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Journalist/Blogger Catches Prisoner Shooting

Journalist/blogger Kevin Sites, an embedded reporter for NBC in Falluja reports a disturbing incident.

LONDON (Reuters) - A television pool report by U.S. network NBC says that a U.S. Marine shot dead an unarmed and wounded Iraqi prisoner in a mosque in Falluja.

The Iraqi was one of five wounded prisoners left in the mosque after Marines had fought their way in on Friday and Saturday. There was no immediate comment from the Pentagon on Monday's report.

U.S. forces launched an offensive one week ago on Falluja, and have gained overall control of the formerly rebel-held city, although scattered resistance remains.

The pool report by NBC correspondent Kevin Sites said the mosque had been used by insurgents to attack U.S. forces, who stormed it and an adjacent building, killing 10 militants and wounding the five.

Sites said the wounded had been left in the mosque for others to pick up and move to the rear for treatment. No reason was given why that had not happened.

A second group of Marines entered the mosque on Saturday after reports it had been reoccupied. Footage from the embedded television crew showed the five still in the mosque, although several appeared to be already close to death, Sites said.

He said one Marine noticed one of the prisoners was still breathing.

A Marine can be heard saying on the pool footage provided to Reuters Television: "He's fucking faking he's dead. He faking he's fucking dead."

"The Marine then raises his rifle and fires into the man's head. The pictures are too graphic for us to broadcast," Sites said. No images of the shooting were shown in the footage provided to Reuters.

The report said the Marine, who had returned to duty after being shot in the face a day earlier, had been removed from the field and was being questioned by the U.S. military.

Sites said the shot prisoner "did not appear to be armed or threatening in any way".

If you read this previous dispatch from Sites you may understand the intensity of the situation these Marines are facing.

War is not a video game, it's raw, unscripted, and emotional.

Update: Fox News has more on the story, including information that enemy fighters have used the tactic of feigning a wound to draw U.S. soldiers in, then opening fire on them and that insurgents have also been known to rig dead bodies with explosive devices that go off when U.S. troops approach.


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Comments (46)

I am a veteran. I am not a... (Below threshold)
ridgerunner:

I am a veteran. I am not a war veteran. I have never been thru the hell these young people are living to keep my fat butt safe and warm. the least i can do is speak up at the injustice of this situation. when is an ied a prisoner? if Mr Sites wants to decide who is dangerous and who is not let him put down his camera and pick up a rifle and decide life and death.
this is not rodney king. Our young people must first of all defend themselves.

Before it gets started: Ca... (Below threshold)

Before it gets started: Can we please not pile on just yet? Please?

I echo what ridge says, and would caution those that would point and accuse to just think, first.

I do not discount the report at all, but please. Let's let the military take care of the incident before we have another Abu Ghraib.

Signed,
Marine Mom

I'm sure that the mainstrea... (Below threshold)
Margo:

I'm sure that the mainstream media will be all over this, with an insurgence not seen since the Abu Grabe prison incident.

I will reserve judgement, however.

I haven't walked in those Marine's shoes.

May God keep our soldiers safe.

I echo Marqi.The l... (Below threshold)
Adam Wood:

I echo Marqi.

The left will be hyperventilating over this at their first opportunity.

Look, people, bad things happen in war. None of us knows whether this prisoner was a threat or not at the time that he was shot. But, thatís just the point: at some point immediately prior to his demise he was a threat, a very real threat.

If this was indeed a cold-blooded murder, then that Marine should face court martial and the appropriate penalty paid. I donít know for myself, but Iíve heard that military prisons are not particularly nice places to make oneís homestead.

We donít have all the facts, though. No one should be freaking out over this at this point, though the left undoubtedly will.

Weather or not this was a murder in progress is for the military to decide. But, please, everyone remember that, to date, there has been very, very little of anything remotely like this in Iraq. If you want a comparison, I suggest you read a bit of Stephen Ambrose. American soldiers are the finest in the world, in terms of being human beings. We have a long track record of not being involved in the greatest nastiness of war, but some are involved.

