May 26, 2006

Indefensible Acts

When the story first broke in March that on November 19, 2005, a Marine unit in the Iraqi city of Haditha may have killed nearby civilians after an IED killed one Marine and injured two others, I made a simple statement.

Someone who truly supports the troops, even if they do not support the war, would want this incident fully investigated to uncover the truth. They would want to know the facts.

They would want to know if the Marines fired out of blind rage at the loss of their friends, and they would be equally interested in finding out if the Marines assaulted that location because someone inside fired upon them, as they claimed. Was it a slaughter of innocents, or were insurgents firing from within civilian homes? Were those that triggered the IED among the dead? We do not yet know, and some are already passing judgment.

If a just-published New York Times article on the investigation is true, then the incident was far worse than we dared suspect:

A military investigation into the deaths of two dozen Iraqis last November is expected to find that a small number of marines in western Iraq carried out extensive, unprovoked killings of civilians, Congressional, military and Pentagon officials said Thursday.

Two lawyers involved in discussions about individual marines' defenses said they thought the investigation could result in charges of murder, a capital offense. That possibility and the emerging details of the killings have raised fears that the incident could be the gravest case involving misconduct by American ground forces in Iraq.


Evidence indicates that the civilians were killed during a sustained sweep by a small group of marines that lasted three to five hours and included shootings of five men standing near a taxi at a checkpoint, and killings inside at least two homes that included women and children, officials said.

That evidence, described by Congressional, Pentagon and military officials briefed on the inquiry, suggested to one Congressional official that the killings were "methodical in nature."

Congressional and military officials say the Naval Criminal Investigative Service inquiry is focusing on the actions of a Marine Corps staff sergeant serving as squad leader at the time, but that Marine officials have told members of Congress that up to a dozen other marines in the unit are also under investigation. Officials briefed on the inquiry said that most of the bullets that killed the civilians were now thought to have been "fired by a couple of rifles," as one of them put it.

I'm not sure how to address this. I'd braced myself for the worst from the very first reporting of this story, steeling myself to the possibility that U. S. Marines, distraught over the death of one of their own, went on an anguished, emotional rampage in the immediate wake of the event, lashing out in a blind rage against the first possible targets that crossed their paths. This, of course, would still be a crime, but one that could be understood, if not tolerated.

But if sometimes truth is sometimes stranger than fiction, sometimes reality is worse than our darkest nightmares. If the Times article is correct, a staff sergeant led a squad on a methodical, multi-hour killing spree.

Why was this allowed to occur? Why was this sergeant not relieved of his command, and this unit immediately forced to stand down by other Marines? This event could not have occurred in a vacuum, and other Marines watched these murders occur, presumably without making any serious attempts to intervene.

I grew up on Guadalcanal Diary and the Sands of Iwo Jima, and have always had a fondness in my heart for the Marines that I saw from nearby MCAS Cherry Point and Camp Lejeune. The apparent fact that Marines stood by and let one or more of their brethren massacre civilians, and then apparently tried to cover up the crime (which will be the target of a separate investigation) are black stains on the long and storied honor of the Corps, and that sickens my heart.

If the Times reporting of this incident is correct, there does seem to be the possibility of capital crimes. Let the investigation proceed, let the trial be fair and unambiguous, and let justice be swift.

* * *

Eight days ago, before the joint NCIS/Multi-National Forces investigation had been completed on the case, before so much as one charge had been filed, ex-Marine John Murtha made the extraordinarily inflammatory and provocative statement that the Marines in this horrific incident "killed innocent civilians in cold blood."

I said then and maintain now that:

…it is unconscionable for any legislator to accuse U.S. military personnel of multiple counts of premeditated murder before an investigation into these charges is complete. Prosecutions must proceed at their own logical pace as evidence in the case dictates. Premature accusations by a public figure in such a case imposes an artificial timeline, endangering the accuracy and thoroughness of an investigation.

At the same time, such heated rhetoric as charges of murder of "innocent civilians in cold blood" is prejudicial against the defendants, poisoning public opinion against them. This would be an explosive charge in a civilian court, but to make such charges against members of the U.S. Military when they are engaged in military operations in that country is absolutely fissionable.

Even if these accusations are proven true—once charges are finally brought and duly prosecuted—Murtha's grandstanding is still a reprehensible act, trading upon horrible (alledged) murders for temporary political gain.

Sickening souls on the far left are already gloating that Murtha's premature pronouncements may turn out to be accurate, without considering for a second that it was not his place to make those accusations. He could have endangered the investigation and prosecution of these apparent crimes. Of course, due process doesn't much matter to these folks. Making charges, whether they can be proven or supported, is part of their stock in trade.

I find I am able to feel disgust for all the black hearts involved; those that could perpetrate such horrific acts, those that could cover it up, and those who would try to profit from it.

May justice find them all.

Note: It is important to remember that the investigation is still on-going and that the final NCIS report is not expected for another 30 days. No Marines have yet been officially charged.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at May 26, 2006 11:31 AM | TrackBack

The key word in your post is "if" -- "if" the New York Times report is true. I cancelled my subscription to the New York Times because in these kind of situations, the report would turn out not be true. My concern at this point is that the story was done to pressure the Pentagon to do what otherwise would be considered an unwarranted prosecution. The New Yok Times wants to have a replacement story for Abu Graib, which got old, and to be able to harken back to My Lai in Vietnam, so as to "report" in ways that could undermine the war effort in Iraq. Pinch Sulzberger is determined to have us defeated if he can. So hold off on the rendering of judgment until we know much more.

Posted by: Phil Byler at May 26, 2006 12:09 PM

It's worse than Murtha said. Worse. Perhaps he spoke out because, privy to the facts in this case, he was morally outraged at what happened to soil the reputation of his beloved Marine Corps. Once a Marine, always a Marine.

Posted by: chickenhawk at May 26, 2006 02:02 PM

I am always suspicious of the NYT's reportage, intent, and veracity. However, that is not what concerns me now. In this war on terror we are applying rules, when the enemy has no rules. Globally we face a savagery not fully recognized for what it is in fact. At home you have MS-13 gangs, in Iraq you have sectarian insurgent gangs. Pick a place, you can find insanity. The question is how to deal with it. Becoming like them is one way. I am not certain we can avoid it if we are to survive.

I am always puzzled by the use of the word "civilians." Are they civilians per se if they actively support un-uniformed rebels who make no distinction between soldier and civilian when they attack? How do you identify a civilian? Not a uniform. A mother and child present implies a civilian, or a ration and sanctuary provider? All the questions you posed are valid. What I am afraid is that the presumed "proper" responses are futile. Like roaches, if you dispose only of the ones you see easily, you will never be rid of the roaches.

