I haven’t been posting much about Haditha: partly because it was too depressing, partly because I didn’t have anything to say that wasn’t pluperfectly obvious. It figured that Jack Murtha, with his Marine loyalties and contacts, wouldn’t have called the massacre “cold-blooded murder” unless he’d already seen the investigative reports, or been told about them by senior officers he trusts. So in the end those who called Murtha “unpatriotic” and “anti-military” and used words such as “dishonorable” and traitor” were going to wind up with egg on their faces.
That’s exactly what’s happened, of course. If anything, Murtha was downplaying the facts as the investigation found them. As Gary Farber predicted, retractions from the wingnuts haven’t exactly been pouring in. The Confederate Yankee, for example, seems to regard it as disgusting and disloyal for Murtha and Farber to have recognized the truth before he was ready to.
Footnote The Times says the Marines may face capital charges. What they (apparently) did is inexcusable, and deserves more than a Lt. Calley-style wristslap. But I’m with Murtha in feeling pity for the men involved. If someone has to face a firing squad, I’d rather it be the suits at DoJ and the CIA and in the Pentagon and the White House who, not facing any personal risk, not merely in cold blood but with leisurely and malicious premeditation, chose to order the infliction of torture, and the brass hats who passed on the orders and assisted with the cover-up.
Update To those, like the Confederate Yankee in a comment below, who don’t understand or pretend not to understand the difference between the presumption of innocence as a formal principle of law and willful blindness to established fact, I suggest a perusal of the Time Magazine story.
The story quotes John Kline, a retired Marine colonel and Republican Congressman:
“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.”
Of course the soldiers shouldn’t be punished without a trial, and of course the judges at that trial will have a solemn responsibillity not to prejudge its outcome and to decide based only on the facts properly put in evidence before them. But unless you believe that O.J. Simpson didn’t kill his wife, there doesn’t seem to be much room for doubt that mass murder was committed in Haditha last November.
And the next time someone tells you not to believe some piece of bad news from Iraq because our adversaries are known to employ disinformation, remember what the Marine Corps officer who first heard of the massacre from Time’s reporters emailed to them: “I cannot believe you’re buying any of this. This falls into the same category of aqi (al-Qaeda in Iraq) propaganda.”