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Thread: Dealing with Haditha

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    Small Wars Journal SWJED's Avatar
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    Default Dealing with Haditha

    Heartsick - but confident - describes my demeanor right now.

    I have started to post threads on the Haditha incident several times over the past week, but refrained – it was too damned hard and emotionally disturbing.

    Denial? MSM hype and sensationalism? Political posturing? Waiting for the true story to play out? Enemy IO campaign? Heat of battle? Justified reaction to an IED attack? Murderous rampage by those who just lost a brother-in-arms? My Lai II?

    I do not have an answer. Nor does anyone else – especially those of the “if it bleeds it leads” mainstream media community. Same, same for those who seek to benefit from this incident for political or bash-America gain. There is a process for uncovering the truth and to bring those suspected of guilt to justice. It is called the Uniformed Code of Military Justice.

    We are one of the few countries willing to conduct an unbiased investigation when alleged crimes committed by a military member are surfaced and pursue that investigation publicly. Moreover, our history in these matters speaks for itself – justice is served when justice is deserved. These investigations take time, as they should. Trying and convicting in the court of public opinion is ludicrous at best, treasonous at worst.

    As a former Marine and advocate of all the good the Marine Corps does in the training, education and planning for Small Wars this is tough, real tough.

    Q: If the parties in question be found guilty should their actions be interpreted as a reflection of the values, fortitude and professionalism of the US Marine Corps as an institution?

    A: HELL NO…

    Q: If the parties in question be found guilty should their actions be interpreted as a reflection of our country’s policy in prosecuting the war in Iraq – or elsewhere?

    A. HELL NO…

    Q: If the parties in question be found innocent should a public retraction by those who have prematurely convicted those parties be issued?

    A. HELL YES…

    Had to get that off my chest… This thread will contain “news”, editorials, commentary and blog coverage of the Haditha incident.

    I encourage our board members to chime in… We have to work this through and your opinions would be appreciated – even if they do not agree with mine.

    I leave you with some words by the Commandant of the United States Marine Corps and best wishes as we reflect on the important issues this Memorial Day weekend and what those that came before us fought and sacrificed for…

    Recent serious allegations concerning actions of Marines in combat have caused me concern. They should cause you to be concerned as well. To ensure we continue to live up to General Lejeune’s description of a Marine as someone who demonstrates “all that is highest in military efficiency and soldierly virtue,” I would like to review the importance of our core values.

    As Marines, you are taught from your earliest days in the Corps about our core values of honor, courage and commitment. These values are part of and belong to all Marines, regardless of MOS, grade, or gender. They guide us in all that we do; whether in combat, in garrison, or on leave or liberty.

    To a Marine, honor is more than just honesty; it means having uncompromising personal integrity and being accountable for all actions. To most Marines, the most difficult part of courage is not the raw physical courage that we have seen so often on today’s battlefield. It is rather the moral courage to do the “right thing” in the face of danger or pressure from other Marines. Finally, commitment is that focus on caring for one another and upholding the great ideals of our Corps and Country.

    The nature of this war with its ruthless enemies, and its complex and dangerous battlefield will continue to challenge us in the commitment to our core values. We must be strong and help one another to measure up. The war will also test our commitment to our belief in the rule of law.

    We have all been educated in the Law of Armed Conflict. We continue to reinforce that training, even when deployed to combat zones. We do not employ force just for the sake of employing force. We use lethal force only when justified, proportional and, most importantly, lawful. We follow the laws and regulations, Geneva Convention and Rules of Engagement. This is the American way of war. We must regulate force and violence, we only damage property that must be damaged, and we protect the non-combatants we find on the battlefield.

    When engaged in combat, particularly in the kind of counterinsurgency operations we’re involved in now, we have to be doubly on guard. Many of our Marines have been involved in life or death combat or have witnessed the loss of their fellow Marines, and the effects of these events can be numbing. There is the risk of becoming indifferent to the loss of a human life, as well as bringing dishonor upon ourselves. Leaders of all grades need to reinforce continually that Marines care for one another and do what is right.

