Monday, September 24, 2007

Of Snipers, Bait, and Really Stupid Ideas

Here's the idea:
  • Use detonation cords, plastic explosives and
    ammunition as bait
  • Hide nearby
  • When Iraqis pick up bait, shoot them
With due respect to America's armed forces, this reeks. And is also brain-dead stupid.

I'd like to believe that the Washington Post made up the story about the U.S. military's Asymmetric Warfare Group coming up with a plan that would result in Iraq being cleansed of insurgents, scrap dealers, and curious kids.

Assuming that it's true, and there probably is at least a grain of truth to this crack-brained lunacy, this could be the biggest propaganda coup for Al Qaeda and company since Abu Ghraib. Even Blackwater employees opening fire on what may have been a bunch of civilians doesn't seem to have the potential that this sniper bait story has.

The Washington Post quoted the leader of an elite sniper scout platoon, to describe the Baiting program. "Baiting is putting an object out there that we know they will use, with the intention of destroying the enemy," he said in a sworn statement. "Basically, we would put an item out there and watch it. If someone found the item, picked it up and attempted to leave with the item, we would engage the individual as I saw this as a sign they would use the item against U.S. Forces."

The classified program turned up in documents related to recent murder charges against three U.S. snipers. They allegedly planted evidence on Iraqis they had killed. I sure hope the Washington Post's publication of the program's details means it's no longer classified.

As described, this program is stupid, at least from the point of view of someone who has Iraqi and/or American interests at heart.

First, detonation cords, plastic explosives and ammunition have some monetary and exchange value. The poor shmoo picking up the bait might even be planning to turn it in to American troops, instead of leaving it lying around.

Second, that kind of material can attract the attention of curious kids. And I doubt that every curious kid in Iraq is an insurgent.

I realize that troops in combat are under a great deal of stress, and have understandable desires to 'get even.'

Nevertheless, I am very concerned that U.S. military thinkers may be so focused on killing insurgents that they concocted a program that targets anyone with a disinclination to leave ordinance lying around in a public place.

Concerned? Make that appalled.

I sincerely hope that this make-American-soldiers-look-bad program was limited to a few units, in a few places.

We have enough trouble with crazed Muslims wanting to kill Americans, without giving them reasons for their desire.


Anonymous said...

So it turns out that this war is less about "religious fanatics who want their beliefs to rule the world,"
and more about the Crusaders bait-sniping Iraqis over invisible WMD

Brian H. Gill said...


The Washington Post loves to print stories like this.

The 'bait' program seems to be limited in scope.

I am not excusing this appalling program.

On the other hand, actions carried out secretly be a small number of soldiers does not make the U.S. "Crusaders," except in places like Berkeley and Amherst.

Your reaction is one of the reasons for my being so concerned about this program. This out-of-control bunch of thugs gives zealots opportunity to score points against the "Crusaders."

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.