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[casi] Samarra file: US war hero vs Brainwashington / etc

Here only 2 summarizing items from the easily expandable "Samarra file":

1) How an American war hero is taking his battle over Iraq to Washington
2) Massacre in Samarra: US lies and self-delusion




How an American war hero is taking his battle over Iraq to Washington

By Andrew Buncombe in Washington
05 December 2003

The left leg of retired Colonel David Hackworth still carries a bullet
that he picked up while fighting in the Vietnam War. Wounded a total
of eight times, he claims to be America's most highly decorated
soldier, his chest weighed down by honours such as eight Purple
Hearts, nine Silver Stars and eight Bronze Stars.

While no-one doubts Colonel Hackworth's patriotism or service to his
country, there are plenty of people who do not appreciate what he has
to say about the United States' occupation of Iraq and the way it was
carried out. Donald Rumsfeld is likely to be among his critics:
Colonel Hackworth, 72, described the US Defence Secretary as "an
arrogant asshole".

It is not just his outspoken comments and personal invective that have
established the swaggering retired soldier as a persistent thorn in
the side of the Pentagon. It is also because he acts as a lightening
rod for the complaints and criticisms of soldiers on the ground, for
the lowly grunts and GIs whose comments would otherwise go largely

These complaints gain wide exposure on Colonel Hackworth's two
websites, and Entries may discuss
subjects ranging from shoddy food and badly performing equipment to a
lack of ammunition. He says he receives up to 2,000 such messages a
week from troops whose anonymity he scrupulously protects. His website
currently carries a letter from a veteran helicopter pilot, discussing
the recent attack that brought down two Black Hawk helicopters.

The veteran's self-chosen role as the Pentagon's harshest critic and a
powerful, uncensored source of what American soldiers are experiencing
on the ground has never been more important. In the aftermath of
America's worst month in Iraq, when 79 of its soldiers died, Col
Hackworth this week received an email from a "combat leader" involved
in the firefight in the city of Samarra in which US forces claimed to
have killed 54 attackers. Local people insisted that only eight
people, mostly civilians, had been killed.

In his email to Colonel Hackworth, who he has known for eight years,
the soldier with the 4th Infantry Division wrote of Sunday's incident:
"Hack, most of the casualties were civilians, not insurgents or
criminals as being reported."

He added: "We are probably turning many Iraqi against us and I am
afraid instead of climbing out of the hole, we are digging ourselves
in deeper."

Speaking from his home in Greenwich, Connecticut, the white-haired
veteran said yesterday of the man who sent the email: "I have known
this soldier for eight years, since he first came into the US Army and
I have watched him develop and have full confidence in the validity of
his report."

Colonel Hackworth's assessment of the discrepancy between the
body-count claimed by US forces and locals rests with the Pentagon's
alleged desire to portray a positive view about a situation most
independent observers believe is spiralling into chaos. "It's the
nature of the beast," he said. "You try and paint the greatest face on
it. It happens in every war... in Vietnam it became an art form."

He said the units involved in any firefight drew up an assessment
themselves of what happened and how many of the enemy were killed.
"It's like students grading their own papers," he said. "If you're a
commander, are you going to say I was a dumb shit and we used too much
firepower and we killed a load of civilians, or are you going to say
that because of your brilliant command... we killed 54 insurgents? You
don't get promoted by striking-out.

"You get promoted by hitting a home run, even if it's a mythical home
run. During Vietnam there were lots of mythical home runs."

The email from the battle commander has placed Colonel Hackworth at
the centre of one of the most controversial incidents in Iraq since
President Bush announced an end to major hostilities at the beginning
of May. Despite numerous eye-witness accounts to the contrary, a
spokesman for the 4th Infantry Division has stood by its claim of
having killed 54 insurgents.

Most newspapers and media organisations have been forced to retract
initial reports that relied on the United States' claim about the
number killed.

"In an incident like this we have an initial assessment, followed by
more detailed assessments," the division's spokesman, Lt Col Bill
MacDonald, told reporters. "At this time we do not know of any
civilian casualties in the attack on our convoy. We are very confident
of our assessment. Commanders are responsible for providing timely,
accurate information."