    The large majority of Marines today perform magnificently on and off the battlefield. I am very proud of the bravery, dedication, honor, courage and commitment you clearly display every day. And America is proud as well. Americans, indeed most people around the world, recognize that Marines are men and women of the highest caliber – physically, mentally, and morally.

    Each one of you contributes in your own unique way to our important mission; I am proud of your dedication and accomplishments. Even after 38 years, I still stand with pride every time I hear the Marines Hymn. The words of that Hymn mean something special to me. Especially, “Keep our Honor Clean”. I know that means something to all of you as well. As Marines we have an obligation to past Marines, fellow Marines, future Marines and ourselves to do our very best to live up to these words.

    As your Commandant, I charge all Marines to carry on our proud legacy by demonstrating our values in everything you do – on duty and off; in combat or in garrison.

    Semper Fidelis.
    Last edited by SWJED; 05-28-2006 at 04:45 PM.

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    Default What Happened in Haditha?

    On the Hugh Hewitt Blog - What Happened in Haditha? by Mary Katharine Ham.

    Something very bad happened in Haditha on Nov. 19, 2005. One Marine and 24 Iraqis died in the wake of a roadside bombing, which hit a Marine convoy. Fifteen of the 24 casualties were civilians, some women and children. Was it the fog of war? Were the civilians "collateral damage?" Or was it a deliberate massacre?

    We don't know. The investigation is ongoing and no Marine has yet been charged.

    But you'd have trouble discerning that from reading press coverage of the incident....

    The Haditha story picked up pace this week as Pentagon sources close to the investigation started leaking word that there may be murder charges in the case. The Marine Commandant's trip to Iraq has also piqued interest.

    The Post has been unable to get anyone from the Pentagon on the record on the investigation, using mostly anonymous sources. The one man they did get on the record on Friday was retired Brig. Gen. David H. Brahms, a long-time lawyer with the Marine Corps who has experience with these types of cases. His quote is in the third paragraph. See if you can guess why the prominent first-quote placement:

    "When these investigations come out, there's going to be a firestorm," said retired Brig. Gen. David M. Brahms, formerly a top lawyer for the Marine Corps. "It will be worse than Abu Ghraib -- nobody was killed at Abu Ghraib."
    I have a feeling someone was lying in wait for an Abu Ghraib reference. I read the quote and was taken aback because I spoke to the same Brig. Gen. David M. Brahms about the case this week, and his sentiments were very different from those presented in the Post. Which explains why he sent me this statement yesterday:

    "Recent reporting on the events in Haditha, Iraq have included significant factual errors and/or misleading statements. This includes a quote attributed to me in the Washington Post this morning that was taken completely out of context and its meaning distorted. Many facts that are favorable to the Marines involved have not yet been disclosed."
    When Brahms and I spoke, he made it clear that his concern is that the Marine Corps do a thorough investigation and punish severely those who did wrong, if in fact it is found that they did. He feels confident that will happen. His other concern is that the Marines involved get a fair trial in a highly politicized environment:

    "The worst thing that can happen in a case of this kind is to have it politicized...that's exactly what has happened here. They're leaking a story which is yet unwritten."

    "It's not normal to have a Member of Congress to decide to have hearings, at least while this whole business is in flux."

    "I think there has been (a rush to judgement)...This has got to impact the fairness of the procedure."

    "We'll get more precise information. Let's kind of step back, let's try to realize that there's another side of this story...People accused may be guys like my son and your brothers."

    "The problem is, of course, that everybody's got a political agenda...in the middle are a group of American Marines."
    Those quotes are all taken from a phone interview I did with Brahms this week...

    It is Memorial Day Weekend. Our men in uniform certainly deserve the presumption of innocence and a little patience from us, no matter our positions on the war.

