U.S. soldiers taken prisoner, interrogated
The Michigan Daily - Monday, March 24, 2003 - 6A
The interrogation of five U.S.
soldiers - four men and a woman
- was broadcast on Iraqi TV
DOHA, Qatar (AP) - Looking by turns frightened
or stoical, five captured U.S. soldiers were thrust in
front of an Iraqi TV microphone and peppered with
questions yesterday. The footage also showed at least
U.S. officials confirmed that 12 soldiers and at least
one aircraft were missing in southern Iraq, and said the
troops may have been lured into a trap by Iraqi soldiers
pretending to surrender.
The scenes of interrogators questioning four men
and a woman were broadcast by the Arab satellite sta-
tion Al-Jazeera with footage from state-controlled Iraqi
television. Each was interviewed individually. They
spoke into a microphone labeled "Iraqi Television."
A senior defense official said the Pentagon did
not know precisely how many captives there might
be, and declined to identify the unit involved so as
not to panic soldiers' families. Some Iraqi soldiers
acted as though they wanted to surrender, then
opened fire, the official said.
Al-Jazeera quoted unidentified Iraqi officials as say-
ing the Iraqis are using a defensive tactic of falling
back, allowing their enemy to overextend itself and
become vulnerable to attack behind the lines.
Speaking on CBS, Defense Secretary Donald Rums-
feld charged that if those seen on television were
indeed coalition soldiers, "those pictures are a violation
of the Geneva Conventions."
International Committee of the Red Cross spokes-
woman Nada Doumani said the showing of the prison-
ers on TV violates Article 13 of the Geneva Conven-
tions, which says prisoners should be protected from
public curiosity. But she stressed that the priority at the
moment is to get access to them.
"It does contradict the conventions because it's pub-
lic curiosity" she said. "But our priority is not to put
blame on any side but to check that the prisoners are
safe. Let's put the focus on getting access and ensuring
safety and then we can discuss in detail the provisions
of the Geneva Conventions. The important thing is to
have people treated in a humane way."
Each prisoner shown on television spoke American-
accented English. One was a 30-year-old woman from
Texas. Her eyes darted back and forth and she held her
arms tightly in her lap as she was questioned.
At one point, the camera panned back, showing a
big white bandage around her ankle. Her voice was
very shaky. Another prisoner, who said he was from El
Paso, Texas, stared directly at the camera and spoke in
a clear direct voice, often shaking his head and cupping
his ear slightly to indicate that he couldn't hear one of
the questions being shot at him from around the room.
A 31-year-old sergeant from New Jersey sat bolt
upright in a chair with brown armrests. His hands in his
lap, he answered questions in a clipped fashion and
said he was with the 507th Maintenance Company. The
woman also said she was from the 507th Maintenance.
Both the Air Force and Army have companies with that
One of the men, sitting up, was interviewed by an
unseen person holding a microphone labeled "Iraqi
TV" in Arabic. The prisoner at one point said: "I'm
sorry. I don't understand you."
The narrator provided an Arabic translation, but it
was possible to hear some of the comments in English.
The prisoners looked terrified. One captive, who
said he was from Kansas, answered all his questions in
a shaky voice, his eyes darting back and forth between
the interviewer and another person who couldn't be
seen on camera.
Asked why he came to Iraq, he replied, "I come to
fix broke stuff"
Prodded again by the interviewer, he was asked if he
came to shoot Iraqis.
"No, I come to shoot only if I am shot at," he said.
"They (Iraqis) don't bother me, I don't bother them."
Another prisoner, who said he was from Texas, said
only: "I follow orders."
A voice off-camera asked how many officers were in
his unit. "I don't know, sir," the man replied.
Another prisoner, who also said he was from Texas,
was lying on an elaborate maroon mat. The camera
panned from his feet to his head, showing one of his
arms to be wounded and folded across his chest.
Iraqi TV attempted to interview him, at one point
trying to cradle his head to steady it for the camera.
