Saturday, April 22, 2017

Question: Who is General 'Mad Dog' Mattis?

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FULL: "Mad Dog" Mattis Gives Update To Syria Strikes. Warns Assad Of Future Attacks
Published on Apr 11, 2017
Brought to you by Desert Diamond: http://ddcaz.com
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He’s Unbelivable! Mattis Just Scared Kim Jong Un To Death With These 5 Words!
Published on Apr 4, 2017
Sub for more: http://nnn.is/the_new_media | Danny Gold for Liberty Writers reports, When it comes to keeping the US safe, Secretary of Defense James Mattis is NOT messing around. For years we have sat by and let North Korea threaten us. Those days are over!
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Gen. James Mattis's Role in Fallujah & Haditha Massacre, Views on Women & LGBT in Military
Published on Jan 19, 2017
http://democracynow.org - Watch our extended interview with Aaron Glantz, a senior reporter at Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting. He covered the siege of Fallujah, Iraq, as an unembedded journalist, and his latest investigation examines whether President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for defense secretary committed war crimes there while leading U.S. troops in 2004.
Democracy Now! is an independent global news hour that airs weekdays on nearly 1,400 TV and radio stations Monday through Friday. Watch our livestream 8-9AM ET: http://democracynow.org

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The Truth About Gen. Mad Dog Mattis
Published on Dec 17, 2016
Infowars Reporter Joe Biggs Asks Former Marines Who The Real Mad Dog Mattis is and Why He's A Great Pick For SECDEF
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James Mattis Is a War Criminal: I Experienced His Attack on Fallujah Firsthand
Mattis has shown a callous disregard for human life, particularly civilians.
January 17, 2017
Retired marine General James Mattis, who retired from being the head of CENTCOM in 2013, has become known recently for his stance against what he calls "political Islam."
"Is political Islam in the best interest of the United States?" Mattis said at the far right-wing Heritage Foundation in 2015. "I suggest the answer is no, but we need to have the discussion. If we won't even ask the question, how do we even recognize which is our side in a fight?"
Another controversial aspect of his selection that much of the media is focusing on is the fact that in order to get the job, Mattis would need Congress to pass new legislation to bypass a federal law stating that it has to have been seven years since defense secretaries have been on active duty. Congress has only bypassed that law once in US history, and that occurred over 50 years ago.
More importantly, Mattis, known to some by the nickname of "Mad Dog," has shown a callous disregard for human life, particularly civilians, as evidenced by his behavior leading marines in Iraq, comments he made about enjoying fighting in Afghanistan because "it's fun to shoot some people. You know, it's a hell of a hoot," and myriad other problems.
Mattis' Role in the Haditha Massacre
While Mattis has ample military experience -- serving as NATO's supreme allied commander and with more than 40 years in the Marine Corps, his nickname seems apt.
He also said, when speaking to a group of soldiers about how to behave in Iraq during a 2003 speech, "Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet."
But more importantly, he is clearly responsible for carrying out and/or aiding and abetting in several war crimes.
In November 2005 US marines in Iraq committed a massacre of 24 unarmed Iraqi civilians. The slaughtering of unarmed men, women, children and elderly people, shot multiple times at close range, was retribution for a roadside bomb attack on a convoy of marines. The war crimes were extremely well documented and the atrocity garnered international attention.
When it came time to bring the marines responsible for the massacre to justice, Mattis was the convening authority over the eight charged with crimes at Haditha.
Mattis went on to dismiss all of the charges leveled against the marines who had been accused of killing the civilians and of the eight originally charged, only one still faces possible prosecution, but one can guess how that will end up.
Mattis' Role in Fallujah
Mattis was the head of Camp Pendleton's 1st Marine Division in Iraq and played a lead role during both of the US sieges of Fallujah in 2004.
During the April 2004 siege, more than 700 civilians were killed by the US military, according to Iraqi doctors in the city whom I interviewed in the aftermath of that attack.
While reporting from inside Fallujah during that siege, I personally witnessed women, children, elderly people and ambulances being targeted by US snipers under Mattis' command. Needless to say, all of these are war crimes.
During the November siege of Fallujah later that same year, which I also covered first-hand, more than 5,000 Iraqi civilians were killed. Most were buried in mass graves in the aftermath of the siege.
Mosques were deliberately targeted by the US military, hospitals bombed, medical workers detained, ambulances shot at, cease-fires violated, media repressed, and the use of depleted uranium was widespread. All of these are, again, war crimes.
At that time I broke the story of the US military's use of white phosphorous, an incendiary weapon similar to napalm in its ability to burn all the way down to the bone. The use of white phosphorus was a violation of international law, given that it was unleashed in the city during a time when the Pentagon itself admitted to at least 50,000 civilians still being present.
More than 200,000 civilians were displaced from their homes during the November siege, and over 75 percent of the city was destroyed.
The horrific legacy of depleted uranium contamination continues, with stillbirths and birth defects still occurring at astronomical rates, creating a situation so extreme that some Iraqi doctors are calling it a genocide.