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    Default Other Blog Coverage...

    Incident at Haditha - Michelle Malkin Blog

    Abu Ghraib Squared - Little Green Footballs Blog

    Military Officials: Haditha Might be Another My Lai - Hot Air Blog

    Indefensible Acts - Confederate Yankee Blog

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    Default Haditha

    This is not writen to excuse what is alleged to have happened at Haditha, but to explain in part how the enemy bears some responsiblity. It is not because they exploded a booby trap and killed a Marine that they bear some of the responsibility. That is part of war and it is never an excuse for killing non combatants. However, the enemy in Iraq has consistently camoflaged himself as a civilian and this has endangered all civilians in Iraq, when our forces are trying to respond to his attacks. The media has consistently avoided this violation of the rules of war and of the Geneva Convention. It appears that some Marines are going to be charged with using this enemy violation of the rules of war to engage in their own violations of the rules of war.

    I will be shocked if anyone in the chain of command above the squad level approved of such actions, but if they did the military justice system will deal with them. It looks like the action was that of one fire team of four men according to the LA Times reporting I have seen. It is hard to imagine that the other members of the squad did not know what, if anything, was happening, though.

    We will never excuse this type of violation, nor should we continue to excuse the enemy's blatant violations that had a part in precipitating the action.
    Last edited by Merv Benson; 05-28-2006 at 04:19 PM.

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    Default things not often what they seem

    I too have held off on commenting on this situation, but among the folks here, I feel it is important to add something. I've spoken with two Marines who have provided a considerable amount of insight. One is a close friend of one of the relieved company commanders and has talked with him directly, and the other is an officer who was in the AO at the time and has some hands-on with the situation.

    It is an extremely complex one, compounded by things said and done by people pretty far removed from that day's events. We are going to have to wait this one out and see what the final results of the investigation are. From what I am hearing, speculation can't come close to what actually transpired.

    BTW, I also think the Honorable Mr. Murtha was out of his lane. Just my $.02.

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    Default Murtha...

    28 May Voice of America - US Lawmaker: Killing of Iraqi Civilians a Cover

    A prominent U.S. Congressman says the reported killings of innocent Iraqi civilians by American Marines in Haditha last November was covered up.

    Speaking on ABC television This Week, John Murtha - a Democrat from Pennsylvania - said the incident could undermine U.S. war efforts in Iraq.

    Earlier this month, Murtha said military sources told him a Pentagon probe of the incident in Haditha indicates the Marines barged into homes near where they were responding to a roadside bombing and killed the Iraqis.

    The Marine Corps had originally claimed the bomb and an ensuring firefight had killed one Marine and the Iraqis.

    The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Republican John Warner, said he would hold hearings on the incident, but he said it is important not to reach conclusions until the U.S. military completes its investigation.

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    Default

    Murtha is definitely out of line, and has compounded his inexcusable behavior by continuing to repeat his accusations in public - which are then broadcast and printed around the world. Sen Warner was absolutely correct in his statement regarding withholding conclusions until the investigation is complete.

    Unfortunately, given his position, Murtha's statements lend credence to the accusations in the eyes of much of the international audience. At this point, if the accusations as stated are found to be true and the individuals are punished, we will be seen as taking action only in the face of public pressure - but guilty of the crime nonetheless, with any future accusations of committing atrocities given greater legitimacy by this whole affair. And if they are found to be untrue, much of the audience already has their minds made up and they will view it as further evidence of a cover-up.

    The bad guys have been reaping the rewards of Abu Ghraib for a while now - this adds exponentially to their ammunition for propaganda and recruitment, with one of our own Congressmen complicit in this outcome. No matter how the investigation eventually turns out, this is an IO disaster of strategic proportions.

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    CNN, 30 May: A Reporter's Shock at the Haditha Allegations
    It actually took me a while to put all the pieces together -- that I know these guys, the U.S. Marines at the heart of the alleged massacre of Iraqi civilians in Haditha.

