Monday, November 17, 2003

RECENT NEWS 1. CPTers intervene in U.S. Checkpoint Confrontation
From: "CPT Iraq"

Message: 1
Date: Sat, 15 Nov 2003 05:30:03 -0600 (CST)
From: "CPT Iraq"
Subject: CPTers intervene in U.S. Checkpoint Confrontation

IRAQ: CPTers intervene in U.S. Checkpoint Confrontation

by David Milne and LeAnne Clausen

November 14, 2003

BAGHDAD—On November 13, at 11:15 am, CPTers Le Anne Clausen and David
Milne intervened peacefully at a potentially deadly checkpoint

The two were leaving Abu Ghraib prison camp in a car with two Iraqi men
and their translator. As their car pulled up to the intersection of the
four-lane highway and the gravel road to the prison, they came upon a
makeshift U.S. checkpoint.

One Humvee, parked sideways, blocked the passing lane just past the
intersection. Another sat in the median twenty yards ahead. Three U.S.
soldiers stood in the passing lane or on the edge of the median in front
of the Humvee. Traffic on the highway was heavy, including large trucks,
and moving at high speeds. The soldiers had posted no signs warning
drivers of the checkpoint and vehicles in the passing lane had to merge
into one lane to avoid the Humvee ahead.

As the driver of Clausen and Milne’s car waited to cross the highway, a
black Jeep Cherokee approached the checkpoint. The driver had been
following the vehicle ahead too closely and appeared not to have seen the

Two soldiers pointed their weapons at the vehicle, yelling for the driver
to stop. As the driver braked, one soldier pointed his pistol pointed at
the windshield and walked toward the car, yelling and signaling for the
Iraqis to get out of the car. Another soldier, aiming his M-16 at the
vehicle, indicated the Iraqis should stay in the vehicle. While the
driver looked back and forth at the two soldiers in confusion, the
soldiers stationed on each Humvee also trained their machine guns on the

Clausen began taking pictures from the car as the soldiers paused and both
gestured with their weapons for the vehicle’s occupants to get out. Three
Iraqi men quickly exited. The soldiers ordered them to put their hands on
their heads and stand in the median. One soldier frisked the men while
another soldier searched the vehicle.

By this time Clausen and Milne were out of their car. Milne walked slowly
to the shoulder of the highway where he could observe and also be visible
to the soldiers conducting the search.

A soldier noticed Clausen taking pictures and ordered her to stop.
Clausen lowered her camera. The soldiers were clearly aware of the CPTers
presence and were treating the Iraqis less aggressively. Shortly
thereafter, the soldiers allowed the men to return to their vehicle and
drive away.

U.S. soldiers have killed many Iraqi civilians at checkpoints over the
past several months. Human Rights Watch documented this phenomenon in
their report of October, 2003. CPT has also documented cases where
soldiers opened fire on civilian vehicles. Often the checkpoints were
poorly marked or unlit. Only moments earlier outside the prison a young
man told Clausen that four friends had been shot dead and another three
wounded and detained when the driver of their van hadn’t been able to stop
in time at night at an unmarked U.S. checkpoint.

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