Under a program developed by a Defense Department warfare unit, Army snipers have begun using a new method to kill Iraqis suspected of being insurgents, planting fake weapons and bomb-making material as bait and then killing anyone who picks up them up, according to testimony presented in a military court.
The existence of the classified \ufffdbaiting program,\ufffd as it has come to be known, was disclosed as part of defense lawyers\ufffd efforts to respond to murder charges the Army pressed this summer against three members of a Ranger sniper team. Each soldier is accused of killing an unarmed Iraqi in three separate incidents between April and June near Iskandariya.
In sworn statements, soldiers testifying for the defense have said the sniper team was employing a baiting program developed by the Pentagon\ufffds Asymmetrical Warfare Group, which met with and gave equipment to Ranger sniper teams in Iraq in January.
The Washington Post first described the baiting program in an article Monday.
An Army spokesman, Paul Boyce, said on Monday that the Army does not discuss specific methods for \ufffdtargeting enemy combatants\ufffd publicly, and that no classified program authorizes the use of \ufffddrop weapons\ufffd to make a killing appear justified.
But what Mr. Boyce didn't say was that there wasn't a program that authorized the use of drop weapons when the killing is justified.