What is the moral worst: a squad killing civilians or a squadron incinerating Tokyo, or devastating Dresden? Or are they equivalent responses to offensive actions by an enemy? How can you say to a Marine, you did wrong, while you say well done to a Colonel who bomded a town in to the stone age? Do we really have that luxury to judge in times like these? Or are we serving our own consciences by judging others? It is the ugly reality of war. The winners get to make the rules. If we do not win what do you suppose the rules will be? What are they now for those in areas we've not intervened? I can find no joy in any of it.

Posted by: Aridog at May 26, 2006 02:27 PM

"Becoming like them is one way. I am not certain we can avoid it if we are to survive."

Aridog: Speak for yourself. I, for one, would rather die than become like them.

Posted by: chickenhawk at May 26, 2006 02:45 PM


From my post: What is the moral worst: a squad killing civilians or a squadron incinerating Tokyo, or devastating Dresden? Or are they equivalent responses to offensive actions by an enemy? How can you say to a Marine, you did wrong, while you say well done to a Colonel who bomded a town in to the stone age?

The post was rehtorical. The questions are ones that need to be asked, IMO. You answered for yourself. That is something we all need to do. The quote of my words above are not answered. I am not sure I even have an answer. I am sure, however, that I do not intend to die.

Posted by: Aridog at May 26, 2006 03:08 PM


'nuff said.

Posted by: Kevin at May 26, 2006 04:19 PM

Until the report comes out there is no reason to believe that the situation is as it has been presented.

After all, Al Qaeda in Iraq has been in the habit of dressing up in Iraqi Army and Iraqi Police uniforms when they go kill civilians to spread terror, and it isn't easy for bystanders being terrorized in the middle of the night to identify the actual uniforms of the people in the room.

Perhaps that night, when the IED blew up and killed the marine, followed by shooting from the direction of the houses, the Marines chased the mujahedin and didn't find them, then left. Continuing the suppositions, perhaps the mujahedin came back later that night and methodically killed the inhabitants of the houses (leaving one or two terrified children to report that armed men who claimed to be Americans had murdered their families), removing all weapons in the houses as they left, then reported a massacre by US forces to the jihad-friendly local media who were, in fact, the first outsiders on the scene after the murders.

That scenario is quite plausible. It fits the Al Qaeda modus operandi to a tee.

Posted by: Pangloss at May 26, 2006 04:20 PM

CY, there is no joy or consolation in any of the reports that I’ve read at various news sites. As you’ve point out, we must let the investigations run their course along with the resultant actions.

What disturbs me is the left’s delight in the possibility that Murtha was right. I take no delight that some Marines possibly decided to exact some battlefield vengeance. There may be mitigating circumstances that triggered such a response, however, there is no justification. Just as Lt Calley underwent a trial for issuing unlawful orders, so should these Marines receive the same fate if their actions were unlawful.

As a combat veteran I understand and appreciate the chaos that takes place in combat. Those that have not experienced such life threatening chaos cannot understand why all soldiers are not perfect gentlemen when in a war zone. Some folks are too quick to morally judge soldiers that crack and do stupid or immoral/unethical things in the heat of battle. All I can say to them is, “judge not, lest ye be judged.” I do not suggest such actions should be ignored or covered up. On the contrary, appropriate actions must take place so as to reinforce discipline and training. I feel sorry for these guys, because they are victims as well as potential perpetrators. In the end justice must prevail.

Posted by: Old Soldier at May 26, 2006 08:04 PM

First of several responses, first I'm gonna take the individual posts.

It's worse than Murtha said. Worse. Perhaps he spoke out because, privy to the facts in this case, he was morally outraged at what happened to soil the reputation of his beloved Marine Corps. Once a Marine, always a Marine.

Posted by chickenhawk

Members of congress, even those on the armes services committee do not have direct access to military invenstigative information unless they specificaly request it, and there would be a paper trail. If Murtha did such a thing, then he should share the text of his requests to the pentagon.

Posted by: Wickedpinto at May 26, 2006 09:08 PM
The questions are ones that need to be asked, IMO. You answered for yourself. That is something we all need to do. The quote of my words above are not answered. I am not sure I even have an answer. I am sure, however, that I do not intend to die.

Posted by Aridog

Yes they are, and the truth is that we as a civilized nation have already designated a select group of individuals to become like our enemy. We are peace loving, we would rather compete in the world of idea's, but we must sink into barbarity so that we can defend ourselves from barbarous enemies. It is necessary to defeat the enemy with the tactics defined by the enemy, that is the nature of war.

The thing that is missed, in terms of many of those who are anti-war is that, you can't defeat self destructive madmen, willing to take everyone with them, not ever, with hugs, and any one of the various colored ribbons. There is a quote that I'm about to screw up "for evil to win all that is necessary is for good men to do nothing" There is another quote, that I never knew the attribution to, but it is true, and it defines the military "there are times in history, when evil acts must be committed in the name of a good cause, and it is necessary that there be good men to do evil, so that that evil might be absolved."

None of that says that cold blooded murder, which might be the case, is acceptable, it is to say that it takes good men to know the difference between cold blooded murder, and the killing of an enemy that wishes destruction upon you.

I have no problem with the nuking of Japan, it was an island, and nation cult of the emporor, and it took the destruction of the people to intimidate the emporer. The cost was horrible, but I believe that those good men, who did those evil acts of slaughter when those bombs dropped suffered, and they begged forgiveness every day.

That is the MAJOR difference, we praise the strength of men who act counter to their fundamental morality, and then SUFFER! Audey Murphy could barely leave his house for the last 15 years of his life, because he would relive what he did, it wasn't just the risk of his own life, it was the horrible things he did, in the process of serving a greater good.

Odd that libs accuse the right of Black and White, but they don't understand the greyness of war. Warriors do.

Posted by: Wickedpinto at May 26, 2006 09:18 PM

DARNIT! attached to my last.

(everything I said in the last post) While our men suffer the pain of their acts, it is our enemy who celebrate it. To kill anyone affiliated with their enemy is a point of pride. Kill a child who has a US Passport, and you are a hero. We suffer the deaths of our enemies, they praise the deaths of our innocents.

Posted by: Wickedpinto at May 26, 2006 09:22 PM


Perhaps that night, when the IED blew up and killed the marine, followed by shooting from the direction of the houses, the Marines chased the mujahedin and didn't find them, then left. Continuing the suppositions, perhaps the mujahedin came back later that night and methodically killed the inhabitants of the houses (leaving one or two terrified children to report that armed men who claimed to be Americans had murdered their families), removing all weapons in the houses as they left, then reported a massacre by US forces to the jihad-friendly local media who were, in fact, the first outsiders on the scene after the murders.

