Wednesday, July 05, 2006
$45K for dead US cat/ $600 for dead Iraqi
Last yr a Seattle woman was awarded $45K for the wrongful death of her cat. Ever wonder what an Iraqi life is worth? Well, in the early months of the invasion, the US paid Iraqis $106K for 176 claims - averaging about $600 per claim. During the siege of Fallujah, where US soldiers killed 18 people & wounded 78 during an April 04 firefight, the US military commander in the area paid $1500 for each fatality and $500 for each injury. Recently the US paid $38K for Haditha victims' family members. That comes up to less than $1600 per person killed. What a bargain. The most any Iraqi has received to date for injury or property damage is $15K. For Iraqis to get a claim paid is harder than getting a rebate on your iPod. 1st, you must have all your documents in order - birth certificates, witness accounts, proof of identity, etc. Most witnesses are afraid to come forward for fear of retribution. Obtaining birth certificates and proof of identity is nearly impossible for many, due to displacement or other mitigating circumstances (like say if your house and/or the govt building that housed those records has been blown to bits). Then, you must get "proof of negligence of US soldier from a US soldier or unit." That's a task that is virtually impossible, being that US soldiers are instructed not to assume blame. The claim must be filed w/in 30 days of the death along w/ a phone number for contact, making it out of the question since the overwhelming majority of Iraqis do not have phones. When payments are made, liability is never acknowledged and oftentimes family members are asked to sign waivers to exempt US personnel from any legal action. Beyond the initial payments there is little recourse for the families of the victim. Until today no US soldier has been prosecuted for illegally killing an Iraqi. (let's hope that changes now that former Pfc Steven Green has been charged w/ rape & murder but the lawmakers in Iraq are justifiably very skeptical of justice happening.) Commanders refuse even to count the number of civilians killed or injured by their soldiers. Under CPA Order No. 17, issued by the Coalition Provisional Authority prior to its dismantling in '04, Iraqi courts are banned from hearing any cases filed against US servicemen or any foreign officials in Iraq. Waleed Mohammed, the attorney representing the Haditha victims, said that he has little hope for a fair outcome: "They are waiting for an outcome although they are convinced that the sentence will be like one for someone who killed a dog in the US. Iraqis have become like dogs in the eyes of Americans." But wait! We are your great liberators. Remember, when you guys threw us kisses, roses and fuzzy bunnies? Err... umm... never mind. But c'mon, we rescued you from that brutal dictator Saddam who raped & killed w/ impunity and made your lives a living Hell on earth... err... umm... never mind.