I am more and more disgusted with the way the Iraq war is being waged. I realize that war is a nasty business and that horrible things happen. Unfortunately, I don't see any justification or pity for those who use the "fog of war" to justify horrible moral outrages against civilians and use G.I. soldiers as pawns in the game.

According to the Washington Post and The Independent in Britian it has come to light in testimony for a courtmartial of snipers in Iraq that the Asymetric Warfare Group gave these snipers "drop items" to be used as bait for Iraqi's. The gist of the program is summed up well in the words of one of the soldiers.
"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 the US
forces." Captain Mathew Didier

The problems with this strategy are so numerous it is hard to even begin. What happens if the person that picks it up is a civilian? If the item is potentialy dangerous to troops (An AK-47 was allegedly among the "drop items" planted on bodies of civilians) would this not turn an innocent civilian into a direct threat, thus creating a Catch-22 in which the soldiers would be forced to respond lethally to the threat despite the innocence of the Iraqi? How can a soldier determine the guilt or innocence of an Iraqi after said person has picked up a "drop item"? In a country in which military ordinance is a common as roadside trash would it not make every Iraqi a potential target? After all, people need to move the stuff out of the way to get on with their lives. Also, some of this stuff is worth money and most Iraqi's don't have jobs. I'm sure most are thinking, "How much can I get for this AK-47, will it be enough for a weeks worth of dinner?", not "Goodie! Where is the nearest infidel? I want to kill him with this AK-47 I found on the road".

This also begs the question of a Catch-22 for the soldiers involved. Now that the program has come to light the military has said that it didn't really exist, basically saying that the soldiers were mistaken in their interpretation of the order. (This begs the question of what these "drop items" were for in the first place as I can't see a use for them otherwise). This makes them instant scapegoats for, in essence, following orders. They have no recourse on the battlefield from following the orders of superiors so what are they to do? They are stuck accepting blame and consequences for a misguided program. Obviously they took it to extremes in planting evidence after kills, but even had this not happened they would have been potential scapegoats.

War is hell, but this is aggregious. I hope that this makes a big stink in the US and abroad but I doubt it will. For some reason people either take this chicanery for granted or don't seem to care. I think we need to be angry and expect better of our armed forces. Change needs to be effected immediately if we hope to avert a total disaster in Iraq.