Tuesday, November 16, 2004

I don't find myself inclined to be self-righteous as I read about the apparent shooting of an unarmed prisoner by a Marine at a Fallujah mosque -- it lacks the sick premeditation of Abu Ghraib or certain atrocities in Vietnam, such as the mass slaughter of villagers. This matters, if it's true:

NBC's Kevin Sites, who witnessed the incident Saturday while assigned to represent a pool of news organizations, reported Monday that the man was shot by a Marine who appeared to be unaware that the Iraqi was a wounded prisoner and did not pose a threat.

Some have defended this soldier by pointing out that the insurgents booby-trap corpses. That doesn't seem like much of a defense -- why shoot at something you think is a bomb? -- but shooting someone who appears to be near death because enemy soldiers pretend to be dead doesn't strike me as crazy or sadistic.

I don't want to shrug this off, but this soldier may have thought he was doing precisely what we wanted him to do.

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