Haditha

Untitled document

The New York Times has reported that military, Congressional and Pentagon sources have all confirmed that a report will find that unprovoked killings of civilians by US Marines occurred in Haditha, Iraq. Words cannot describe how that makes me feel. Those involved must be given a fair trial, let the chips fall where they may. If anyone tried to cover it up, they also must be tried, let the chips fall where they may. The Marine command should be praised for following up when questions were raised and conducting investigations into the incident and the alleged cover-up afterward. It should also be noted that the Marines were already doing so before the media began printing things about the story.

However, the actions of a few should not be held against the majority of our armed forces. Unfortunately, that is already happening in some circles. The majority – the vast majority – of American troops serve with honor, dedication and courage.

There is also no excuse, whatsoever, for what Representative Murtha did. By pronouncing that the Marines involved were guilty before the investigation is complete, much less the actual trial, is irresponsible. That has been my position on this situation all the way through. (Search Murtha on the sidebar search to confirm, if you'd like). I thought then, and still think now, that Murtha did the wrong thing for the wrong reason. He pronounced guilt strictly for political purposes and jeopardized the right to a fair trial for the accused.

UPDATE: Others Blogging this. Confederate Yankee, Jawa Report, Captain Ed, A Blog For All, Flopping Aces  

UPDATE: Callimachus at Done with Mirrors has thoughtful words.

Update: In Search of Utopia, who I believe I linked once before for taking a reasonable approach to something or other, has some words up that I wish others would take to heart.

I will not participate in a political pissing contest about all this. This was not American Policy, this was a few perhaps stressed to their limits soldiers, going over to the dark side. While some will use this a football to pass blame. The blame lies squarely on the shoulders of those who pulled the trigger AND those who commanded them. I too hope Conservative bloggers who have supported the war will take the lead on this, but I don't expect it (At least not from people like Malkin). We will see… I have not seen much today, but it's not like I have been looking for it.

I take it those words were written earlier in the day, because later updates show links to right-leaning blogs that have taken a stand. I also do not want this turned into a political issue.

This entry was posted in War. Bookmark the permalink.

23 Responses to Haditha

  1. Pingback: A Blog For All

  2. Donna says:

    Gaius, thank you for your words. My heart hurts about the Haditha situation. I would like to tell two stories.

    1] I know a man [I will call him Jay, not his real name] who had served [then age 19] as a Marine in Vietnam. He was badly wounded but survived a Vietcong onslaught that left many of his buddies dead. Actually he survived because he was unconscious underneath a dead buddy, and was thought to be dead. After the Marines’ position was overtaken by the Vietcong, Jay regained consciousness but stayed still with eyes closed….for hours. Helicopter reinforcements came and scattered or killed the Vietcong……and the Marines still alive were, one by one, rescued. Darkness fell before Jay himself [or the other bodies] could be flown out. The helicopter pilot and medic stayed with him all that night, risking their own lives in order to fly Jay out at the crack of dawn.

    When I met Jay, he was in his 50’s and had succeeded against great odds to win a normal life. He had been told by VA doctors that he could never work [upper arm bone was split lengthwise, among other injuries], but his huge spirit prevailed over the odds and he became a successful self-employed man with a family. Jay said that the reality in Vietnam was nothing as he imagined, or was trained for. His patrol encountered Vietnamese women armed with rifles and tied to trees……he and his patrol were forced to shoot these women, though they knew the women were victims placed there to slow down the Americans. [Thirty some years after the event, Jay still held that memory with full anguish]

    Here is an important conclusion to Jay’s story: Jay vowed to stand tall for the rest of his life against putting other young men through what he experienced at age 19. [I have not talked to him since the Iraq War started, so don’t know what he concludes about 9/11 or that atrocity being tied to Iraq]

    2] I knew an retired colonel [I will call him Dan, not his real name] who was on the first airplane flight into Hiroshima after the atomic bomb destroyed that city. Dan’s group’s mission was to locate and retrieve a data-registering ‘box’ that Enola Gay also dropped right after dropping the bomb.

    Here’s an important aftermath to Dan’s story: After Dan retired, he and other WWII high-ranking retirees formed a group which met regularly near the Pentagon, which group they named ‘The Old Fudds’. The Old Fudds, having seen the abject horrors of war, gave themselves a job: to search for ways to foster peace in the world. They were [at the time of Dan’s old age death] gathering and translating proverbs and sayings from as many of the world’s cultures as they could find. Their fervent hope was that publishing the striking similarities among the collected proverbs and sayings would offer bridges to new peaceful connection between groups who otherwise could not understand each other. {Dan died some 12-14 years ago, and I simply do not know whether the Old Fudds group still exists]

    I know I took up a lot of your bandwith with my long post. It is alright with me if you do not post this. I meant it for you anyway. There is a saying that comes to my mind about these two men who knew war up close, felt the full impact of it, refused to forget, and then took stands for peace, always holding the truth in their hearts. Though I believe that you must be ok with this Iraq war, for some reason that saying once again come to mind. I believe the saying applies to you as well as ‘Jay’ and ‘Dan’.