They eventually helped him sit up, but he seemed to
The camera showed four bodies on the floor of the
room. The station said they and the prisoners were cap-
tured around An Nasiriyah, a major crossing point over
the Euphrates northwest of Basra.
U.S. officials said yesterday that U.S. Marines
defeated Iraqi forces near An Nasiriyah in the sharpest
engagement of the war. But Iraqi forces also ambushed
an army supply convoy and 12 soldiers were missing,
Anecita Hudson wipes tears from her eyes as she talks about her son, Spc. Joseph
Hudson, who she learned was captured by Iraqi forces.
Little girl lost
U.S. still searching for chemical weapons.-
WASHINGTON (AP) - U.S. spe-
cial operations troops combing Iraq
for Scud missiles and chemical or
biological weapons have found none
so far, a senior American military
officer said Saturday.
Maj. Gen. Stanley McChrystal,
vice director of operations for the
Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a Penta-
gon news conference that the Iraqis
have not fired any Scuds and that
U.S. forces searching airfields in
the far western desert of Iraq have
uncovered no missiles or launchers.
Iraq denies having any Scuds,
which have sufficient range to reach
Israel, but Gen. Tommy Franks, who
is running the war, said Saturday
that Iraq has yet to account for about
two dozen Scuds that United Nations
inspectors have said were left over
from the 1991 Gulf War.
Iraq also denies it holds any
chemical or biological weapons.
McChrystal said the United States
will either bomb any such weapons
it should find'or seize them with
ground forces, whichever is safer.
He and other officials refused to say
where in Iraq those searches are
Also Saturday, the U.S. military
abandoned plans to open a northern
front against Iraq that would have
sent heavy armored forces streaming
across the Turkish border.
Two U.S. defense officials said
dozens of U.S. ships carrying
weaponry for the Army's 4th
Infantry Division will head to the
Persian Gulf after weeks of waiting
off Turkey's coast while the two
countries tried to reach a deal.
McChrystal said that even without the
4th Infantry, "there will be a northern
option." He would not say what that
might be. Other officials said Army air-
borne troops might join small numbers
of U.S. special operations forces already
on the ground in northern Iraq, where
American officials fear clashes between
Turkish forces and Iraqi Kurds.
Although U.S. officials on Friday
said all 8,000 soldiers in Iraq's 51st
Mechanized Division in southern
Iraq has surrendered, McChrystal
said Saturday that only the unit's
commanders gave themselves up.
The rest simply left the battlefield or
were "melting away," he said.
McChrystal said the number of
Iraqi prisoners of war was between
1,000 and 2,000. In describing over-
all progress in the war, McChrystal
"We would be hopeful that those with triggers
on these weapons understand what Secretary
Don Rumsfeld said...yesterday. Don't use it.
Don't use it.
- Tommy Franks
Gen., U.S. Central Command
said American and British forces
have hit Iraq with 500 cruise mis-
siles and several hundred precision-
guided bombs over the past day. The
use of air-launched cruise missiles
in Friday's attacks was the first since
the war began.
Warplanes flew 1,000 missions
from aircraft carriers and air bases
in the region, he said. Iraqi soldiers,
"including some leadership," are
surrendering and defecting in large
numbers, Pentagon spokeswoman
Torie Clarke said."It is only a matter
of time before the Iraqi regime is
destroyed and its threat to the region
... is ended," she said.
Northern Iraq is an important battle-
ground because of the Kurdish presence
in enclaves not controlled by the Iraqi
government. Turkey fears the Kurds will
seize the northern oil fields or establish
an independent state, thus complicating
Turkey's conflict with its own Kurdish
The Pentagon wanted to put a
heavy armored force into northern
Iraq and had designated the 4th
Infantry for that mission. The only
feasible avenue for them to reach
northern Iraq was from bases in
Turkey, an option foreclosed by the
With U.S. ground forces advanc-
ing toward Baghdad, Pentagon offi-
cials expressed concerns the troops
might come across Republican
Guard troops armed with chemical
weapons. "We would be hopeful
that those with their triggers on
these weapons understand what
Secretary Don Rumsfeld said in his
comments yesterday: "Don't use it.