Assuming that the particular unit did not overreact, the more likely scenario, (since I THINK the bodies were found in a courtyard, not in the actual buildings) is that the badguys set up the ied, and then decided to secure an area from which they could wage an ambush on the trailing vehicles. They would have used the Fallujah model, of occupying a residence, and slaughtering those who lived there, so that they had a simple base of operations.

If you recall in Fallujah there was a systematic use of this. The badguys would take over tactical positions, kill the residents, and discard them.

but that is the positive light, and to assume that now without any real facts, is unfair, just like the NYT's basicaly saying this is my lai all over again is unfair as well.

Posted by: Wickedpinto at May 26, 2006 09:29 PM

I haven't been in for more than 7 years. But as a former Marine in fact a former GEEK Marine, I know this to be true in all cases other than simple system break down.(as in the equipment broke down, not the whole system)

Every Platoon, carried, 7 years ago, something called a PLRS transmitter. That means, that the company, and batallion knew at all times that the transmitter was operating, EXACTLY where the platoon was in relation to the commanders. The PLRS system was quickly obsolescent in my 4 years, and now I have no doubt that the same sort of C and C is actually spread to the squad level, though I may be wrong. (PLRS is like GPS, it's a locational command system, and likely now squads are equiped with GPS monitors, so that command and control could be more easily excercised at a lower level of command)

That said.

There are a number of difficult things (if this is the same case that was reported more than a month ago, but now it has accusations) First, The dirty scumbags might be using Nato weapons, wich pisses me off, if ONE scumbag has NATO weapons,a nd NATO rounds, then we need to find out who our friends are, and we should track the serials, and slaughter whatever nation is supplying them.

If the murderers are NOT the Accused Marines, and using NATO weapons, then it's gonna be a hard case to defend.

If the murderers are more amateurish, and using 1974 Kalashnikoves with nearly equivalent calbers of weapons, then it's still gonna be difficult to identify the evil doer, unless there are projectile fragments, in the bodies, or around the bodies.

But reporters are lazy, for instance, a single squad was engaged in a sweep (you don't work in fire teams individualy, you always work with at minimum a squad)and found the bodies, then the NYT is completely retarded. They used the terms, pardon my half assed quotes "a Staff Sergeant serving as Squad Leader" and then they said "as many as 12 other Marines" Well no Crap. A "Squad Leader" acting with "as many as 12 other Marines" is called. . . . . "A SQUAD!" So whoever the reporter was, wasn't very interested in the military, so that gives me hope that this is hyperbole by a leftist defaming our forces.

However, it IS possible for this to happen, after all, SSGT's have sidearms for a reason, and it isn't to kill the enemy, it is to kill a mutineer. Also you are talking about a POSSIBLE situation of 13 FURIOUS Marines, who have learned to hate islam (if they do, then good in my book, but you don't kill an unaccountable target, especially kids) were out of control, it doesn't take 13 people being out of control, it takes 1 person being out of control, and 1 more person being ALMOST out of control, remember, these are people with live ammo, and people who you yourself have seen kill(justifiably) previously. It's amazing what an attitude adjuster live rounds are. So, If NONE of the 13 turn witness? I support the idea of acquittal. Marines aren't bitches, they might back down in the face of live ammo, but not in the face an honest challenge. We couldn't find 12 people to Kill Mousauii, I guarantee you that SSGT can't find 12 people to support cold blooded murder.

If it was Murder, it will be known, if it was false, it will be known, if Murtha is caught as being the traitor that he is? it will be praised.

Posted by: Wickedpinto at May 26, 2006 09:48 PM

Sorry if I came off as preachy. Hell, even if I did, I don't really apologize, my time in the service was the greatest time of my life, and I hate the man I have become, because I always remember the man that I was.

As far as the specifics? anyone who challenges any of what I said, MIGHT be right, but they would have to be tripple ninjafied Valerie Plame Double "OH MY GOD JOE I'M CIA" kinda samurai.

My specifics are correct, my broad correllation might be wrong (spelling on god knows how many words, but forgive it, my meaning is clear.)

Posted by: Wickedpinto at May 26, 2006 09:54 PM

After reading the various posts, starting with mine, I come back to the conclusion that we should not be rushing to judgment based on a puported leak to the untrustworthy, anti-military New York Times. We really don't know what happened yet, and until the official report comes out, simple loyalty to our brave guys in harm's way would counsel at least refraining from jumping to conclusions at this point. There are a number of possibilities, including (as has been pointed out) that the "civilians" were not civilians but insurgents and that al Qaeda staged the "civilian" casualties -- al Qaeda knows that its only chance of success is a Vietnam-type withdrawal by the United States when the new democratically elected Iraqi government is vulnerable. So cool it for now on the moralizing.

Posted by: Phil Byler at May 26, 2006 09:55 PM

Unless there are outright railroaded confessions, which is highly doubtful, it will not be possible to convict these brave Marines of anything. This was not My Lai, involving hundreds of people and troops, many of whom did not wish to do what they had been ordered to do. This was a very small action, involving a small squad of Marines and a few dozen possible partisans. The incident occurred six months ago, and was only recently thoroughly investigated. In other words, stale and questionable evidence in the middle of a war zone! I am reminded of the action in Afghanistan last summer when medals were awarded to a Special Forces Team for carrying out a raid on a village harboring several dozen Taliban who were protecting a famed Taliban Regional Leader. All twenty some Taliban bodyguards were killed, and just as the Team was leaving, the Regional Leader was detected and captured. Where was he hiding? Why under two native women who were sitting on him with their clothes spread over him. Yes, the scumbag was armed, and no the women were not killed in the capture of this senior Taliban thug. But they easily could have been, and justifiably so!

Posted by: Pat West at May 26, 2006 11:09 PM

I know I'm fighting an uphill battle on this blog, but I'm going to step in and defend the NY Times.

First, yes on social issues (gay marriage, for example), their opinions section, and their Arts section, the NYT is on the left. Their public editor has even confirmed this fact.

However, if you look back over the past 60 years, the New York Times political reporting has been the cornerstone of American journalism -- especially on international issues. If a major story has been broken, The Washington Post or The New York Times usually had a hand in it. Think Pentagon Papers.

