Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Massacre Of Iraqis By U.S. Marines

"Evil when we are in its power is not felt as evil but as a necessity, or even a duty." ~ Simone Weil

I read this on AOL yesterday:

Videotape Leads to Pentagon Probe of Iraqi Deaths
Military Investigates Marines' Role in Incident That Killed 15 Civilians

WASHINGTON (March 20) -- A bloody videotape shot by a local Iraqi journalism student has prompted the Pentagon to launch a criminal investigation into an incident that left at least 15 Iraqi civilians dead in the city of Haditha

The details of what happened four months ago in Haditha are just now coming to light with the release of the videotape by an Iraqi organization called Hammurabi Human Rights.
The tape shows the bloodied and bullet-marked homes that had been allegedly stormed by the Marines, and includes comments by local residents.
"This is my father," a boy says on the tape. "He didn't do anything wrong. Why did they kill him?"

The video shows the bodies of some of the dead, including one of three children killed.
"These are children," one man on the tape says. "Are you telling me these are terrorists?"
It all started Nov. 19 when a roadside bomb hit a convoy of 12 Marines in Haditha, killing 20-year-old Lance Cpl. Miguel Terrazas.
The official press release said simply: "A U.S. Marine and 15 Iraqi civilians were killed yesterday from the blast of a roadside bomb."

While I wasn’t exactly shocked by this, I was saddened by the news that some of our soldiers had committed a war crime, but then I looked closer.

But before I looked closer, the very first thing that crossed my mind was, “Wow, that Cpl Terrazas must have been a very well liked individual to have an entire squad of his peers retaliate so forcefully“

Then, I realized that some things about this story just didn‘t make very much sense. For instance, an entire squad retaliated against innocent civilians because of one soldier’s death? Aren’t our soldiers trained a little bit better than that? Aren’t they trained on how to recognize the enemy as opposed to civilians?

Another thing that makes me scratch my head:

The tape was shot by an Iraqi journalism student. Could it be this journalism student was creating a story a la Jayson Blair? One well done fraud could make his career.

I will admit that is something of a leap in logic, but it is a possibility, however tenuous.

Then the headlines lead us to believe that there was a video tape that showed marines in the act of killing people, but it doesn’t. It shows nothing more than the aftermath of a massacre. There is nothing, other than eyewitness testimony, that supports the tapes claim that marines committed the murders. I wonder how many of the interviewees are terrorist sympathizers, if any.

But then, there’s this:

Military officials now acknowledge the Iraqis were not killed by the bomb -- but, they now say, by crossfire as U.S. Marines stormed the surrounding homes.
The military did not launch an investigation until two months after the incident, when Time magazine showed officials the video and eyewitness testimony.

That would indicate that there is indeed something to this story. I won’t dismiss it out of hand. I am just saying there are some questions as to the veracity of the story.

"We launched an investigation of our own with the help of a human rights group," said Aparisim Ghosh, a writer for Time. "We spoke to some eyewitnesses. And it turns out all the people killed were killed by the Marines in small arms fire and, in a few instances, by an explosive that was tossed into the home by the Marines themselves."
Senior Pentagon officials would not comment on the details of the case but said they take the allegations very seriously, which is why they've launched the criminal investigation.
It still is not clear the Marines used excessive force, but the locals seem to have made up their minds.

But Time magazine? I don’t trust them. And the AP adds, "It still is not clear the Marines used excessive force". Well, maybe they did, but maybe they didn’t. Time will tell.

According to a military spokesman, the Marines involved still are deployed in Iraq.

I will say this:

If it turns out that the story is true, and these marines are guilty of just what this story says they are, they need to be held accountable. I don't want to believe it. It would be unconscionable. Aside from the unjustified deaths of innocent men, women, and children, this could turn into a political nightmare for the Bush administration. And he certainly doesn't need any more bad press concerning this war. He has enough of that already.

Also, I find it interesting that the media shouts this kind of news from the rooftops while not saying a word about the continual atrocities committed on innocent people by terrorists on an every day basis. Daniel Pearl and Nick Berg could not be reached for comment.

If there is a lesson to be learned, it is this:

Don't believe everything you read.


Sheila said...

I'm for the Marines. They are a very honorable part of our military.

And Thank you Mark. I'm working like you know what again and can't find the time to read right now.

The US Military is honest and I'll never change my tune on that one.