Life Under Attack by Mattis-Led Forces
In this moment, as we countenance Mattis' planned ascension as secretary of defense, I'd like to share an excerpt from my book Beyond the Green Zone. Taken from a chapter about the April 2004 US siege of Fallujah, this report offers a clear view of the war crimes over which Mattis presided, including the deliberate targeting of innocent civilians, widespread collective punishment and more:
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We rolled toward the one small clinic where we were to deliver our medical supplies. The small clinic was managed by Maki al-Nazzal, who was hired just four days ago. He was not a doctor. The other makeshift clinic in Fallujah was in a mechanic's garage. He had barely slept in the past week, nor had any of the doctors at the small clinic.
Originally, the clinic had just three doctors, but since the US military bombed one of the hospitals and were currently sniping at people as they attempted to enter or exit the main hospital, effectively, there were only these two small clinics treating the entire city.
The boxes of medical supplies we brought into the clinic were torn open immediately by the desperate doctors. A woman entered, slapping her chest and face, and wailing as her husband carried in the dying body of her little boy. Blood was trickling off one of his arms, which dangled out of his father's arms. Thus began my witnessing of an endless stream of women and children who had been shot by the US soldiers and were now being raced into the dirty clinic, the cars speeding over the curb out front, and weeping family members carrying in their wounded. One 18-year-old girl had been shot through the neck. She was making breathy gurgling noises as the doctors frantically worked on her amid her muffled moaning. Flies dodged the working hands of doctors to return to the patches of her vomit that stained her black abaya.
Her younger brother, a small child of 10 with a gunshot wound in his head from a marine sniper, his eyes glazed and staring into space, continually vomited as the doctors raced to save his life while family members cried behind me. "The Americans cut our electricity days ago, so we cannot vacuum the vomit from his throat," a furious doctor tells me. They were both loaded into an ambulance and rushed toward Baghdad, only to die en route.
Another small child lay on a blood-spattered bed, also shot by a sniper. The boy's grandmother lay nearby, shot as she was attempting to carry children from their home and flee the city. She lay on a bed dying, still clutching a bloodied white surrender flag. Hundreds of families were trapped in their homes, terrorized by US snipers shooting from rooftops and the minarets of mosques whenever they saw someone move past a window.
Blood bags were being kept in a food refrigerator, warmed under running water before being given to patients. There were no anesthetics. The lights went out as the generator ran dry of fuel, so the doctors, who had been working for days on end, worked by light provided by men holding up cigarette lighters or flashlights as the sun set. Needless to say, there was no air-conditioning inside the steamy "clinic."
One victim of the US military aggression after another was brought into the clinic, nearly all of them women and children, carried by weeping family members. Those who had not been hit by bombs from warplanes had been shot by US snipers. The one functioning ambulance left at this clinic sat outside with bullet holes in the sides and a small group of shots right on the driver's side of the windshield. The driver, his head bandaged from being grazed by the bullet of a sniper, refused to go collect any more of the dead and wounded.
Standing near the ambulance in frustration, Maki told us, "They [US soldiers] shot the ambulance and they shot the driver after they checked his car, inspected his car, and knew that he was carrying nothing. Then they shot him. And then they shot the ambulance. And now I have no ambulance to evacuate more than 20 wounded people. I don't know who is doing this and why he is doing this. This is terrible. This has never happened before. And I don't know who to call because it seems that nobody is listening."
The stream of patients slowed to a sporadic influx as night fell. Maki sat with me as we shared cigarettes in a small office in the rear of the clinic. "For all my life, I believed in American democracy," he told me with an exhausted voice. "For 47 years, I had accepted the illusion of Europe and the United States being good for the world, the carriers of democracy and freedom. Now I see that it took me 47 years to wake up to the horrible truth. They are not here to bring anything like democracy or freedom.
"Now I see it has all been lies. The Americans don't give a damn about democracy or human rights. They are worse than even Saddam." I asked him if he minded if I quoted him with his name. "What are they going to do to me that they haven't already done here," he said.
Another car skipped over the curb outside and a man who was burned from head to toe was carried in on a stretcher. He surely died shortly, as there was no way this clinic could treat massive burns. Maki, frustrated and in shock, said, "They say there is a cease-fire. They said 12 o'clock, so people went out to do some shopping. Everybody who went out was shot and this place was full, and half of them were dead."
More than 20 dead bodies had been brought to this clinic during the last 24 hours of the "cease-fire." Shortly after this, another car skidded to a stop, and a man hit with cluster bombs was unloaded. "The Americans have been using cluster bombs often here," Maki tells me somberly. "And of course they love their DU [depleted uranium]."
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It is clear that Trump's secretary of defense selection of Mattis, an unprosecuted war criminal, is yet another egregious act against justice and the rule of international law.
Mattis was a high-level marine commander overseeing both sieges of Fallujah who then played an active role in making sure eight marines involved in a massacre walked away from any appropriate punishment.
These are just a few of his highlights from Iraq.
