatalities. Pat Miller, James Riley, Edgar Hernandez, Joe Hudson, and Shoshana Johnson surrendered when their weapons failed and it became obvious that the situation was hopeless. They were rescued 21 days later north of Baghdad. Jessica Lynch was knocked unconscious when their vehicle crashed and was later carried to a local hospital where she was treated and released.
"At about 0720 hours, the 5-ton tractor-trailer, occupied by SPC Hernandez and SPC S. Johnson, came under heavy fire. SPC Hernandez tried to avoid hitting an Iraqi truck blocking the road in front of him and lost control of the vehicle, veering to the right and off the road. To their rear, 1SG Dowdy, in the HMMWV driven by PFC Piestewa, reached Miller's 5-ton wrecker and ordered him to increase speed and keep moving. The 1SG's HMMWV was then hit by direct or indirect fire and crashed at a high rate of speed into the rear of the stopped tractor-trailer, still occupied by SPC Hernandez and SPC S. Johnson.
"There were five soldiers in 1SG Dowdy's vehicle: 1SG Dowdy, his driver PFC Piestewa and three soldiers in the back - PFC Lynch, SGT Buggs, and PFC Anguiano. 1SG Dowdy was killed on impact. Piestewa survived the crash, but was seriously injured and died in captivity. Lynch was also seriously injured and captured [actually, taken to the local hospital and treated]. The circumstances of Buggs' and Anguiano's deaths remain under investigation.
"PFC Miller's truck, with SGT Riley and PVT Sloan as passengers, was disabled by enemy fire about 400 meters north of where 1SG Dowdy's HMMWV hit SPC Hernandez's tractor-trailer. PVT Sloan was killed by enemy fire before the vehicle came to a stop. PFC Miller and SGT Riley dismounted from their truck and moved to assist the occupants of the HMMWV and tractor-trailer just ahead of them. The occupants of the HMMWV appeared to be dead or beyond help. SGT Riley attempted to secure 1SG Dowdy's M16, since his own rifle had malfunctioned, but was unsuccessful. SGT Riley then directed SPC Johnson and SPC Hernandez to take cover. Riley also attempted to fire Johnson's and Hernandez's M16, but both jammed. Johnson and Hernandez were both wounded." While it would not have made any difference, their weapons' failures were almost universal.
"Consistent with the Code of Conduct, with no means to continue to resist, SGT Riley made the decision to surrender the two soldiers [Edgar Hernandez and Howard Johnson] and himself. PFC [Patrick] Miller moved beyond the crash-site, engaged the enemy and was captured after being surrounded. Although unconfirmed, Miller may have killed as many as nine Iraqi combatants." In other words, Patrick Miller killed nine Iraqi civilians. They were enemy combatants because they were Muslims.
"In the HEMTT wrecker towing a 5-ton tractor-trailer, SPC Hudson attempted to fire his M249 SAW while driving, but it malfunctioned. After he had driven past obstacles and debris, including an Iraqi tank blocking the road, his vehicle was disabled on the southern edge of the city. Iraqis continued to fire on the vehicle after it stopped. CW2 Mata, in the passenger seat, was killed.... Hudson, also wounded, was immediately surrounded after the shooting stopped and was pulled from the vehicle by Iraqis and captured.
"The 5-ton tractor-trailer (#8) crewed by PFC Howard Johnson and PVT Ruben Estrella-Soto, and the 5-ton truck (#9), crewed by SPC Jamaal Addison and SPC James Kiehl, attempted to drive out of the city. After both vehicles maneuvered several miles under fire and nearly out of the city, both were destroyed. There are few details to describe what happened to the soldiers of these vehicles. Both vehicles were stopped: #9 overturned at the Highway 8-7/8 intersection, possibly hit by direct or indirect fire, and #8 was disabled south of the intersection. There is some evidence to suggest that vehicle #8 struck the barrel of an [abandoned] Iraqi tank. All four soldiers were killed." From: Attack on the 507th Maintenance Company, 23 March 2003, Nasiriya, Iraq, available at ww.Army.mil/features/507thMaintCmpy.
Four members of the "lost patrol" were rescued that same day. Another, Pfc. Jessica Lynch, 19, was rescued/released April 2 from a local hospital - an event we'll review in a moment. But Jim Riley and four others were bound, blindfolded, and beaten by their Iraqi captors, who also ransacked the 507th's vehicles.
