Navy SEALs Were Warned by Commanders Not to Report Iraq War Crimes

Commander said reporting war crimes would cost them their careers

US war crimes in Iraq in general are a well-substantiated fact. Navy SEALs say they saw some “shocking” things, which other SEALs kill children with sniper rifles, spraying civilian neighborhoods with machine gun fire, etc.

Seeing such things was par for the course, in Iraq, but talking about it was another thing entirely. Several platoon members took the matter of war crimes by their platoon chief to troop commanders. They were immediately rebuked.

Not only did the commander tell them not to report the crimes to him, he warned them that talking about the war crimes at all would jeopardize their careers. War crimes are meant to be seen, but not heard about.

It was expected this would be the end of it, but the SEALs went around the commander, and to higher ups in the Navy that were not directly tied to the SEALs. This quickly led to a court-martial for the platoon chief.

It’s broader than just the one platoon chief. The court-martial is quickly delving deeply into the underlying culture of the SEALs. That culture encouraged both the war crimes and silence about them.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.