Imagine what he could do to the rest of the world.
Dahr Jamail, a Truthout staff reporter, is the author of The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan (Haymarket Books, 2009, and Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches From an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq (Haymarket Books, 2007).
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Did defense secretary nominee James Mattis commit war crimes in Iraq?
January 11, 2017
Retired Gen. James Mattis earned the nickname “Mad Dog” for leading U.S. Marines into battle in Fallujah, Iraq, in April 2004. In that assault, members of the Marine Corps, under Mattis’ command, shot at ambulances and aid workers. They cordoned off the city, preventing civilians from escaping. They posed for trophy photos with the people they killed.
Each of these offenses has put other military commanders and members of the rank and file in front of international war crimes tribunals. The doctrine that landed them there dates back to World War II, when an American military tribunal held Japanese Gen. Tomoyuki Yamashita accountable for war crimes in the Philippines. His execution later was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.
During the siege of Fallujah, which I covered as an unembedded journalist, Marines killed so many civilians that the municipal soccer stadium had to be turned into a graveyard.
In the years since, Mattis – called a “warrior monk” by his supporters – repeatedly has protected American service members who killed civilians, using his status as a division commander to wipe away criminal charges against Marines accused of massacring 24 Iraqi civilians in Haditha in 2005 and granting clemency to some of those convicted in connection with the 2006 murder of a 52-year-old disabled Iraqi, who was taken outside his home and shot in the face four times.
These actions show a different side of Mattis, now 66, than has been featured in most profiles published since his nomination as President-elect Donald Trump’s defense secretary, which have portrayed him as a strong proponent of the Geneva Conventions and an anti-torture advocate.
Although Mattis argued against the siege of Fallujah beforehand, both international and U.S. law are clear: As the commanding general, he should be held accountable for atrocities committed by Marines under his command. Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting received no reply to messages sent to Mattis’ personal, business and military email addresses. Trump’s transition team likewise did not respond to inquiries. Mattis’ biography on the transition team’s website does not mention the battle.
“There have been credible reports that U.S. troops under the command of Gen. Mattis did target civilians, conducted indiscriminate attacks and also conducted attacks against military objectives that caused disproportionate casualties to civilians during military operations in Fallujah,” said Gabor Rona, who teaches international law at Columbia University and worked as a legal adviser at the Geneva headquarters of the International Committee of the Red Cross at the time of the siege.
“All of these are war crimes,” Rona said. “Applying the doctrine of command responsibility, Gen. Mattis would be responsible for these misdeeds, these war crimes of troops under his command if he … either knew, should’ve known or did nothing to prevent or punish this behavior.”
Nearly 13 years later, the siege of Fallujah has receded from the headlines. But for those of us who experienced the events firsthand, the death and destruction are seared into our memories. The lack of accountability for the killing of so many civilians grates like nails on chalkboard.
Given his command responsibility, Mattis’ confirmation hearing for defense secretary, which starts Thursday, provides an opportunity to probe his role in the killings, including asking whether he committed war crimes.
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I spent parts of three years in Iraq, covering the war as an independent, unembedded journalist, including work in and around Fallujah at the time of the April 2004 siege. The year before, in May 2003, I had spent $10 to take a taxi from Baghdad to Fallujah and – as an American journalist armed only with a microphone – walked freely among the fruit and vegetable sellers, buying a Seiko watch with a fake leather band and sitting in on a Friday prayer to hear from Jamal Shakur, the city’s most strident and powerful imam.
Although AK-47s were being sold openly on the street and there already had been clashes with American troops, the imam urged nonviolence.
“Islam is a religion of peace,” he preached. Do not confront the Americans, he said. Do not turn out to protest.
But as the U.S. government bungled the occupation, anti-American sentiment grew. Basic services such as electricity, knocked out during the initial invasion in March 2003, were not restored. Insurgent attacks increased, and along with them the number of civilians killed in American counterattacks. Thousands of Iraqis disappeared into Abu Ghraib prison, Saddam Hussein’s old lockup outside Baghdad, by then operated by the U.S. military.
A year later, Fallujah was destroyed by the Marines under Mattis’ command.
A day after the April 2004 siege of Fallujah was lifted, an Iraqi man surveys a shopping center destroyed by U.S. troops.Credit: Eunji Kang
Rotting bodies in Fallujah streets
More than 12 years later, I still remember the smell of bodies left to rot in the streets for weeks because they could be buried only after the Marines withdrew. Iraqi doctors told me that when they tried to bury bodies during breaks in the fighting, American snipers on rooftops would shoot at them.
“When you see a child, 5 years old with no head, what (can you) say?” Dr. Salam Ismael, the head of Iraq’s young doctors association, told me in Baghdad at the time. “When you see a child with no brain, just opened cavity, what (can you) say? Or when you see a mother just hold her child, still an infant, with no head and the shells all over her body.”