These Muslim militants, murderers, thieves, and kidnappers were in for a surprise when they turned their attention to Shoshana Johnson. She had been wounded in both ankles from a single bullet. She said, "They opened my NBC suit [Nuclear, Biological and Chemical protection garment] and noticed I was a woman. At that point they treated me more gently than the others," she told reporters.
Two others were hurt as well - Joe Hudson, 24, in the buttocks and side, and Edgar Hernandez, 21, in the right arm. Taken to Baghdad, the wounded were given some medical care. The captives said that their physical abuse subsided somewhat, replaced by the mental anguish of frequent interrogations, political diatribes, and uncertainty over their fates. "I thought they were going to kill me," Patrick Miller, 23, said. "That was the first thing I asked when they captured me: ‘Are you going to kill me?' They said, ‘No,' but I didn't believe them."
Jim, Shoshana, Joe, and Edgar were soon joined by two more U.S. soldiers, whose Apache had been shot down, or more likely failed mechanically in the blowing sands, the following day. David Williams, 31 and Ronald Young, 26, had ditched their helicopter and then dove into a canal and swam about a quarter mile to elude detection. But in the moonlight, armed men spotted the pair and fired warning shots, convincing them to surrender. "They beat us a little," David Williams said. "One of them had a stick. They kicked and beat Ron and I. They took a knife and put it to my throat."
The seven slept in separate cells on concrete floors, wearing striped prison pajamas underneath wool blankets. Marines working the Baghdad-Tikrit highway met an Iraqi along the way who gave them directions to where the missing U.S. troops were being held. They stormed the building, surprising the guards, who offered no resistance.
The story of Private Jessica Lynch is an entirely different affair. Her alleged bravery, capture, and subsequent "rescue" by U.S. Special Forces became one of the great patriotic moments of the Iraq War. Yet her story was actually one of news management and military propaganda.
Private Lynch, a 19-year-old Army clerk from Palestine, West Virginia, was the victim of a violent traffic accident caused by the civilian uprising. She wasn't so much captured as she was taken unconscious to the local hospital where her injuries were treated. Eight days later, U.S. Special Forces "stormed" the hospital, filming the dramatic events on a night vision camera.
The embedded reporters were somehow led to believe that she had multiple bullet wounds and that she had been slapped around on her hospital bed while being interrogated. But Iraqi doctors in Nasiriyah testified that they provided the best treatment they could. Dr. Harith a-Houssona, who looked after her, said, "I examined her, I saw she had a broken arm, a broken thigh and a dislocated ankle. There was no sign of shooting wounds, no bullets inside her body, no stab wounds - only injuries that occurred as the result of a traffic accident. They want to distort the picture. I don't know why they think there is some benefit in saying she has a bullet injury."
While considering what the good doctor revealed, it is important to keep in mind that many of the American clerks, chefs, and mechanics killed in Nasiriyah were murdered after they were ambushed and captured. The treatment Jessica allegedly received was extremely uncommon. The people of this town had feasted on American blood. But the point is, the doctor's testimony was accurate regarding Lynch. She was not wounded as the military and reporters had claimed.
Witnesses told the BBC that the Special Forces knew that the Iraqi militias from outside Nasiriyah had fled a day before they swooped in on the hospital. Hassam Hamoud, a waiter at a local restaurant, said he saw an American advance party arrive in the town. "The team's Arabic interpreter asked me where the hospital was. After I answered, they asked: ‘Are there any Fedayeen (civilian militias) over there?' I said, ‘No.'"
The next day America's Special Forces reappeared and descended on the building. "We heard the noise of helicopters, and we were surprised," said Dr Anmar Uday, who worked there. "Why do this? There was no Iraqi military here. There were no soldiers in or near the hospital. It was like they were making a Hollywood film. They cried ‘go, go, go,' with guns and the sound of explosions. They made a show for the Americans, pretending to attack the hospital. With their cameras rolling, they restrained our doctors and handcuffed a patient to a bed frame."
That wasn't the worst of it. Two days before the snatch squad arrived, Dr. Harith a-Houssona had risked his life to deliver Jessica to the Americans in an ambulance. "I told her I will try and help you get back to the American Army but I will do this secretly because I could lose my life." Helping an Infidel is considered treason in Islam and is punishable by death.