    I don't know why it didn't register with me until now. It was only after scrolling through the tapes that we shot in Haditha last fall, and I found footage of some of the officers that had been relieved of their command, that it hit me.

    I know the Marines that were operating in western al Anbar, from Husayba all the way to Haditha. I went on countless operations in 2005 up and down the Euphrates River Valley. I was pinned on rooftops with them in Ubeydi for hours taking incoming fire, and I've seen them not fire a shot back because they did not have positive identification on a target.

    I saw their horror when they thought that they finally had identified their target, fired a tank round that went through a wall and into a house filled with civilians. They then rushed to help the wounded -- remarkably no one was killed.

    I was with them in Husayba as they went house to house in an area where insurgents would booby-trap doors, or lie in wait behind closed doors with an AK-47, basically on suicide missions, just waiting for the Marines to come through and open fire. There were civilians in the city as well, and the Marines were always keenly aware of that fact. How they didn't fire at shadows, not knowing what was waiting in each house, I don't know. But they didn't.

    And I was with them in Haditha, a month before the alleged killings last November of some 24 Iraqi civilians....

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    Council Member Xenophon's Avatar
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    Default Reaction

    I was in the field all last week so I spent the Memorial Day break catching up with the events. First I heard about it was news on the Commandant's trip to Iraq.

    Thus far I've been mostly angry at the media for their lynching of the Marines without the least bit of evidence and Sen. Murtha's blatant whoring out of the Corps for personal political gain. The title of this thread is very appropriate as I feel the need to find solace over this thing, and came here to talk about it. I've been down though since seeing this article on CNN with alleged information from the Pentagon: http://www.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/meast/...tml?eref=yahoo
    Although the blog article posted by SWJED gives me some hope.

    Also I completely agree with your post, Jedburgh. I've been one of the Iraq War faithful for the entirety of the conflict and I'm afraid for the first time that we may have lost it beyond repair. It's troubling for any soldier or Marine to think that all the training and effort we put into warfighting can be for naught because of an enemy victory in an arena that we can't fight in (meaning the media/PR aspect).

    If I can self-promote for a second, I wrote about it on my blog as well: http://xenophonblog.blogspot.com

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    Default From npr.com

    This was posted today from NPR.org.

    http://http://www.npr.org/templates/...toryId=5440486

    U.S. Paid $2,500 for Each Death in Haditha

    by Tom Bowman*
    *

    Manuel Balce Ceneta
    File photograph shows Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. AP
    *
    *
    All Things Considered, May 30, 2006 · The U.S. Marines paid at least $38,000 to the families of Iraqi civilians killed in a November clash in Haditha. The payments were made in December, according to a report in The Denver Post that was confirmed by NPR.
    In another development in the case, investigators have been told that a sergeant coaxed other Marines to come up with a cover story about the incident. The squad leader allegedly sought to prove his group was not at fault for the deaths. Of particular concern to the sergeant, investigators say, was the deaths of five Iraqis in a taxi. They were unarmed and killed by Marines shortly after the roadside bomb went off, investigators have found.
    It is standard procedure for the military to make payments when it is at fault. The payments, which included $2,500 for each person killed, were authorized by the battalion commander, Lt. Col. Chessani, and his superiors. But it's uncertain how far up the chain of command the approval had to go.
    Last edited by Jugurtha; 05-31-2006 at 04:34 AM.

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    Default Not Again, Congressman

    31 May Washington Times editorial Not Again, Congressman.

    Rep. John Murtha continues to make irresponsible accusations about an incident involving a Marine company in Haditha, Iraq, last year in which as many as two dozen Iraqi civilians were killed. Moving recklessly onward from his recent comments about how the Marines murdered the Iraqis in "cold blood," the Pennsylvania Democrat now alleges conspiracy. "Who covered it up, why did they cover it up, why did they wait so long?" Mr. Murtha asked Sunday on ABC's "This Week."

