Friday, July 13, 2012

What Constitutes a "Crime" Under Rules of Engagement?

Armed forces in the field are held to a high standard of conduct.  If they see an enemy combatant, they have to weigh the cost of letting him get away, versus the potential for civilian (that is, those not directly involved in the war and wearing a uniform - no matter what aid they give to their soldiers on their side) harm.

 

The Army Times had a recent post on a soldier involved in just that kind of situation - that soldier may end up disciplined for what, at worst, was a difference in opinion in a stress situation.  In a way, he is lucky - other soldiers have faced courtmartials, and potential prison time for "offenses" no greater.

 

Another blog goes into some detail about the daily experiences of soldiers, who risk their lives to avoid killing civilians.

 

Remember when the Anti-War crowd fought to get pictures of dead soldiers' coffins on the evening news - oh, yeah, that was when BUSH was president.



It's different now - the above pictures aren't on display, although the men and women are just as dead, in the same war.

 

And what of our Commander-in-Chief?

 

The Rules don't appear to apply to him.

 
Although President Obama has only served 39 months in office, 69 percent of the U.S. military fatalities in the more then 10-year-old war in Afghanistan have occurred on his watch.

Through April 30, the Defense Department had reported that 1,844 U.S. military personnel have been killed in and around Afghanistan while deployed in Operation Enduring Freedom, which was launched in October 2001 after al Qaeda terrorists attacked the World Trade Towers and the Pentagon.

According to CNSNews.com’s comprehensive database on Afghan war casualties, at least 1,275 of the 1,844 U.S. troops killed in Operation Enduring Freedom have been killed since Jan. 20, 2009, when Barack Obama was inaugurated as president.

 

Go here for the full story - and check the comments - some are saying that those figures may be low, due to playing games with the stats.

 

Here's some background on the drone strikes.

 
President Barack Obama has authorized 193 drone strikes in Pakistan since he took office in 2009, more than four times the number of attacks that President George W. Bush authorized during his two terms, according to the New America Foundation, a Washington-based public-policy institute.

 

Drone strikes aren't precision bombing - in most cases, all males in the vicinity are killed or injured.  And, that seems to be OK with the Prez.

 
“The president apparently reacted quite strongly to a bad strike, an errant strike in Pakistan very early in the first days of his presidency, and has kept pressing the agencies involved to minimize civilian casualties,” Shane said. “But there’s also been some dispute over the way civilian casualties are counted. The CIA often counts able-bodied males, military-age males who are killed in strikes as militants, unless they have concrete evidence to sort of prove them innocent, and some folks at the State Department and elsewhere have questioned that kind of a process.”

The Times article goes on to explain that President Obama is incredibly instrumental when it comes to targeted drone strikes and oversees counterterrorism operations involving the unmanned aerial aircraft so much so that he says who can and can’t be killed. To Newshour, Shane said, “Instead of wanting deniability and wanting to keep at a distance from this lethal program, he actually wanted to be very much part of it.” According to that Times’ report, it now makes a lot of sense why the commander-in-chief has never condemned the continuing strikes.

Speaking to an international audience during a virtual townhall earlier this year, President Obama said that drones had"not caused a huge number of civilian casualties” and he added that it’s "important for everybody to understand that this thing is kept on a very tight leash.” But when the Bureau of Investigative Journalism released the findings of a drone strike stud last year, the UK-based agency said , that the number of civilians killed in US drone strikes were probably 40 percent higher than what the American authorities were actually reporting: between 2004 and 2011, they put the estimate of civilian deaths at a figure of 385, but added in the research that the toll could actually come close to tallying 775 casualties.

 

The NY Times has another take on the story, but one that also lays out clearly Obama's complicity in the deaths.

 

BTW, here is a detailed explanation of the ROE for Iraq (haven't found the Afghan ones yet - I believe that the revisions haven't had wide circulation).  The original document was from the Wilileaks site.

 

How insane are these rules?  According to this post, George Zimmerman had more cover under the law to shoot Trevor Martin than many of our troops - who are pursuing men who are trying to kill them - have.

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