Iraqi volunteers in surgical masks pull a woman’s corpse out of the front yard of a Fallujah home, where she was temporarily buried.Credit: Eunji Kang
My strongest memory of Fallujah came from the day the Marines withdrew from the city. On May 1, 2004, I watched as a team of volunteers wearing surgical masks pulled the rotting corpse of a middle-aged woman from a shallow grave in the front yard of a single-family home. The homeowner explained how the woman came to be lying dead in his yard.
An American warplane bombed her car as she fled the city with her husband, he said. The husband had been temporarily buried in the garden of the house next door, the charred remains of the car still visible a few yards from his front door.
The volunteers poured formaldehyde over the woman’s body to cut the stench, then placed her on a gurney and took her away in a small pickup truck. I was struck by the sad, intense eyes of one boy – not more than 12 – helping with the operation. He didn’t blink as he stood in the back of the open bed of the truck next to the body, which was covered with a white sheet.
The truck sped away. The boy was still standing, his hands on the side of the truck. In 10 minutes, he would be at the municipal soccer stadium helping bury the woman alongside hundreds of others who had died in the fighting.
Shooting at ambulances, refugee camp
Ismael told me Marines shot at his organization’s ambulance twice while he was in it. One time, he said, he was trying to retrieve bodies for burial. The other time, he was trying to bring aid to civilians stranded in their homes.
“I see people carrying a white flag and yelling at us, saying, ‘We are here, just try to save us,’ but we could not save them because whenever we opened the ambulance door, the Americans would shoot at us. We tried to carry food or water; the snipers shoot the containers of food.”
Proof often is elusive in a war zone. But that same week, British filmmaker Julia Guest showed me footage of a clearly marked ambulance, complete with blue flashing lights, riddled with bullet holes. The driver had a bandage around his head.
“It’s very clearly an ambulance,” she told me. “It’s carrying oxygen bottles. The damage to the ambulance was such that two of the wheels are totally wrecked. … They were left without an ambulance after that.”
At the time, the Marine Corps did not deny it was shooting at ambulances, but it blamed insurgents. In a 2004 email, corps spokesman Lt. Eric Knapp told me that his forces had seen fighters loading weapons from mosques into ambulances.
“By using ambulances, they are putting Iraqis in harm’s way by denying them a critical component of urgent medical care,” he wrote. “Mosques, ambulances and hospitals are protected under Geneva Convention agreements and are not targeted by U.S. Marines. However, once they are used for the purpose of hostile intent toward coalition forces, they lose their protected status and may be targeted.”
Both Ismael and Guest denied that the ambulances were used to ferry arms. Contacted for this story, Ismael, who now lives in England, still maintains that his ambulance should have been protected.
“We entered that area because we had been called for by civilians who were trapped,” he said.
The statement that ambulances were being used to smuggle arms was just one of the claims by Marine commanders that didn’t match up with what I heard on the ground from civilians and officials alike.
For instance, on one hand, the Marine Corps command consistently said it strategically targeted insurgent fighters. On the other, an official with the Iraqi Red Crescent Society told me outside Baghdad that the aid agency had to move a camp for civilians fleeing the violence because the U.S. kept shooting at it.
Civilians repeatedly told me they were targeted by Marine snipers who had taken up positions at high points around Fallujah, too. One 11-year-old boy, Yusuf Bakri Amash, said a sniper killed his best friend.
“Ahmed was in my class,” he said. “He was younger than me. He was standing next to the wall of the secondary school and was trying to cross the street. He was hit by a bullet. The American troops fired the bullet.”
Through it all, Mattis’ top deputies downplayed the number of civilian casualties. In one statement, Lt. Col. Brennan Byrne told reporters that 95 percent of the casualties were “military-age males.”
“The Marines are trained to be precise in their firepower,” Byrne said when confronted with an Associated Press report that 600 Iraqis had been killed, with many buried in a mass grave at the soccer stadium. “The fact that there are 600 goes back to the fact that the Marines are very good at what they do.”
In New York, a senior official with the United Nations Commission on Human Rights requested an independent inquiry, citing reports that 90 percent of the people killed in Fallujah were noncombatants. The investigation never occurred. An official Marine Corps history of the battle later would put the number of civilian deaths in the first two weeks of fighting alone at 220.
Mattis initially opposed attack on Fallujah
The official Marine Corps history says Mattis was against the assault on Fallujah, reporting that he argued, presciently, “that a large-scale operation would send the wrong message, unnecessarily endanger civilians, and ultimately fail to achieve the primary objective” of apprehending the insurgents who had killed four Blackwater security contractors.
But once it began, the official history says the Marines reporting to him carried out the assault “in a state of confusion.” U.S. military veterans of the siege, who I’ve talked to since, describe ever-shifting rules of engagement with a self-defense provision that they were encouraged to stretch to the limit.
Adam Kokesh served as a sergeant in Fallujah during the April siege. I met him four years later, in 2008, when he was one of 36 veterans who spoke at a Winter Soldier gathering of antiwar veterans in Silver Spring, Maryland. There, veterans disclosed atrocities they perpetrated or witnessed in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
At the gathering, Kokesh showed a trophy photo of himself next to a car with an Iraqi man killed by Marines at a checkpoint he staffed. He said the Marines in his unit took turns taking pictures with the dead Iraqi, who had been killed in a hail of machine-gun fire.
