James Mattis Is a War Criminal: I Experienced His Attack on Fallujah Firsthand
by Dahr Jamail, Truthout | News Analysis –
Retired marine General James Mattis, who retired from being the head of CENTCOM in 2013, has become known recently for his stance against what he calls “political Islam.”
“Is political Islam in the best interest of the United States?” Mattis said at the far right-wing Heritage Foundation in 2015. “I suggest the answer is no, but we need to have the discussion. If we won’t even ask the question, how do we even recognize which is our side in a fight?”
Another controversial aspect of his selection that much of the media is focusing on is the fact that in order to get the job, Mattis would need Congress to pass new legislation to bypass a federal law stating that it has to have been seven years since defense secretaries have been on active duty. Congress has only bypassed that law once in US history, and that occurred over 50 years ago.
More importantly, Mattis, known to some by the nickname of “Mad Dog,” has shown a callous disregard for human life, particularly civilians, as evidenced by his behavior leading marines in Iraq, comments he made about enjoying fighting in Afghanistan because “it’s fun to shoot some people. You know, it’s a hell of a hoot,” and myriad other problems.
Mattis’ Role in the Haditha Massacre
While Mattis has ample military experience — serving as NATO’s supreme allied commander and with more than 40 years in the Marine Corps, his nickname seems apt.
He also said, when speaking to a group of soldiers about how to behave in Iraq during a 2003 speech, “Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.”
But more importantly, he is clearly responsible for carrying out and/or aiding and abetting in several war crimes.
In November 2005 US marines in Iraq committed a massacre of 24 unarmed Iraqi civilians. The slaughtering of unarmed men, women, children and elderly people, shot multiple times at close range, was retribution for a roadside bomb attack on a convoy of marines. The war crimes were extremely well documented and the atrocity garnered international attention.
When it came time to bring the marines responsible for the massacre to justice, Mattis was the convening authority over the eight charged with crimes at Haditha.
Mattis went on to dismiss all of the charges leveled against the marines who had been accused of killing the civilians and of the eight originally charged, only one still faces possible prosecution, but one can guess how that will end up.
Mattis’ Role in Fallujah
Mattis was the head of Camp Pendleton’s 1st Marine Division in Iraq and played a lead role during both of the US sieges of Fallujah in 2004.
During the April 2004 siege, more than 700 civilians were killed by the US military, according to Iraqi doctors in the city whom I interviewed in the aftermath of that attack.
While reporting from inside Fallujah during that siege, I personally witnessed women, children, elderly people and ambulances being targeted by US snipers under Mattis’ command. Needless to say, all of these are war crimes.
During the November siege of Fallujah later that same year, which I also covered first-hand, more than 5,000 Iraqi civilians were killed. Most were buried in mass graves in the aftermath of the siege.
Mosques were deliberately targeted by the US military, hospitals bombed, medical workers detained, ambulances shot at, cease-fires violated, media repressed, and the use of depleted uranium was widespread. All of these are, again, war crimes.
At that time I broke the story of the US military’s use of white phosphorous, an incendiary weapon similar to napalm in its ability to burn all the way down to the bone. The use of white phosphorus was a violation of international law, given that it was unleashed in the city during a time when the Pentagon itself admitted to at least 50,000 civilians still being present.
More than 200,000 civilians were displaced from their homes during the November siege, and over 75 percent of the city was destroyed.
The horrific legacy of depleted uranium contamination continues, with stillbirths and birth defects still occurring at astronomical rates, creating a situation so extreme that some Iraqi doctors are calling it a genocide.
Life Under Attack by Mattis-Led Forces
In this moment, as we countenance Mattis’ planned ascension as secretary of defense, I’d like to share an excerpt from my book Beyond the Green Zone. Taken from a chapter about the April 2004 US siege of Fallujah, this report offers a clear view of the war crimes over which Mattis presided, including the deliberate targeting of innocent civilians, widespread collective punishment and more:
Reprinted with permission from Truthout