    These are the wrong questions. Reasonable Americans without a partisan fixation on the Bush administration would probably ask: Why can't John Murtha wait until the Pentagon completes its two-part investigation into the Nov. 19 incident he condemns the Marines and floats conspiracy theories? Are his sources inside the Pentagon so solid that he can allege that the cover-up "goes right up the chain of command," as he did on Sunday? How could these sources speak authoritatively about an investigation that isn't completed? We await Mr. Murtha's answers...
    Last edited by SWJED; 05-31-2006 at 12:14 PM.

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    Default Wait and see.......

    I am stunned right down to my toes at the demeanor of Mr. Murtha! A Marine, a retired officer, has already tried and convicted these Marines for political gain in the court of public opinion and is obviously embarked on a campaign to push responsibility for the alleged crime (s) and alleged cover up as far up the chain of command that he can. To be quite frank, it makes me feel like knocking out his teeth! Mr. Murtha, should be protecting the constitutional rights of his brother Marines, of course that does not prevent him from discussing the incident with the caveat that nobody has been charged with anything yet. And yet, there he was, on national TV, almost screaming that the Marines are murderers and there was a cover up! It was a disgusting display of a total lack of loyalty to the institution he gave the best years of his life serving. I'm at a loss, did his espirit de corps really run so shallow all those years he served? Mr. Murtha should simply keep his big pie hole shut untill the investigation reaches a conclusion. If this allegation is substantiated, I have complete faith that the corps will ensure justice is done. Still, I can't help but feel sympathy for the Marines in question some perhaps, on their second deployment or more. The frustration of seeing their squad leader blown to pieces. According to a lance corporal in the same unit, the Marines went "blind with hate" and went on a killing spree. I don't know if the lance corporal was on the scene or was simply in the same unit. It doesn't look good for these poor grunts, but that does not change the fact, that one of their brothers, a former leader has thrown them under the bus before all the facts are in and I'm absolutely sick about it. I'm sick with sadness about the whole mess.
    Don't taze me bro!

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    Default Another opinion piece

    From National Review by Mackubin Thomas Owens

    In the quest for its own My Lai, the anti-Iraq war faction in this country has had to settle for Abu Ghraib, by far the most hyped stories of the war. But now, allegations of multiple murders in the town of Haditha, an insurgent stronghold in al Anbar Province, may provide them with the incident they need. According to published reports, a number of Marines from the storied 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines, 1st Marine Division are accused killing more than 20 Iraqi civilians in retaliation for the death of one of their comrades by a roadside bomb in November, 2005.

    The Marine Corps originally claimed that the Iraqis were killed by an insurgent bomb or during a firefight. But in response to allegations by Time magazine, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) began an investigation of the Haditha incident. A separate administrative investigation by Army Maj. Gen. A. Eldon Bargewell should be delivered soon to Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli, the operational commander of the multi-national force in Iraq, to determine whether there was an attempt to cover up the incident.

    It is important to note that the investigation is still incomplete but that hasn’t stopped opponents of the war from using the incident in Haditha to advance their agenda. Last Wednesday, Rep. John Murtha, (D., Pa.), a vociferous critic of the war, broke the story, claiming that Marines in Haditha had “killed innocent civilians in cold blood.” This incident, said Murtha, “shows the tremendous pressure that these guys are under every day when they’re out in combat.” Appearing Sunday on This Week on ABC, Murtha went farther, claiming that the shootings in Haditha had been covered up. “Who covered it up, why did they cover it up, why did they wait so long? We don’t know how far it goes. It goes right up the chain of command.”

    Murtha’s attempt to use the Haditha incident for his own political purposes should be obvious to everyone. But if his description of the event—a cold-blooded killing of innocent civilians—is true, then those Marines committed a bona fide war crime. What, if anything, can be said in mitigation?