Dr. Harith told the BBC that he put her in an ambulance and instructed the driver to go to the American checkpoint. But when the ambulance, with Private Lynch inside, approached a checkpoint, American troops opened fire, forcing it to return to the hospital.
The British Broadcasting Company filed this investigative report: "A military cameraman had shot footage of the rescue, and raced to get it edited. The video presentation was ready a few hours after the first announcement of the rescue. When it was shown, General Vincent Brooks, the U.S. Department of Defense spokesman in Doha, declared: ‘Some brave souls put their lives on the line to make this happen, loyal to a creed that they know that they'll never leave a fallen comrade.'" Oh, but they had. Remember this story really has a real, albeit forgotten, hero, Don Walters, the man they left behind.
According to the BBC: "Releasing its five-minute film to the networks, the Pentagon claimed that Lynch had stab and bullet wounds, and that she had been slapped about on her hospital bed and interrogated. It was only thanks to a courageous Iraqi lawyer, Mohammed Odeh al-Rehaief, that she was saved. According to the Pentagon, al-Rehaief risked his life to alert the Americans that Lynch was in the Nasiriyah hospital." Al-Rehaief was granted asylum two weeks after arriving in the U.S. He is now the toast of Washington, with a $500,000 book deal: Rescue in Nassiriya.
None of the details that the doctors provided the BBC made it to the video or into any subsequent explanations or clarifications by U.S. authorities. The British asked a Pentagon spokesman in Washington, Bryan Whitman, to release the full tape of the rescue, rather than its edited version, to clear up any discrepancies. He declined. Whitman would not talk about what kind of Iraqi resistance the American forces faced, either, nor would he comment on the injuries Lynch actually sustained. The Pentagon spokesman said, "I understand there is some conflicting information out there and in due time the full story will be told, I'm sure."
The BBC went on to describe the Lynch incident as "hugely overblown and symptomatic of a bigger problem. The Americans never explained what was really going on in the war. All they needed to be was open and honest."
Responding to the BBC report that called the Pentagon accounts of the rescue "one of the most stunning pieces of news management ever conceived," Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said, "I think that allegation is ridiculous, I don't know how else to respond. The idea that we would put a number of forces in danger unnecessarily to recover one of our POWs is just ridiculous." Although Whitman acknowledged that in retrospect it might have been possible for the U.S. military to just drive up to the hospital and take Lynch.
Had America's political and military leaders been honest, the United States wouldn't have been embroiled in a winless war in Iraq. And once they were there, if it were known that the Iraqi civilians being "liberated" were really the ones killing American soldiers, the nation would not have "stayed the course" and allowed another 2,500 soldiers to die for what was obviously a failed cause.
So here is the bottom line: The President of the United States had portrayed the Americans as liberators who would be greeted with handshakes and smiles but instead they were greeted with a hail of bullets.
While the trend is encouraging, too few Americans have embraced the reality of what is being played out before their eyes. In April 2003, over 70% of Americans approved of Bush's handling of the situation in Iraq. By August 2006, that approval rating was cut in half, dropping to 34%. But that still means that one in three Americans is either morally crippled, willfully ignorant, or incapable of rational thought. When asked, "All in all, considering the costs to the United States versus the benefits to the United States, do you think the war with Iraq was worth fighting," these same morally and mentally handicapped souls said: "Yes!"
What is most troubling about the numbers is that these are the same people who consider themselves Christian Republicans and moral conservatives. In a perverted irony, their support of the troops and the war has caused many more to die. In fact they are the only reason American fatalities persist in Iraq.
Morally and rationally it is impossible to justify the sacrifice of one American life, much less 2,600 to topple a regime that had no weapons of mass destruction or any means to project them at America if they had, that that had not attacked America nor had the means to do so. Deposing ruthless dictators isn't the purpose of the U.S. military. And when a secular thug is replaced with an even more vicious religious regime, one that openly hates America, the sacrifice is suicidal.
Like it or not, the United States is embroiled in a lose-lose game. The Bush administration has been forced to accommodate the Ayatollah al-Sistani and his Supreme Council in order to preclude a catastrophe, a mass Shiite uprising against occupation. But the inevitable result is handing the country over to fundamentalist Islamic clerics in league with Iran. Not only do the Shi'ite clerical parties control the new government, what's particularly alarming is that the murderous al-Sadr is much more popular with Shi'ite Iraqis than even the Ayatollah al-Sistani.
