The Pentagon said that a "gap" in the laws governing warfare made it legally permissible during the gulf war for U.S. tanks to bury thousands of Iraqi troops in their trenches and for U.S. warplanes to bomb the enemy retreating along the so-called Highway of Death.
An elaborate legal justification was contained in an appendix to the report on the war sent to Congress by Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney. The section also accused Iraq of "widespread and premeditated" war crimes and environmental terrorism.
But it absolved U.S. forces on war crime issues raised "by some in the post-conflict environment."
Newsday disclosed in September that many Iraqi troops were buried alive when the First Mechanized Infantry Division attacked an 8,000-man division defending Saddam Hussein's front line.