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Wikileaks has obtained the long kept secret Rules of Engagement  (ROE) for U.S. troops in Iraq. This document sets out the rules guiding authorized U.S. troop actions in that occupation. While the Wikileaks document dates  from 2005, as these ROEs generally change slowly the rules for today are likely similar, though we can't be sure, of course, to what extent more recent ROE's differ.

Wikileaks has obtained the long kept secret Rules of Engagement  (ROE) for U.S. troops in Iraq. This document sets out the rules guiding authorized U.S. troop actions in that occupation. While the Wikileaks document dates  from 2005, as these ROEs generally change slowly the rules for today are likely similar, though we can't be sure, of course, to what extent more recent ROE's differ.

Among several interesting nuggets in the ROE, it provides indications that U.S. attacks likely to result in civilian deaths required authorization at the top of the Pentagon, by the SECDEF (Secretary of Defense). Thus, the ROE states  repeatedly; "If the target is in a HIGH CD [collateral damage] area, SECDEF approval is required."  And what is the definition of a High Collateral Damage area? The ROE contains a set of explicit definitions of its terms. There  we find  High Collateral Damage Targets defined as:

"Those targets that, if struck, have a ten percent probability of causing collateral damage through blast debris and fragmentation and are estimated to result in significant collateral effects on noncombatant persons and structures, including: (A) Non-combatant casualties estimated at 30 or greater; (B) Significant effects on Category I No Strike protected sites in accordance with Ref D; (C) In the case of dual-use facilities, effects that significantly impact the non-combatant population, including significant effects on the environment/facilities/infrastructure not related to an adversary’s war making ability; or (D) Targets in close proximity to known human shields."

Thus, all attacks, except those in self-defense or active pursuit, with a reasonable possibility of harming 30 or more civilians needed approval from Defense Secretary Rumsfeld. Presumably such approval would need to be in writing. The ROE thus suggest that there may exist an extensive documentary record of requests, and possibly Rumsfeld's approval or rejection, for attacks with the potential for resulting in significant civilian casualties. Congress should demand access to these documents to determine the extent to which attacks resulting in civilian casualties were authorized, potentially providing insight into who was responsible for possible war crimes committed in the course of the occupation.

While much of the rest of the ROE appears rather unsurprising, there are a couple of other interesting aspects to the document. One is that the main "hostile forces," from the U.S. perspective are the Baath remnants, such as the Special Republican Guard and the Baath Party Militia. There is no mention of Iraqi al-Qaida or its predecessors. These predecessors, led by al-Zarqawi, had identified with and pledged allegiance to al-Qaida as early as October, 2004, yet they receive no mention in the ROE. The ROE rather refers to Baath forces that "have transitioned from overt conventional resistance to insurgent methods of resistance."

While the Sunni al-Qaida predecessors do not make the list of hostile forces, the Shia-based Mahdi Army of Muqtada al-Sadr does make the list of "Declared Hostile Forces," However, as of the ROE's writing, this status was "suspended and such individuals will not be engaged except in self-defense."

Another interesting feature of the ROE is a complete ignoring of the language barriers separating U.S. troops from the Iraqi populace. Thus, in a section on graduated force, the first stage is "shout verbal warnings to halt." There is not even a mention of the fact that most Iraqis cannot understand warnings shouted in English. In general, the ROE is notable for lacking any recognition that, in an "insurgency," there are at best blurry boundaries between combatants and noncombatants. Thus, there is no emphasis of the need to take extraordinary measures to protect the civilian population. Rather, it provides a rationale for virtually any attacks:

"US Forces may always use force, up to and including deadly force, to neutralize and/or detain individuals who commit hostile acts or exhibit hostile intent against US Forces or Coalition Forces."

As we have seen repeatedly, from the numerous roadblock killings of civilians to the Haditha massacre, this ROE authorization to use force can be used to provide cover for virtually any civilian killings. The ROE suggests that preventing such deaths was low on the priority list of those officials writing the rules of engagement for the occupation. Even so, a military study found that less than half of US occupation soldiers would report a unit member for violating an ROE. Thus, even the limited protections provided civilians in the ROE were often not present on the ground.

Originally posted to stephen soldz on Mon Feb 04, 2008 at 10:17 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip jar. (9+ / 0-)

    It will be interesting to see what others see other in the ROE.

  •  There seems to be little question (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Valtin, JG in MD

    that Rummy Dumsfeld authorized war crimes. The only question seems to be whether or not he'll be prosecuted.

    by Steve Everett on Mon Feb 04, 2008 at 10:36:59 AM PST

  •  Documentation, Not Destroyed, Is Gold (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Valtin, dconrad

    Destroyed, it's a clue something bad happened, easily dismissed. Please God let somebody, anybody, smuggle out some of the "authorizations" and also find the more recent ROE's and those documents as well.

    For god's sake, somebody blow the whistle. I'll protect you in my 1-br apt if I have to. Just get this the hell out of the vault.

  •  Blowing the Whistle (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The leaker of this, and other, documents blew the whistle. Is anyone listeninmg?

  •  Offering a pathway (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    for the documentation of war crimes is an important contribution. Thanks very much for pointing this aspect of the leaked ROE out.

    I very much hope Diary Rescue picks up this diary for further exposure.

  •  ROE (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Thanks for posting this. It is a vital piece in the chain of lies and crimes that started long before 9-11, and will likely streach far into the future.

    Practically speaking, impeachment and war crimes proceedings have been blocked by both parties.

    (hilariously, the repugs pulled a fast one, attemption to force pelosi to openly kill kusinish's impeachment resolution on the floor of congress. Pelosi narrowly avoided this public humiliation)

    It seems to me that the chain of lies about our wars,(at least) extends deeply into both parties, linking them as accessories before, during and after the war crimes.

    To impeach these bastards, let alone charge them with war crimes, would require we break the link that binds the parties closer to each other and their special interest bribers than their own voters.

    In other words, until we have fundamental reform of our political relationships, not only will these crimes be buried (hopefully with kissenger, after a fair and swift trial...I'm dreaming...), but they will continue to be committed in our name.

    Free speech and association have been hijacked by various special and corporate interests and used to neutralize the franchise rights of the voter.

    Until we uncouple the control of wealth and power  over our political system, our domestic and foreign policies will continue to be a crime not only against our constitution, but against the rule of law and humanity itself.

    again, thanks for posting this,

    I have no idea how to rate diaries, but i rate this one well!

    by reform on Mon Feb 04, 2008 at 12:46:41 PM PST

    •  The only way to rate diaries (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      is to scroll up and click that 'Recommend' button in the right column, as I just did.

      Just black and white, rich or poor / Senators, stop the war!

      by dconrad on Mon Feb 04, 2008 at 01:32:53 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks dude, (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        (I call everyone dude) I have been on a fast track tech learning curve for the last two years.

        Prior to that i avoided computers, had never used the internet, and knew nothing about software or hardware.

        Despite the learning curve, I still have a hard time figuring all this stuff out.

        Thanks for the info,


        but i built a website!

        by reform on Mon Feb 04, 2008 at 10:27:05 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

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