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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

US sniper "bait and kill" tactics may be a war crime

This is precisely the sort of thing that will turn a population even more against the occupiers. It doesn't seem to matter. The US snubs its nose at Iraqi sovereignty every day.


U.S. sniper 'bait and kill' tactics may be a war crime David Edwards and Adam Doster
Published: Tuesday September 25, 2007


A classified program used by U.S. military snipers has come under scrutiny in recent days. The Washington Post reports that, "A Pentagon group has encouraged some U.S. military snipers in Iraq to target suspected insurgents by scattering pieces of 'bait,' such as detonation cords, plastic explosives and ammunition, and then killing Iraqis who pick up the items, according to military court documents."

The secrecy of the plan was ended during an murder investigation involving three snipers who allegedly used bait items to make shootings seem legitimate. While it's unclear whether the three alleged shootings, which took place within months of the program's implementation, were part of the classified program specifically, "defense attorneys argue that the program may have opened the door to the soldiers' actions because it blurred the legal lines of killing in a complex war zone."

In documents retrieved by The Washington Post from family members of one accused soldier, a leader of an elite sniper scout platoon said "members of the U.S. military's Asymmetric Warfare Group visited his unit in January and later passed along ammunition boxes filled with the 'drop items' to be used 'to disrupt the AIF [Anti-Iraq Forces] attempts at harming Coalition Forces and give us the upper hand in a fight.'"

The baiting program should be rigorously examined, says Eugene Fidell, the president of the National Institute of Military Justice, because it raises frightening possibilities.

"In a country that is awash in armaments and magazines and implements of war," he said, "if every time somebody picked up something that was potentially useful as a weapon, you might as well ask every Iraqi to walk around with a target on his back."

Despite the new inquiries, it is not clear whether the program was isolated to one Iraqi region or how many people were killed using the tactics.

Read the whole story here.

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