It’s easy to call a paper “anti-military” that has pointed out the indiscretions of the military in the past. But a free press that is allowed to question government divisions like the military is what makes America different from communist Russia, Pinochet’s Chile, and Hitler’s Germany. As much as it may hurt those of us who grew up in military families to read stories about the military’s failures, these stories are necessary for us be able to claim we live in a truly free society.

Anyway, it's always good to question sources, and I'm not asking you to accept everything the New York Times writes today because the paper has been important in the past. But a response like “NYT. 'nuff said” is exactly the kind of blind partisanship that stifles debate. If a source is incorrect or biased, point it out. But don’t write something off without reading it.

And please, do not write off an entire paper based on its opinion section. Just because Dowd is a knee-jerk partisan doesn’t make the rest of the paper inherently bad.

Posted by: Keram at May 27, 2006 12:26 AM

Confederate Yankee put this in it's proper perspective. I have to agree with his post. Murtha was from what I understand a support officer he was not a trigger puller.I do not mean to in anyway denigrate the importance of support units or troops. However there is a difference.I cannot explain to someone that has never done it what it is like moving through an area in Vietnam and wondering if the next parting of the elephant grass or bush will be your last. Just as I am sure it is the same for these young men wondering if the next door they enter in this urban setting will be there last.It does to say the least have a devastating effect on you.I saw friends die I have been enraged and scared at the same time but was able to refrain from firing on noncombatants.I never would have even considered firing on a small child that posed no threat to me.If this was done at that moment they stopped being Marines and became criminals.However Murtha as a lawmaker knows or should know not to make accusations until the investigation is over.It poisons the well.His actions are so transparent it is obvious he is using this tragic event to gain political advantage in his opposition to the war on terror.I have every confidence in the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. They will do a professional job.I agree with another Marine when he said Murtha is no longer a Marine just a political hack.I would also like to add there is no comparison between Heroshima and this alledged incident but I will not take up the space to explain it.Nor can we decend into the evil depravity of terrorist.We can defeat them with out beheading our prisoners or killing an unarmed child that is standing in front of us. Nor do we need to start blowing up people in the public square or at bus stops as they do.

Posted by: Jack Hamilton at May 27, 2006 07:11 AM

If a major story has been broken, The Washington Post or The New York Times usually had a hand in it. Think Pentagon Papers.

If a major story has been embargoed or completely ignored, The Washington Post or The New York Times usually had a hand in it to. Think Able Danger.

Posted by: Purple Avenger at May 27, 2006 07:20 AM

I need to point out that I did NOT refer to Hiroshima or Nagasaki in my post. Others have referred to the nuclear attacks. They stand alone as unique, one time incidents. Their applications were not periodic and not a continual practice in a war campaign.

What I was comparing were specific continuing policies of periodically attacking civilian targets in the conduct of warfare per se. Dresden and Tokyo were two examples of our reaction to similar actions by the enemy. I may not be the clearest of writers. I am not addressign guilt or innocence. My topical question is what is the moral difference between civilains killed by a squad of enlisted men in the conduct of war, and civilians killed by aircraft squadrons from above? Is it that you can't see their eyes? Just what is it?

Posted by: Aridog at May 27, 2006 07:56 AM

Hi. I’m one of the two bloggers you called a “sick soul” and alleged that I am on the “far left” and was “gloating” over this terrible abberational event involving a handful of U.S. Marines (who are among our bravest and best)

I would have posted this sooner, but I was unable to get to your site at all last night and this morning.

Here are the three posts I’ve written on the topic.

See here, here, and here.

A little sarcastic in spots, sure, about people quick to call “traitor.” But gloating about Marine deaths or this unique and terrible incident? I’ll be curious to know where. I'd really very much appreciate it if you can cite said passages.

Otherwise, I'd like you to consider the possibility of a public apology, please.

Moreover, on what basis do you call me a "far leftist"? Further, on what basis do you feel privileged to see into the state of my soul?

Further, you might take a look at the comments on the lower left sidebar of my blog for what various folks, right and left, have said about me.

Moreover, you might consider reading the my original position on the war link on the left sidebar of my blog, let alone have read any of my other posts since December, 2001, when I was writing about the terrorist threat, and the need to invade Afghanistan, before calling me a "far leftist." (And I was writing about the threat of Islamic terrorism on Usenet since I got on line belatedly in 1995, and I've been following Middle East conflicts since 1967, when I was 8 years old.)

If you want to call me a "leftist," I'm my own particular and idiosyncratic sort, but I have no problem with that, and "far leftist" is relatively trivial, to be clear. I'd not have commented on just that. But "sick soul" and "gloating"?

Thanks for your consideration on this Memorial Day, when everyone’s thoughts should be turned towards those who both currently live, and who have died, in our nation’s military service.

Posted by: Gary Farber at May 27, 2006 04:19 PM

My, Gary. What an effort to defend yourself. Obviously, I’ve struck a nerve.

You are not "far left," and I‘ll admit that I was wrong on that count.

But a public apology for referring to you as a "sick soul" for writing this?

Think we'll see a lot of apologies from those who immediately began ranting about the traitor (former Marine Colonel) John Murtha? Yeah, me neither. (Though maybe a handful will; maybe.)

I think not.

I do not care what others have said about you in the past, nor do I care about things you may have written at another time. In this moment, you’re apparently standing on the side of a man who calls American Marines cold-blooded murders 60 days before the report for the investigation is complete, before the first charge is filed, and before a trial for said charges is even on the horizon. Ilario Pantano, was another Marine in Iraq who actually went to trial for charges of murdering civilians, and he was later cleared. You call for us to apologize to someone like Jack Murtha before an investigation is even complete. Like Hell I will.

Murtha has been trying to lose this war since 2004 when he first called it "unwinnable," and is a disgrace to the uniform he once wore. I’ve heard him referred to as an "ex-Marine" by other Marines as a high insult on his character, and I’ve found it a fitting one.

You don’t seem to grasp why Murtha making these pre-mature allegations for obviously political reasons was wrong.

A sick soul? Yeah, I'll stand behind that opinion.

Posted by: Confederate Yankee at May 27, 2006 08:30 PM

It is not just the editorial and opinion pages that are nuts at the New York Times. The news reporting has also gone bad; the New York Times is simply not the newspaper that it once was; you cannot rely on it like you could 50 years ago. Once upon a time Newsweek would not make up a story; the Newsweek of today did in the Koran being flushed in a toilet story and people died. So view the New York Times realistically. Now and then the New York Times does a good job of reporting on soemthing, but day in, day out, the New York Times is constantly spinning the news. Bob Kohn's book "Journalistic Fraud" provides a very good analysis of how the New York Times of today misreports the news. Also keep in mind that we are not talking here about the revelation of a large volume of documents as in the Pentagon Papers; we are dealing with a "leak" that is an oral statement. So I say again: hold on the moralizing.

