Wednesday, February 20, 2008
What Really Happened in Haditha, Iraq on November 19, 2005?
The Haditha incident in which one marine and 24 Iraqis, many of them women and children, were killed, has transformed before our eyes from a massacre not unlike My Lai in Viet Nam, with marines, mad with revenge lust, executing women and children, to a careful murder investigation, to a much reduced prosecution, to now merely a 'confrontation' of our rules of engagement in anti-insurgent warfare.
Two marine officers face charges for not properly informing superiors of the details of the fight and for failing to investigate it. Not exactly world class war crimes in my book. Their defense appears to be somewhat strong, but they may become scapegoats.
Only two of the several marines who cleared three houses (that means they killed everyone inside) and shot guys near a white car face any charges at all, Sgt. Frank Wuterich and LCpl. Stephen Tatum. They face counts of varying degrees of manslaughter. Not murder. No marine committed murder that day. Their conviction for manslaughter is not at all assured. This turn of events means that Rep. Jack Murtha (D-PA), who declared all the marines who participated cold blooded killers, is a giant asshole, but we knew that already.
The next giant asshole is reporter for Time magazine Tim McGirk, who appears to be truth challenged, anti-military, anti-American, gullible and continuing in the finest traditions of journalism as practiced by Dan Rather and Mary Mapes. The good blogsite Sweetness and Light has done the heavy lifting showing how this jerk was duped by Iraqi propagandists and jumped to the wrong conclusions.
The last asshole is marine Sanick Dela Cruz. His photo as a marine in battle dress is as menacing as it gets, but it appears he wasn't made of stern enough stuff to stick with the truth. He took the deal offered by the prosecutors as their case collapsed and got immunity and all charges dropped in return for a change in his story and not an accurate change at that if the forensic analysis is to be believed. Others disagree about any deal. He did change his story, though
There is no doubt that illegal combatants triggered the IED which started the whole thing and little doubt they shot at the marines before driving away (we have 'eye in the sky' tape showing them). And they, I submit, are the only ones at fault here. They don't wear uniforms so they put every male Iraqi at a little higher risk just for that. When they fire from a home and then leave, they thereby often condemn the occupants to death by marine house clearing. They're extreme indifference murderers when the soldiers return fire and then clear the house. But there's nothing inherently wrong with the way we're fighting this war. The blame is all on the terrorists.
That last paragraph is all my opinion, Frontline blamed the insurgents not at all, nor the lying propagandists who duped McGirk. Frontline, like most of PBS, is apparently not only blame America first, but blame America only. Again, however, we already knew that. Indeed, the press coverage of this non-massacre has been poor to abysmal; and now that the truth is out and the marines don't look so bad, the coverage is largely over.
UPDATE: Jules Crittenden is much more charitable than I. This review is based on a broader knowledge of the matter than I have. At least one Iraqi, with a lot of American intelligence support, is saying that the whole operation was designed by al Qaeda in Iraq to manufacture a massacre whether one occured or not. Anyone heard of that before? Funny how the media shy away from their mistakes.