A Soldier’s View

I received an email today from Sarge and am posting it as two seprarate posts. This is the first one and discusses Haditha from a soldier's perspective. 

I'll be honest: this morning is the first time I've heard about this
incident in Haditha. I try my best to keep up on current events through the
internet and the Stars and Stripes, but sometimes I have to make the choice
between sleeping and reading the latest news story.

What can I say? If I come out against the Marines, I'm a traitor to my
brothers in arms. If I come out in their defense, I'm an insider protecting
the guilty. It's the definition of a Catch-22; I'm damned if I do and damned
if I don't. I suppose the only thing I can do in this situation is present
both sides of the argument.

My squad leader is sitting right beside me, and we just compared notes on
how many IEDs we've been through. We counted six each. One of them hit my
truck, one of them hit his. I can tell you from firsthand experience that
after an IED goes off, every soldier's first instinct is to start shooting
at everything in sight that's moving. Someone has just tried to kill you, and
you can't kill him back. That said, we've never gone on a shooting rampage
after an IED. On the other hand, all the roadside bombs we've encountered
have only resulted in minor injuries. To play devil's advocate, I can't
imagine how it feels to lose a friend and comrade to an unseen enemy.
If the Marines in question are found guilty of committing a crime, I will
partially understand their emotions even if I abhor their decision.

The above is the military man in me talking. As a human being, I have a
natural and visceral reaction to this story that turns my stomach. If it is
indeed true, these men should suffer the most severe punishment imaginable.
As a soldier in the United States Army, I've dished out my share of
Marine-bashing jokes and comments, but I would hope that as representatives
of the American military the Marines implicated would show more restraint
and control.

However, the most absolutely important thing to remember in this situation
is that these men HAVE NOT been proven guilty. All that exists right now is
rumor and innuendo. There is no proof, no convictions. Right now, there
isn't even a trial. Last night I picked up a copy of the Stars and Stripes
with a headline about the Haditha investigations. The first line of the
article reads as follows:

"Marines from Camp Pendleton wantonly killed unarmed Iraqi civilians,
including women and children, and then tried to cover up the slayings in the
insurgent stronghold of Haditha, Iraq, military investigations have found."

The Stars and Stripes draws its articles from a number of different sources;
this particular article came from the Los Angeles Times and was written by
Tony Perry. Look at the phrasing of that sentence. In truth, the
investigations have found nothing of the sort. They've discovered evidence
and eyewitness testimony that suggests several Marines MAY BE guilty of
misconduct, up to and including murder. The truth is, we'll probably never
know what happened in Haditha, no matter what the investigations and the
trials uncover. The Marines involved were seeing through a haze of anger and
loss. The Iraqi locals were seeing through the chaos of a bomb going off in
their community.

Whatever the NCIS uncovers, the rights of these men must be protected. Even
under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the military's judicial system,
suspects are considered innocent until proven guilty. The fact that the
media, and even a former Marine congressman are already talking about these
men as if they're guilty is disgusting and just plain wrong. O.J. Simpson,
arguably the most guilty innocent man in recent history, was treated with
more respect during his circus of a trial than these Marines are being given
now. They are men in uniform, men who have sacrificed more than most ever
will in the name of the United States. They deserve our respect until such
time as a verdict is reached which calls that respect into question.

So that's my position on the Haditha investigation. If the Marines are found
guilty, I believe they will be punished accordingly. If they are found
innocent, I believe they will be outcast by the media as benefactors of a
cover up. Unfortunately, all of these men's careers are basically over no
matter what the findings. The anti-war, anti-Bush journalists have seen to that.

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20 Responses to A Soldier’s View

  1. smantix says:

    Well said. But one of the major problems I have with the coverage of this story is that the media fans the story until it incites Iraqi and Muslim sentiments against the soldiers who are doing an excellent job under the circumstances. Protect polls and open schools gets put on A-24. A letter on alleged atrocities from the Korean War gets front page coverage on Memorial day. Disgusting.

  2. Gaius says:

    Read the other part to see what media frenzies stir up, too.

  3. Richard of Oregon says:

    In recent times many of the most sensational news stories that broke out early turned out be be false or grossly exagerated. Katrina stories of murders and rapes among the survivers and the Koran flushing story, to name a couple. The military is conducting a through and I believe honest investigation of what happened in Hadita. Sarge laid out appropriate judgements to make for possible conclusions from the investigation. Hard as it is with something like this, let’s just wait to see what comes out of this. The truth will set us free.

