Sir Yes Sir

Over the past week I’ve watched, listened, and read the testimonies. Some news media has tried to hide it, cover it up, bury it… anything to avoid making their audience feel uncomfortable. So I hope you’re sitting with a pillow propped behind you and a comfy seat cushion donut thing, cause this shit is anything but comfortable. And I promise you it ain’t funny.

Now I know you might have family. A cousin. A friend of a friend. A blogger-friend, as I do. Or an uncle’s neighbor’s daughter. There are so many people in the military, stationed in Iraq, we are all somehow connected to someone. And so we can’t possibly think badly of them. Cause how could you look at your brother or sister as anything but this person who you unconditionally love, no matter what? – But I’m blogging, so I can.

While I continue to tape, a marine walks up to the

other two bodies about 15 feet away, but also lying
against the same back wall.

Then I hear him say this about one of the men:

"He's fucking faking he's dead - he's faking he's fucking dead."

Through my viewfinder I can see him raise the muzzle of his rifle
in the direction of the wounded Iraqi. There are no sudden movements,
no reaching or lunging.

However, the marine could legitimately believe the man poses
some kind of danger. Maybe he's going to cover him while
another marine searches for weapons.

Instead, he pulls the trigger. There is a small splatter against
the back wall and the man's leg slumps down.

"Well he's dead now," says another marine in the background.

Let me guess, you’ve heard this story? I have read it over and over. I listened to it. I read the letter from the cameraman who can’t sleep at night after filming it. And what I’m here to scream and shout, is that this is a crime. A war crime. And the old “They’re just following orders” didn’t work at Nuremberg, and doesn’t work now.

It’s called Jus in bello for those who made the Laws of War. For me it’s just another atrocity within a larger atrocity the world calls WAR. And whether the person pulling the trigger, to kill the man who is bleeding to death in the mosque, who had been injured, disarmed and interrogated the day before.. whether it’s my cousin or your neighbor’s neighbor… it’s a crime, and even if you’re ordered to do so, you’re not a robot, you know it’s wrong. When the order is to dispose of the bodies, to set fire to the houses, to collect all the men, to rape the women, or to round up all the Tutsi’s… there’s nothing honorable about saying “yes sir.”

And before I go, let’s not forget the forever ignored warzones in our own backyards.

Today’s Sounds: London symphony Orchestra Special on the BBC Worldservice