Letís not panic.

Oh, and Marqui?Ple... (Below threshold)
Adam Wood:

Oh, and Marqui?

Please thank your son for me.

They just showed it on Fox.... (Below threshold)
Sailorette:

They just showed it on Fox. (Yes, they told everyone to get the kids out of the room, first, and blacked out the bullet impact.)

The Marines are walking around on video, the sound sucks but you get the drift that they look dead-- then one of the "dead guys" jerks-- and the Marine fires, yelling something to the effect of "holy sh!!!"

It was a lot.... shriller a sound than I expected.

And then what? Let the stup... (Below threshold)
Joey:

And then what? Let the stupid bastard live so he can kill you again another day? Why waste the taxpayer's money trying to heal or save someone who wouldn't think twice before killing you. Yeah, yeah I sound like a war mongerer but......think what they would do to our guys when they are wounded laying helpless on the ground. You can already figure that out yourself. Kill them all and let God sort them out.

I fully support our troops,... (Below threshold)
Sean:

I fully support our troops, I believe in them and their mission. I also have enough faith in our military to wait for their report on this incident.

I also don't have a whole lot of faith in Reuters to portray our soldiers in a fair light.

But Joey, that sentiment is no better than the enemy you revile. Our troops, and our country, are better than that.

1st: This is Reuters. They... (Below threshold)
John S.:

1st: This is Reuters. They have as much credibility as Dan Rather or Jayson Blaire. 2nd: Reuters says the footage is too graphic to show. Yeh right. Maybe that's because the same footage shown on Fox shows the situation was completely different than what Reuters described.

Everyone needs to stop frea... (Below threshold)

Everyone needs to stop freaking out about Reuters propaganda and start watching Fox News.

As old as repeating rifles... (Below threshold)
Peter:

As old as repeating rifles is the concept of the insurance shot. Before that it was a poke with a bayonet. Before muskets was a poke with the spear or sword.
As old as war is a bad guy playing dead, only to shoot or stab the good guy in the back.
The rules are different on the battlefield, that most brutally Dawinian of places. On the battlefield a sudden move, ie the 'jerk' shown on the video, carries an automatic death penalty with no appeal.
While the Army Medics and Navy Corpsmen serving with the Marines are obligated to treat enemy wounded just as they would American wounded, first those enemy wounded must be searched, disarmed and imobilised, to think otherwise is madness. Nothing in this story suggests that this group of enemy wounded had been so disarmed. On another continent, in another generation I witnessed the very same thing, a sudden move by an enemy WIA followed by a quick shot. This one was trying to pull the pin on a grenade. Had the shot been a bit slower I might not be here to write this, or might have been writing this with a prosthesis.
There is not time to determine intentions. Quite simply this is one of the reasons that anyone who has seen war, hates war. Ugly things happen. Wars are nasty uncomfortable things and they'll make you late for supper.


One, the word is that Sites... (Below threshold)
julie:

One, the word is that Sites is a favorite of the lefty crowd which makes him suspect to me.

Two, he can report what he sees, but I don't think he is qualified to give an opinion on it.

Three, living in the Land O' Police Shootings, the cops are mostly exonorated by juries. However, the msm rarely reports that.

Four, I'm not going to second guess this marine. And if he did break the rules, shit happens. If I was there, I would be scared shitless and shooting everyone in sight.

Thank you Peter. You said... (Below threshold)

Thank you Peter. You said it far better than I could.

And Thank you to you, too, Adam. I assure you, I will thank my grandson's daddy. :)

Chris Matthews and the othe... (Below threshold)
mrl:

Chris Matthews and the others at MSNBC were all over this tonight. They were so excited they might have something on these Marines. No one can tell me that they don't want things like this to happen. Support the troops? NO WAY!

Let me make myself clear. C... (Below threshold)
mrl:

Let me make myself clear. Chris Matthews & Co. do not support anything the troops do.