The political platitudes being used to support the war in Iraq all ignore what happened in Nasiriyah and thus falsely assume that victory is an option.
- March 23, 2003: This Sunday Ronald Young, 26, from Lithia Springs, Georgia and David Williams, 30, from Orlando, Florida were abducted by Iraqi civilians when their helicopter went down under heavy fire in Karbala, 60 miles southwest of Baghdad. After being tortured, they were rescued three weeks later along with four of the hostages from Nasiriyah.
- March 23, 2003: Simon Cullingworth, 36, of Essex, England was the first coalition soldier to die from an IED (Improvised Explosive Device) in Iraq. This was before coalition forces even had a name for roadside bombs planted and detonated by Muslims - most often by cell phone using unspent artillery shells. Muslims would ultimately kill almost a thousand Americans and Brits this way.
Sapper Allsopp, 24, of North London died as a result of injuries sustained in the same blast that killed Simon. Ironically, Sapper and Simon were Explosive Ordnance Disposal Engineers.
The first three days of fighting were now over: 22 American and British soldiers had died as a result of accidents and 17 had succumbed to friendly fire. Sadly, 19 more were murdered by civilian Muslim militants, many of whom had received a substantial assist from bumbling military strategists. There is no evidence that the army the coalition had gone to fight had fired a successful shot and yet 57 young men and 1 young woman were dead. The picture was as clear as the future it foretold. Americans and Brits would die here for nothing. It was all a hellish mistake. While those who made the ultimate sacrifice were heroes, the misguided men who had sent them were fools. And while I despise those men for the carnage they brought on their own people, if you actively supported either one of them you are complicit in their crime.
- March 24, 2003: Barry Stephen, 31, of Perth, Scotland died today because Great Britain put him in outdated and faulty equipment. Barry was killed after his aging, circa 1960 vehicle broke down just days into the campaign. Heading off on foot for repairs, he was ambushed by local Muslims and shot by a rocket-propelled grenade. Had his vehicle not failed him, he would not have been killed.
Steve Roberts, 33, Bradford, of West Yorkshire, told his widow the night before he died that he was going to do the right thing for the Iraqi people. So today, the tank commander was shot by the Iraqi people while he was trying to calm rioting civilians in Zubayr, south of Basra. It later emerged that he had given his body armor to another soldier because of shortages.
I was able to learn that Greg Sanders, 19, of Hobart, Indiana was shot in the desert early this morning by a lone assassin. He was married with a one-year-old daughter Gwendolyn. "Army officials wouldn't tell us much about the way Greg died," his mother Leslie said. "All we know is that it was around four in the morning, during a time Greg's convoy was stretched 10 to 20 miles across the southwestern Iraqi desert. About 60 miles outside of Baghdad, shots were fired and Greg, a loader, who was seated on the left side of the tank, was hit and killed."
- March 24, 2003: Many of the press reports filed by embedded journalists in Iraq were errant. Here is an example: "After being attacked, Iraqis who appeared to be surrendering, picked up their weapons and opened fire, cutting a Marine column to pieces." This came from John Roberts of CBS Evening News. He also said "After 30 hours of wearying house-to-house fighting on the streets of Nasiriyah, the Marines decided to do it their way, sending a massive column of tanks and armor north toward the city. And while the Pentagon says the Marines now control Nasiriyah, the glow of mortars and artillery still lights up the night sky. It has thrown a shock into the Marines who now call the area where their comrades were killed ‘Mogadishu Alley.'"
During the first days of the war, the networks showed talking heads standing in front of military convoys stuck in sandstorms, and plenty of distant views which revealed the vastness of the desert, but video of Americans engaging the Iraqi military were nonexistent. Americans were shown the hurry up and wait nature of the army, they were shown what it took to put on a chemical suit, to sweat and shiver on the same day, to sleep in the shade of a tank or in the seat of an armored personnel carrier - everything but images of Americans engaging elements of Saddam Hussein's regime.
Americans heard soldiers reflect on what it felt like to decide whether or not to shoot at someone dressed as a civilian. But mostly Americans viewed images of massive U.S. convoys moving north without opposition, and without violence.