Don't use it."'
An Iraqi man carries a child reportedly injured near the southern
Iraqi city of Basra Saturday.
Patriot missile shoots down British jet, kills 2
CAMP AS SAYLIYAH, Qatar (AP) - Coalition
forces suffered their first confirmed "friendly fire"
deaths of the Iraq war yesterday, when a U.S. Patriot
missile battery downed a British fighter jet near the
Iraqi-Kuwait border, killing the two fliers on board.
Military analysts said the downing was rare, since
the Royal Air Force Tornado GR4 would have been
outfitted with a transponder - an electronic signal
device identifying itself as a coalition military aircraft.
The shootdown was a blow for Britain, which
already suffered 14 dead in accidents: the crash Fri-
day of a CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter that killed
eight and a collision Saturday of two British Royal
Navy helicopters that killed six.
Five American servicemen were killed in those
incidents as well. The Tornado was returning from
operations in Iraq when it was targeted by a U.S.
Patriot missile battery, the British military said. The
Royal Air Force base at Marham, in Britain, con-
firmed the two crewmembers were dead.
Over Iraq, the fighter had been taking part in strikes
that destroyed Republican Guard forces outside Bagh-
dad, U.S. Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks said in Qatar.
"I have to say it is not the beginning that we would
have preferred," Group Capt. Al Lockwood, spokesman
for British forces in the Persian Gulf, said.
But, he said, "this is not training, this is war. And we
expect tragically, occasionally that there are accidents."
In military parlance the phenomenon also is known
as "blue on blue," or "fratricide" - the mistake that
sends missiles, bullets, bombs or artillery shells
hurtling in the wrong direction, inflicting casualties or
damage on noncombatants or one's own forces.
Every modern war has recorded its share of
such incidents. In the 1991 Gulf War, the last
time U. S. troops fought the Iraqis, 35 Americans
were killed by friendly fire - nearly one quarter
of the total of 148 combat deaths. In that war,
too, several British troops were killed by errant
As warfare has become more reliant on precision-
guided weapons, the likelihood of such incidents
diminishes. But even if the technology were fool-
proof - which it is not - the humans who use it
remain vulnerable to mistakes.
"There are so many layers of information on
all the layers of the battlefield," said Michael
Donovan, a research analyst with the Washing-
ton-based Center for Defense Information.
"Complex systems unfortunately tend to break
down, you can count on it."
The most famous recent example of precision tar-
geting gone wrong occurred during the Persian Gulf
"tanker war" between Iraq and Iran on July 3, 1988,
when the Navy cruiser USS Vincennes shot down an
Iranian A300 Airbus over the Persian Gulf, killing all
Two Royal Navy Sea King search and rescue helicopters, similar to the one seen In
this 1995 file photo, collided over international waters In the Gulf Saturday.
Continued from Page 1A
Actress-nominated Nicole Kidman,
but most proved unfounded. In fact,
only Will Smith actively stated his
withdrawal from presenting last
night due to the ongoing war.
But Michael Moore criticized
President Bush and the U.S.-led
war in Iraq during his acceptance
speech yesterday, receiving both a
partial standing ovation and some
jeers from Hollywood's elite.
The documentary maker won his first
Oscar for "Bowling for Columbine," but
called up other nominees on stage to
join him in a show of solidarity for non-
fiction during these "fictitious times."
"We live in the time where we
have fictitious election results that
elect a fictitious president," Moore
said. "We live in a time where we
have a man who's sending us to war
for fictitious reasons, whether it's
the fiction of duct tape or the fic-
tion of orange alerts." Applause gave
way to some boos, as the orchestra
began playing to cue the filmmaker to
leave the stage. "We are against this war,
Mr. Bush. Shame on you, Mr. Bush.
