Monday, May 29, 2006

# Posted 11:31 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

WHAT HAPPENED AT HADITHA? John Murtha insists that US Marines murdered Iraqi civilians "in cold blood" and that their superiors covered up the incident aggressively. For two days running, the WaPo has been running the same vague statement about Haditha, based on anonymous sources:
People familiar with the case say they expect that charges of murder, dereliction of duty and making a false statement will be brought against several Marines.
The NYT dispatched an Iraqi writer to interview the relatives of the dead, who affirmed Murtha's version of the story. The Times hedged on the believability of those accounts, and then cited anonymous sources in a manner similar to the Post. It reported that:
The four survivors' accounts could not be independently corroborated, and it was unclear in some cases whether they actually saw the killings. But much of what they said was consistent with broad outlines of the events of that day provided by military and government officials who have been briefed on the military's investigations into the killings, which the officials have said are likely to lead to charges that may include murder and a cover-up of what really happened.
If the allegations are true, punishment must firm and swift. But that will not repair the damage.

UPDATE(S): Kevin looks at some of the other information available, none of it yet definitive.

Gary Farber is following Haditha very closely.
(3) opinions -- Add your opinion

If the allegations are true, and it's starting to look like they are, it's way to late for the type of swift punishment that is needed to show Iraqi's and the rest of the world that this sort of thing is unacceptable to Americans.

As horrible as this crime appears to be, as usual the cover up is even more damaging.
Thanks for the link, David, although I've done done a number of earlier posts and subsequent posts.

However, putting this on Murtha is utterly ludicrous, and suggests you're getting your news from extremist right-wing blogs.

The story was broken by Time magazine in March, with three meaty stories that month.

When Murtha talked about it, it was simultaneous with other news stories coming from a variety of Marine sources speaking off-the-record to the press. And since then endless other politicians have spoken on it, particularly including Republican John Kline. And both Kline and Murtha were relating what was told them by the official but unclassified briefing given personally by Marine Corps Commandent General Hagee.

Finally, everything they've said has been confirmed extensively insofar as the investigation has proceeded so far, and information is extensive, though incomplete.

Other relevant posts, in chronological order, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Note Iraqi reaction described in the last post and linked stories.

Here is a fresh Times story from Tuesday's paper.
Dear Mr. Farber:

It is not when Murtha talked about this it is how he said it.

There is a big difference between a news magazine and a Congressman disclosing information.

Murtha is a bellicose boar using his previous military service as a crutch to burnish his credentials.

His statements give the enemy propoganda and take away any sense of justice for the as yet un charged Marines. Any trial not crucifying the defendents will be seen as a whitewash.

If Hagee did in fact give Murtha a briefing then it well could lead to a miscarriage of justice.


Swift justice. Looks good and it would show the Iraqis and the rest of the world we mean business.

A show trial - That's the sort of justice you get when you want a result without an investigation.
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