What I'm afraid of is the PTSD problems the troups are facing and the Deep budget cuts on health for Veterans. It's a six month waiting list for even diagnosis right now.

There have been four felony arrests (mainly Domestic) in four states, reported by Veterans watch groups this last week alone. Arrest resports have stated suspected PTSD.

I was reacting yesterday to that. Hoping against hope it's not another one like that.

Whether liberl or Conservative though. Our Military is honest to a fault. The investigation will be done well.

Fish said...

There have been many investigated instances where the Marines are simply returning fire, and when the smoke has cleared the locals have gathered up the weapons and hid them for future use. This makes it look like an attack on unarmed innocents, but the evidence of fresh bullet holes all around the Marine's position attests to the fact they were under heavy fire.

Mark said...

Oh. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It took me a while to figure that one out.

I knew a couple of guys that suffered from that after Viet Nam. One of them I met when he was on a work release program from Lansing State prison in Kansas. He was a very brilliant man whom the other prisoners had dubbed, "The Professor" But PTSD had contributed to his being in prison.

He must have been rehabilitated because some 20 years later, I saw him on a national Television talk show. He had written a book on how to burglar proof your home. He is a very wealthy man now.

At any rate, if PTSD has anything to do with this incident, it is understandable but still not excusable.

Fish has a very good point as well.

The Liberal Lie The Conservative Truth said...

There has been something fishy about the way in which this was reported and also the length of time it took to get the , "full, " story that has been released in the last couple of days. My insinct tells me that this is being taken way out of context and that the Marines are being falsly accused by the reporter and those he interviewed. If it is true by all means prosecute to the fullest extent. But wait until ALL the true facts come out. Good post Mark. By the way, I like the neww blog name.


Mark said...

Wait. I just now re-read this story. Look at this:

"[T]he Iraqis were not killed by the bomb -- but, they now say, by crossfire as U.S. Marines stormed the surrounding homes."

Crossfire. The implication that bullets were flying from more than one direction, indicating that someone was shooting back. One word seems to tell a different story than the one the media reports. Hmmm.

ELAshley said...

Unless by "crossfire" one means: two units of Marines in flanking positions firing into a crowd of innocent women and children... at least that's how the Liberal Press would spin it if the glaring inconsistency of "crossfire" were put to them.

The Liberal Press is becoming so tiresome... but we can't let our guard down. If we remain vigilant, sooner or later that tree WILL fall.

Erudite Redneck said...

Of COURSE you would dismiss it out of hand, Mark. You're still in denial about torture at Abu Ghraib -- with how many people convicted already?

You won't accept the truth now. Why should we expect you to accept any future truths?

Mark said...

ER, Yes, I do consider that torture. But that's not the issue. The issue is whether it was authorized/ordered by the president, and whether it is part of a systemic interrogation regime. You never seem to get the argument quite right.

ELAshley said...

Saddam once had the women in one town, on one street, rounded up and beheaded. Their heads we're then placed on their respective doorsteps as a warning to others to avoid "sexual indiscretions". Uday and Qusay, raped women, butchered men. Iraqis themselves have committed untold atrocities.

The sick puppies who abused prisoners at Abu Ghraib have been, and are being, punished. That's what makes us better than the previous zoo keepers.

Mike's America said...

You're right to be a tad skeptical about this story.

How many examples have we seen of faked atrocities being used by the enemy for propaganda?

Erudite Redneck said...

Oh, well, I don't doubt that Rumsfeld specifically loosened restrictions on such actviry -- and I have no doubt that the president has explicitly expressed his full faith and trust in Rumsfeld's judgment.

The president IS the issue. I hear your assertions clearly, Mark. You rarely make arguments.

Marie's Two Cents said...

That Iraqi Journalist sounds like an Al-Jazeera recruit!

Sheila said...

I read the Time Article yesterday. Aparently the Marines stormed a couple of houses within sight of the bombing the killed one marine and injured another.

The eye witnesses are children who saw their parents and Granparents killed and a "journalism Student" who happened to have a camera at the ready.

I'm pretty sure the Marines will be found to have made a mistake through fear, but it was a sad mistake.

The Time piece was very responcible. I think the journalist would have been amiss by NOT reporting it and by the way the MSM is handling this one. (Almost not at all), they are very sensitive to the subject matter and their military too.

So marie and others, read it before making a judgement. I saw change afoot in the MSM. As a matter of fact, I see more and more.

Etchen said...

Hip Hip hooray for Laura--I just love her!