June 20, 2006
Bodies of Missing Soldiers Apparently Found
Sadly, I think this is what we expected:
A high-ranking official with the Iraqi Defense Ministry told CNN on Tuesday that the bodies of two missing U.S. soldiers were found Saturday south of Baghdad. No more details were immediately available.
"Two bodies have been found," Maj. William Wilhoite, spokesman for Multi-National Forces-Iraq, told CNN.
"We haven't made any confirmation if they're the two U.S. soldiers we're looking for."
He said he did not know whether the bodies showed signs of torture. "I haven't heard anything through our official channels," he said.
"Obviously, before we made any announcement, if it was our soldiers, we'd have to make notification to the families," Wilhoite said.
Pfc. Kristian Menchaca, 23, of Houston, Texas, and Pfc. Thomas L. Tucker, 25, of Madras, Oregon, went missing Friday after an attack on a traffic checkpoint near the town of Yusufiya, 12 miles (20 km) south of Baghdad.
The Washington Post reports that the two men had been tortured:
Two U.S. soldiers missing since an attack on a checkpoint last week have been found dead near a power plant in Yusifiyah, south of Baghdad, according to an Iraqi defense official.
Maj. Gen. Abdul Aziz Muhammed-Jassim, head of operations at the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, said the soldiers had been "barbarically" killed and that there were traces of torture on their bodies.
The news is going to be heartbreaking for my family," Menchaca's uncle, Ken MacKenzie, told NBC's "Today" show.
He said the United States should have paid a ransom for the two soldiers from money seized from Saddam Hussein.
"I think the U.S. was too slow to react to this," MacKenzie said. "Because the U.S. did not have a plan in place, my nephew has paid with his life."
MacKenzie is entitled to grieve, but he cannot blame this on anyone other than the terrorists. Today Show host Matt Lauer even called him on it.
Once his nephew surrendered he was a dead man, and there was nothing, no "plan" or bribe that would have changed this outcome.
The terrorists of the Mujahedeen Shura Council probably think they have scored a victory, and indeed, in the short-term, they have. They can claim that after three years of war, they finally captured and killed a grand total of three U.S. soldiers. Accounts of the capture and killing of U.S. soldiers will receive a great amount of press worldwide. Arab media will likely present the deaths as a thinly veiled triumph, and the western media will use it as an opportunity to once again call for disengagement, as will many Democrats.
But these killings will not be received favorably by the U.S. military in Iraq, which will likely step up operations to hunt down and destroy terror and insurgent cells operating in this part of Iraq. Though official orders will not be given, perhaps U.S. forces will not be so inclined to take prisoners after this incident. Insurgents and their al Qaeda allies set the tone of giving U.S. forces no quarter when they took prisoners.
They made a huge mistake.