    The saying is: “How is evil contained? It is held in the hearts of good men.”

  3. Gaius says:

    Thank you for the comment, Donna. Here’s the things you should know about my positions on a lot of things. I do not believe in war. I believe sometimes war is necessary. That is an inportant distinction, I hope you can see that.

    The people you mention above know that war is not glorious and should never be thought of that way. Sherman said that war is cruelty, he was quite correct. But Sherman never doubted that he needed to do what he did, either. He was not proud of having done so. He was also not ashamed.

    The other important thing is that I have a very, very high personal stake in this war. I will not stand by and let people turn the home front against the troops if I can do anything to stop it. I hope you can see that as well.

  4. Donna says:

    Well, Gaius, your response to my long post just confirms for me that the saying does befit you. It takes a maturity to know and accept the distinctions you explain.

    I totally agree that the home front should never be allowed to turn against the troops. From my perspective, those who early said ‘no’ to the Iraq war and those who come-lately lament the war have never in any way turned against the troops. I think that is an important distinction to hold, or else miscommunication spirals so rapidly that real harm is done to the troops’ morale just because of the heated rhetoric they cannot fail to hear. If a soldier hears ‘against the war’ being labeled as ‘against the troops’, the mislabeling itself has harmed them, if they believe it.

  5. Gaius says:

    While I understand some are genuine in their being against the war but not against the troops, I also see too many lately who ARE against the troops. I suggest you go take a look at the comments on the “patriotboy” blog. It’s quite popular and is a highly ranked site. It also took something I posted out of context and twisted the meaning completely, so no love lost there.

    But go take a look and judge for yourself.

    BTW, I have a lot of respect for people who genuinely believe that war is wrong – always with no exceptions – as the Society of Friends do. I also, frankly, think they would not be around long without protection. That’s not being cynical, it’s being realistic, I think.

  6. Pingback: Flopping Aces » Blog Archive » The Haditha Marines, Update

  7. Juggler says:

    Gaius,

    I think we can both agree that it is best for all concerned that if the troops did in fact commit atrociities that they are held accountable.

    Perhaps you don’t agree with this, but I believe that when atrocities are committed but people are not held accountable, it makes it easier to tar all troops with the tag of war criminal.

    In Vietnam only one person ever served time for the My Lai massacre, and it was only 3 1/2 years of house arrest. Everyone else, at least from a criminal standpoint, got off scott free (how they’re faring psychically, karmically, or eternallty is likely a different story).

    The killing spree of Tiger Force was completely unpunished.

    Gaius, you continue to judge John Murtha based on an incomplete quotation of what he said–the more complete quotation shows that he made it clear that he was saying what the report would say–and he’s being proven correct.

  8. Gaius says:

    No, you keep trying to defend what he said at one interview with what he said at another.

  9. Donna says:

    I found the patriotboy site, and, pretty immediately I was holding my nose figuratively. But, I scrolled through until I could read the comments section.

    Yuck, I must have no ‘sophisticated’ sense of humor, Gaius. That site is like a sewer pipe, collecting droppings of diarrhea from sicko types.

    The odor was so bad at patriotboy that I could not take anything I read there as worth attention. Yes, they took your quote out of context…..and yes, some commenters were flippantly ‘tarring all the troops’….but, Gaius, if that site [which I will never visit again] is as popular as you say it is, that is a sad commentary on America.

  10. Gaius says:

    I admire your stamina. To be able to even wade through that takes a lot of guts. Sorry to have exposed you to it. But it shows how bad it has gotten in some places.

    Yes, it is very sad. It’s why I have to do my best to keep it from spreading, too.

  11. Juggler says:

    Let’s see, John Murtha apparently had accurate information that an internal investigation found that Marines committed atrocities, and he said so publicly, and you fault him for that.

    Yet, based on incomplete information, you said “If there ever was a case where a number of people must be fired, this is one. There simply is no excuse – none whatsoever – for this. Nobody should be able to do this kind of damage; the entire system of security is a joke.”

    Perhaps you should start holding yourself to the same standard you want to hold Murtha.

  12. Gaius says:

    Perhaps you would be happier reading a different blog.

    Get this quite straight, juggler. Murtha stated in no uncertain terms that the Marines were “cold blooded killers”. He did not afford them the same protections any criminal in this country gets.

  13. Juggler says:

    Gaius,

    He didn’t actually name names. It also looks like what he said was true. Yes, the perpetrators deserve due process–I would never, ever argue otherwise.

    At the same time, you have never acknowledged that atrocities often go unpunished. Again, only one person ever was convicted in the My Lai massacre, and he served a grand total of 3 1/2 years of house arrest.

    Nobody has ever been prosecuted for the war-crime rampage of Tiger Force in Vietnam, and the DoD buried the results of the investigation.

    It’s funny to see conservatives caring more about alleged perpetrators of crimes than their victims.

  14. Gaius says:

    He did not have to name names. Your moral compass needs a recal.

