Sunday, Jul 15, 2007, 10:44 am
The Spirit of George Bush’s America
CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. - A Marine corporal testifying in a court-martial said Marines in his unit began routinely beating Iraqis after officers ordered them to "crank up the violence level."The case specifics are monumentally appalling.
Cpl. Saul H. Lopezromo testified Saturday at the murder trial of Cpl. Trent D. Thomas.
"We were told to crank up the violence level," said Lopezromo, testifying for the defense.
When a juror asked for further explanation, Lopezromo said: "We beat people, sir."
Within weeks of allegedly being scolded, seven Marines and a Navy corpsman went out late one night to find and kill a suspected insurgent in the village of Hamandiya near the Abu Ghraib prison.All Iraqi men. (Not exactly "liberation.")
Unable to find him, the Marines and corpsman dragged another man from his house, fatally shot him, and then planted an AK-47 assault rifle near the body to make it appear he had been killed in a shootout, according to court testimony.
Lopezromo, who was not part of the squad on its late-night mission, said he saw nothing wrong with what Thomas did.
"I don't see it as an execution, sir," he told the judge. "I see it as killing the enemy."
He said Marines consider all Iraqi men part of the insurgency.
Lopezromo said a procedure called "dead-checking" was routine. If Marines entered a house where a man was wounded, instead of checking to see whether he needed medical aid, they shot him to make sure he was dead, he testified.Even if they're totally innocent in the first place, and a weapon needs to be planted to cover up what really happened.
"If somebody is worth shooting once, they're worth shooting twice," he said.