Breaking News: More senseless killing in Iraq.

Imagine this:

You’re in traffic, driving home from work one day when you hear sirens behind you. You glance in your review mirror and you see flashing lights coming up fast. The police officer who’s been directing traffic at the intersection where you’re stopped holds up his hands to stop everyone and allow the police cars through, unhindered. You wait patiently as you watch as the police cars go zipping by. After they’ve moved past, you start to move your car closer to the curb when you hear three loud noises – CRACK! CRACK! CRACK! You feel a sting and the warmth of your blood spreading across your chest. You see others running up to you, trying to help you. Then your vision goes black.

What would you think about as you sat there bleeding to death? Would you think of your family? Pray to some god to save you?

I know you probably don’t come here to read about the situation in Iraq. Foreign policy isn’t really my forté; I tend to leave that to others. But this story, via the New York Times, made me angry enough that I wanted to say something about it here. From the story, if you’re too lazy to go read the thing:

An Iraqi taxi driver was shot and killed on Saturday by a guard with DynCorp International, a private security company hired to protect American diplomats…

Three witnesses said the taxi had posed no threat to the convoy, and one of them, an Iraqi Army sergeant who inspected the car afterward, said it contained no weapons or explosive devices.

“They just killed a man and drove away,” Maj. Gen. Abdul-Karim Khalaf, an Interior Ministry spokesman, said in his office on Sunday afternoon.

…witnesses to Saturday’s shooting said they saw no reason for the guards to open fire on the car, a white Hyundai with a taxi sign on the roof, driven by Mohamad Khalil Khudair, 40.

The convoy came barreling down the exit ramp from the bridge around midday, [Sgt. Ahmad] Hussein said. “We saw them coming, so we ordered the traffic to stop,” he said.

The crowded traffic on the ramp came to a stop, but as Mr. Khudair tried to pull closer to the side of the road, a gun in the rear truck of the convoy fired several shots into his car, Sergeant Hussein said. At least one bullet went through the windshield and struck Mr. Khudair on the right side of his chest, the sergeant said.

I’d like to start out by saying that I cannot even fathom what being a security detail in Iraq is like. It has to be tough constantly worrying that just about anyone could be ready to kill you. However, it’s the job of the men and women who work for these private security forces to work calmly and rationally in high-pressure, high-stress situations. It simply baffles me that they would open fire on a vehicle that they had already passed for no apparent reason. Remember that one of the witnesses is an Iraqi police officer. They had stopped the traffic at the intersection to let the convoy pass. The car was nowhere near the convoy at this point. Then, for no apparent reason to any of the witnesses, they shot at the vehicle.

The guy who speaks for DynCorp International in the story says that the guards reported they shot at the vehicle, but were unaware that anyone was injured.

Why were they shooting at the vehicle in the first place?

This may not be a good comparison, but if a police officer or marine or security detail in the United States opened fire on a vehicle, they’d better have a damn good reason to do so. There are very limited, specific situations when police officer in the U.S. can fire at a suspect. There’s an internal investigation just about every time a police officer discharges his/her firearm to make sure he or she acted within reason. It’s a big deal for a police officer to fire their weapon at someone.

It goes to show that Iraq still has a long way to go before it’s stable.

I wonder what Mohamad Khalil Khudair thought about.


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