  15. Juggler says:

    Gaius,

    If you think that someone who consistently calls for full investigation of war crimes and who calls for due process for all accused of crimes has a faulty moral compass, then you’ve got problems.

    I’m glad that Murtha said what he did–he made it harder for the DoD to bury the results of the investigation, as happened with the investigation of Tiger Force. If only some member of Congress had done the same thing in the 70s perhaps those war crimes would have been prosecuted.

    While you position doesn’t explicitly excuse war crimes, I beleive that’s the net effect, as it makes it easier for them to be swept under the rug, as has happened in the past.

    My position is, the DoD has a proven history of whitewashing atrocities, so Murtha’s statements bringing the allegations more exposure made that more difficult, so it was a good thing that he said what he said. Those who call him a traitor are actually making life easier for war criminals.

  16. Gaius says:

    Your position is political in motivation and agenda driven and always has been. The investigations were underway before Murtha open his mouth, so your point is false. Period.

  17. Pingback: Blue Crab Boulevard » Blog Archive » Organized Campaign?

  18. Juggler says:

    Investigations have been under way before and buried–that’s what happened to the Tiger Force investigation.

    You’re the one who is 100% politically motivated.

  19. Ozymandias says:

    Juggler is absolutely right in his sanalysis – with one caveat: Haditha had ALREADY been buried by the intial investigation – which serves to amplify further Juggler’s position which to an objective outsider seems well argued, coherent, reasonable, reasoned, fair and consistent.

    The facts also therefore appear straightforward: Haditha occured [Who was it said ‘Stuff Happens’? – Couldn’t have been Rummy by any chance could it!?] A quick internal investigation buried the whole episode and the boys crossed their fingers – Time foe some – and good for them – reason investigated and published which in term generated enough heat along with to trigger a further investigation – and finally we are getting a little but closer to what actually happened – and Murtha – God Bless Him – used his pulpiy in Congress to nudge the whole story along into the mainstream media. Maybe we will actually get to hear the full facts somet time soon too – but certainly with no thanks to the US Media across the board who still seem to continue to be being reluctantly dragged screaming toward the responsibility of the Fourth Estate.

    The tone of both Donna & Gaius seem to me to adopt the apearance of being reasonable – but in reality are another – though admittedly less belligerent – apologist response in defense of the indefensible

    As both an Aussie & a Brit – I along with many in most of the rest of the Western World – find it truly incomprehensible to understand why it is that America seems so utterly incapable of looking in the mirror and seeing what is blindingly obvious.

    Please help to educate me

  20. Ozymandias says:

    Moderator Please Note: Below are spelling and grammatical corrections to my initial post; Apologies for the unchecked errors:

    # Ozymandias Says: Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    May 31st, 2006 at 10:27 am

    Juggler is absolutely right in his analysis – with one caveat: Haditha had ALREADY been buried by the initial investigation – which serves to amplify further Juggler’s position – which to an objective outsider seems well argued, coherent, reasonable, reasoned, fair and consistent.

    The facts also therefore appear straightforward: Haditha occured [Who was it said ‘Stuff Happens’? – Couldn’t have been Rummy by any chance could it!?] A quick and I would guess somewhat cursory internal investigation buried the whole episode and the boys crossed their fingers – Then Time for some reason – and good for them – investigated and published which in turn generated enough heat to trigger a further investigation – and finally we are getting a little but closer to what actually happened – and Murtha – God Bless Him – used his pulpit in Congress to nudge the whole story along into the mainstream media.

    Maybe we will actually get to hear the full facts some time soon too – but certainly with no thanks to the US Media across the board who still seem to continue to be being reluctantly dragged screaming toward the responsibilities of the Fourth Estate.

    The tone of both Donna & Gaius seem to me to adopt the apearance of being reasonable – but in reality are another – though admittedly less belligerent – apologist response in defense of the indefensible

    As both an Aussie & a Brit – I along with many in most of the rest of the Western World – find it truly incomprehensible to understand why it is that America seems so utterly incapable of looking in the mirror and seeing what is blindingly obvious.

    Please help to educate me

  21. Gaius says:

    You assume you know the truth from reading news reports. You draw your conclusions based on those reports. You consider that reasonable? You condemn men you have never met based on reports from reporters you have never met. And that’s reasonable?

    There is a reason media reports are not used as testimony in court, you realize?

    I have continued to call for the full investigation. Which was underway before Time magazine reported it, contrary to the “truth” you think you know from the media. Captain Ed linked that information today.

  22. Ozymandias says:

    Gaius – please do not fall into your own trap by telling me what you belive to be the basis of my assumptions! Your own namesake ‘Gaius’ would have given you a ‘C Minus’ on your Rhetoric.

    May I also recommend that you go read Percy Bysshe Shelley from whom I derived my handle ‘Ozymandias’ by his poem of this name. It may be that you will comprehend the resonance

  23. Aaron says:

    The evidence is very incriminating, they have many reasons to lay blame on american marines. The Trial will only determine “who” is to blame, not “are” they to blame. I estimate you will see several executions in the near future.

Comments are closed.