Q If I could follow up, Monday General Abizaid chastised Al- Jazeera and Al-Arabiyah for their coverage of Fallujah and saying that hundreds of civilians were being killed. Is there an estimate on how many civilians have been killed in that fighting? And can you definitively say that hundreds of women and children and innocent civilians have not been killed?As I've noted before, Rumsfeld didn't actually answer the question as to how many women and children might have been killed by US troops during the attack. He did imply that they don't kill "hundreds" but went no further.
SEC. RUMSFELD: I can definitively say that what Al-Jazeera is doing is vicious, inaccurate and inexcusable.
Q Do you have a civilian casualty count?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Of course not, we're not in the city. But you know what our forces do; they don't go around killing hundreds of civilians. That's just outrageous nonsense! It's disgraceful what that station is doing.
The problem with Rumsfeld's attitude is probably clear but I'm going to state it anyway. By refusing to take reports like these seriously and by condemning those who produced them, Rumsfeld is partly responsible for creating the conditions which Iraq's Prime Minister now describes in Iraq:
Mr Maliki told reporters violence against civilians was "common among many of the multinational forces".Now, we're told that of course abuses happen during war and that is indeed indisputable. But Rumsfeld disputed it in 2004 and by doing so made further abuses more likely. He didn't initiate "ethics training" back then despite the fact that it was clearly needed.
He said many troops had "no respect for citizens, smashing civilian cars and killing on a suspicion or a hunch".
In fact, it was clear before the invasion that ethics training should have been given to any service personel being sent to Iraq. Hindsight? Well, no. Of course abuses happen during war. A democratic civilised society, understanding this as we all undoubtedly do, ought to do everything in its power to limit the incidence of such abuses.
Rumsfeld, even in April 2004, was more concerned with issuing blanket denials and shooting the messenger. This had the effect of giving carte blanche to US troops to commit further atrocities.
Now, the US government say they take all allegations of abuses by US soldiers seriously and will thoroughly investigate them. This sort of behaviour, they say, is unacceptable and must not be allowed. How many Iraqis have died because Rumsfeld didn't adopt this attitude in 2004? We'll never know.
Blogger's being uncooperative today. Bah.
Anyway, it turns out that these ethics training sessions are "expected to run two to four hours" for each soldier. An essentially worthless stunt, designed exclusively for the media, which will have basically no effect on the behaviour of troops then. Pathetic. Utterly pathetic.
Tags: News, Politics, Iraq, Donald Rumsfeld