Ok, I'm also a veteran, and... (Below threshold)
Jon:

Ok, I'm also a veteran, and I also have not served in combat, which I have long regretted. I don't have ALL the facts, but I did see the video on Fox News and I don't understand what the fuss is about. The guy was NOT a prisoner. He did NOT surrender, so far as I know. He was a wounded enemy. He may have been holding a grenade waiting for the Marines to approach. He may have had a pistol hidden from view. He may have had an IED ready to blow as soon as the marines where close enough. So, I don't know what there is to complain about. I would have done exactly the same thing, given the facts I know about the situation.

It is possible he violated some specific Orders of Engagement that the marines may have been given, but given what I saw on Fox News he did nothing contrary to the laws of war, so far as I could tell. Pat him on the back and put him back to work. There are hundreds or thousands more insurgents just waiting for a bullet in their heads.

My impression of the video ... (Below threshold)

My impression of the video was much the same as Jon. As far as I could tell, their was no evidence that the guy was even alive. I felt like the shot may have been fired just to stop the argument. Shooting a dead enemy combatant is a far cry from killing a wounded prisoner.

I am perfectly waiting to sit back and see what the investigation concludes.

For the record, whoever mod... (Below threshold)
Adam Wood:

For the record, whoever moderates Sites' thread (not sure if that's Sites himself or not) is apparently deleting messages supportive of the Marine's actions.

That should tell you something about how Sites feels about those troops with whom he his embedded.

I just saw the video on MSN... (Below threshold)
Margo:

I just saw the video on MSNBC, and I don't know enough about the "rules" of war to say what was wrong and what wasn't wrong. But at the end of the report, they told about another marine who had been killed by an explosive device that had been hidden in a dead body; also, that the marine who had fired the shot in question had been himself shot in the face yesterday.

Part of me wants to agree with Sean, and say that our soldiers fight fair, and we are "better than that". But another part of me wants to see the MOAB unleashed, and these murdering terrorists vaporized.

There are a couple of web sites where you can see what these terrorists really do to our troops and our workers in Iraq. I've made myself look at them. When you actually see a photo of those burned bodies hanging from the bridge in Falluja, it changes you.

Combatant, prisoner, insurgent, terrorist. They are all the same. They just want us dead.

I only hope this Marine will get a fair investigation.

I wonder if the liberal hat... (Below threshold)
Jim:

I wonder if the liberal hate America crowd will be screaming about the guy shooting that American Marine in the face the previous day? Do they scream when a terrorist slashed the head off of an innocent kindnap victim?

The guy that got shot was a TERRORIST!!!!! Why do the liberal nutjobs never hyperventilate when a real innocent is killed? But let us nuke a terrorist scumbag and the wailing begins.

security round.MOVE ... (Below threshold)

security round.
MOVE ON.

Ok, I've got TiVo, so I wen... (Below threshold)
Jon:

Ok, I've got TiVo, so I went back and watched it several times, and I still don't see a problem. If an enemy holds up his hands or holds up a white flag, they are attempting to surrender, and it is against the laws of war to shoot them. In fact, you have a duty to protect them. That guy was not attempting to surrender. He was laying on the floor either seriously wounded, maybe I don't know, asleep, highly unlikely with the noise and the marines walking around, or pretending to be dead, the most likely possibility. I don't see any violation of the laws of war here. The guy is an enemy combatant in a combat zone.

Now, soldiers and marines in a combat zone are given specific orders, Orders of Engagement, which tell them when to fire or not fire. It is possible that Marine violated those orders. I don't know, I didn't get a copy of them. His orders may have been not to fire on unarmed combatants. Fine, but the guy didn't know whether he was unarmed or not. It is obvious the guy may have been hiding a weapon. From what I can tell, that Marine did his duty. Pat him on the back and put him back to work.

That Marine is not going to be punished for this, unless there's some really damning evidence that we haven't seen or don't know about this. There should be a fairly quick investigation and that'll be it. Nothing is going to come of this, unless there's something serious we don't know.