Among the reported stories that are now known to be errant include: Saddam may have been killed the first night (March 20); Umm Qasr has been taken (March 22, 23, & 24); most Iraqi soldiers will not fight for Saddam and instead are surrendering in droves (March 22 - the first half of that account was true but not the second. They simply removed their uniforms and ceased to be soldiers.); Iraqi citizens are greeting Americans as liberators (March 22); an entire division of 8,000 Iraqi soldiers surrendered en masse near Basra (March 23); several scud missiles have been launched against U.S. forces in Kuwait (March 23); the fedayeen civilian militias are few in number and do not pose a serious threat (March 23); Basra has been taken (March 23); a captured chemical plant was likely to have produced chemical weapons (March 23); Nasiriyah has been taken (March 23); the Iraqi government faces a major rebellion of anti-Saddam citizens in Basra (March 24); a convoy of 1,000 Iraqi vehicles and Republican Guard are speeding from Baghdad to engage U.S. troops (March 25); etc.
- March 24, 2003: U.S. missiles killed five Syrian workers and injured 10 near the Syrian/Iraqi border as they were returning home on a bus. The bus had stopped momentarily for a rest break.
- March 25, 2003: As the result of "friendly fire" and mistaken identity, David Clarke, 19, of Littleworth, England and Steve Allbutt of Stroke-on-Trent, England, were killed when their tank was struck by a shell from another British tank.
- March 25, 2003: America's smart weapons failed to perform as advertised today killing 58 Iraqi civilians in an air strike on the Al Nasser marketplace in Baghdad. 47 Iraqi civilians were wounded by the American bombing. The market had been crowded with women and children. Scenes of anguish and pain were broadcast worldwide doing irreparable harm to America's image.
Robert Fisk, a reporter who was at the site at the time of the bombing demonstrated that the Shu'ale district blast came from a weapon manufactured in Texas by Raytheon. Yet officials of the United States and United Kingdom publicly alleged that the Shu'ale bombing was caused by misguided and ageing Iraqi anti-aircraft missiles. They were lying.
Investigations by The Independent showed that the missile, thought to be a Harm (High Speed Anti-Radiation Missile) device, was sold by Raytheon to the procurement arm of the U.S. Navy. The American military confirmed that a navy EA-6B Prowler jet, based on the USS Kittyhawk, was in action over the Iraqi capital on Friday and that it fired at least one Harm missile.
The numbers on a fragment retrieved from the scene read: 30003-704ASB7492. This was followed by a second code: MFR 96214 09. An online database of suppliers maintained by the Defense Logistics Information Service, part of the Department of Defense, showed that the reference MFR 96214 was the identification or cage number of a Raytheon plant in McKinney, Texas. The 30003 reference refers to the Naval Air Systems Command, the procurement agency responsible for furnishing the US Navy's air force with its weaponry.
I understand that accidents happen but representatives of the United States government were becoming pathological liars.
- March 25, 2003: Francisco Flores, 21, of Los Angeles, California was killed when the tank he was in traveled over a faulty bridge and then tumbled into the Euphrates River. Martinez's mother, Martha, confirmed the news to reporters Monday, saying she hopes others might be spared her pain. "I just want them to stop it, for all the suffering mothers," she said in Spanish. "All of these young people have no need to die in this unending battle." Pfc. Flores was an immigrant from Mexico.
Patrick O'Day, 20, of Santa Rosa, California; and Don May, 31, of Richmond, Virginia died with Flores in the same tank accident. Their remains were recovered on March 28th. There is some debate as to whether the bridge or the driving was to blame for the accident or just poor visibility out of the tank. May left behind a wife who was seven-months pregnant.
- March 25, 2003: We are told that Brad Korthaus, 28, of Davenport, Iowa and Evan James, 21 of LaHarpe, Illinois, drowned while crossing the Saddam Canal near Nasiriyah. Initially listed as missing in action, their status was changed to killed in action when their remains were recovered the following day.
James, Korthaus, and another Marine were ordered to secure an access point along the Euphrates River so that engineers could connect a pump and filtration system to provide drinking water. Although a very strong swimmer and lifeguard who was in training for a triathlon, Evan James drown while crossing the canal. At the same time, Brad Korthaus, also considered a strong swimmer, was swept underwater and killed. Korthaus' grandfather said that Brad made it across but died when he jumped back in to save James.