As well as being the author of two best-selling books about the US
military, Colonel Hackworthhas written magazine articles and appeared
as a television pundit. He has long had a reputation for speaking out.
As long ago as 1971, when he was a serving officer, he said of the war
in Vietnam: "This is a bad war... it can't be won."

This has led him to be criticised by some veterans and others,
particularly during the war in Iraq when he criticised the Pentagon's
plan for the invasion as being too "light" and called for Mr Rumsfeld
to be fired.

"Hackworth is a washed-up windbag who can continue making love in
guest appearances with [chat show host] Larry King," wrote one critic.
"That way, we know no one is watching. I salute him for his service,
but he is toast."

Others choose to mock his exploits and macho-style of writing and
reporting. In his book Hazardous Duty, which details his exploits as a
war reporter for Newsweek Magazine, he records one soldier saying to
him: "Goddamn. You're Colonel Hackworth. You're the hot shit dude who
tells it like it is."

John Rees, editor of the Armed Forces Journal, whose readership is
made up primarily of military personnel, said some people tried to
dismiss the colonel. But he added: "In the scheme of things he serves
a purpose for some of our younger troops, and when he speaks he is
listened to."

Samarra: soldier's e-mail devastates Pentagon's account

"The convoy which was attacked while driving through Samarra was not a
supply convoy as reported, but was carrying large amounts of new Iraqi
currency to stock local Iraqi banks and US greenbacks used to pay for
goods and services the US forces need to accomplish their missions in
Iraq. This convoy was heavily guarded by Abrams Tanks and Bradley
Fighting Vehicles. It was akin to a huge Brinks Truck delivery.

The reports of 54 enemy killed will sound great on the home front, but
the greater story is much more disturbing and needs to be told to the
American Public. When we received the first incoming rounds, all I
could think of was how the hell did the Iraqis (most of these
attackers being criminals, not insurgents) find out about this
shipment? This was not broadcast on the local news, but Iraqi police
knew about it. Bing, Bing Bing, You do the math.

Of greater importance in the scale of the attack and the co-ordination
of the two operations. Iraqi Rebel Guerrilla Units elements still
retain the ability to conduct synchronized operations despite the
massive overwhelming firepower 'Iron Hammer' offensive this month.

Hack, most of the casualties were civilians, not insurgents or
criminals ... During the ambushes the tanks, brads and armored Humvees
hosed down houses, buildings, and cars while using reflexive fire
against the attackers. One of the precepts of 'Iron Hammer' is to use
an Iron Fist when dealing with the insurgents. As the division
spokesman is telling the press, we are responding with overwhelming
firepower and are taking the fight to the enemy. The response to these
well co-ordinated ambushes was as one would expect. The convoy
continued to move, shooting at ANY target that appeared to be a
threat. RPG [rocket-propelled grenade] fire from a house, the tank
destroys the house with main gun fire and hoses the area down with
7.62 and 50cal MG fire. Rifle fire from an alley, the brads fire up
the alley and fire up the surrounding buildings with 7.62mm and 25mm
HE rounds. This was actually a rolling firefight through the entire

The ROE [rules of engagement] under 'Iron Fist' is such that the US
soldiers are to consider buildings, homes, cars to be hostile if enemy
fire is received from them (regardless of who else is inside). It
seems to many of us this is more an act of desperation ... We really
don't know if we kill anyone, because we don't stick around to find
out ... the logic is to respond to attacks using our superior
firepower to kill the rebel insurgents. This is done in many cases
knowing that there are people inside these buildings or cars who may
not be connected to the insurgents.

The belief in superior firepower as a counter-insurgency tactic is
then extended down to the average Iraqi, with the hope that the Iraqis
will not support the guerrillas and turn them in to coalition forces,
knowing we will blow the hell out of their homes or towns if they
don't. Of course in too many cases, if the insurgents bait us and goad
us into leveling buildings and homes, the people inside will then hate
us (even if they did not before) and we have created more recruits for
the guerrillas.

