Saturday, April 26, 2008

Deputy says there is proof the US is using cluster bombs in Sadr City

A member of the health and environment committee of the Iraqi legislature, Liqaa Al-Yassin (Sadrist) says Iraqi authorities have medical and forensic proof that the Americans have been using cluster bombs in their air-strikes on Sadr City, the proof being in the form of the type of marks these weapons leave on the bodies of the dead and wounded. According to Wikipedia, anti-personnel bombs are one type of cluster bombs, other types being incendiary, anti-tank, and so on. Anti-personnel, or fragmentation bombs, were widely used in Vietnam. Al-Yassin referred to them as internationally-banned weapons, which surely they are in some basic sense, particularly in this kind of a densely-populated urban area. Wikipedia says: "Cluster bombs are not specifically covered by any international legal instrument, although the general rules of international humanitarian law aimed at protecting civilians apply as they do to the use of all other weapons".

Aswat al Iraq, which is so far the only agency to report on these charges, quotes the US Army mouthpiece as having said: "There is no basis in truth for these charges, because what we are doing in Sadr City is targeting armed groups that are firing rockets at the Green Zone." Doesn't really answer the charge, does it?

The American attacks in Sadr City on Friday, April 25, according to various reports, resulted in 11 dead and 74 wounded. Which to the layman doesn't look that much like a precision attack, does it?

(The Aswat al Iraq English language version of this refers to "fissile bombs", which is a little hard to understand, possibly leading to people overlooking this. The type of bomb in Arabic is "inshitariyya" from a root meaning dividing or splitting, and it can only refer to cluster bombs. If it was an actual fissile bomb, they would have needed only one, and there would be no one there to report on it).


Anonymous markfromireland said...

An overworked and more than somewhat harassed reporter using a translation programme accepts what seems to be a reasonable translation - easily understood how that happens. I agree it was an unfortunate choice.

- And stop being so horrid to St. Sanctimonious every time you show him up, entire troupes of "liberal interventionists" fling their paws in the air in horror like a pack of pixies who've just discovered the world is a naughty place and keel over. Tisk tisk Badger :-)

1:34 PM  
Blogger badger said...

nice to hear from you. (I naturally wasn't blaming the guy at all, only suggesting a possible reason the story wasn't picked up on immediately.) Speaking of which, I was actually going to ask you, Reuters is a partner with VOI, so the next step for this story to get out, assuming it's good, would be for Reuters to run it, but it doesn't seem to be. Any chance of you (pl) getting the lowdown on that? I'm no lawyer, but isn't there a chance here of putting Petraeus and his friend side by side in one of those bullet-proof boxes at The Hague?

2:56 PM  
Anonymous markfromireland said...

Oh I didn't think you were blaming him at all - bad wording on my part if my comment reads that way. My intent was to explain how the misunderstanding could arise - We both know how difficult it is to translate. VOI deserve a hell of a lot of praise for providing as much English coverage as they do under remarkably difficult circumstances.

Reuters are a partner but not in the sense I think you mean. It's actually the Reuters Foundation who've partnered with them rather than the agency per se. The Reuters foundation is a charity one of the aims of which is to provide training, an outlet, and finance to journalists and editors in countries where independent and accurate news media are in their infancy. (IWPR do a similar job). They also fund Alertnet

I'm going on memory here and am open to correction but AFAIK there's no crossover in terms of product between journalists and agencies sponsored by the foundation and Reuters' commercial arm. (Other than that they may use reprorts from stringers they've trained or report that VOI reported such and such a story. I can't see that happening in this case as Reuters have a fairly large presence in Irak anyway.) I'd better add that the UNDP and the AECI also helped set up VOI. If memory serves me correctly both the UNDP and the Spanish involvement were limited to the initial stages and have now ended.

To get back to the report:

Based on past experience and things various team members have seen I'd be fairly certain that there is a story worth taking further here. That being said I'm not sure how much legs the story has. The American forces have a nasty habit of using very minor variations of banned weapons ( for example do you remember the slight chemical change to Napalm?) committing the war crime and then issuing denials. If we're lucky a few years later under journalistic pressure they get around to admitting it, shrugging their shoulders, and saying "so what?"

I would love to be proved wrong but I am very much afraid that this will be the case here.

8:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


12:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

( for example do you remember the slight chemical change to Napalm?)

napalm is now made with unleaded petrol - providing eco-friendly fire.

12:38 AM  
Blogger badger said...

Mark, Thanks for explaining the Reuters/VOI thing, and disabusing me of the idea there is an actual operational connection between the two agencies. It was starting to drive me crazy. On the chemical-changes thing, it's a point I hadn't thought of, and I guess it just underlines in another way where the biggest problem is, namely the lack of effective opposition in the West, because the question should then just be: Well exactly what kinds of explosives are you dropping on this densely-populated urban area?...Instead we have this eerie silence...

anonymous: You mean you hope Badger is right: we all do! But the problem is Mark is right too.

2:44 AM  
Anonymous Peter K said...

