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New Yorker on US Gulf War atrocities

Dear all

Latest issue of the New Yorker (22 May) carries a very long examination of
several disturbing incidents from just before and just after the 28 Feb
ceasefire which 'ended' the 1991 war on Iraq.

Seymour Hersh has reviewed the logs of the 24th Division (part of XVIII
Airborne Corps), and interviewed large numbers of serving and retired
soldiers, many of whom have spoken out publicly for the first time.

Incident I Massacre of prisoners 27 Feb 1991
On 27 Feb, something like 380 Iraqi soldiers surrendered to a Scout platoon
(vastly outnumbering the Scouts), were given food, water and reassurance -
'we gave each of them a white piece of paper' to show that they had
surrendered. Having blown up all the weapons carried by the Iraqi soldiers,
the Scouts left after being called away to another incident. As they drove
away they saw another unit drive up and begin machine-gunning the prisoners
they had just sat down in rows next to a clearly marked hospital bus. 'The
Bradleys were armed with chain-driven machine guns, capable of firing up to
a thousand rounds a minute', capable of penetrating several human bodies if
lined up, as the prisoners were.

Incident II The 'Battle' of Rumailah
On 2 March, after having moved forward a considerable distance from the
formal ceasefire line towards Basra, a US military division launched a
massive attack on nearby Iraqi forces. Claiming that retreating Iraqi tanks
were beginning an attack on their units, the 24th Division launched a
massive assault on a column of Iraqi soldiers (people in civilian clothing
and young children were also discovered in the wreckage later).

After cutting the bridge over which the retreating column had been intending
cross over into Iraq, the 24th Division used all of its forces to destroy a
reported 187 tanks and armoured vehicles, and 400 or more trucks. The
evidence accumulated by Hersh now suggests that one, or perhaps two, weapons
were fired at the US forces on 2 March, triggering a disproportionate
response, deceit by the commander, and a wholesale cover-up.

The commander of 24th Division, Major General Barry McCaffrey,
is now Clinton's director of the White House Office of National Drug
Control Policy, a Cabinet-level position. McCaffrey is the architect of the
US government's 1.6 billion dollar [misnamed] 'war on drugs' in Colombia.

Hersh ends his report with words from a retired US soldier now a senior
manager at a high-tech communications company. He remains convinced that the
Iraqis did not initiate the battle on 2 March. 'I was as patriotic as they
come. I was a gung-ho ass-kicking Commie-hating patriotic son of a bitch. I
hated the Arabs. We all did. I dehumanized them. Did the Iraqis commit war
crimes in Kuwait? Did they retreat back into Iraq to commit war crimes
against their own people? The answer is yes to both questions. but does that
make March 2nd justified? There have to be limits, even in war. Otherwise
the whole system breaks down.'

Recommended reading.

Milan Rai
158 Springfield Road Brighton BN1 6DG
ph/fax (0)1273 508 331

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