The Commander of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, Colonel Frederick
Rudesheim, said after this battle that 'We are going to continue to
take the fight to this enemy. This is the most significant contact we
have had to date in the city of Samarra. We are going to have to
respond accordingly.'

This is a great attitude for a combat commander to have when fighting
an armored force, but Colonel Rudesheim is not trained in
Counter-Insurgency and my soldiers are taking the heat. We drive
around in convoys, blast the hell out of the area, break down doors
and search buildings; but the guerrillas continue to attack us. It
does not take a George Patton to see we are using the wrong tactics
... Much of Samarra is fairly well shot up. The tanks and brads rolled
over parked cars and fired up buildings where we believed the enemy
was. This must be expected considering the field of vision is limited
... Not all the people in this town were hostile, but we did see many
people firing from rooftops or alleys that looked like civilians, not
the Feddayeen reported in the press. I even saw Iraqi people throwing
stones at us, I told my soldiers to hold their fire unless they could
indentfy [sic] a real weapon.

Since we did not stick around to find out, I am very concerned in the
coming days we will find we killed many civilians as well as Iraqi
irregular fighters. I would feel great if all the people we killed
were all enemy guerrillas, but I can't say that. We are probably
turning many Iraqi against us and I am afraid instead of climbing out
of the hole, we are digging ourselves in deeper."

A Combat Leader



Massacre in Samarra: US lies and self-delusion

04.12.2003 [01:20]

The US military’s initial account of Sunday’s firefight in the central Iraqi
city of Samarra, uncritically relayed to the American people by a servile
media, has proven to be a tissue of lies. It turns out that the “major
victory” over the Iraqi resistance consisted of American forces blasting
away indiscriminately in Samarra’s city center, killing innocent men, women
and children, damaging property and buildings—including a mosque and a
kindergarten—and further enraging the local population.

The Samarra incident in its various aspects—the battle itself, the military’
s claims, the media’s role—is a microcosm of the US occupation of Iraq.

American military spokesmen first declared that US forces had defeated a
“massive attack,” inflicting heavy casualties on the enemy. The Pentagon
claimed that 46 Iraqi guerrillas had been killed, and later increased that
figure to 54.

The US media passed on the “good news,” repeating the military’s assertion
that dozens of Iraqi fighters had been slain. As Editor & Publisher Online
noted December 2: “Neither the New York Times, New York Post, the Boston
Globe, USA Today, the Washington Post, or Knight Ridder included any
civilian witnesses or Iraqi hospital accounts in their initial reports
Monday. Many flatly reported the death tally and account of the battle
without noting this was ‘according to military officials.’ The Times topped
its front page with the declarative headline: ‘46 Iraqis Die in Fierce Fight
Between Rebels and GIs,’ and this was common treatment.”

Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post predictably ran the most depraved headline:
“GIs Blow Away 46 Saddam Fanatics.”

The story, however, evaporated almost as soon as it was told. On-the-scene
reporting by journalists made clear that the claim of dozens of guerrilla
fatalities was absurd, an invention of the US military command in Iraq.
Local residents told reporters that eight to ten people had been
killed—most, if not all of them, civilians.

On Tuesday, the military’s version of events continued to unravel, as even
major US media outlets acknowledged widespread doubts about a major American
military triumph and provided certain information about civilian casualties.

The San Francisco Chronicle’s Vivienne Walt reported from Samarra’s
hospital: “In a mix of rage and grief, residents lashed out at the brigade’s
soldiers, accusing them of firing randomly into crowded market areas in the
center of the city, killing civilians, including two Iranians believed to be
pilgrims visiting a Shiite mosque in town. ‘All the people in town today are
asking for revenge,’ said Majid Fadel al-Samarai, 50, an emergency-room
worker at the Samarra General Hospital. ‘They want to kill the Americans
like they killed our civilians. Give me a gun, and I will also fight.’

