Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Gorilla's Guides: What Was That We're All Meant To Be "Pro" Again? Part 2

I blogged about this episode on Wednesday May 31st. Gorilla's Guides: What Was That We're All Meant To Be "Pro" Again? Here's part of what I said back then:

 A Iraqi boy on his bicylcle looks at a warning sign in English "The caption for this photo reads as follows:

A young boy riding a bicycle looks across at a newly-erected warning sign put up Wednesday, May 31, 2006 on a road around 100 metres from the maternity hospital which Nabiha Nisaif Jassim, 35, a pregnant woman and her 57-year-old cousin Saliha Mohammed Hassan, were driving to for Jassim to give birth when they were killed in Samarra, Iraq Tuesday, May 30, 2006. U.S. forces apparently shot to death two Iraqi women, one of them pregnant, when they fired at a vehicle that failed to stop at an observation post in the town, Iraqi officials and relatives said." [Emphasis added by me, pay particular attention to that figure 100 metres, 100 m = 328' - 1" (feet, inches and tenths-of-an-inch) or to round it off 100 metres is a little bit over 109 yards. - mfi]

Dahr Jamail working with Arkan Hamed has further updates to this story. The article which can be found here confirms the many of the details previously known such as the US army's initials statement: "Shots were fired to disable the vehicle," the military said in a statement e-mailed to The Associated Press. "Coalition forces later received reports from Iraqi police that two women had died from gunshot wounds ... and one of the females may have been pregnant." As I said at the time there was no "may have been about it" - the US army admitted killing both Nabiha Nisaif Jassim and her cousin Saliha Mohammed Hassan. As Nabiha was being raced to the maternity hospital to give birth to her third child. The US army statement made two claims:

  1. It claimed that the checkpoint was clearly marked.
  2. It claimed that the driver failed to stop "despite repeated visual and auditory warnings."

Both points are disputed by the driver of the car Nabiha's brother Khalid Nisaif Jassim, and two local residents back his version of events up.

"The brother of the pregnant woman, Redam Nisaif Jassim, who was driving the car, told IPS that he neither saw nor heard any warnings by the U.S. military. Two men who witnessed the incident from a nearby home also said they saw no signs of any warning."

Dahr Jamail's and Arkan Hamed's report again confirms what I wrote back on May 31st. That the checkpoint as is almost invariably the case with US checkpoints took place at a concealed checkpoint. It wasn't easy to see, it wasn't meant to be.

"The area where they were killed by the Americans was completely unmarked," the human rights investigator told IPS. A warning sign at the place was put up after the two women were killed, he said.

The report confirms moreover that in this case as in so many others the victims were shot from behind by a concealed American sniper and that US troops made no attempt to help their victims.

"I investigated this incident myself, and both of these women were shot from behind," said the investigator. "Nabiha's brains were splattered on her brother who was driving the car, since she was in the back seat."

According to the investigator, the U.S. troops who killed the two women made no attempt to assist them after the shooting.

"The next day Redam Jassim was summoned to a local police station. "The Americans offered me 5,000 dollars, and told me it wasn't compensation but because of tradition," Jassim told IPS. The U.S. military pays usually 2,500 dollars compensation for killing an Iraqi. Jassim says he refused the payment.

[These are the so-called "Solatia Payments" and are not an admission of liability see notes at the end of this posting - mfi]

In short we still have a situation where a mother of two being rushed to give birth in the local maternity hospital was, together with her 57 year old cousin shot from behind by a concealed sniper, and died as a result. Efforts to save her baby were unsuccessful. The incident took place at what appears to have been a concealed checkpoint, the existentce of which was not notified to the public at the time it was erected, and was indeed only signposted the next day. Moreover all witnesses specifically contradict the US version of events and at the very least questions as to why payment was offered. There are good grounds for suspecting that as in Haditha [see in particular note 4 in the notes below] the motive was not "to express sorrow" but rather it was species of "hush money."



Note 1:

"The availability of the CERP funds provides commanderswith the capability and flexibility to take immediate action to positively impact their area of responsibility. Commanders can use the CERP for (1) reconstruction assistance;(2) the CERP small rewards program; or (3) compensation for economic loss due to death or serious bodily injury. The CERP funds also continue to pay otherwise meritorious claims that may not be paid under the FCA."

See: Notes from the field. For general legal background on Solatia. [ One of the particular examples used is a vehicle approaching a checkpoint at a high rate of speed. If soldiers fire on that vehicle that is a combat-related incident, and cannot be compensated under the Foreign Claims Act, but if innocent civilians are killed, the local Commander can make a payment from what are called CERP funds to compensate victims/relatves. Briefly the legal situation is that while foreign nationals may claim for injury or damage caused by the the US under the Foreign Claims Act, such claims may not be made under the FCA for combat injuries or death. In such a case "Solatia" payments are made as "an expression of sorrow" they are discretionary and ex gratia " made under the "Commanders Emergency Response Program" (CERP).

CERP Payments have have rocketed in the the last year. Particularly from the United States Marine Corps (USMC.) To an extent this reflects the intensity of combat in al-Anbar (Samarra is in Salah ad Din.)

Note 2:


Condolence payments to Iraqis soar
Military gave nearly $20m to families of civilians

By Bryan Bender, Boston Globe | June 8, 2006

WASHINGTON -- The amount of cash the US military has paid to families of Iraqi civilians killed or maimed in operations involving American troops skyrocketed from just under $5 million in 2004 to almost $20 million last year, according to Pentagon financial data

The dramatic spike in what's known as condolence payments -- distributed to Iraqi families whose loved ones were caught in US crossfire or victimized during US ground and air assaults -- suggests that American commanders made on-the-spot restitution far more frequently, according to congressional aides and officials familiar with a special fund at the disposal of military officers in Iraq.

Note 3:

also see:

Civilian Losses
Compensation Payments Rising, Especially by Marines

New York Times | WASHINGTON, June 9

Almost half of the more than $19 million in compensation that the American military allocated last year to compensate for killing or injuring Iraqis and damaging property came from Marine-led units in Anbar Province, Defense Department records show.

The $9.5 million in "condolence payments" by the Marines reflects the persistent fighting against insurgents in violent Anbar, but it also provides a reminder of the heavy toll that the conflict has taken on civilians, mostly from insurgents but also from American units.

Note 4:

A particular point to note is no money is paid to Iraqi's killed by insurgents. This was, to me at any rate one of the first indisputable indications that a cover up in Haditha had been attempted by the local commanders. The payments are made solely as a result of US actions and are made at the discretion of the local commander. In Haditha the US army first claimed that the 24 in Haditha had been killed by insurgents and then paid them. Clearly a HUGE discrepency between policy and what was done. The question immediately arose in my mind as to why the money was paid. The only reasonable explanation is as "hush money."

Note 5:

Readers should also note that given that the payment for a death is US$2,500.00 payments in the order of US$19 million implies a massive number of civilian deaths many thousands of civilians deaths. Yet the admitted total of civilian deaths is considerably less than 1,000 - in the order of 600.


cross posted to markfromireland

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