  4. Jeffrey Mushens says:

    Hi! I am a pro-war Brit (English, actually, member of the Labour Party – we spell funny in the UK- you wouldn’t guess it from the press but in the UK the majority of supporters of the war in Iraq vote Labour, a left Party). If the Marines are guilty, they’ll be punished appropriately. The difference between liberal democracies and dictaorships is that when people do bad things in the US or UK, they get punished. In Saddam’s Iraq, they got a promotion.

  5. Gaius says:

    I agree – this needs to be investigated. If charges are warranted they should be prosecuted. But the investigation comes first, not the other way around.

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  9. Roland Hesz says:

    Unfortunately now even a Republican guy – John Kline – said the marines has commited a crime

    “This was not an accident,” said Minnesota Republican John Kline, a former Marine colonel who was briefed about the killings along with other members of the House of Representatives armed-services committee. “This was not an immediate response to an attack. This would be an atrocity,” he told The New York Times.

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/ArticleNews/freeheadlines/LAC/20060527/IRAQ27/international/International

  10. Roland Hesz says:

    Flopping Aces wrote:

    “So now after deposing Saddam Hussein, a man who was connected to Al-Qaeda, harbored terrorist, and possessed WMD’s, after freeing the Iraqi citizens from rape rooms and acid baths, after giving those citizens a new Democracy…giving it to a country …”

    Except he did not posses WMD’s – the ones he got from the US he used up in Iran -, and it has been proved, that the Al-Quade did not like him.
    Osama-bin-Laden especially disliked Saddam.

    The giving of democracy so far seems like: we removed Saddam, now you try to make a democracy if you can.

  11. Roland Hesz says:

    I don’t know, if I can believe the NYT, but
    this article does not mean well for the Marines…

  12. Gaius says:

    Roland, nobody should be passing judgement yet.

  13. Roland Hesz says:

    That’s what I tried to say, just my browser is damned shaky, crashing every few minutes, that half of my posts are left off, ’cause I try to beat the abrupt shutdown.

    And I don’t pass judgement, just put on some links.
    Everyone should draw their own conclusions after reading them.

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  16. Paul says:

    I think that one of the points being ignored here – particularly by those who insist on blaming the press for fanning the flames on this issue – is that the military initially investigated this incident and found nothing wrong. It was only after additional investigation by Time Magazine (if I recall correctly) and additional reporting, that the issue was again brought to the forefront. Of course the military tried to cover it up; that’s what the military always does. They don’t want to punish their troops for having gone postal during combat patrols. The troops made a (presumed) horrible mistake, and no commander wants to have to punish their own. It’s become the My Lai or Iraq. The truth will out because it was investigated, hardly in spite of it. That’s what a free press does. Who wants to be the censor who decides which news should be printed and which shouldn’t? Careful, it’s a trick question…

  17. Gaius says:

    Incorrect, Paul. I know that is what Time reported, but Captain Ed just linked information that the Marines were already investigating the allegations before Time was even aware of the issue.

  18. Black Jack says:

    Not all that tricky. No responsible Conservative wants to censor the news, the so-called liberals have that bailiwick all to themselves. They own it, lock, stock, and barrel.

    Our self-appointed Lefty “watchdogs of democracy” are daily selecting which information to withhold from the public square. Blatant Lefty bias is pervasive in nearly all the nation’s established news media. There are a few exceptions, but they only serve to prove the point.

    A recent example: How long has it been since the Senate passed a “Comprehensive Immigration Bill?” And only because of Internet Bloggers do we have any idea of what dirty little secrets are hidden among the amnesty provisions. Heck, the Lefty MSM won’t even identify it as an amnesty bill.

  19. john ryan says:

    Americans have a multitude of news sources to choose from, it is a free market. They choose MSM. This seems to be what they want to read or hear or see. Free market,choice, this is how it works here in these United States. Those on the hard right of American political thought seem to have gone from being winners to whinners in the space of a very short time. Instead of looking for scapegoats “The Left” “The MSM” they should look at what policies and actions hqave lost them the confidence of the American people. Here are a couple of hints” the war in Iraq and corruption in Washington. As for not prejudging the marines, everyone is entitled to have an opinion based on whatever facts or predjudices he chooses to use, O.J. I think he is guilty, Saddam I think he is guilty too.

  20. Bill Voorhees says:

    Roland needs to catch up on the info available to him. The archives of Saddam’s secret police and intelligence service have shown that Saddam was training Al Queda members long before 9-11. He gave safe harbor to them also and furnished them with passports. They may not have liked each other, but remember the the arab saying, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”
    As to Haditha, I think Murtha and everyone else need to shut up and let the NCIS finish the investigation. Remember that old American saying, “Keep an open mind.”

    As if.

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