In honor of the coronation of King George, a reminder of what the so-called "moral values" crowd voted for. The photographer's account:
On the evening of Jan. 18, as we made our way up a broad boulevard, in the distance I could see car making its way toward us. As a defense against potential car-bombs, it is now standard practice for foot patrols to stop oncoming vehicles, particularly after dark.
"We have a car coming," someone called out as we entered an intersection. We could see the car about a 100 meters away. The car continued coming; I couldn't see it anymore from my perch but could hear its engine now, a high whine that sounded more like acceleration than slowing down. It was maybe 50 yards away now.
"Stop that car!" someone shouted out, seemingly simultaneously with someone firing what sounded like warning shots -- a staccato, measured burst. The car continued coming. And then, perhaps less than a second later, a cacophony of fire, shots rattling off in a chaotic, overlapping din. The car entered the intersection on its momentum and still shots were penetrating it and slicing it. Finally, the shooting stopped, the car drifted listlessly, clearly no longer being steered, and came to a rest on a curb. Soldiers began to approach it warily.
The sound of children crying came from the car. I walked up to the car and a teenaged girl with her head covered emerged from the back, wailing and gesturing wildly. After her came a boy, tumbling onto the ground from the seat, already leaving a pool of blood.
"Civilians!" someone shouted, and soldiers ran up. More children -- it ended up being six all told -- started emerging, crying, their faces mottled with blood in long streaks. The troops carried them all off to a nearby sidewalk.
It was by now almost completely dark. There, working only by lights mounted on ends of their rifles, an Army medic began assessing the children's injuries, running his hands up and down their bodies, looking for wounds. Incredibly, the only injuries were a girl with a cut hand and a boy with a superficial gash in the small of his back that was bleeding heavily but wasn't life-threatening. The medic immediately began to bind it, while the boy crouched against a wall.
From the sidewalk I could see into the bullet-mottled windshield more clearly. The driver of the car, a man, was penetrated by so many bullets that his skull had collapsed, leaving his body grotesquely disfigured. A woman also lay dead in the front, still covered in her Muslim clothing and harder to see.
Meanwhile, the children continued to wail and scream, huddled against a wall, sandwiched between soldiers either binding their wounds or trying to comfort them. The Army's translator later told me that this was a Turkoman family and that the teenaged girl kept shouting, "Why did they shoot us? We have no weapons! We were just going home!"
The military said it would "probably" launch an investigation.
More photos here (warning: extreme warblogger pr0n, which means shocking and distrubing to those with normal moral compasses).
And unfortunately, since warbloggers have such difficulties comprehending reality, a disclaimer is required. The fault lies not with the soldiers, who made a split-second decision in what might have been a deadly situation, and now have to live with having wasted two civilians and orphaned six kids by mistake, nor with the driver who did the same in encountering a group of heavily armed masked men in chaotic Iraq. The responsibility is squarely with Bush and his minions, whose mendacity and incompetence made such tragedies inevitable.
And from Steve Gilliard:
Every day in Iraq brings a tragedy like this. The kids who are expected to make life and death decisions. The kids who suffer from them. The kids who don't come back. A cycle of misery which was preventable and may never end. What happens to these people? The soldiers who have to live with a nightmare of a decision, the image of a toddler screaming in pure terror and covered in blood. The children who are orphaned by this.
I don't think for a second that everyone involved wouldn't like to take back that moment, do something different, so they didn't kill a family or get killed. But there are no do overs in life.
...everyone involved, that is, except Bush, who refuses to hear bad news about Iraq. I'm sure that as he parties with his fellow corporate cronies and Texas yahoos, he simply won't care about the misery and suffering he has caused.