Posted by: Phil Byler at May 27, 2006 09:27 PM

Let's repeat.

I can't know if you've read my links, so I'll ask here. Here is Congressman John Kline:

Representative John Kline, a Minnesota Republican who is a retired Marine colonel, said that the allegations indicated that "this was not an accident. This was direct fire by marines at civilians." He added, "This was not an immediate response to an attack. This would be an atrocity.
Here I again quoted Congressman Kline from here:
Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.), a retired Marine colonel, said there was clearly an attempt to cover up the incident by those involved. But he said he did not think the Marine command was slow in investigating.

"There is no question that the Marines involved, those doing the shooting, they were busy in lying about it and covering it up — there is no question about it," Kline said. "But I am confident, as soon as the command learned there might be some truth to this, they started to pursue it vigorously. I don't have any reason now to think there was any foot dragging."

"There is no question that the Marines involved, those doing the shooting, they were busy in lying about it and covering it up — there is no question about it," Kline said. "But I am confident, as soon as the command learned there might be some truth to this, they started to pursue it vigorously. I don't have any reason now to think there was any foot dragging." Please explain your focus on Congressman Murtha, but your lack of mention of Congressman Kline, if you would be so kind. Why no outrage at his calling this an "atrocity" before the investigation is complete? At his declaration that Marines were lying?

Why are you not scolding Marine Commandant Hagee?:

Hagee left for Iraq on Thursday to sternly remind Marines that harming noncombatants violates Marine policy and numerous laws governing warfare. He plans to give the same message to troops at Camp Pendleton and other Marine bases when he returns.
Why are you not scolding the Marine Corps for briefing these Congressmen? Why are you not scolding the Marine Corps for confirming what they say?

And all Murtha did was repeat what Time reported in March and defend the troops, if you read what he actually said.

Moreover, do you need a list of conservative bloggers who have said how upset they are by this incident, based on reports so far? Are you equally outraged at their comments before the completion of the investigation? If not, why not?

If, that is, this isn't just about furthering your political agenda against Murtha?

I'm uninterested in your attempts to policiticze this terrible abberational incident to further your political agenda in that regard, and I'm uninterested in debating Congressman Murtha's policies, which I don't particularly agree with.

I am interested in seeing people not called a "traitor" unless they have such proof as is called for by Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution, which you might wish to familiarize yourself with, and I thank you for wishing to continue calling me a "sick soul."

I'll ask you again to reconsider, but with considerably less hope of your doing so.

I'm sorry you don't believe people can hold different opinions from you without being a "sick soul." I'm sorry you apparently don't believe in reasonable disagreement about policy, or in civil discussion.

Posted by: Gary Farber at May 27, 2006 11:10 PM

The public would be well served until any 9investigation examines the evidence and delivers its data to the appropriate authorities. Its then up to a courts martial if there is uindeed substance. But to trust the NYT or some xcrazy Congressman-what else is there to say.

Posted by: Thomas J. Jackson at May 28, 2006 12:54 AM

Cry me a river, Gary.

As I stated before:

In this moment, you’re apparently standing on the side of a man who calls American Marines cold-blooded murders 60 days before the report for the investigation is complete, before the first charge is filed, and before a trial for said charges is even on the horizon.

Commandant Hagee didn't prematurely refer to Marines as "cold blooded" murders like John Murtha did. Nor did Rep. Kline. Both were very careful in how they spoke to avoid politicizing this tragedy using conditionals as appropriate, as Kline noted, if the incident were true (my ital), “This would be an atrocity.”

But as you seem to have to rely on what others says, let me toss one at you, from Brig. Gen. David M. Brahms:

"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 judgment)...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 the middle are a group of American Marines."

You are all too concerned with vindicating yourself and Murtha, Gary, and I’ve seen little evidence that you are much interested in due process for the Marines involved. It very well could be that they are guilty as I’ve noted now in three posts since March, but I’ve refrained from passing judgment on them. You on the other hand, openly think Murtha was right and that we should be issuing apologies for him rushing to judgment 60 days before the final report was written, before the first charge was filed, and well before a trial.

It’s good to know you that an accusation is all it takes for you to believe the worst in our fellow Americans. How that is “defending the troops” as you put it, I’ll never quite understand.

Posted by: Confederate Yankee at May 28, 2006 07:43 AM

I don't know the source of this conflict, but Gary? Fed was talking about the seemingly indifferent attitude you had towards the outcome of the investigation, praising the idea that some day, that may never come Murtha will be vindicated. That is why you are dark souled, or hard hearted or whatever.

So here's how I see events, at least in terms of what I have gotten from this blog, and from the one post I read from Yours Gary.

Fed: Gary wants murtha to be right, and thats flogging sick.

Gary: If you read it, you would see it was largely satirical, but also an unfortunate possibility.

Fed: Gary? you miss the point that you focus on the possibility, and used the satire to insult, the troops, rather than your opponents.

Gary: You are wrong, read!

Fed: You are wrong about me being wrong! read.

Gary: no you are the doody head, appologize!

Fed: No YOU apologize.

Granted, I'm putting more on you gary, cuz I broadly agree with Fed.


Can I suggest this? (in this case I will start with fed instead of gary)

Fed: It appears that perhaps the original post by gary was intended to be satirical, and I might have been too harsh on him.

Gary: My ham handed effort at satire was easily interpreted as a desire for the troops to be guilty of war crimes, That is not the case, and I want to correct that, IF that is how it was taken.


Posted by: Wickedpinto at May 28, 2006 08:07 AM


The investigation of William Jefferson is not complete, yet I'll bet you anything that he's guilty. You didn't need a trial to say that OJ Simpson was guilty. Sometimes the evidence is clear.

I'm not being at all snide. If Murtha knew in his heart that this was true, why wait 60 days?


Posted by: Sam Spade at May 28, 2006 09:50 AM

Horrific story, and, as a man who turned 18 in 1977 and did not serve in the military, a very muddled one. Those, like me, who simply cannot place themselves in this arena mentally must reserve judgment and place it in the hands of the military men and women who know what goes on there.

If the investigation confirms the worst-case terror that is described here, then the military will decide and enact the penalty, appropriately.

For my part, I can easily see how a group of young men who love and protect one another can go quite insane with anger when a civilian population conspires with terrorists to kill them in an urban guerrilla setting, and I can easily see how these men might decide that there "are no more civilians." "Either you are helping us, or you are a terrorist." Right?

