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
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
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.