When I read this last week, I was stunned at how callous and cold the report was. But, I suppose I shouldn’t of been, afterall..its merely an accounting of finances. The strange feeling I got while perusing the list in the middle of the night can only be explained as voyeuristic, but it was far from titillating.
The list starts out with death# 18 and goes through death# 1771. It covers Afghanistan and Iraq, but only a small percentage of the deaths are in Afghanistan. Either we didn’t pay them for their pain and suffering or it was an out-of-pocket, petty cash expense…We weren’t exactly accurate in our bookkeeping over in the war zone remember.
Lets take the first one, It took place in Kabul, Afghanistan on 5/29/06: Claim filed on behalf of Afghan taxi driver [Redacted] by brother. Taxi driver happened to be at site of a riot that broke out after a US Forces HEMMT vehicle lost control and crashed into several cars. US soldiers and Afghan personnel fired into the crowd, killing [Redacted]. Finding: negligence; Compensation: 200, 000 Afghani (appx. $3,991.22 US). See Army 30- 34, 35- 39, 40- 43, 44- 48, 49- 51, 67- 74 for related deaths. The Statement of Facts in the DOD memo appear to be copied for all relevant death investigations.
Apparently the dollar value of a life is roughly $3991 in Afghanistan and Iraq. There are of course some that are more or less expensive..even some that weren’t even compensated with little explanation.
We, in America, would scoff at such an offer if one of our loved ones were killed for no apparent reason, or by ‘accident’ at the hands of a member of our military or even a government official.
The NYT, that wretched liberal rag, did a piece about this FOIA document dump by the DoD. I was going to add up the total dollar value of the lives snuffed out on this report but a hat-tip to the NYT for doing it for me:
They represent only a small fraction of the claims filed. In all, the military has paid more than $32 million to Iraqi and Afghan civilians for noncombat-related killings, injuries and property damage, an Army spokeswoman said. That figure does not include condolence payments made at a unit commander’s discretion.
The ACLU has kindly broken down the payments for us:
Of the 496 files, 198 were denied because the military found that the incidents arose “from action by an enemy or resulted directly or indirectly from an act of the armed forces of the United States in combat,” which the military calls “combat exclusion.”
Of the 496 claims, 164 incidents resulted in cash payments to family members. In approximately half of the cash payment cases, the United States accepted responsibility for the death of the civilian and offered a “compensation payment.” In the other half, U.S. authorities issued “condolence” payments, which are discretionary payments capped at $2,500 and offered “as an expression of sympathy” but “without reference to fault.” Claims based on incidents that were not reported in the military’s “SIGACT” (”significant act”) database, despite eyewitness corroborations, are generally denied for compensation although a condolence payment may be issued.
If you ignore the hard, cold, dead facts above and concentrate on a few of the stories contained in these numbers you will find ones like these:
In one file, a civilian from the Salah Ad Din (PDF) province in eastern Iraq states that U.S. forces opened fire with more than 100 hundred rounds on his sleeping family, killing his mother, father and brother. The firepower was of such magnitude that 32 of the family’s sheep were also killed.
In the case of the fisherman in Tikrit, he and his companion desperately tried to appear unthreatening to an American helicopter overhead. “They held up the fish in the air and shouted ‘Fish! Fish!’ to show they meant no harm,” said the Army report attached to the claim filed by the fisherman’s family. The Army refused to compensate for the killing, ruling that it was “combat activity,” but approved $3,500 for his boat, net and cellphone, which drifted away and were stolen.
In Haditha, one of the most notorious incidents involving American troops in Iraq, the Marines paid residents $38,000 after troops killed two dozen people in November 2005.
When our military blows away one of your relatives in Iraq, they hand you a card, just like the one in my graphic. It reminds me of a penalty card in soccer.
And it has just about as much power and authority. There is no guarantee we won’t shoot your children, husbands or close relatives ‘by accident’ and then reimburse you for it in Iraq and Afghanistan. And if that Iraqi or Afghani happened to be the sole provider of your entire family, that’s too damn bad.
Because it’s not our military's fault 'those people' had the audacity to try to live their lives in the middle of a warzone. Perhaps they should get out now..as my dad used to say; While the getting is still good. Because this writeup tells us that the masses of refugees leaving Iraq are finding it very hard to leave that little piece of hell on earth.
But that’s for another post...and btw..the final count on deaths Wednesday in Iraq was 183 just in Baghdad, 223 Nationwide.
Cross-Posted at Bring It On!