So, when the IED goes off, and the gunfire comes in, any civilian who does not point in the right direction gets a bullet. It may not be right, and it may be horrific, and it may get you a firing squad, but I'll bet it's pretty damned effective in urban warfare...and I'll bet it's really seductive thinking for a kid who just saw his best friend blown up by some scumbag.

Posted by: Jaibones at May 28, 2006 12:53 PM

Shorter Confederate Yankee: "John Murtha and Gary Farber are sick and unpatriotic because they recognized the truth before I was willing to."

The legal principle of "innocent until proven guilty" requires that we withhold a verdict in a criminal case until after a trial, not that we ignore any fact that hasn't been proven in court.

Here's what another retired Marine Colonel serving in Congress, in this case Republican John Kline of Minnesota, has to say about the case:

"This was a small number of Marines who fired directly on civilians and killed them."

"This is going to be an ugly story."

"There's no doubt that the Marines allegedly involved in doing this—they lied about it. They certainly tried to cover it up."

Yes, he says "allegedly," in deference to the fact that no trial has yet been held. But he also says "there's no doubt" and reports the same investigative findings Murtha reported earlier.

You owe Murtha and Farber an apology.

Posted by: Mark Kleiman at May 28, 2006 02:25 PM


"If the investigation confirms the worst-case terror that is described here, then the military will decide and enact the penalty, appropriately."

Most civilians have no clue of the true workings of our military. The military likes it that way.

Where does your blind faith in military justice come from? I turned 23 in 1984 and did serve with Uncle Sams Misguided Children. I was serving as an officer in a Bn. in the 1st Mar Div. We had a 1st Lt. find a marine not guilty in a summary court martial proceeding. The command was furious. The Bn XO called all of the Bn's officers for an officer ONLY meeting, and made it clear that ALL marines sent to a summary court martial were/are guilty, or they would not be sent there by the CO in the first place! My company commander told me later that this was no BS, and was unwritten sop all over the Corps, And I had better keep my mouth shut what was talked about in the meeting.

A few years latter, I conducted a death investigation and found the Marine Corps responsible. There was no doubt in my mind what occurred, the Marine Corps was at fault. The command tried to intimidate me all the way to division HQ to change my findings! I stuck to my guns. If I were a career officer, my career was over, no doubt about it.

Also, take a look at the "Tiger Force" Pulitzer Prize investigation by the Toledo Blade, as well as the recent book that came out of the same news story. Big time cover up of major war crimes in Vietnam in 1967 are exposed and verified there. Justice delayed is justice served in the mind of our military.

Murtha knows that the military has a very strong tendency to cover up wrong doing at all costs. By coming out like he did, he forced the Marines to come clean and do what is right. The chicken hawks that attack Murtha and call him a traitor are way off base. They show their ignorance of how things get done in military circles. If it was not for TIME mag, we would almost for sure have never heard about this particular war crime in Haditha.If we ever did it would most likely be several years from now. Justice delayed is justice served.

Ever notice how the Marines constantly tell the world how much integrity they have, and how honorable they are and the rest... If I worked with a person or a group that told me over and over how honest and honorable they were, I would be suspicious of them from the get go. The marines use these words to make themselves feel good about things that are hard to feel good about.

For all those that cry out for due process for the marines involved in this particular war crime, where is the cry for due process for the women and children killed and maimed every day in war?

"War is an atrocity."

Col. David Hackworth

Posted by: Steve at May 28, 2006 02:46 PM

In all likely hood it was a mixture of flushing out the building and blind rage. If you have an IED go off and then are swamped by small arms from a nearby building you are gonna send in a storm brigade FAST I mean really people I would not be suprised if the terrorists in iraq are using civvies as shields. Mogadishu anyone?

Posted by: Jswanny at May 28, 2006 04:46 PM


I have experience with Summary Court-Martial, and I was told outright, that if I was completely innocent (by my lawyer) then I should go to a Special, cuz if I go to a summary the best case scenario is that I have a shorter enlistment with the same discharge. Luckily we were able to negotiate repudiation of working for an other than honorable discharge, or any discharge for that matter, and I went to the summary.

Bn's OWN the judges in Summaries, but divs/groups whatever own the commanders who recommend them, thats the story that you told. ALWAYS convict, ALWAYS max at summary, that is true, it's also true, that the officer of the summary is generaly of lower rank than the reccomencing commander. If you have a Major as a Company Commander, then you will have a captain or lower, if you have a Captain as a Company Commander, then you will have a less senior captain (cuz I think you have to be at least 0-3/captain to preside)

that however doesn't apply to the other forms of courts martial. There is due process in special and general courts-martial, and there is no way in hell that we should taint the process with legislators interfering with the process.

Posted by: Wickedpinto at May 28, 2006 05:05 PM

OH! and while I was court-martialed, which is not a point of pride but a fact I have no problem with, 9 months later I got the NMAM and sent a scanned copy of my placcard to my recommending commander on the 1 year anniversary of my Court Martial. and 14 months and 4 days after the day of my court-martial I recieved my meritorious promotion to Cpl.

I just say that cuz young men make mistakes, but it doesn't keep them from being good men.

Posted by: Wickedpinto at May 28, 2006 05:09 PM

Interesting comment by Mark Kleiman:

Shorter Confederate Yankee: "John Murtha and Gary Farber are sick and unpatriotic because they recognized the truth before I was willing to." The legal principle of "innocent until proven guilty" requires that we withhold a verdict in a criminal case until after a trial, not that we ignore any fact that hasn't been proven in court.

Interesting angle, don’t you think? Mark contends that Murtha’s accusation (and Gary’s blind acceptance of Murtha’s accusations) is “recognized truth.”

Think about how much money we can now save the criminal justice system! We no longer need trials in this country; an accusation from a Congressman is fact. Trials, criminal defense and due process are all outdated concepts, and are no longer needed. A grandstanding Congressman’s accusation is all we need.

I should therefore, according to Kleiman, apologize to Murtha and Farber.

Uh, no.