“Residents also charged that American soldiers showed little regard for the
safety of civilians during the gun battle. ‘I saw a man running across the
street to get his small son, who was stuck in the middle,’ said Abdul Satar,
47, who owns a bakery a block from one of the two banks to which the convoys
had driven. ‘So the Americans shot the man,’ he said.”

Similar reports and comments from Samarra residents appeared in other major
newspapers and even on US television. The New York Times cited the comments
of a 52-year-old ambulance driver at the city’s morgue, Adnan Sahib Dafar,
who pointed to a dead woman and demanded, “Is this woman shooting a
rocket-propelled grenade?... Is she fighting?” The Times also quoted a
shopkeeper, Satar Nasiaf, 47, who had watched two Iraqi civilians die at the
hands of US troops, “If I had a gun, I would have attacked the Americans
myself.... The Americans were shooting in every direction.”

New York Newsday correspondent Mohammed Bazzi commented: “Some witnesses
said US forces began firing at random after they were attacked. ‘They just
started shooting in all directions,’ said Akil al-Janabi, 43, who said his
brother was wounded in the crossfire. ‘They have no regard for civilians. We
were not the ones attacking them, but now we want revenge for our dead and

Reporters from Britain’s Guardian spoke to local officials who “questioned
the high body count and said there were non-combatants among the dead. ‘We
think that at most eight or nine people died,’ said Khaled Mohammed, an
admissions clerk in the hospital’s emergency ward, but added that some of
the dead might have been taken straight to the town morgue.

“A Samarra policeman, Captain Sabti Awad, said American troops had opened
fire at random in response to the ambush, killing and wounding civilians.
Ahmed al-Samarai, another police officer, said: ‘Not more than 10 people
were killed and some of those were not involved in the fighting.’... Jihad
Hussein, a student, said he had seen passersby running for cover. ‘They were
spraying the whole street,’ he said. ‘I don’t know who fired the first shot,
the Americans or the Fedayeen, but I saw at least one young woman hit by a
bullet as she lay on the ground.’

A US soldier, a “combat leader,” writing on the Soldiers For The Truth web
site, who claims to have participated in the Samarra battle, explained that
“most of the casualties were civilians, not insurgents or criminals as [is]
being reported. During the ambushes the tanks, brads [Bradley Fighting
Vehicles] and armored HUMVEES hosed down houses, buildings, and cars while
using reflexive fire against the attackers.”

Agence France Presse (AFP) reporters spoke with residents who had not seen
any militants’ bodies after the firefight. An ambulance driver, Abdelmoneim
Mohammed, said he had not transported any fighters. “If I had seen bodies, I
would have picked them up. It’s not like the Americans would have done it.
If the death toll had reached that announced by the Americans, the
atmosphere in Samarra would be quite different.”

The owner of a grocery store located 60 yards from the scene of one of the
attacks told AFP, “After the firing, I went out of my shop. There were no
wounded, no killed on the streets. Where could they have disappeared?”

(Whatever lessons the battle of Samarra may have taught the Pentagon, one
must be prominent in many minds: the need to prevent journalists from being
in a position to debunk the American version of events. The military may
resort once again to the killing of reporters, a policy already put into
effect early in the Iraqi war, in order to intimidate and silence
journalists not inclined to parrot the official line.)

In the face of considerable evidence, Pentagon officials stood firm Tuesday,
continuing to claim a great victory. In Brussels, Gen. Peter Pace, vice
chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters, “They attacked, and
they were killed. So I think it will be instructive to them.”

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld asserted that the continuing insurgency
was being conducted by “a limited number of people who are determined to
kill innocent men, women and children.” According to Rumsfeld, they are
“being rounded up, captured, killed, wounded and interrogated.” A senior
military official told the New York Times, “They [the Iraqi resistance] got
whacked, and won’t try that again.”

