Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Defending a Marine

One expert's opinion:

Coalition forces in Iraq said the U.S. military was investigating whether the Marine who shot the man "acted in self-defense, violated military law or failed to comply with the Law of Armed Conflict."

Charles Heyman, a British infantry veteran and senior defense analyst with Jane's Consultancy Group in London, defended the Marine shown shooting the wounded Iraqi in a mosque in Fallujah.

"In a combat infantry soldier's training, he is always taught that his enemy is at his most dangerous when he is severely injured," Heyman said. There is the danger that the wounded enemy may be determined to "take one with you," with a hidden firearm or grenade.

If the man makes even the slightest move, Heyman added, "in my estimation they would be justified in shooting him."

Update: The title of the above linked article is "Geneva Conventions Protect Wounded in War". These combatants are terrorists and the Geneva Conventions should not apply.

Terrorists Have No Geneva Rights by John Yoo
The reasons to deny Geneva status to terrorists extend beyond pure legal obligation. The primary enforcer of the laws of war has been reciprocal treatment: We obey the Geneva Conventions because our opponent does the same with American POWs. That is impossible with al Qaeda. It has never demonstrated any desire to provide humane treatment to captured Americans. If anything, the murders of Nicholas Berg and Daniel Pearl declare al Qaeda's intentions to kill even innocent civilian prisoners.

Justice Dept.: Geneva Conventions limited in Iraq
Non-Iraqi prisoners captured by U.S. forces on the Iraq battlefield are not entitled to the protections afforded by the Geneva Conventions, according to a recent legal opinion from the Justice Department.
"This administration has made it clear from the outset that members of al Qaeda and other terrorist groups do not necessarily enjoy the protections of the Geneva Conventions," a senior Justice Department official said. "Al Qaeda members and other foreign terrorists in Iraq illegally would not be entitled to the Geneva Convention protections. That's consistent with our opinion on Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan."

A senior State Department official said the basic rationale for the opinion is that non-Iraqis who were picked up in Iraq "are stateless enemy combatants and don't belong to a recognized sovereign power," and are not fighting as part of a recognized state military.

The Justice Department has said members of national military forces, including soldiers from Saddam's former regime, are entitled to Geneva protections.

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