October 13, 2004

Hersh: bullet in your back

A chilling account of a recent talk by the New Yorker's Seymour Hersh, describes a phone call he received from a first lieutenant in Iraq. The lieutenant's platoon had been stationed outside a quite agricultural town for some time, near a granary. The granary owner had hired a bunch of guys to protect the grain; the soldiers and the guards got to know each other.

They were a couple weeks together, they knew each other. So orders came down from the generals in Baghdad, we want to clear the village, like in Samarra. And as he told the story, another platoon from his company came and executed all the guards, as his people were screaming, stop. And he said they just shot them one by one. He went nuts, and his soldiers went nuts. And he's hysterical. He's totally hysterical. And he went to the captain. He was a lieutenant, he went to the company captain. And the company captain said, 'No, you don't understand. That's a kill. We got thirty-six insurgents.'
You know what I told him? I said, fella, I said: you've complained to the captain. He knows you think they committed murder. Your troops know their fellow soldiers committed murder. Shut up. Just shut up. Get through your tour and just shut up. You're going to get a bullet in the back. You don't need that. And that's where we are with this war.

More details from UC Berkeley, where the talk was delivered.