- March 25, 2003: Hospital Corpsman Mike Johnson, 25, of Little Rock, Arkansas was the first American to die in Northern Iraq. A group of Muslim militants calling themselves Ansar al-Islam, or the Helpers of Submission, were to become active and lethal in that region. They threw a grenade at him as he was tending to a wounded comrade.
- March 26, 2003: America mistakenly bombed a civilian neighborhood and the Al-Shaab marketplace in Baghdad, leaving 14 civilians dead among smoldering restraints, demolished homes, and burning cars. Those who milled around the craters cried out, "This is barbarian." The explosions knocked power lines down and destroyed underground water systems.
At the same time, an Apache helicopter over Baghdad opened fire on a bus full of Iraqi civilians, killing 16.
- March 26, 2003: Kevin Nave, 36, of Union Lake, Michigan was killed in a non-hostile vehicle accident in Iraq. He leaves behind a six-year old son and a five-year-old daughter.
- March 26, 2003: Jesus del Solar, 20, from Escondido, California died in Iraq when he accidentally stepped upon an unexploded U.S. cluster bomblet in Southern Iraq. He had a wife and infant son. His wife was told only that her husband died on the battlefield.
Fernando Suarez del Solar, Lance Cpl. Jesus Suarez del Solar's father, has honored his son by joining Military Families Speak Out, an organization of 1,500 American families who have been scarred by the Iraqi war. Fernando wants the same things I want, and for many of the same reasons. He wants all American troops brought back home and for Americans to know that the invasion of Iraq was counterproductive.
You will find the press release issued by MFSO presented in its entirety on April 3rd, 2003 and then again a year later on April 4th, 2004. Please honor Jesus del Solar's sacrifice and read it thoughtfully and carefully.
Now that the battle against Saddam Hussein's secular regime was five days old there was still no evidence that the dictator's army successfully engaged. The death toll from accidents and friendly fire had climbed to 48. Mistakes in judgment had led directly to the deaths of 15 American and British soldiers - most of whom where non-combatant supply and maintenance personnel put into the wrong place at the wrong time. The number killed by jihadists without an assist from Uncle Sam was 8. Total fatalities in the failed mission were now 71.
- March 27, 2003: The United States trying to attack a nearby Iraqi military position mistakenly dropped cluster bombs on civilians in Najaf, wiping out entire families. Hospital workers claim that 26 civilians were killed.
- March 27-28, 2003: The place and cause of Marine Gunnery Sgt. Joseph Menusa's death is not known but it is known that he is no longer among the living. It is suggested that Joe Menusa died in a civilian Iraqi ambush, but that is somewhat speculative. Menusa, who was 33-years-old, was an engineer. "The U.S. military said he was shot but didn't provide any more information as to what happened, when it happened, or why it happened," his widow Stacy said. Joe leaves a three-year-old son.
Matty Hull, 25, died as a result of "a friendly fire incident." He was one of five British soldiers wounded in an accident of mistaken identity when two America A-10 Thunderbolt close combat aircraft mistakenly fired their Avenger Gatling guns into two British Armored vehicles that were part of a convoy. Those who witnessed the horrific attack said, "We will never forget the sound of those guns."
The low-flying jets, known as "tank busters" should never have been in the British-controlled area. According to witnesses, the pilots were "cowboying around" just 500 feet above the ground hunting for something to hit. The British armored vehicles were all marked with identifying fluorescent panels on the roofs, special flags, and other identifying signals just to keep this from happening.
Two Iraqi civilians waving white flags were also killed in the A-10 attack. One British soldier said: "As far as I am concerned those two pilots should be charged with manslaughter. There is no way they couldn't see the dayglo panel on top."
Even with smoke signals going up to indicate that the convoy was friendly, the American warplanes came back a second time, weapons blazing. Then, when they were informed of what they had done, the A-10s bugged out rather than staying to provide air cover for the rescue mission.
We know that Robert Rodriguez, 21, of Queens, New York died when the tank he was riding in fell into the Euphrates River northwest of Nasiriya.
Roderic Solomon, 32, of Fayetteville, North Carolina suffered a similar fate when his Bradley Fighting Vehicle rolled off a cliff in a "non-hostile" accident.
