Alright. I know there are some Operation Iraqi Freedom veterans that read this blog; and a few who are reading from in-theater. Tell me, gentlemen and ladies; how realistic does this sound to you?
[OIF vet and conscientious objector Aidan Delgado] said: "Guys in my unit, particularly the younger guys, would drive by in their Humvee and shatter bottles over the heads of Iraqi civilians passing by. They'd keep a bunch of empty Coke bottles in the Humvee to break over people's heads."Does Coca Cola still use glass bottles? (Perhaps it’s an overseas practice.)
What about this?
Mr. Delgado said he had witnessed incidents in which an Army sergeant lashed a group of children with a steel Humvee antenna, and a Marine corporal planted a vicious kick in the chest of a kid about 6 years old. [SNIP]I wonder about the veracity or the completeness of these incidents that Delgado is transmitting via columnist Bob Herbert—who has gotten things willfully wrong before. Oh, not merely because the incidents don’t sound like the behavior of the average American GI, but also because such widespread behavior would be impossible to keep secret and it's hard to believe that it would go unpunished. We have soldiers armed with digital cameras and email. We have imbedded journalists, some of whom would be only too eager to get a hold of the types of stories that Mr. Delgado tells; journalists with the same mindset as Mr. Herbert.
Mr. Delgado, an extremely thoughtful and serious young man, balked at the entire scene. "It drove me into a moral quagmire," he said. "I walked up to my commander and gave him my weapon. I said: 'I'm not going to fight. I'm not going to kill anyone. This war is wrong. I'll stay. I'll finish my job as a mechanic. But I'm not going to hurt anyone. And I want to be processed as a conscientious objector.' " [SNIP]
Mr. Delgado, who eventually got conscientious objector status and was honorably discharged last January, recalled a disturbance that occurred while he was working in the Abu Ghraib motor pool. Detainees who had been demonstrating over a variety of grievances began throwing rocks at the guards. As the disturbance grew, the Army authorized lethal force. Four detainees were shot to death.
Mr. Delgado confronted a sergeant who, he said, had fired on the detainees. "I asked him," said Mr. Delgado, "if he was proud that he had shot unarmed men behind barbed wire for throwing stones. He didn't get mad at all. He was, like, 'Well, I saw them bloody my buddy's nose, so I knelt down. I said a prayer. I stood up, and I shot them down.' "
(An aside: Mr. Delgado enlisted in the Army on a rather interesting morning: September 11, 2001, probably doing so just as one of the airplanes was hitting its target or as one of the towers fell. They tell me God is the Great Comedian.)
But let’s assume Mr. Delgado is telling the truth. He does not mention to Mr. Herbert whether such soldiers are punished or not. Perhaps he doesn’t know. Or perhaps he does, but chooses not to mention it.
One thing is for certain: Mr. Delgado knew he’d have a receptive audience in Mr. Herbert. The latter’s disdain for the military and for OIF is palpable.
He stayed with his unit and endured a fair amount of ostracism. "People would say I was a traitor or a coward," he said. "The stuff you would expect."Perhaps Mr. Herbert would expect it, but those who are familiar with military culture would think it rings false. However, I’m open to correction.
So, GIs, tell me. What do you think of these stories?
UPDATE: Rich Lowry at the Corner notes an interesting discrepancy between two of Delgado's tellings of the same story; as told to Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez of Democracy Now. Compare this to what he told Bob Herbert.
And I remember just sort of questioning the guy, saying, “Do you really feel proud of having shot an unarmed man who threw a stone?” He was like, “Well, I'm doing my job.” It was a very machismo thing, to have killed someone. I felt this immense loathing and this immense disgust for the whole incident.(Thanks to Michelle Malkin)
UPDATE: Blackfive sends a link to a Milblogger, Sgt Ted, who was also present at Abu Ghraib during the events detailed by Aidan Delgado. Sgt Ted, however, isn't a mechanic.
The compound where the riot took place, compound 8, was run by my Company, the 870th MP [Military Police] Co. The riot also was an escape attempt. It wasn't just a few stone throwers; the sky was black with throw debris, which effectively suppressed the compound towers from their overwatch duties. The stones being thrown represented a deadly force threat. Some of them were head size. It was only when the riot became a danger of a serious breakout attempt and less than lethal force(rubber shot from M203 and rubber point munitions from 12 GA shotguns) had been applied to no effect was the request for deadly force made. When permission was granted, two soldiers fired on the ring leaders. 3 were killed outright, ending the riot immediately. One more died later and 12 more were wounded. I know both of the soldiers who fired; they are good people and only did what they had to do to keep others from further harm. Given that one of the soldiers was using a M249, it could have been a bloodbath. [SNIP]
This Delgado guy was a mechanic; he was no where near those compounds. I also highly doubt he "confronted" the SGT who fired; he wouldn't have even known who he was. Different unit, not working anywhere near the compounds.Hmm, who to believe? (snark)