Friday, June 04, 2004

"I Killed Innocent People For Our Government"

The Sacramento Bee and the Durham Independent have published an interview with Staff Sgt. Jimmy Massey, a 12 year veteran of the U.S. Marine Corp. who has just returned from serving in Iraq. The content of the interview is a revelation into the causes of the insurgency, and some of the factors that are bolstering its increasing popularity. Put bluntly, Massey says, "I killed innocent people for our government."

When asked what the American people need to know about the conflict in Iraq, Massey states, "The cause of the Iraqi revolt against the American occupation. What they need to know is we killed a lot of innocent people. I think at first the Iraqis had the understanding that casualties are a part of war. But over the course of time, the occupation hurt the Iraqis."

Throughout the course of the interview, Massey recounts how the his actions, and the actions of his fellow soldiers, caused him to become disillusioned with the effort in Iraq. In specific, Massey details several incidents at roadblock checkpoints and street demonstrations in which he and his companions killed innocent civilians, in one case fired into a crowd of civilians including "kids" during a demonstration, and another in which they shot a civilian when surrendering to the Marines with his "hands up."

Massey recalls, "There was an incident with one of the cars. We shot an individual with his hands up. He got out of the car. He was badly shot. We lit him up. I don't know who started shooting first. One of the Marines came running over to where we were and said: "You all just shot a guy with his hands up."

Massey states that the actions of the troops on the ground reflect the attitudes up the chain of command, with the orders to fire on demonstrators and at cars approaching roadblocks coming from above.

He recounts one instance when he confronted his commanding officer after an incident involving the killing of civilians, "I talked with my commanding officer after the incident. He came up to me and says: "Are you OK?" I said: "No, today is not a good day. We killed a bunch of civilians." He goes: "No, today was a good day." And when he said that, I said, "Oh, my goodness, what the hell am I into?"

He also discusses the horrific impact that the use of depleted uranium ordinance and cluster bombs are having on U.S. soldiers in the region, and on the Iraqi population in the present and for decades to come. According to Massey, the highly radioactive and carcinogenic "DU [depleted uranium] is everywhere on the battlefield." He himself has breathed the radioactive dust and, as he puts it, "I'm 32 years old. I have 80 percent of my lung capacity. I ache all the time. I don't feel like a healthy 32-year-old." He predicts that the Iraqi population will be dealing with a "wasteland problem" for many years to come.

Despite condemnations from the U.N. and other NGOs on the use of cluster bombs because of the fact that unexploded cluster bombs remain a threat much in the same manner as land mines, they are being used in and around populated areas. In fact, Massey says how, "I had one of my Marines in my battalion who lost his leg from a cluster bomb." He goes on, "They are used everywhere. Now if you talked to a Marine artillery officer, he would give you the runaround, the politically correct answer. But for an average grunt, they're everywhere."

Interviewer: "Including inside the towns and cities?"

"Yes, if you were going into a city, you knew there were going to be cluster bombs."

Understandably, Massey is also severely critical of the Bush administration and their reckless rush to war in Iraq. "I killed innocent people for our government. For what? What did I do? Where is the good coming out of it? I feel like I've had a hand in some sort of evil lie at the hands of our government. I just feel embarrassed, ashamed about it."

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