    WESTERN PRECAUTIONS
    Atrocities and war crimes are acts of violence in wartime the brutality and cruelty of which exceed military necessity. They include, but are not limited to, looting, torture, rape, massacre, mutilation of the enemy dead, and the killing of captured soldiers or noncombatants.

    The West has placed three constraints on its conduct warfare: proportion, discrimination, and the positive law of war. Proportion means that particular actions must be proportionate to legitimate military necessity and not involve needless suffering or destruction. Discrimination means that direct intentional attacks on noncombatants and non-military targets are prohibited. The incident at Haditha appears to be an example of this last category...

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    Default Washington Post

    1 June Washington Post - Probe Into Iraq Deaths Finds False Reports by Tom Ricks.

    The U.S. military investigation of how Marine commanders handled the reporting of events last November in the Iraqi town of Haditha, where troops allegedly killed 24 Iraqi civilians, will conclude that some officers gave false information to their superiors, who then failed to adequately scrutinize reports that should have caught their attention, an Army official said yesterday.

    The three-month probe, led by Army Maj. Gen. Eldon Bargewell, is also expected to call for changes in how U.S. troops are trained for duty in Iraq, the official said...

    The Bargewell investigation is likely to be explosive on Capitol Hill, because it focuses on questions that have haunted the Bush administration and the U.S. military since the scandal over abuse at Abu Ghraib prison emerged two years ago: How do U.S. military leaders in Iraq react to allegations of wrongdoing by their troops? And is the military prepared to carry out the long and arduous process of putting down an insurgency as part of the first U.S. occupation of an Arab nation?

    One of Bargewell's conclusions is that the training of troops for Iraq has been flawed, the official said, with too much emphasis on traditional war-fighting skills and insufficient focus on how to wage a counterinsurgency campaign...

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    Default More from Owens in NR

    Men at War

    ...Well, that was then, this is now. The war in Iraq demonstrates that those who believed that information technology would transform the nature of war were deluding themselves. War is shaped by human nature, the complexities of human behavior, and the limitations of human mental and physical capabilities. Any view of war that ignores what the Prussian “philosopher of war” Carl von Clausewitz called the “moral factors,” e.g. fear, the impact of danger, and physical exhaustion, is fraught with peril: “Military activity is never directed against material forces alone; it is always aimed simultaneously at the moral forces which give it life, and the two cannot be separated.”

    In Iraq, our opponents have chosen to deny us the ability to fight the sort of conventional war we would prefer and forced us to fight the one they want—an insurgency. Insurgents blend with the people making it hard to distinguish between combatant and noncombatant. A counterinsurgency always has to negotiate a fine line between too much and too little force. Indeed, it suits the insurgents’ goal when too much force is applied indiscriminately...

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    Default Ghosts of Haditha

    31 May Dallas Morning News commentary Ghosts of Haditha by Mark Davis.

    ...Anyone with a shred of human decency approaches this with the utmost gravity. Those of us who support the troops and the war they are fighting have a special responsibility not to sugarcoat, minimize or marginalize any wrongdoing by those troops.

    But, conversely, those who are exercising their right to speak ill of the war and the Americans fighting it have a responsibility not to allow their anti-war venom to inflame their assessments of bad moments in the war's history.

    That track record is forever blemished by the absurd overreaction to Abu Ghraib, a prison scandal that was bad enough if treated objectively. The wheels of justice turned, and prices are being paid for humiliating detainees outside the protocols of interrogation.

    But the day Sen. Ted Kennedy equated American misdeeds at that prison with the unspeakable torture that had happened there under Saddam, the reputation of war criticism was deservedly damaged beyond easy repair.

    And now we have Mr. Murtha, barely able to contain the spring in his step as he basks in the grisly particulars.

    "This is the kind of war you have to win the hearts and minds of the people," he said this weekend. "And we're set back every time something like this happens."

    He should know a thing or two about setbacks, having inflicted so many with his own derisive tongue...