I owe them nothing, except, perhaps my contempt. They arrogantly presume to decide guilt even before charges have been filed. Another Marine happens to feel Murtha is jumping the gun, and he knows something about being accused of murder in Iraq. He wrote:

A year ago I was charged with two counts of premeditated murder and with other war crimes related to my service in Iraq. My wife and mother sat in a Camp Lejeune courtroom for five days while prosecutors painted me as a monster; then autopsy evidence blew their case out of the water, and the Marine Corps dropped all charges against me ["Marine Officer Cleared in Killing of Two Iraqis," news story, May 27, 2005]. So I know something about rushing to judgment, which is why I am so disturbed by the remarks of Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.) regarding the Haditha incident ["Death Toll Rises in Haditha Attack, GOP Leader Says," news story, May 20]. Mr. Murtha said, "Our troops overreacted because of the pressure on them, and they killed innocent civilians in cold blood." In the United States, we have a civil and military court system that relies on an investigatory and judicial process to make determinations based on evidence. The system is not served by such grand pronouncements of horror and guilt without the accuser even having read the investigative report. Mr. Murtha's position is particularly suspect when he is quoted by news services as saying that the strain of deployment "has caused them [the Marines] to crack in situations like this." Not only is he certain of the Marines' guilt but he claims to know the cause, which he conveniently attributes to a policy he opposes. Members of the U.S. military serving in Iraq need more than Mr. Murtha's pseudo-sympathy. They need leaders to stand with them even in the hardest of times. Let the courts decide if these Marines are guilty. They haven't even been charged with a crime yet, so it is premature to presume their guilt -- unless that presumption is tied to a political motive.

My point exactly. Apologies are indeed needed, and they should be delivered on bended knee. I just don’t think Farber nor Murtha have the character to admit that their arrogant prejudgment of men who haven't even been charged, is wrong.

Posted by: Confederate Yankee at May 28, 2006 05:26 PM

IMHO Pantano is angry because his bad judgement got him into trouble. The marines made an example of his judgement problems, and his career is over. His defense had to trash enlisted witnesses and make them out to be liars. His reputation with the enlisted in general was destroyed.

Strike 1

Many prior enlisted officers in the USMC treat enlisted men with contempt and are extremely severe in dealing with NCO's. Not all mind you, many have made and still make good officers.
Pantano is prior enlisted, and trashed enlisted men to save his own ass. Stike 2

The active officer corps did not fully support him. Note his comment about "they need leaders that will stand by them even in the hardest of times." When a Marine officer is considered to have poor judgement, few if any Marine officers will stick by them. Bad judgement is a mortal sin in the marine officer world, rarely if ever forgiven. Panto f'ed up and wants his trial verdict to make him innocent of the bad judgement "charge" as well. Hard core realities of Marine Corps officer life.
The brass found him to have sullied their reputation, and they got rid of him.

Strike 3, Career over.

I have nothing against Pantano, I can imagine that what he has seen and done is difficult enough for him to face for the rest of his life, with out me piling on. His case is WAY different than the upcoming war crimes trial(s) over Haditha.

I see no connection between Pantano's situation and the Haditha Massacre. With Pantano we had an individual on trial only. The Haditha Massacre will essentially put the entire Marine Corps on trial.

I am convinced there was a massacre with multiple participants at Haditha, who exactly did what will come out later. The commandant is not on a pleasure tour, he is on a humiliation tour. he is not a happy commandant currently. Commandant's do not like to be in the news when it makes them look bad. If the 3/5 thing turns out to be real, heads will roll, and the administration will hit rock bottom. I am sure this will be the REAL turning point in the war with Iraq.

Posted by: Steve at May 28, 2006 06:35 PM

is there a seperation of powers thing that can be used against murtha? Congress only controls the declaration of war, and the funding of war, not the execution.

Since big john murtha is insinuating himself into the executive powers in a way that is in fact prohibitive of due process, can he be held accountable in terms of AT LEAST ethical misconduct?

Posted by: Wickedpinto at May 28, 2006 06:36 PM

CY, I've not prejudged anyone, nor said a single thing to condemn anyone, and even if I had -- which I haven't -- it wouldn't matter in the slightest, since I'm neither judge nor jury. To claim either that my opinion would matter, or that I've said anything to condemn anyone, you'd have to make up a quote.

In any case, it's clear you're not interested in civil discussion, so carry on, and good luck to you.

Posted by: Gary Farber at May 28, 2006 07:15 PM

I am sure this will be the REAL turning point in the war with Iraq.

That is precisely what the enemy is counting on, believe it.

Posted by: Aridog at May 28, 2006 08:34 PM

From the NYT link provided by Gary "Lawyers who have been in conversations with the marines under investigation stressed the chaotic situation in Haditha at the time of the killings. And they expect that the defense will stress that insurgents often hide among civilians, that Haditha on the day of the shootings was suffering a wave of fluid insurgent attacks and that the marines responded to high levels of hostile action aimed at them.

Much of the area around Haditha is controlled by Sunni Arab insurgents who have made the city one of the deadliest in Iraq for American troops. On Aug. 1, three months before the massacre, insurgents ambushed and killed six Marine snipers moving through Haditha on foot. Insurgents released a video after the ambush that appeared to show the attack, and the mangled and burned body of a dead serviceman. Then, two days later, 14 marines were killed when their armored vehicle was destroyed by a roadside bomb near the southern edge of the city." You can see from this quote that Haditha is a extremely hostile setting for our Marines 'being controlled by Sunni insurgents'. In my opinion that control could not happen without at least passive cooperation by the residents. Undoubtedly, the insurgents had many 'safe' houses where they could hide and stage their attacks. Now I ask you, Under those circumstances how does a soldier separate the friendlies from the insurgents and their civilian collaborators? Really under those conditions are there any friendlies?

Posted by: docdave at May 29, 2006 02:49 PM

Whomever ever try to justify this is as sick as the murderers...

HANFORD, Calif. — Lance Cpl. Roel Ryan Briones says he is tormented by two memories of Nov. 19, 2005, in Haditha, Iraq.

The first is of the body of his best friend and fellow Marine blown apart just after dawn by a roadside bomb. The second is of the lifeless form of a small Iraqi girl, one of two dozen unarmed civilians allegedly killed by members of his Camp Pendleton unit — Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division.

Briones, a wiry, soft-spoken 21-year-old interviewed Sunday at his family home in this Central Valley city, said he was not among the small group of Marines that military investigators have concluded killed the civilians, including children, women and elderly men.

However, Briones, who goes by Ryan, said he took photographs of the victims and helped carry their bodies out of their homes as part of the cleanup crew sent in late in the afternoon on the day of the killings.

"They ranged from little babies to adult males and females. I'll never be able to get that out of my head. I can still smell the blood. This left something in my head and heart," Briones said.

He said he erased the digital photos he took at the scene after first providing them to the Haditha Marine command center. He said Navy investigators later interrogated him about the pictures and confiscated his camera.

At least two military investigations are underway into the incident at Haditha, which is emerging as possibly the worst case of alleged criminal misconduct by U.S. forces in the 3-year-old Iraq war.

