For Civilian Casualties, America Pays Cash
Posted on Apr 12, 2007
Under the Foreign Claims Act, compensation can be granted to civilians for damage caused by U.S. forces. Compensation is extended not only for damaged property or injury but also lost lives. The American Civil Liberties Union obtained 500 claims for compensation filed by civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq. The claim descriptions paint a picture of the confusion, chaos, and the seeming randomness of violence which has shaped life and death in Iraq and Afghanistan during the last four years.
Read the NYT report by Paul von Zielbauer.
The following are a random selection of claim summaries published on the ACLU website as well as indication of what, if any compensation was paid to the claimants. We have also linked to PDF scans of the original documents as filled out by U.S. military personelle.
4/10/2003 Al-Rashad suburb, Bulldag village, Iraq Claim on behalf of four Iraqis [Redacted] by family member. The four family members were killed when their house was destroyed during an air raid in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Claim also filed for damage to house. Finding: denied due to combat exemption. Notes a similar claim filed on 12/28/03 that was also denied. (pdf)
1/20/2005 Tikrit, Iraq Claim filed on behalf of [Redacted]‘s car and his injured wife. [Redacted], a taxi driver, and wife were driving in a circle when a US Humvee hit their car. [Redacted] said that US soldiers stopped, took photos of the damage, and apologized. Finding: denied for lack of evidence of US involvement. Note: The letter denying the claim ends with “I wish you well in a Free Iraq” (this phrase is part of the form language and appears elsewhere).(pdf)
2/8/2005 Iron Horse Base, Al Mashtal, Iraq Claim on behalf of Iraqi child [Redacted] by relative. [Redacted] was passing a tower of the base when he held up his school bag. A sniper at the base mistook the bag for a dangerous object and shot and killed the child. Finding: denied due to combat exception. (pdf)
2/27/2005 Taji, Iraq Claim on behalf of Iraqi [Redacted] by father. Father was driving his family towards Taji. Near a gas station, a US convoy pulled up beside him and behind him. A convoy shot into the car, killing his daughter and wounding his wife and other daughter. The car was also damaged. Finding: lack of evidence of US involvement. Claim denied for lack of evidence despite the presence of three eyewitnesses (father, wife, and daughter). (pdf)
4/2/2005 Redacted Claim on behalf of Iraqi [Redacted] by husband. Husband, wife, and children were returning home from a party when they were fired on by Coalition Forces (CF). An RPG had been previously fired at CF and CF were returning fire when they struck and killed [Redacted]. The vehicle was also damaged by gunfire. Finding: not included. A condolence payment of $4,000 US total ($2,500 for death and $1,500 for damage) is offered and justified as follows: “By making this condolence payment, MNF ensures the family and community recognize the MNFs’ sympathy for the unfortunate occurrence. Support will positively influence both the community and local Iraqi leaders.”(pdf)
5/5/2005 Dhoyala (illegible), Balad, Iraq
Claim on behalf of Iraqi [Redacted] by parent. [Redacted] was driving a KIA minibus from Samarra to Baghdad when a US convoy hit his bus from behind and pushed him towards another member of the convoy coming from the opposite direction. The opposite convoy struck [Redacted]‘s car and flipped it over. [Redacted] was taken to hospital for injuries where he died. No findings are mentioned, but claimant was awarded $2,500 in compensation for property damage. (pdf)
6/26/2005 Al Dujayl, Iraq Claim filed on behalf of [Redacted] for damages to his car. [Redacted]‘s brother was driving [Redacted]‘s car as a taxi from Tikrit to Baghdad. As he passed a US convoy, he was shot and killed. The car was also damaged. There is no record of the claimant asking for compensation for the brother’s death. Claimant seeks compensation for car. Finding: denied due to combat exception. Condolence payment granted: $600 US. (pdf)
8/4/2005 Owja, Iraq Claim on behalf of Iraqi [Redacted] by sibling. [Redacted] was waiting for a taxi along the highway about 1500 meters from an Owja fuel station. A cousin at the fuel station witnessed a US convoy drive by and shoot [Redacted] in the neck and chest. [Redacted] died at the hospital. Cousin held $1,500 in his pocket to buy a car, which become bloodied. Finding: initially recommended to be denied (Oct. 2005) due to combat grounds. Condolence payment granted on Nov. 2005 for $2,500 US. The interpreter taking the initial statement made a note in the margin saying, “This is true!” (pdf)
1/1/2006 Ishaki, Iraq Claim on behalf of Iraqi [Redacted] by parent. [Redacted] was shot while standing at the window of his house 200 meters away from a house being raided by US Forces. In the process of the raid, US Forces killed [Redacted]. Finding: the claim was verified and an investigation was conducted. Compensation: $6,000 US. (pdf)
3/27/2006 Kikurk?, Iraq Claim on behalf of Iraqi [Redacted] by father. [Redacted] was riding in a taxi when Coalition Forces fired on the car, killing the driver and paralyzing the son. The son was rendered blind, fully paralyzed, and “unconscious.” Finding: denied due to combat exemption. (pdf)
5/29/2006 Kabul, Afghanistan Claim filed on behalf of Afghan [Redacted] by cousin. [Redacted] was shot when a riot broke out after a US Forces HEMMT vehicle lost control and crashed into several cars. US soldiers and Afghan personnel fired into the crowd, killing [Redcated]. Finding: negligence; Compensation: 200,000 Afghani (appx. $3,991.22 US). (pdf)
5/29/2006 Kabul, Afghanistan Claim filed on behalf of 13 year old Afghan [Redacted] by parent. [Redacted] was selling pizza from a street cart when a riot broke out after a US Forces HEMMT vehicle lost control and crashed into several cars. US soldiers and Afghan personnel fired into the crowd, killing the claimant. Finding: negligence; Compensation: 200,000 Afghani (appx. $3,991.22 US). (pdf)
Joao Silva for The New York Times