Murtha vindicated; wingnuts refuse to notice

The investigation of the Haditha massacre says exactly what Jack Murtha said it would say. The wingnuts seem to think he ought to face a firing squad for having been right prematurely.

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.”

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

4 thoughts on “Murtha vindicated; wingnuts refuse to notice”

  1. I'll note again that CY refuses to acknowledge what Congressman John Kline has said, or his own fellow conservative bloggers, or, as is happening at the moment, Senator John Warner on ABC's This Week. Or acknowledge that Murtha has said nothing more than what the Marines briefed him to say, as regards what appears to have happened at Haditha.
    Here's 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."
    Kline's been all over the tv, and in various press, saying similar things; I've given other quotes, and can give yet more. Plus similarly from many others. Plus endlessly from prominent conservative bloggers.
    No condemnation from CY, oddly.
    Meanwhile, no one confuses passing along Marine briefings — which clearly the Marines have no objection to, or we'd have heard that — with improperly condemning anyone. "Innocent before proven guilty" is what a jury and a judge must hold to — casual conversation by others, of course, is in no way improper. Obviously.
    As soon as CY condemns everyone else who has dared voice an opinion this week about Haditha, along with Congressman Murtha, we'll know he's sincere and consistent, and not just attempting to politicize this terrible, tragic, aberration of an event to serve his political agenda of bashing a Congressman whose policies he objects to.
    Not to mention that as I've repeatedly pointed out, these events were all reported by Time in March.
    It's also sad that CY doesn't recognize that Murtha continues to speak out passionately in defense of his beloved Marines, and that's what he's been doing here, but that's separable.
    Lastly, it's too bad that CY feels it necessary to delve into attacks on my "soul," as he did repeatedly on his blog, and not merely engage in civil disagreement, which I, for one, always welcome. Perhaps he'll yet reconsider, and apologize for that. There's always a chance people will do the right thing when their temper calms down.
    (Wish your comments didn't knock out all my formatting, Mark: italics, blockquotes, links: very frustrating.)
    Kline quote here:….

  2. A reminder insignia could be sewn onto soldiers' uniforms which would serve solely as a visual reminder to stay true to your training and morals, especially when battle drives you mad with anger. At such times, one soldier might turn to another, point to the insignia, and shout the situation back into sanity.

  3. Yes, we used to have such a device. It was called "the flag." Wonder what happened to it?

Comments are closed.