Yeah - I'm with the "no pro... (Below threshold)

Yeah - I'm with the "no problems here" crowd.

Let's not forget Michael Spann.

Now that they got their asses kicked in the election they are going to do their best to make Iraq into Vietnam. That is all they have to hold onto.

One less terrorist.... (Below threshold)
Steve L.:

One less terrorist.

if he is lying still he's V... (Below threshold)

if he is lying still he's VC
If he is lying still, and you blast a bullet in his skull...

Well, you dont have to worry about him strapping a bomb to his body.

Under the laws of war...<br... (Below threshold)
Jon:

Under the laws of war...
Can you kill an enemy combatant that's shooting at you? YES
Can you kill an enemy combatant that's reloading so he can resume shooting at you? YES
Can you kill an enemy combatant that's hiding so that he can start shooting at you? YES
Can you kill an enemy combatant that's running away after shooting at you? YES
Can you kill an enemy combatant that's running away because he's afraid to shoot at you? YES
Can you kill an enemy combatant that's running away and accidentally dropped his weapon? YES, he might have another one.
Can you kill an enemy combatant that's running away and deliberately dropped his weapon? YES, he might have another one.
Can you kill an enemy combatant that's pretending to be dead? YES

Can you kill an enemy combatant that's holding up his hands or a white cloth attempting to surrender? NO
Can you kill an enemy combatant that's already your prisoner? NO

That guy was NOT a prisoner in custody. He was NOT attempting to surrender. You could not tell if he was armed. In fact, he appeared to be hiding something. Under the laws of war, can you kill an enemy combatant that's pretending to be dead, and may be hiding something? YES. You bet your ass you can. If he hasn't been searched, then he may be armed and he's fair game.

All that being said, those marines had specific orders on how to handle situations like that. I don't know what his orders were, so I don't know if he obeyed them or not. My guess would be almost certainly yes, he obeyed his orders. He may have had orders not to shoot unarmed enemy combatants, but you never have anywhere near enough information in combat. That marine did not know definatively that that guy was unarmed, so there's no problem here.

very well said, jon. ... (Below threshold)
Anne:

very well said, jon.

if sites would like to ponder the state of conciousness of any IEDs/bodies, he sure can!

the BBC is already all over this. presumably, Al-Jazeera/CBS will be soon too.

these are TERRORISTS. these are MERCENARIES. what would YOU do, put down your gun, and walk over with an olive branch? put it in perspective, people.

Those who have never been i... (Below threshold)
Omni:

Those who have never been in a war, never been in a situation where death could be anywhere, simply can't imagine what the mindset of the soldier is... and to try to armchair-quarterback from thousands of miles away just isn't right. They're in danger, they're afraid, and they have to act FAST or end up dead; war allows for no do-overs.

Those who have never been i... (Below threshold)
Omni:

Those who have never been in a war, never been in a situation where death could be anywhere, simply can't imagine what the mindset of the soldier is... and to try to armchair-quarterback from thousands of miles away just isn't right. They're in danger, they're afraid, and they have to act FAST or end up dead; war allows for no do-overs.

These guys don't play by th... (Below threshold)
IM:

These guys don't play by the rules. If he was wounded and not searched for weapons (possibly carrying a grenade) I would have shot that iraqi faster than the marine( without saying a word)..

However if this was made in pure anger and the insurgent had been disarmed, that's whole different story.

Maybe it's just me, but I'm... (Below threshold)

Maybe it's just me, but I'm inclined to believe the best of our soldiers.

This is one of the things that happens when you have the media so close to war. Even when stuff is legit, it can look bad. These guys probably were just trying to protect themselves. They may have made the wrong decision, but in the heat of the moment it's tough to not try to defend yourself.

These are soldiers, not cop... (Below threshold)
Son Of The Godfather:

These are soldiers, not cops.

This is a war, not an arrest.