Marine Sgt. Adam Kokesh poses for a so-called trophy photo with a car that Marines shot up at a checkpoint, killing the Iraqi driver in the hail of machine-gun fire.Credit: Courtesy of Adam Kokesh
According to Kokesh, a whole group of Marines “unloaded into the vehicle with a .50-caliber machine gun,” even though the car was still far away.
“The bullets started at the bumper and went up through the engine compartment, and then one round at least hit this Iraqi in the chest so hard that it broke his chair backwards, and we saw the vehicle burning in the distance,” he said. “Everybody tried to justify it and said, oh, they heard rounds cooking off in the fire, AK-47 rounds were bursting in the trunk or somewhere in the car. And they dragged the car into the area where we were sleeping the next day. And we didn’t even question that, but it was clear that there were no … holes from rounds that were cooking off in the side of this car.”
Kokesh also described how at one point during the siege, he and other men commanded by Mattis stood on a bridge over the Euphrates River and allowed women and young children to flee Fallujah but pushed back all males 14 and older.
“It took me a long time before I could think about what a horrible decision we were forcing these families to make,” he said. They “could split up and leave their husband and older sons in the city and hope a Spectre gunship round doesn’t land on their head, or stay with them and hunker down and just hope they made it through alive.”
After the Marine Corps allowed women and children uder 14 to flee Fallujah, but forced male civilians to stay behind, women pray for their loved ones behind barbed wire that troops had set up, cordoning off the city.
After the Marine Corps allowed women and children under 14 to flee Fallujah, but forced male civilians to stay behind, women pray for their loved ones behind barbed wire that troops had set up, cordoning off the city.Credit: Eunji Kang
Press on, Mattis said, as ire mounted
The decision to allow only some civilians to flee the city, which I witnessed – and other media covered as well – occurred when then-Maj. Gen. James Mattis was sent in to negotiate a ceasefire following tremendous blowback from across Iraqi society about the mounting number of civilian casualties.
The Iraqi army had refused to fight alongside Mattis’ Marines, while members of the hand-picked Iraqi Governing Council threatened to quit. The U.N.’s envoy, Lakhdar Brahimi, threatened to resign.
“Collective punishment is certainly unacceptable and the siege of the city is absolutely unacceptable,” Brahimi said at the time.
But Mattis wanted to keep fighting. In his book “Fiasco,” military journalist Thomas E. Ricks writes that Mattis was against the negotiations and the ceasefire.
“If you’re going to take Vienna, take fucking Vienna!” Ricks quotes Mattis as snarling to Gen. John Abizaid, then-head of U.S. Central Command.
Mattis eventually negotiated an end to the assault, which turned over control of the city to an Iraqi-run “Fallujah Brigade” commanded by a former general in Saddam Hussein’s army, who sported a beret and wore a thick Baathist mustache. The settlement did not deliver the strategic objective announced when the assault began, namely that the killers of the four Blackwater security contractors be apprehended.
Years later, Mattis referred to the withdrawal from Fallujah as one the toughest orders he ever had to follow.
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James Mattis on Fallujah
Uploaded on Jan 5, 2017
James Mattis, Donald Trump's nominee for Secretary of Defense, describes withdrawing from Fallujah in April 2004 as one of the toughest orders he ever had to follow
Credit: Sgt. Tony NardielloHeadquarters Marine Corps, Defense Department
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“It was a difficult decision,” he said in a Marine Corps interview posted in October. “It was a decision taken for reasons that had nothing to do with the tactical situation on the ground.”
“I was concerned to a degree that the Marines would lose confidence in their leadership,” he added, noting that sailors and Marines under his command had lost comrades in the assault.
“But they didn’t,” Mattis said, recalling a slow-talking gunner who sat for a television interview and told the reporter that he wasn’t troubled by the order to pull out of Fallujah. Mattis quotes the Marine as saying: “Doesn’t matter, we’ll just hunt ’em down somewhere else and kill ’em.”
Mattis ordered wedding party carnage
As the summer of 2004 began and it was clear that Fallujah had become a haven for insurgents, Mattis again was sent in to negotiate. Those talks failed and that November, Marines would return and, in an even bloodier siege, take the entire city.
By then, Mattis was back in the U.S., having been promoted to lieutenant general and assigned to the Marine Corps Combat Development Command in Quantico, Virginia.
But before Mattis’ command in Iraq ended, he was involved in another controversial incident. On May 19, less than three weeks after his forces pulled back from Fallujah, Mattis personally authorized an attack on a wedding party near the Syrian border. The Iraqi government said the strike left 42 civilians dead, including at least 13 children.
The killings roiled Iraq, coming so soon after the carnage of Fallujah – but Mattis stood by his action, arguing the dead were insurgents.
“How many people go to the middle of the desert … to hold a wedding 80 miles from the nearest civilization?” he told The Guardian. “These were more than two dozen military-age males. Let’s not be naive.”