- March 29, 2003: Fernando Ramirez, 26, of Yuma, Arizona was killed when Muslims ambushed his convoy in Nasiriyah. It is a wonder that the U.S. military was still sending its men and women through this deadly Islamic town.
Eugene Williams, 24, of Highland, New York was the first of many Americans to die in Iraq at the hand of an Islamic suicide bomber - this one driving in a car.
In a separate incident, a second suicidal Muslim car bomber, this one driving a taxicab into Americans at a checkpoint in Najaf, murdered Diego Rincon, 19, of Conyers, Georgia, Mike Curtin, 23, of Howell, New Jersey, and Mike Weldon, 20, of Palm Bay, Florida. Suicide bombers are unique to Islam because Muhammad, rather than giving Muslims a reason to live, gave them a reason to die.
Bill White, 24, of Brooklyn, New York was killed in a vehicle accident.
- March 29, 2003: James Cawley, 41, of Roy, Utah became the 82nd coalition fatality in Iraq, but the first American to die "fighting Iraqi forces" - or so we are told. Without the time, place, and circumstance of his death listed by the Pentagon, it's difficult to know what actually happened. The AP report of his death calls it a "firefight" but doesn't say whom it was against or where it occured.
What you have read thus far is what I was able to glean from the military files as they are presented online by news sites like AP and CNN, but what they reported isn't true. Jim Cawley was run over by an American Humvee as he slept for the first time in five days. The driver who ran over him was outbound from the base to a firefight in Al Fajr, a community between Nasiriyah and Baghdad. According to his biography, James had fought valiantly the preceding days. However, he knew he was going to die in Iraq. On his last leave he gave all of his civilian clothes to charity. Jim left a beautiful wife, a son 8, and a daughter who was 6.
Signs posted along the route of his funeral procession read: "Thank you James Cawley for defending our freedom." Jim was a fine man, a good Marine, and a great husband and father, but there is no way to rationally equate his death in Iraq to the defense of American liberty. While the townsfolk meant well, good men continue to die when a nation falsely attributes noble platitudes to senseless killing.
James Cawley asked to have If, by Rudyard Kipling, read at his funeral.
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;
If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build ‘em up with worn out tools;
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on;"
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run -
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son!
- March 29, 2003: With the hunt for Osama bin Laden replaced by the dethroning of Saddam Hussein, American troops in Afghanistan were forgotten. Yet on this day Jacob Frazier, a member of the Illinois Air National Guard, was killed in Afghanistan.
- March 29, 2003: Twenty Iraqi civilians, including 11 children, were killed during a nighttime air raid that hit a farm in the Al-Janabin suburb on the edge of Baghdad.
- March 29, 2003: Two American soldiers on a public relations meet and greet mission in Geresk, Afghanistan were killed in an ambush. Jacob Frazier's life was cut short at 24. Orlando Morales was 33 when Islam took his life. They were Green Berets who had just returned from taking a tour of a school and clinic newly built with American aid.
Americans who survived the attack said that the "ambush was professional," meaning that it was one of the few things Muslims civilians did often enough to do well. Stunningly, the Americans were riding in Toyota pickup trucks rather than armored Humvees.
Of the 24 American deaths attributed to Afghanistan this year, all but two came by way of accidents. The majority of these mishaps were the result of inane orders. And 16 of these accidental deaths should have been attributed to Iraq rather than Afghanistan, worsening the already horrible beginning to that war.
- March 30, 2003: Brian McGinnis, 23, of St. George, Delaware, was killed in Iraq when his UH-1N Huey helicopter crashed at a supply and refueling point in Southern Iraq. It was an accident unrelated to enemy fire. In the same crash, Mike Lalush, 23, of Troutville, Virginia and Aaron Contreras, 31, of Sherwood Oregon lost their lives. Brian received his crew wings the day before the accident. He would have served his time and left the Marines this month had George Bush not invaded Iraq and changed all of that.
Shaun Brierly, of West Yorkshire, England was killed in a traffic accident on his base in Kuwait and Steve Ballard died of natural causes while in Iraq. Bill Jeffries, 39, of Evansville, Indiana died suddenly after becoming mysteriously ill. Chris Muir, 32, of Romsey, England, was killed disposing explosive ordnance.