These were not controlled "prisoners"

No such thing as "Miranda rights" in Fallujah, just "stay alive".

Many bodies rigged to go BOOM, many wounded hoping to get their 72 raisins by taking out our brave men.

This young man deserves a medal, not scrutiny.

Now if the unfortunate "insurgent" were blindfolded with his hands tied behind his back, and someone were to saw off his head with a dull blade...

SOTG

Grest responses by everyone... (Below threshold)
Debra:

Grest responses by everyone. Jon...I agree whole heartedly.
My thought on this is simple...Sites should have turned the video footage over to the authorities for disposition and NOT the LWL MSM...sheesh but his agenda is crystal clear here.
The USMC (and all other branches of the service) breed top notch patriots who are among the worlds most humane. Who else would you find that once the fight is over, they tend to the wounded along side their bothers? Give me a break with all this MSM crap about prosecuting the poor kid. These terrorsits are pond scum that think nothing of blowing themselves up along with taking out as many soliders as they can in unison.
Let's have faith that the proper authorities will handle this situation and put it to bed but, not before a formal acknowledgement that this young man may have saved the lives of others as a result of his actions.
Oh..ond one more thing...SCREW Chris Matthews...

I thought of another one.</... (Below threshold)
Jon:

I thought of another one.


Under the laws of war...
Can you kill an enemy combatant that's unaware of your presence? YES. And that's definately the way I'd prefer to do it.


War is an ugly, nasty business, and it brings out the worst in all people. Mistakes are frequently made, but we have the best trained, toughest, most professional troops in the world. In the context of combat, killing the enemy is a positive good, in fact, a duty of our soldiers. Not killing the enemy, when under orders to do so, is dereliction of duty and punishable with prison time. Cowardice in the face of the enemy is punishable by execution. This is something the left will never be able to get their minds around. All the fuss about this is just another example of anti-American leftist bias in the media. In their eyes, we can do no right, and our enemies can do no wrong.

That Marine appears to have done his duty. Unless there's some really damning evidence or information that we don't know about, nothing is going to come of this. I don't believe he'll be punished in any way.

Among the other things not ... (Below threshold)
Mark:

Among the other things not shown:
Are his hands in sight?
If so, are they open and empty, or closed?
Is he responding to commands and showing that he's not a threat?
If you cannot confirm that he's unarmed and not a threat, shoot.

That's not just my opinion. I've been around law enforcement a bit, and one of the standard commands when making an arrest is 'show your hands'; refusing to do so can get you shot, and that's not in a war zone. Right now we can only base our thoughts on what we know, and by that, he did the right thing.

This whole thing is a non-i... (Below threshold)
Tim in PA:

This whole thing is a non-issue. Sometimes you have to let enemy go, even if they aren't wounded, because you can't take them as prisoners.

These guys were left behind in the mosque; the mosque was cleared again the next day by Marines. When you clear a building, you shoot everything that isn't dead and isn't surrendering. Period. It doesn't matter if he is "armed or threatening"; this isn't a re-run of 'COPS'.

Furthermore, in an earlier story it said that Sites watched the Marines go in, heard shooting, and then they came out. I don't care how graphic it is, produce the footage or STFU.

Seems to me that John F Ker... (Below threshold)

Seems to me that John F Kerry put himself in for a medal after a similar situation.

Marine had a situation. <b... (Below threshold)
LargeBill:

Marine had a situation.
Marine quickly made decision.
Marine resolved situation.

new scenario

Marine has situation.
Marine thinks what should I do?
Marine asks dip-ship reporter what to do?
Family of Marine cries at funeral.


Won't happen but this reporter needs his credentials pulled and his liberal ass shipped home at his expense. However, this administration (which the moonbats call secretive) is so concerned about making sure media always has access that there is no chance of that.

I was on a carrier at the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom and we had all these news-clowns on board. I acted as an escort/baby sitter for some of them. I wasn't surprised that some of the foreign press was against our actions. However, I was perturbed to see U.S. reporters who seemed against us.