A few days later, the Associated Press obtained a videotape of the event. In it, a dozen white pickup trucks sped through the desert, escorting a bridal car decorated with colorful ribbons. The bride wore a white dress and veil and was ushered into a house by a group of women, while men reclined “on brightly colored silk pillows,” the AP reported, “relaxing on the carpeted floor of a large goat-hair tent as boys” danced to tribal songs.
The video did not capture the strike itself, but soon after the footage was taken, the AP reported many, including the wedding videographer, were dead.
Mattis later told military historian Bing West that it had taken him less than 30 seconds to deliberate whether to bomb the location.
Exonerations for Haditha massacre
In media reports since Donald Trump’s nomination of Mattis for defense secretary, the now-retired general consistently has been portrayed as the adult in the room, a veteran military man beloved by his fellow Marines. He’s seen by many as a steady, well-read leader in a group that includes a national security adviser, Michael Flynn, who believes that Islam is not a religion and wrote in a book published last year that America already was “in a world war against a messianic mass movement of evil people.”
“There’s no doubt,” Flynn wrote, that the Islamic State is “dead set on taking us over and drinking our blood.”
These observers took heart, for example, when Trump emerged from a meeting with Mattis in November and reported that the general had argued against waterboarding, an interrogation technique broadly condemned as torture, which Trump embraced during his campaign.
“I’ve never found it to be useful,” Trump quoted Mattis as saying. “I’ve always found, give me a pack of cigarettes and a couple of beers, and I do better with that than I do with torture.”
But my experience as a journalist reporting on Mattis’ assault from the perspective of Iraqi civilians gave me insight into another side of the general, a man who was willing to look the other way – and even authorize attacks on civilians – when there were “fighting-aged males” nearby. While he has many aphorisms about the importance of international law and the Geneva Conventions, in the battle of Fallujah, his Marines were not sanctioned.
This pattern becomes even clearer when you look at Mattis’ behavior once he returned to the U.S. and was promoted to general in charge of all Marine forces serving Central Command.
It was there where he used his position in the Marine Corps’ justice system to wipe away charges against three Marines charged with the murder of 24 civilians in Haditha, often called the My Lai massacre of the Iraq War.
Time magazine broke the story in March 2006, four months after the killings. Reporter Tim McGirk wrote that after a popular member of their unit was killed by a roadside bomb, a group of Marines “went on a rampage in the village … killing 15 unarmed Iraqis in their homes, including seven women and three children.” Marines also shot up a car and killed a man running on a ridge. The total number of civilian dead was 24, including a man in a wheelchair.
The Marines Corps initially did not investigate the attack because no one on the ground reported it. A subsequent Department of Defense inquiry found Naval Criminal Investigative Service agents arrived on the scene only after Time published its exposé. Another military investigation by Army Maj. Gen. Eldon A. Bargewell found that the entire Marine Corps chain of command in Iraq ignored obvious signs of serious misconduct.
“All levels of command tended to view civilian casualties, even in significant numbers, as routine and as the natural and intended result of insurgent tactics,” Bargewell wrote. “Statements made by the chain of command during interviews for this investigation, taken as a whole, suggest that Iraqi civilian lives are not as important as U.S. lives, their deaths are just the cost of doing business, and that the Marines need to get ‘the job done’ no matter what it takes.”
Mattis, then a lieutenant general stationed at Camp Pendleton, California, became the “convening authority” for the court martial – giving him ultimate authority of justice in the case. In that role, he took the rare step of writing public letters to Marines accused of murder, exonerating them for their roles in the massacre.
In his letter wiping away murder charges against Lance Cpl. Justin Sharratt, who stood accused of killing three Iraqi men in a home, Mattis referenced Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., who served as an infantryman in the Civil War, saying, “Detached reflection cannot be demanded in the face of an uplifted knife.”
“You have served as a Marine infantryman in Iraq where our Nation is fighting a shadowy enemy who hides among the innocent people, does not comply with any aspect of the law of war, and routinely targets and intentionally draws fire toward civilians. As you well know, the challenges of this combat environment put extreme pressures on you and your fellow Marines,” Mattis wrote. “With the dismissal of these charges you may fairly conclude that you did your best to live up to the standards, followed by U.S. fighting men throughout our many wars, in the face of life or death decisions.”
After Mattis dismissed charges against three Marines, the cases against the others collapsed. In the end, only the alleged ringleader, Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich, was held accountable, though his sentence did not include a day in prison. In 2012, more than six years after the massacre, Wuterich pleaded guilty to dereliction of duty, and, as punishment, his rank was reduced to private. He told the court that he regretted telling his men to “shoot first and ask questions later.”
Mattis has his defenders – and critics
Today, the prosecution of Marines involved in the Haditha massacre is widely seen as a debacle, said Gary Solis, a former Marine Corps prosecutor who teaches a course at the Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School called “Losing Haditha.”