Chris Maddison, 24, of Yorkshire, England was killed in an ambush in Basra, or so the military press releases read. He was actually another victim of friendly fire. His father, Tony Maddison said: "I feel that Mr. Blair has been a puppet of George Bush's." Chris Maddison's mother added: "I suspect that the specter of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction was raised to frighten our country into war. We've gone to war for the wrong reasons. I'm still hoping that the weapons of mass destruction will be discovered but I'm beginning to think we were being lied to."
- March 30, 2003: According to the Los Angeles Times, a rocket attack on the Jisser Diala village near Baghdad killed 14 members of one family and their relatives. A 12-year-old boy lost his arm and was orphaned.
- March 30, 2003: Brandon Rowe, 20, of Roscoe, Illinois, was killed by an artillery shell which exploded in his Airborne base, or so the Pentagon files presented by CNN claim. He had joined the Army to help pay for college. Specifics regarding Brandon's demise are not well known. The military told his family that the "details surrounding his death are sketchy, but that he was hit by indirect fire," a presentation style often evocative of an accident or friendly fire. His brother said "I don't know what they meant by ‘indirect fire.' I heard that he was on a tank, but I'm not sure."
The military said: "A piece of shrapnel or a bullet pierced his side under his arm where his body armor could not protect him." It happened in Najaf, Iraq according to some and in an ambush in Ayyub or al-Hillah according to others. If a nation is going to send good men into a bad place to die the least they can do is tell their families how they lost their lives. Why their lives should be sacrificed, is of course beyond the pale for politicians.
According to his closest friend, Brandon's sergeant resigned from the military as a result of "the situation which led to Rowe's death." Reports from men who were there say that "the situation" concerned an ambush in Al-Kifl, Iraq.
It should be noted that ambushes in small towns like al-Hillah, Iraq are civilian Muslim affairs. And they do not use artillery, a long range weapon, in the close confines of urban street fighting. Of the hundreds of reports filed by men who fought alongside Brandon, not one mentioned the presence of an army or soldiers wearing uniforms. They all said that he was a fine, brave man.
Wendy Borowski, the mother of Brandon Rowe, said, "For the sake of the soldiers, Americans need to put politics aside and support the troops." 2,500 more American troops would be sacrificed, rather than be supported, because of that message. To support the troops, engage in politics by calling for George Bush's impeachment and the return of all American troops.
Eight days into a winless war that should never have been waged, 90 Americans and Brits were dead. Almost two-thirds of them, 61 fatalities, or 68% of the aggregate total, died from accidents, mistaken identity, and natural causes. Nearly one-third, 29 of 90 or 32%, were murdered by Muslim militants - with more than half of that total been sent into harm's way for reasons that cannot be justified. And none, not one, were killed by the foe they had been sent to fight. It was not an auspicious beginning. But then, the middle and the end of this war were not good either.
It should be noted that the wounded to fatality ratios in Iraq would be higher than any war ever fought. Body armor protected vital organs and advances in battlefield medicine kept many alive who would have otherwise died. Tens of thousands of men and women would return from Iraq on stretchers rather than body bags but many of them would be missing part of their face or limbs. And many, way to many, would suffer burns over much of their body as the result of driving fuel trucks through barrages of RPG fire. In the first two weeks of hostilities in Iraq 203 American servicemen and women were listed as "casualties" but not "fatalities." Their lives, however, would never be the same.
There was another casualty. Of particular concern was the alarming propensity of the Defense Department to deceive the families of the deceased, the press, and the American people. They were following the example of their Commander In Chief.
- March 31, 2003: As a result of not speaking the same language, an American tank fired upon a civilian vehicle which did not stop at a check point. The SUV was hit with explosive rounds that killed 10 civilians including five young children.
The United States apologized for killing 15 members of a family today in Haidariya, near Hilla, Iraq. Their pickup truck was blown up by a rocket fired from an Apache helicopter. Also in Hillah, an America and British cluster bomb attack killed 33 Iraqi civilians and wounded 310 others.
An undisclosed number of American B-52 bombers killed 21 civilians in Bartalha, 7 miles from Mosul, during an air raid.
In March alone at least 500 Iraqi civilians were killed by coalition forces. That number would climb to well over 10,000. This was a war that could not be won that way.