Marines better not bow to media pressure to make a scapegoat of this guy. It would be wrong and it would send a message to Marines/Soldiers in similar situations and cause them to be more hesitant.

Thank God the folks around ... (Below threshold)
JD:

Thank God the folks around here are so wonderfully rational. In doing my daily opposition research at dailykos, I ran across a thread about this story. After reading the moonbat version of these events, I thought that there was an innocent elderly French person, sitting in a wheelchair, waving a white flag furiously, in an obvious attempt to surrender. Those freaking mental midgets fail to understand the complexities of wartime situations, though at the same time, claim to appreciate the nuanced positions of their candidates. At any rate, I almost reached the point where I was beginning to wonder if they were correct, and fortunately, the much better educated populace of wizbang has removed any doubt from my mind.

That Marine should not be ashamed, alarmed, or prosecuted for what he did. The proverbial double tap to the forehead was in order, and quite frankly, had the first unit through that mosque cleanded it out better, the next unit would not have had to deal with that situation, but please do not construe that as me criticizing the troops. They are in an incredibly tough situation, due to our continued desire to minimize casualties, sometimes at the expense of our safety.

I think this sums it up. M... (Below threshold)
francus:

I think this sums it up. Modified to reflect current state of things.

You can't handle the truth! Son, we live in a world that has walls. And those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Who's gonna do it? You? You, Lt. Weinberg? I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for (that Iraqi terrorist) and you curse the Marines. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know: that (his) death, while tragic, probably saved lives. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives...You don't want the truth. Because deep down, in places you don't talk about at parties, you want me on that wall. You need me on that wall.
We use words like honor, code, loyalty...we use these words as the backbone to a life spent defending something. You use 'em as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom I provide, then questions the manner in which I provide it! I'd rather you just said thank you and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon and stand a post. Either way, I don't give a damn what you think you're entitled to!

Laurence,You're ri... (Below threshold)
Mike:

Laurence,

You're right.

According to John F. Kerry's Silver Star citation, Kerry beached his boat, grabbed his rifle, and chased down a suspected Viet Cong who had been wounded with a .50 caliber gun by another crewman. He cornered the wounded suspect, a teenager, behind a hut and shot him to death. The teenager was said to be in posession of an RPG or rocket launcher.

And I'll guarantee you that blogs like this are the only places that will bring up the fact that Kerry shot and killed a wounded enemy.

In a kill-or-be-killed scenario. partucularly when you are fighting against non-uniformed, untrained, undisciplined terrorist bastards like the scum currently being flushed out of Fallujah, you have to shoot first and ask questions later.

Of course, any smartass TV reporter who wants to venture ahead of our soldiers and personally verify that a building is clear of potential threats is certainly welcome to do so. I just hope NBC has a lot of body bags handy.

Brilliant !... (Below threshold)
JD:

Brilliant !

OK. So he shot the scumbag.... (Below threshold)
Larry K.:

OK. So he shot the scumbag.

My question: Was the scumbag near death and trying to live, or was he a living scumbag pretending to be dead. One slight movement in either case warrants a bullet, given the situation in which the military personnel are currently involved. What would the comments be if the scumbag had detonated a grenade with the soldiers and camera guy nearby? Nothing! Maybe the soldier should have tried CPR, knowing the camera was rolling. Right!

I saw the video and couldn'... (Below threshold)
Dan H.:

I saw the video and couldn't tell if the man was holding a rifle, grenade or holding a string. There could have been any number of ways the terrorist could have tried to kill the marine. I sure would not hesitate to shoot a guy who was trying to kill me and my commrades. Walk in that marine's shoes. I'm sure we'd have a lot fewer know-it-alls.

Does anyone know of a websi... (Below threshold)
DGA:

Does anyone know of a website that has the whole video available for viewing?

Reuters had a copy of it in... (Below threshold)
Patrick Chester:

Reuters had a copy of it in their video section.




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