But Solis, like other observers, doesn’t blame Mattis, saying he was hamstrung by inexperienced prosecutors. Compounding matters further was the lack of good evidence, the result of the initial failure of Marines on the ground to report the killings. Marine prosecutors also wasted three years fighting CBS in court, trying to get the network to provide unreleased footage from a “60 Minutes” broadcast, Solis said, during which time memories faded and witness statements changed.
“I think so highly of Gen. Mattis,” Solis said, putting primary blame for the killings on the nature of the Iraq War itself. “Whenever you are involved with armed opposition groups who don’t identify themselves, civilians are going to die by the carload.”
Other observers, including Gabor Rona, the former attorney for the International Committee of the Red Cross, said Mattis’ actions in the Haditha aftermath deserve renewed scrutiny with his nomination as defense secretary.
“Mattis’ role in whitewashing, if in fact that’s what he did, would be a war crime under international law, and analogous to what we prosecuted and executed Yamashita for,” he said, referring to the Japanese World War II general.
Indeed, Haditha was not the only time that Mattis used his command authority to clear Marines in a war crimes case. He also granted clemency to three Marines convicted in the 2006 killing of a disabled Iraqi man in Hamdania, freeing them from prison.
The Washington Post reported that a group of Marines went into the home of a 52-year-old disabled Iraqi with a metal bar in his leg, pulled him out and shot him in the face four times. The Marines then tried to frame him by planting a machine gun and shovel at the scene, to make it look as though he were an insurgent digging a roadside bomb. Eight servicemen initially were convicted and jailed; a year later, all but one had been released.
Among the three freed by Mattis was Lance Cpl. Robert Pennington, who had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit premeditated murder and kidnapping and was sentenced to eight years.
Faded Iraq War memories
Then-Brig. Gen. James Mattis carries his packs in Kandahar, Afghanistan, in December 2001. Mattis had climbed up the ranks and became a four-star general during the Iraq War.
Then-Brig. Gen. James Mattis carries his packs in Kandahar, Afghanistan, in December 2001. Mattis had climbed up the ranks and became a four-star general during the Iraq War.Credit: AP photo
Nearly 13 years have passed since the April 2004 siege of Fallujah. More than a decade has gone by since the Haditha massacre. The murder of a disabled man in Hamdania is nearly as old.
So much time has passed, in fact, that an inquiry to the Marine Corps press office for details of service member prosecutions related to the Fallujah siege was met with confusion. I was routed in sequence to the Marine Corps History Division, the Office of the Judge Advocate General of the Navy and eventually back to the Marine Corps’ main public affairs desk.
I told each officer I encountered that I was not aware of anyone being held accountable for atrocities, but wanted to be sure before I said so in a story.
After two weeks of phone calls and emails, a Marine spokeswoman, Lt. Danielle Phillips, offered this answer: I would have to submit a Freedom of Information Act request. The events simply were too long ago, she said.
Many of the international law experts contacted for this story likewise had forgotten the details, and I had to jog their memories with photographs, audio recordings and government documents.
With James Mattis’ nomination on the horizon, some suggest senators should press him about his actions as commanding general of one of the war’s bloodiest battles and his subsequent role in exonerating servicemen found guilty of war crimes.
At his confirmation hearing, senators should “ask about the high numbers of civilian casualties and whether there was adequate oversight and accountability,” said Beth Van Schaack, a law professor at Stanford University who served as deputy to the ambassador-at-large for war crimes issues in the Obama administration.
Mattis also should be asked about his “personal role as commander over subordinates who committed what appear to be war crimes against Iraqi civilians by targeting civilians or using indiscriminate force that insufficiently verified whether the targets were civilians or combatants,” Van Schaack said. “How did he supervise his troops, and what measures did he take after the fact?”
Gabor Rona, the former legal adviser to the International Committee of the Red Cross, said senators should remind Mattis that commanders in Yugoslavia and Rwanda have been convicted in international war crimes tribunals for failing to prevent or punish lower-ranking war criminals, a doctrine also recognized in U.S. law through Yamashita’s case and enshrined in the Department of Defense Law of War Manual.
“Troops are between a rock and a hard place,” Rona said, “obligated to follow orders but also obligated to disobey manifestly unlawful orders” such as mistreatment of civilians or captured combatants.
Mattis’ hearing, he said, offers Congress an opportunity to put commanders on notice that they have a duty to prevent and punish abuses committed by their troops.
This story was edited by Amy Pyle and copy edited by Nadia Wynter and Nikki Frick.
Aaron Glantz can be reached at aglantz@revealnews.org
Follow him on Twitter: @Aaron_Glantz
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Trump transition: Who is General 'Mad Dog' Mattis?
BBC News
2 December 2016
"Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet."
That's the stark advice given to Marines in Iraq in 2003 by retired four-star General James Mattis, the man President-elect Donald Trump has named as his defence secretary.
Gen Mattis, who is dubbed "Mad Dog", is known as much for his memorable turn of phrase as his uncompromising approach to America's enemies.
