November 5, 2006

Fallujah is Bush's Dujail

Saddam Hussein and his seven co-defendants have been on trial for executing 148 men from the town of Dujail following a 1982 assassination attempt on him. The case is the first of several that could be brought against Hussein (See list below).

Some believe the specific choice of trying Hussein for the assault on the people of Dujail is a setup of President George Bush for similar charges related to the US assults on Fallujah.

Consider the following: In 1982, Hussein's Iraq was in a cross-boarder war with Iran, a far greater national security threat for Iraq than what the US currently faces. The town of Dujail (Ad Dujayl), forty miles north of Iraq's capital of Baghdad, was dominiated by the Dawa Party, which was sympathetic to Iran. Al-Maliki's Islamic Dawa party, then an underground opposition, has claimed responsibility for organizing the attempt on Saddam's life, which was reported to have involved a three-hour gun battle. [1] "The Americans even claimed that the Shiite Daawa people were agents of the Iranian intelligence, and accused them of bombing the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait a year after the Dujail massacre." [4] At the time, the US supported Hussein.

Hussein had a reasonable case for identifying 148 men as "unlawful enemy combatants," according to Bush's way of thinking. Iraq held trials and executed them. Consider these trials in light of the new US Military Commissions for trying "unlawful enemy combatants". According to the new Military Commissions law, "unlawful enemy combatants" can be held indefinitely without charge, may face evidence obtained through torture including their owne, may face the use classified information as evidence and witheld from them, etc. The Military Commission trial procedures are so unjust that active duty Lt. Col. Colby Vokey, who represents a detainee at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo, is speaking out against them. Web LINK

Hussein used the death penalty, and the US remains one of the few industrialized nations that use the death penalty.

Bush's Crime in Fallujah

Flash forward to April 2004, and Fallujah. After Hussein was nearly assassinated in Dujail, he crushed the resistance, and the town. Bush has done the same in Fallujah.

Some background is warranted. According to Wikipedia, "Fallujah was one of the most peaceful areas of the country just after the fall of Saddam. There was very little looting and the new mayor of the city — Taha Bidaywi Hamed, selected by local tribal leaders — was staunchly pro-American." However, on April 28, 2003, a crowd of Iraqi civilians gathered outside a school in Fallujah that had been taken over by US troops. The protesters wanted the Americans to leave and allow the building to re-open as a school. US troops opened fire on the crowed killing 13 people. Two days later, two more people were killed by US troops during a protest of the earlier incident. By March 2004, Darrin Mortenson, North County Times reporter, noted that U.S. Army troops had occupied Fallujah for 11 months, and that Marines attacked the town killing 18 Iraqis, including civilians. The Town was outraged. [5] In addition, the US was increasing its use of "coercive detention" [2] and this became "official" with the news of Abu Ghraib. Resentment of the US had built up in Fallujah.

Within this context, in late March 2004, four US contractors were killed in Fallujah. In response, U.S. administrator of Iraq, Paul Bremer III, vowed that this incident "will not go unpunished." [3]

In April 2004, soon after this highly publicized event, the US laid siege to Fallujah in an what appeared to be an act of collective punishment of the Town. The US failed to fully gain control of the town. Under orders from Washington the US military withdrew. Wikipedia cites 615 Iraqi deaths including civilians. According to independent journalist Dahr Jamail, reporting for The New Standard, after the US sent a small convoy through the town, “Spontaneous celebrations erupted as crowds of residents gathered in the street and began chanting and waving banners. Members of both the Iraqi Police and Iraqi Civil Defense Corps joined in the celebration, waving their guns in the air and flashing the two-fingered ‘Victory’ sign". [5] The US military involved in Fallujah was angry with Washington, and felt humiliated. Brig. General Mark Kimmitt said, "We will be back in Fallujah," "we will pacify Fallujah."

Now, the military wanted a re-match, and Washingon felt it owed it to them. In November 2004 the US regrouped for a decisive assault on Fallujah. The US called for all civilians to leave (200,000-350,000 people), and considered anyone remaining to be hostile targets, according to troops involved. [5] The assault was expected to be very destructive, surely requiring White House authorization. Another indication of White House involvement was that troops reported the assault was timed to occur after the 2004 elections.

One basic principle of urban warfare was described to New York Times reporter Dexter Filkins by a U.S. commander: “the new strategy must punish not only the guerrillas, but also make clear to ordinary Iraqis the cost of not cooperating.” According to Brigadier General Michael A. Vane, “We recently traveled to Israel to glean lessons learned from their counterterrorist operations in urban areas.” In the words of Michael Schwartz, collectively "punish the families and neighbors of guerrillas until they decide to reveal their identity and location." This tactic had been used in the village of Abu Hishma, and was going to be used in Fallujah. [5]

The US began the assault by capturing and closing the main hospital in Fallujah, a likely contravention of the Fourth Geneva Convention. According to Wikipedia, Fallujah "suffered extensive damage. Before the war, it was estimated that the city had 200 mosques. Some claim 60 of these had been destroyed in the fighting. Perhaps half the homes suffered at least some damage. About 7,000 to 10,000 of the roughly 50,000 buildings in the town are estimated to have been destroyed in the offensive and half to two-thirds of the buildings have suffered notable damage." In addition, the US used white phosphorus in its chemical mode to flush out insurgents to be killed with high explosives, a technique referred to as "shake 'n bake" in military slang. Because of the indiscriminant nature of white phosphorus in an area that the military knew had civilians, and the mode of use, this likely constitutes a war crime.

However, the war crime at issue is the assault on Fallujah in general. True, the US didn't hold a trial, like Saddam did before executing 148 people in Dujail. Instead, the US killed at least 148 civilians in Fallujah without a trial, destroyed the town, and sent a clear message to its inhabitants. In the end, Fallujah is Bush's Dujail.


[1] Associated Press, Noveber 5, 2006, HAMZA HENDAWI Web LINK

[2] Seymour Hersh, New Yorker, The Gray Zone, 5/24/04. Web LINK

[3] Hindu Times, Atul Aneja, April 2, 2004 Web LINK

[4] Ynet News, October 18, 2005 Web LINK

[5] The Causes and Consequences of the April Uprising in Fallujah, Michael Schwartz,

[6] Fallujah: The Hidden Massacre, RAI TV, Italian State Broadcasting.

Saddam's Alleged Crimes












Source: CBS News

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