Shame on you;' Moore shouted.
Some of the celebrities not in
attendance due to various reasons
included Cate Blanchett, Best Pic-
ture nominated producer/director
Peter Jackson, esteemed and contro-
versial rapper-turned-actor Eminem
and Best Supporting Actor nominee
In addition to the "glitz-free"
opening of the ceremonies, the
press was blacklisted from Vanity
Fair's black-tie after-party at Holly-
wood eatery Morton's.
Some of the more extreme hearsay
included a vicarious request from the
White House to postpone the awards,
which was immediately denied. "There
have been more rumors flying around
about the Academy Awards ... than there
is flying around about what's happening
in Iraq," Cates said.
Even with the mass of security pre-
cautions, possible terrorist concerns and
the ongoing war, Pierson proclaimed
that there was no real concern that the
Oscars posed a legitimate target for a
terrorist attack. As it has for 75 years
and counting, the show did go on.
Fifteen wounded in grenade attack in U.S.
camp, American soldier found responsible
KUWAIT CITY (AP) - A U.S. soldier most
likely acted out of resentment yesterday when he
threw grenades into tents at a 101st Airborne
Division command center, killing a fellow serv-
iceman, an Army spokesman said.
Fifteen other soldiers, including the division
commander, were wounded - at least three of
them seriously - in an early attack yesterday at
Camp Pennsylvania, the rear base for the 101st
near the Iraqi border. The 101st is based at Fort
The dead soldier was identified yesterday as
Army Capt. Christopher Scott Seifert, 27. No
hometown was immediately available for Seifert,
who was sleeping in his tent when the grenade
attack occurred, the Defense Department said.
The soldier in custody was identified yester-
day as Sgt. Asan Akbar of the 326th Engineer
Battalion. Fort Campbell spokesman George
Heath said Akbar had not been charged with any
crime. Heath did not release Akbar's hometown
or say how long he had served in the military.
But Heath did say Akbar had been "having
what some might call an attitude problem." As a
sergeant, Akbar commanded four to seven sol-
diers, Heath said.
Another Army spokesman, Max Blumenfeld,
said the motive in the attack "most likely was
'We noticed four hand grenades were missing and that this
sergeant was unaccounted for'
- Col. Frederick Hodges
Commander, 1st Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division
cans still were investigating all locally contract-
ed workers in the camp, such as cleaners, drivers
and volunteer translators. Two Kuwaiti transla-
tors also were questioned and released.
"When this all happened we tried to get
accountability for everybody," Col. Frederick
Hodges, commander of the division's 1st
Brigade, told Britain's Sky News television. "We
noticed four hand grenades were missing and
that this sergeant was unaccounted for."
Akbar was found hiding in a bunker, said
Hodges, who was slightly injured in the attack.
"I immediately smelled smoke," the command-
er told Sky News. "I heard a couple of explo-
sions and then a popping sound which. I think
was probably a rifle being fired. It looks like
some assailant threw a grenade into each of
these three tents here."
One grenade went off in the command tent,
Blumenfeld said. The tent, the tactical operations
center runs 24 hours a dav and would alwvs he
about the wounded.
Heath said Akbar would be brought back to
Fort Campbell "for judicial punishment" if he is
Army Lt. Gen. John Abizaid said at a briefing
in Qatar that the grenade attack was "very tragic
and very unfortunate," and "I don't think it's
indicative of the morale of our forces."
The 101st Airborne is a rapid deployment
group trained to go anywhere in the world within
The roughly 22,000 members of the 101st
were deployed Feb. 6. The last time the entire
division was deployed was during the 1991 Per-
sian Gulf War, which began after Iraq invaded
Most recently, the 101st hunted suspected Tal-
iban and al-Qaida fighters in the mountains of
Afghanistan. Its exploits are followed in Ken-
tucky with much pride.
Kuwait is the main launching nint for the
Key win from last night's 75th Annual