Rules of Engagement (film)

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Rules of Engagement is a 2000 American war film and starring Tommy Lee Jones and Samuel L. Jackson. Jackson plays U.S. Marine Colonel Terry Childers, who is brought to court-martial after men under Childers' orders kill a large number of civilians outside the U.S. embassy in Yemen.

Directed by William Friedkin. Written by Stephen Gaghan, based on a story by Jim Webb.

Colonel Hayes Hodges[edit]

  • Here's my case, it's all I've got. Thirty-two years of service, thirty-two years of heroism as a United States Marine, regardless of what you decide here, Colonel Childers' career as a Marine is over. He will never again command men in combat. The Ambassador and his family are alive today because of him, and I know how the Ambassador feels because Colonel Childers saved my life too. I am alive today only because of him! I'm alive today and I have a son, because of the heroism of Colonel Childers. To ask this man to risk his life for his country, to ask this man to watch his Marines die in his arms and call it murder when he's defending himself, to call it murder for firing back when being fired upon, to call it murder for saving the lives of his countrymen under the most extreme of circumstances, that's... my fellow Marines... that's hanging him out to dry... and it's worse than leaving him wounded on a battlefield. That is something you do not do if you are a United States Marine, and it is something I pray to God you won't do here either.

Major Mark Biggs[edit]

  • Colonel Terry Childers is a decorated war hero, a trusted leader of American Marines, and I wish that was all there was to it. Unfortunately, there are 42 dead Yemeni citizens, many of them women and children. Colonel Hodges would have you believe that this crowd was armed. He would also have you believe that there is a videotape proving this to be true. There is no tape exonerating Colonel Childers. There is no evidence exonerating Colonel Childers. Is Colonel Childers a man capable of killing defenseless, unarmed people? Is he capable of ordering the execution of innocent men and women? Is he capable of executing P.O.W.s with his own hand? Unfortunately, we have shown that he is. You have heard the sad testimony of Colonel Cao, who witnessed Colonel Childers' barbarism firsthand. You've even heard Colonel Childers' own admission that his desire was to "waste" them, regardless of who they were. Now, we are faced with the difficult prospect of convicting one of our own. None of us wants to do this, but you've heard the facts, and it is unavoidable. Colonel Terry Childers ordered the senseless slaughter of a peaceful crowd! Now, as Marines, we do not get the luxury of covering up our mistakes. We must air them, thereby ensuring that they never happen again.


Colonel Terry L. Childers: Six, Red Man! Engage hostile targets as they appear! Deadly force is authorized! How copy, over?
Captain Lee: Red Man, Red Man, Trans Six Actual! Negative, negative! Be advised I have women and children in my line of fire! I got snipers in the buildings at 400 meters! How copy, over?
Col. Terry L. Childers: What is it about this order you don't understand, Captain Lee?!
Capt. Lee: Sir, are you ordering me to fire into the crowd? Over!
Capt. Lee: Six out. [To his Marines] Engage, engage! Open fire!

Maj. Mark Biggs: Let me get this straight. You evacuate the Ambassador. You go back to the roof. Two of your Marines are K.I.A. A third, Sergeant Krasevitch, dies. You give your captain an order which he doesn't follow; in fact, he questions. And then you said what?
Col. Terry L. Childers: I don't remember.
Maj. Mark Biggs: You don't remember what you said next?
Col. Terry L. Childers: It was combat, not some training exercise.
Maj. Mark Biggs: A moment later, your men were shooting. What did you say to make that happen?
Col. Terry L. Childers: I don't know.
Maj. Mark Biggs: You must have said something. Captain Lee reversed himself. What did you say?
Col. Terry L. Childers: I don't know the exact words.
Maj. Mark Biggs: Let me help you.
Col. Hayes Hodges: Your Honor.
Maj. Mark Biggs: You said "Waste the motherfuckers," didn't you?
Col. Terry L. Childers: No, no, no...
Maj. Mark Biggs: You didn't say it?
Col. Terry L. Childers: It all happened so fast-
Maj. Mark Biggs: You're under oath, Colonel! [Childers hesitates and doesn't reply.] Let me refresh your memory. This is Exhibit Q, a tape recording made aboard the U.S.S. Wake lsland of all radio communications received that day, including your exact words. Your Honor, with your permission, I would like to play this tape.
Col. Terry L. Childers: If you got it on tape, then that's what I said! They were killing my Marines, so, yeah, I said it! "Waste the motherfuckers!"
[Maj. Biggs picks up a stack of photographs of people killed or wounded outside the embassy when Childers' men opened fire. He holds up five, one after the other in rapid succession.]
Maj. Mark Biggs: Are these "the motherfuckers"?
Col. Hayes Hodges: Objection.
Judge: Overruled.
Col. Terry L. Childers: Yes!
Maj. Mark Biggs: These?
Col. Hayes Hodges: Objection!
Col. Terry L. Childers: Yes!
Maj. Mark Biggs: These?
Col. Hayes Hodges: Objection!
Judge: Overruled.
Col. Terry L. Childers: Yes!
Maj. Mark Biggs: Are these "the motherfuckers" that you ordered to be wasted?
Judge: Major.
Col. Terry Childers: YES!
Col. Hayes Hodges: Your Honor...
Major Mark Biggs: The crowd in front of the embassy had no weapons, did they, Colonel?
Col. Hayes Hodges: Objection! We found no snipers' weapons, either!
Col. Terry L. Childers: Yes, they had weapons! You think there's a script for fighting a war without pissing somebody off?! Follow the rules and no one gets hurt?! Yes, innocent people probably died. Innocent people always die! But I did not exceed my orders!
Maj. Mark Biggs: There are rules and Marines are sworn to uphold them!
Col. Terry L. Childers: I was NOT going to stand by and see another Marine die just to live by those fucking rules!
Judge: [Bangs his gavel] Colonel!

Maj. Mark Biggs: Colonel. You realize in light of Colonel Cao's testimony, we'll be pushing for charges on the Ca Lu incident.
Col. Hayes Hodges: That was 30 years ago; you're going to have a hard time finding witnesses.
Maj. Mark Biggs: Well, I thought maybe you'd be willing to testify.
Colonel Hayes Hodges: I'll make you a deal. If you can tell me right now what the life expectancy was for a second lieutenant dropped into a hot LZ in Vietnam in 1968, I'll tell you everything I remember about Ca Lu.
Major Mark Biggs: One week.
Colonel Hayes Hodges: Negative. Sixteen minutes. Sixteen fucking minutes. That's all I remember.

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