As for accounts of civilian casualties, which appeared in virtually every
news outlet worldwide, US Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt told a Baghdad press
conference, “We have no such reports, whether from medical authorities or

American military officials attempted to brazen their way through the thorny
issue of the missing corpses of the Iraqi fighters. Kimmitt told the media,
“I would suspect that the enemy would have carried them away and brought
them back to where their initial base was.” Col. Fredrik Rudesheim, when
asked about the same issue, responded: “Are you asking me to produce [them,
i.e., the dead bodies]?” He continued, “This is a good question and I think
perhaps if you can interview the Fedayeen or whoever attacked us, you might
get a better answer.”

Lieut. Col. Ryan Gonsalves, commander of the 166th Armored Battalion in
Samarra, said the body count was “based on the reports we got from the
ground.” The AFP acerbically noted, “The mystery [of the absent bodies],
which borders on solving a mathematics equation, further deepened with Col.
Gonsalves’ report. According to him, a total of 60 militants, divided into
two groups, attacked two convoys escorting new Iraqi currency to banks in
the city.... If the US troops killed 46 and captured 11 of them, only three
of the survivors would have been left to pick up the corpses.”

To what extent self-delusion, as opposed to simple prevarication, played a
role in producing the Samarra “body count” and the US military’s general
picture of the gun battle is impossible to determine with precision.
American commanders undoubtedly feel the need to boost the morale of their
troops and supply the Bush administration with “good news” on the military

In any event, the Samarra episode contains features that reveal the
character of the war as a whole:

1. Massive and ever-growing Iraqi popular opposition to the American
occupation. Both US soldiers on the ground and Iraqis agree that when the US
forces started firing at everything in sight, as Newsday put it, “some
residents went to their homes to retrieve their guns and began firing at the
US troops. ‘These were normal people who were not involved in the
resistance,’ [one witness] said. ‘But they saw how the Americans were firing
their machine guns and tanks in every direction, and they wanted to fight

By their actions in recent months and Sunday’s display of indiscriminate
firepower in particular, the US forces have aroused the outrage of Samarra’s
population, under the old regime a hotbed of anti-Hussein sentiment. A
similar process is at work in much of the country.

2. The deterioration in the morale of US troops. The mental state of the
increasingly demoralized American forces in Iraq must include many
conflicting and contradictory sentiments: opposition to the war,
disorientation, bewilderment, fear, frustration, as well as a fury that can
take homicidal forms.

The US soldier quoted above at Soldiers For The Truth no doubt reflects a
common worry among American troops when he writes, in regard to the Samarra
fighting, “I am very concerned in the coming days we will find we killed
many civilians as well as Iraqi irregular fighters.... We are probably
turning many Iraqi[s] against us and I am afraid instead of climbing out of
the hole, we are digging ourselves in deeper.”

3. The general perplexity of American ruling circles, politically and
militarily. US policy in Iraq can take only one of two paths: the withdrawal
of American forces from the country, which is strategically unthinkable for
the Bush administration and the American ruling elite, or the physical
elimination of thousands of Iraqis and the transformation of the country
into a vast prison camp.

The launching of “Operation Iron Hammer” and the unleashing of vast
firepower given any excuse, as in Samarra, demonstrate that the US military’
s response to its present predicament is to step up the level of violence
and terror against an increasingly sophisticated Iraqi resistance and the
population as a whole.

4. The recourse to falsification and wishful thinking, with the full
assistance of the American media. The military’s lying about the gunfight in
Samarra is the sharpest expression of the basic lie at the heart of the
entire Iraq operation. This is an illegal war, justified with falsehoods
about “weapons of mass destruction” and Saddam Hussein’s Al Qaeda
connection, carried out against the wishes of the majority of Iraqis and in
the face of massive global opposition. The invasion and occupation have
predatory, colonial aims, none of which can be acknowledged by the Bush
administration or the US press and television.

The Samarra battle is a small foretaste of the disaster the Bush
administration is preparing for the Iraqi people, the American population
and the population of the entire world.

See Also:US military opens fire on Iraqi civilians following skirmish in
Samarra[2 December 2003]US military adopts “no-holds barred” tactics against
Iraqi resistance[1 December 2003]US media sanctions campaign of atrocities
in Iraq[17 November 2003]
Источник (Source) : David Walsh, Shelton Reese

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