Of the 12 Marines being investigated, three or four are thought to have done the killing, according to officials briefed on the investigation. The others are being investigated for failing to stop the killings or for not reporting the incident truthfully.

Briones is the first of his unit to speak publicly about the events. His account provides background on the atmosphere and activities that day in the Euphrates River town and the traumatic memories it left in its wake.

Shortly after 7 a.m. on Nov. 19, Briones, who received a Purple Heart during a previous tour in Iraq that included fierce fighting in Fallouja, said his team of five men was called to respond to a roadside bomb explosion about 300 yards outside Kilo Company's Firm Base Sparta, located in an abandoned school.

Posted by: Teletransfer at May 30, 2006 07:15 AM

Just for you to get a quick taste of it. I suggest tho, for those of you without children, to go to the next shopping mall and look for baby, and 3 or 4 years old faces. Then remember them when you read the report...

Marines entered shooting, witnesses recalled. Most of the shots -- in Ali's house and two others -- were fired at such close range that they went through the bodies of the family members and plowed into walls or the floor, physicians at Haditha's hospital said.

A daughter-in-law, identified as Hibbah, escaped with Asia, survivors and neighbors said. Iman and Abdul Rahman were shot but survived. Four-year-old Abdullah, Ali and the rest died.

Ali took nine rounds in the chest and abdomen, leaving his intestines spilling out of the exit wounds in his back, according to his death certificate.

The Marines moved to the house next door, Fahmi said.

Inside were 43-year-old Khafif, 41-year-old Aeda Yasin Ahmed, an 8-year-old son, five young daughters and a 1-year-old girl staying with the family, according to death certificates and neighbors.

The Marines shot them at close range and hurled grenades into the kitchen and bathroom, survivors and neighbors said later. Khafif's pleas could be heard across the neighborhood. Four of the girls died screaming.

Only 13-year-old Safa Younis lived -- saved, she said, by her mother's blood spilling onto her, making her look dead when she fell, limp, in a faint.

Semper Fidelis? Facilis descensus Averno!!!!

Posted by: Teletransfer at May 30, 2006 07:34 AM

I don’t see anyone here justifying the murder of civilians, which is as the title of this post indicates, an “indefensible act.” 24 civilians lay dead, and that is a horrible, horrible shame.

But we do not know all the facts of this case, and some folks are all too willing to relish in the carnage, metaphorically raising the entrails of the dead and working themselves into a frenzy while resolutely denying the accused any rights at all to due process. All of this faux outrage (crimes far, far worse than this were all but ignored by the American left during Saddam’s reign, and purposefully by CNN as part of a deal to turn a blind eye, but the left did not shower them with the hate they reserve for the American military) is political in nature, and anyone pretending otherwise needs a long, hard look in the mirror.

These are horrible deaths, and apparently horrible crimes perpetrated by a fireteam of American Marines, but if we are to be a nation of laws, then due process must runs its course, and the criminal justice system must be allowed to work without interference from grandstanding politicians attempting to whip up a lynch mob mentality.

You on the left claim to believe in what America stands for, so let our nations laws work.

If you don’t let the criminal justice system work and you persist in this lynch mob mentality, you’ll show yourselves to be as empty as we’ve always suspected.

Posted by: Confederate Yankee at May 30, 2006 08:06 AM

Let the Justice system work, I'm sure the enlisted Marines will go on Trial. I wonder if those responsile for the alleged cover-up will. There hase been a tendency in the last couple of decades for the Officer Corps to look after it's own and fry the elisted folks as an example.

Posted by: N.M. Kerr at May 30, 2006 09:20 AM


You want Rep. Murtha to do what exactly? Sit down and be quiet? Sorry, he has right if not a duty to speak up. Please explain to me how Murthas comments complicate any criminal proceedings? These Marines will be tried before a military court. Do you honestly think senior officers in the Corps don't have access to the NYTimes? You don't like Mr. Murtha because he has been a frequent war critic. You are entitled to your opinion but try and keep it within the bounds of reason. Saying that his comments somehow compromise the criminal case against these marines is just silly. So is calling for his censure. You couldn't find a single Republican representative that would go on record calling for his censure and you know it.

Posted by: nick f at May 30, 2006 11:31 AM

I want Murtha to stop pre-judging the Marines as guilty when we really do not know what happened at this point; there is an ongoing investigation to find out. All that means is that Murtha should respect the military judtice system that prosecutes for unlawful killings but provides fair treatment of any accused Marines who were, after all, in combat in an area where insurgents operated. More generally, I want Murtha to stop being a media hog and attempting to undermine our troops in harm's way for the sake of Democratic Party politics. Our guys deserve better.

Posted by: Phil Byler at May 30, 2006 01:13 PM

Folks, we should not be surprised by this incident. We are involved in a war and specifically, a counterinsurgency war that, by its nature, is fought in and among the civilian population. Counter-insurgency battles tend to be decentralized with small units operating on their own, fighting against an enemy that seeks concealment within the population. The stress and challenges for small unit leaders is enormous. Squad leaders are called upon to make decisions that most Americans, comfortable on their TV couch or peering into internet computer screens, sipping lattes, can not comprehend and should not judge without all the facts. In combat, small unit leaders must make frequent risk filled; split second; friend or foe decisions. I am betting that the intent of the Marines involved in the Haditha incident was not to murder but to destroy a perceived foe. Mistakes in combat happen and bad mistakes are punished. Historically, counter-insurgencies last from ten to twelve years. Folks, we are three years into that process and over the next seven to nine years, this is going to happen again. As citizens of a country that has sent service men to fight this war, let us not make the same mistake as the Viet Nam War, where we used service men and women; our own sons, daughters, brothers, sisters and neighbors as political sacrificial pawns to gain momentum for an antiwar movement.
Former Commanding Officer (1981-1982): Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion 1st Marine Regiment

Posted by: Polarbear at May 31, 2006 12:13 PM

Polarbear said: "...The stress and challenges for small unit leaders is enormous. Squad leaders are called upon to make decisions that most Americans, comfortable on their TV couch or peering into internet computer screens, sipping lattes, can not comprehend and should not judge..."

Thank you, Polarbear.

I am a little disappointed that my topical question about the necessary morality of bombing townships versus small unit ground actions regarding materiel and human resources, both military and civilian, isn't addressed here [or anywhere else for that matter]. Both are intentional, both kill purported innocents but are judged quite differently. I think it is a question we don't want to ask of ourselves....becasue it is an unavoidable consequence of war, therefore necessary.

Posted by: Aridog at June 1, 2006 10:42 AM