Honestly, we expect lying from our politicians, why should we expect any less of a card carrying member of Sadr's militia? A crudely constuced suicide bomb can kill 20 people, if we had really used a cluster bomb in a densely populated area, I would expect the DEATH toll to be in the hundreds. How many of those 74 "injured" needed nothing more than some Neosporin and a Band-Aid?

Where is the proof of this, vetted by those that know what they are talking about? You essentially call American servicemen and women murderers by automatically assuming that this is true. If you do not, then I apologize, however, referring to the Army spokesman as a "mouthpiece" definitely shows definite bias; if not blindness involving the relevant issues.

Obviously this is ONE bomb targeted at ONE building. I realize that the word fissile is not what the speaker meant(unless he's an even larger liar than I expect, as that would mean nuclear), but you'd have to be an idiot to believe what is coming out of his mouth. Look up "Cluster Bombs" on Wikipedia and you'll learn that the area on effect is generally the size of 2 to 3 football fields. Makes me think that you, Badger, don't really care what the truth is, you simply look for pieces that suit you preconceived notions.

Semper Fidelis

And yes, I have been there, Going for my 3rd tour in 6 weeks. Don't believe the hype.

4:26 AM  
Anonymous Peter K said...

After reading a bit more of your postings, you are blinded to reality. You simply have no idea what is going on over there. You are no different than people who watch Fox News or CNN and pretend they have an idea of the reality of what goes on in Fallujah. But hey, guess what, you've never had to deal with IEDs, people shooting at your ass, or anything like that, but Mookie fills you in, and everything he says MUST be truth, right??? Of course you yourself would never want to live under a psychopath like the Mook would you? No you wouldn't, you'd probably be hung by next sundown, blogging against the state and all.

You had better believe there would be one giant bloodbath if we left. G-E-N-O-C-I-D-E. Can you spell it with me?

4:47 AM  
Anonymous Peter K said...

Just realized this, WHY in God's name would the Air Force drop cluster bombs when friendlies would be walking through the area the next day? You realize thats like creating a minefield? No one in their right mind would use cluster bombs in an urban setting. It's just plain stupid from a military standpoint. You'll probably kill as many of your own guys as the enemy.

5:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Just realized this, WHY in God's name would the Air Force drop cluster bombs when friendlies would be walking through the area the next day? "

Yeah, it's not like American soldiers would want to avoid killing Iraqi civilians or anything! It's not like this doesn't happen on a very frequent basis and goes unreported by the mainstream media!

As for your point, the only casualties and injuries from dropping cluster bombs on Sadr City, a giant slum in which millions of Iraqis live and in which Americans are excluded (except on the outskirts, which they patrol in order to impose a blockade). Americans simply wouldn't be harmed by Americans dropping bombs in the middle of Sadr City.

And Badger is reading Arabic language news reports from many sources, and turning a critical eye toward pretty much everything he reports, peter k. He isn't just reporting from Sadrist news sources, but even when he does, he questions those when appropriate.

But then again, as you point out, he isn't a brave American soldier running from IED's or bullets, therefore his perspective MUST be wrong, right? Because he tends to look with a sympathetic eye towards Iraqi nationalists and a highly unsympathetic one towards the occupation, he MUST uncritically accept everything said or done by al-Sadr, right? Pretty much everything you wrote displays an extreme lack of concern for Iraqis and the kind of imperialistic fervor and blind support for the American occupation that is doing so much damage to Iraqis in the first place.

5:51 AM  
Anonymous markfromireland said...

"No one in their right mind would use cluster bombs in an urban setting. It's just plain stupid from a military standpoint."

Entirely correct which didn't stop your predecessors from using anti-personnel munitions in cities in Vietnam.

PS: America lost that one.

6:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

'WHY in God's name'

i'm shocked!

badger, the paid gov/mil psyops trolls whose task it is to infiltrate comment section have a very clear bullying voice, easily recognizable. (ie the laughably titled 'iraqi blogger central' and their ilk)

'Where is the proof of this, vetted by those that know what they are talking about? You essentially call' , 'you are blinded to reality', 'card carrying member', 'automatically assuming ','definitely shows definite bias;' 'blindness involving the relevant issues'., 'you'd have to be an idiot','No one in their right mind'
..... my personal favorite????? "Obviously" Obviously Obviously. they love that word, that and using the term 'the fact'.

i could go on. it doesn't take much psyops 101 to sniff out these guys. what i find curious is....

why now? why this post? they know you are here. for the most part they don't completely dominate your comment section. i doubt if it is because you are becoming more 'popular'.

first and foremost their #1 job is controlling the image of the war for the american audience. americans for the most part can't bother w/a bunch of funny sounding names in some far off land. but cluster bombs in neighborhoods? this story could gain traction, it must be stopped. notice the lack in curiosity wrt finding out the truth? must be VERY HOT to warrant the such heavily laden bs discourse. i'm surprised he didn't say 'the fact'.



8:41 AM  

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