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    Default Why are we building this story

    This is a sensitive subject, and I really didn't want to touch it, but feel a need to put this in perspective. We're all embarassed by what may have happened, and if criminal acts did happen, then the criminals will be prosecuted. That is what separates us from the terrorists. The terrorists would reward an act like this, while we're appalled by it. Does it reflect poorly on our proud Marine Corp? Only if you let it. It actually reflects poorly on only those who may have conducted these acts. Both the Army and Marines have high standards and principles, but throughout our history there have been many "individuals" who not measured up to them. That does not make this a systemic problem, but a human one, we don't have perfect human organizations.

    While certain comments coming from Congress may not helpful, it would be a mistake to assume those comments are coming from the uninformed. Our Congressional leaders are privy to classified reports as the investigation continues, and there may be a method to the madness of slapping ourselves in public before the potentially bad news is released.

    Again while we don't think certain comments from some of our leaders are helpful, though we could be wrong, we are equally wrong to presume nothing happened and to wish the problem away. Most of us are, or have been in the military, so let's focus on letting this issue evolve naturally as the investigation continues and not fan the flames.

    I would appreciate it if anyone could shed some light on this event is playing out in the Arab Street, or even in Europe. I haven't seen much from the foreign press, and I wonder if the rest of the world accepts the fact that every Armed Force has bad individuals, and in war terrible things happen? The terrorists do worse to their own people everyday so there is a possibility, perhaps remote, that most of the folks are keeping this in perspective?

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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore
    I would appreciate it if anyone could shed some light on this event is playing out in the Arab Street, or even in Europe. I haven't seen much from the foreign press, and I wonder if the rest of the world accepts the fact that every Armed Force has bad individuals, and in war terrible things happen? The terrorists do worse to their own people everyday so there is a possibility, perhaps remote, that most of the folks are keeping this in perspective?
    Current Poll on Al-Jazeera:
    Will the US military investigation into the killings of Iraqi civilians in Haditha reveal the truth?

    Yes: 33%

    No: 57%

    Unsure: 10%

    Number polled: 5,203
    Now that was on the English version of their site. On the Arabic site, this was the poll:
    Will the Haditha scandal change American policy in Iraq?

    Yes: 13.3%

    No: 86.7%

    Number polled: 16,605
    Most Arab news outlets are reprinting over and over the condemnations of the incident and other statements of the Iraq PM, Al-Maliki, such as that his patience was wearing thin with excuses that US troops kill civilians "by mistake." Congressman Murtha's accusations of a massacre and cover-up have also been repeated, with emphasis.

    I really haven't had the time to scan op-ed pieces for more detailed opinion...

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    Default Haditha Haste

    2 June Washington Times commentary - Haditha Haste by Michelle Malkin.

    ...I do not know the truth about Haditha. Neither do Mr. Murtha and the media outlets calling the alleged massacre a massacre before all the facts are in. It would be helpful if they could handle these grave charges without serving as al Jazeera satellite offices.

    Sen. John Warner, Virginia Republican, who, like Mr. Murtha, served in the Marines, struck the right tone over the weekend -- refusing, unlike Mr. Murtha, to render a verdict against the Marines before trial and avoiding Bush Derangement Syndrome, but also taking the allegations very seriously.

    I do know this. Children are dead. Other children have been orphaned. There are pictures of bullet holes and bloodied homes. There are evolving stories about what happened last Nov. 19 and serious allegations of a possible cover-up.

    I also know Lance Cpl. Miguel Terrazas, the Marine killed by a roadside IED (improvised explosive device) that day, followed a proud family tradition of military service. He had received a commendation for bravery on his first tour of duty in Iraq in 2004. One of his fellow Marines said Terrazas' body was split in two by the bomb explosion that rocked his Hummer while on patrol that morning.