The 66-year-old's quotes, or #mattisisms, have been faithfully shared online by veterans who revere his candour and leadership, much of it served at the frontline of battle.
After meeting him in November, Mr Trump said Gen Mattis - who had a 44-year career with the Marine Corps - was "the real deal" and "a true General's General".
'Warrior Monk'
While rising through the ranks, Gen Mattis also earned the nickname "Warrior Monk" because he never married or had children.
President-elect Donald Trump speaks as he stands with retired United States Marine Corps general James Mattis after their meeting at Trump International Golf Club.
He retired in 2013 after serving as head of US Central Command (Centcom), the American military's wing in charge of all its Middle East forces.
Gen Mattis was an outspoken critic of the Obama administration's Middle East policy, specifically its views on Iran.
He has called Iran "the single most enduring threat to stability and peace in the Middle East".
Before he was promoted to lead Centcom in 2010, Gen Mattis was appointed as the head of US Joint Forces Command and Nato Supreme Allied Commander in 2007.
Gen James Mattis, in his own words
"I don't lose any sleep at night over the potential for failure. I cannot even spell the word."
"The first time you blow someone away is not an insignificant event. That said, there are some assholes in the world that just need to be shot."
"I come in peace. I didn't bring artillery. But I'm pleading with you, with tears in my eyes: If you [expletive] with me, I'll kill you all."
"The most important six inches on the battlefield is between your ears."
"There is nothing better than getting shot at and missed. It's really great."
"I'm going to plead with you, do not cross us. Because if you do, the survivors will write about what we do here for 10,000 years."
(Source: San Diego Union Tribune)
Gen Mattis led an assault battalion during the first Gulf war in 1991 and commanded a task force into southern Afghanistan in 2001.
He also helmed a Marine division at the time of the Iraq invasion in 2003 and played a key role a year later in the Battle of Falluja.
Gen Mattis co-authored a counterinsurgency manual, which was credited for easing sectarian violence in Iraq before the US withdrawal in December 2011.
Iraqi General Mohammed Latif (R), head of the Fallujah Brigade, gestures as he stands near US Marines General James Mattis in May 2004.
General Mattis with Iraqi General Mohammed Latif, head of the Fallujah Brigade, in 2004
But his refusal to mince words has been both celebrated and censured.
In 2005, Gen Mattis came under fire for comments made while talking to service members in San Diego.
"It's fun to shoot some people. I'll be right up there with you. I like brawling," he said at a panel discussion.
"You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for five years because they didn't wear a veil.
"You know, guys like that ain't got no manhood left anyway. So it's a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them."
The Marine Corps said at the time the general had been spoken to about his remarks and agreed "he should have chosen his words more carefully".
'No going back'
He defended a military strike which killed 42 people in Iraq in 2004, which the US said targeted a militant safe house, but survivors and many reports said was a wedding party.
"Bad things happen in wars. I don't have to apologise for the conduct of my men," he was quoted as saying at the time.
Aside from his strong turns-of-phrase, he reads widely, and his foreign policy beliefs differ in some areas to those of Mr Trump.
Donald Trump told the New York Times he was "surprised" to discover Gen Mattis does not favour waterboarding. The president-elect quoted him as saying he'd "never found it to be useful" and could "do better" with "a couple of beers and a pack of cigarettes".
Gen Mattis says Iran is the "single most enduring threat" in the Middle East - bigger than al-Qaeda, Syria and so-called Islamic State.
He's been strongly critical of the Iran nuclear deal, but in a speech to the Center for Strategic and International Studies in April, he said there's "no going back" on the agreement - which Mr Trump has said he wants to "dismantle".
The US would be alone globally if it did try to tear up or pull out of the deal, he argued, and should instead focus on enforcing it and being prepared for further threats.
'Strategy-free mode'
He has warned that Washington has not taken seriously enough Russia's military moves against its neighbours - annexing Crimea and backing separatists in Ukraine - and also criticised Mr Trump's view that Nato is "obsolete" as "kooky", and challenged his suggestion that some Nato allies are not paying their fair share.
But like Mr Trump, he has cautioned about giving information about strategy against enemies such as IS - specifically in saying there will be no "boots on the ground".
In general, on foreign policy, in the CSIS speech in April he said "the next president is going to inherit a mess", with the US on "strategy-free mode" and "shifting our focus from one region or sub-region to another".
A retired officer is required to be out of uniform for at least seven years before he or she can serve as defence secretary.
Gen Mattis, who has only been retired for three years, required a formal waiver from the Republican-controlled Congress to take up the role.
His confirmation made him the country's second retired general to serve as Pentagon chief.
Army General George Marshall received a congressional waiver to serve as President Harry Truman's defence secretary in 1950. He had previously served as President Truman's Secretary of State.
Gen Mattis also drew scrutiny for his membership on the board of directors at discredited blood testing firm Theranos.
Before leaving the military, Gen Mattis lobbied to have Theranos' products approved for use on the battlefield.
He joined the firm's board after leaving the US military in 2013 and Theranos' technology was later found to be fraudulent.
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