Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Civilian Deaths at Roadblocks and Checkpoints

I called my Congresswoman's office yesterday to leave a message. I wanted to see if some of my analysis might be of service to her staff. The first idea I got from watching various footage of units on patrol in Iraq (Off to War, Gunner Palace, and various media reports). I didn't note much in the way of standard traffic and roadblock safety management equipment. So I began investigating in November/December to see what our typical protocols were. I'm doing more analysis and would be interested to hear from someone who knows more about it.

From what I am given to understand:
  • US vehicles are marked with "Warning stay back" signs to stay back a certain distance in both Arabic and English.
  • It was said there were TV and radio reminders of what to do at checkpoints.
  • It is well-known that military vehicles have right-of-way.
  • Lead vehicles have sirens installed.
  • There was a "universal audio or visual warning system worked out to give guidance to the civilians.
  • With a reasonable concern for suicide bombers, soldiers preferred to err on the side of caution.
Issues of Iraqi traffic may be exacerbated with the rapid influx of new and used vehicles since the fall of the Ba'athist regime. In May 2004, it was reported "Since last April, over 250,000 cars are estimated as having gone into Iraq from Aqaba. Minivans are particularly popular."

The following is not an exhaustive report, but is simply my attempts to gather information on the types of incidents that occured. Many of these date back to the initial invasion, so it was reasonable to believe that there have since been better traffic management protocols established. However, it was said that there were broaches of the standard protocols that led to the oft-told reported death in 2005 of an Italian intelligence agent that was escorting a recently-ransomed Italian journalist.
Here are some of the reports on the situation in 2005:

Online NewsHour report: Iraqi Checkpoint Security Reevaluated - 7 March 2005
Human Rights Watch: Iraqi: Checkpoints Lack Basuc Safety Measures - 17 June 2005

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