    And there's this: Haditha is crawling with terrorists. The Associated Press points out that "in just three days last August, six Marine snipers were killed in Haditha and 14 Marines died in nearby Parwana in the deadliest roadside bombing of the war." Most-wanted al Qaeda leader Abu Musab Zarqawi is said to have lived in Haditha. The Washington Post quoted a military lawyer noting Nov. 19 was the Marine 3rd Battalion's "hottest day" in Iraq.

    "In addition to drone surveillance that day, AV-8 Harriers were dropping bombs, helicopters were evacuating wounded, and a large firefight occurred about one-third of a mile from the site of the civilian shootings, said several people familiar with the investigation," the paper reported. Audio of radio traffic reportedly contradicts Mr. Murtha's claim the Marines did not come under small-arms fire after the roadside explosion, a military source told The Post.

    We know this, too: Naval Criminal Investigative Service officials have not turned their backs. Time magazine, which initially broke the story of survivors' accounts that prompted the military probe, reports Haditha residents -- yet to be visited by any of Iraq's own officials -- "were gratified by [the investigation's] thoroughness" and "were especially impressed by the NCIS investigators" conducting three separate enquiries.

    Finally, this is incontrovertible: There are countless antiwar zealots on the American left rooting for failure. They believe the worst about the troops. They've blindly embraced frauds who have lied about their military service and lied about wartime atrocities. They've allied with socialist kooks and coddled murderous dictators. They look for any excuse to pull out, abandon military operations and reconstruction, and impeach the president...

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    2 June Wall Street Journal commentary - Haditha by Daniel Henninger.

    ...Haditha is indeed the new Abu Ghraib. What this most importantly means is that any U.S. military action overseas now, no matter its level of justification, can be taken down by the significance assigned to events by the modern machinery of publicity. This explains why the U.S. commanders in Iraq announced yesterday that all soldiers in the next 30 days would take what the headlines are calling "ethics training." Of the some 150,000 U.S.-led troops there, Lt. Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, the U.S. combat commander in Iraq, said "99.9% of them perform their jobs magnificently." Yes, and 99.9% of them, after all they've been through, will deeply resent the clear inference they lack "core values." Is that different than standard "Corps values"?

    Stories of apparently malfeasant U.S. troop behavior are arriving daily now. A military truck whose brakes failed from overheating crashed and killed Afghan civilians. Press reports are now fly-specking whether the troops shot over or at the rock-throwing mob of more than 300 that surrounded them. Every one of these troops surely knows the story of Mogadishu. Been there, never again. But there will be investigations of their behavior.

    Finally came the even more lurid pregnant-woman shooting. As transmitted around the world by the BBC: "A pregnant Iraqi woman in labor and her cousin were shot dead by U.S. forces as they rushed to a hospital along a closed road, police and relatives say." The BBC's next four sentences neatly sum up the common story line now in play around U.S. troops: The soldiers said the car failed to heed a stop warning in a prohibited area; the driver said he heard no warning; U.S. troops will be "trained in moral and ethical conduct" and this "comes in the wake" of the Haditha allegations...

    And there begins the Iraq Syndrome.

    Some elements of the newly ascendant Democratic left may welcome it, but no serious person in American politics should.

    The Vietnam Syndrome, a loss of confidence in the efficacy of American military engagement, was mainly a failure of U.S. elites. But it's different this time. This presidency has been steadfast in war. No matter. In a piece this week on the White House's efforts to rally the nation to the idea of defeating terrorism abroad to thwart another attack on the U.S., the AP's Nedra Pickler wrote: "But that hasn't kept the violence and unrest out of the headlines every day." This time the despondency looks to be penetrating the general population. And the issue isn't just body counts; it's more than that.

    The missions in Iraq and Afghanistan grew from the moral outrage of September 11. U.S. troops, the best this country has yet produced, went overseas to defend us against repeating that day. Now it isn't just that the war on terror has proven hard; the men and women fighting for us, the magnificent 99%, are being soiled in a repetitive, public way that is unbearable...

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