May 31, 2006

The latest unpleasantness 

It's already been beaten into the dirt by bloggers far more prolific than I*... but I feel the need to pile on... by not piling on.

Let me explain.


Not a nice place to be.

It was outside the town of Haditha that my cousin was wounded and another Marine killed by a VBIED. It is a stopover on the "underground railroad" of sorts that insurgents from Syria and points abroad use to worm their way deeper into Iraq. Haditha isn't as bad as Ramadi... but it ain't no garden spot either.

It's in this cauldron of crap that Marines from 3/1 found themselves last November. And after one of their buddies was killed by an IED, they went nuts and slaughtered anything that moved and some things that didn't... or so the press (and Rep. Murtha) would have you believe.

Truth is - I don't know. And neither do you. And neither does Jack Murtha, his "sources" be damned.

I was about 50KM from Haditha on the date in question, and I don't have a clue what happened, so I'm pretty damn sure that Joe Shmucktelli, reporter for al-Reuters/CNN don't know shite about what happened either... but he'll presume to know - KNOW - that those Marines just snapped and killed everybody.

If I recall correctly, some of our pilots were over Haditha that day and did some shooting... not at the location in question, but close to there. I'd have to look it up to be sure, because all the days kind of run together... but they were probably directly overhead the area.. and they don't know what went down either. So Joe Shmucktelli can freakin' stuff it.

What I DO know is this: something stinks. And I don't mean the fact that if - IF - this turns out to be true, the words "My Lai" will grace the front pages of newspapers for the first time in over 30 years (if they aren't already there...). What I mean is, that the witnesses that have been produced are somewhat... "shady."

If you have not already seen the video of the "child survivors" of the supposed 'Marine Corps slaughter' in Haditha, they seem somewhat rehearsed. One of the guys I work with said the same thing - before I had a chance to - as we watched CNN this morning. Now, I'll grant you, the date in question is six months past. The little girl who says her parents were gunned down in cold blood by Marines has probably been telling this story non-stop since that time, which would lead to a certain amount of repetition and "boilerplate" to her tale. As I saw on CNN this morning, she tells it almost with... disinterest. It comes across clearly, regardless of the fact she's speaking Arabic and I don't understand a word of it. Even CNN noted that when asked to repeat her story about the IED that hit the Marines, starting the whole chain of events, for the THIRD time for a video camera, she said something along the lines of "I knew the bomb was going to blow up and didn't want to be hurt, so I didn't get out of bed to go to school." Of course, they quickly point out that the international human rights organization (God only knows which paragons of virtue these ones may be) that conducted the interview says "she got confused" and that she just messed up the "minor details."

A regular listener to Hugh Hewitt who speaks Arabic put it bit more bluntly, though. According to him, she said "I knew the bomb was going to go off, so I covered my ears." Clear as day. No mincing of words. She KNEW.

So - by this story - at best, these Iraqis were no-kidding insurgent sympathizers who knew where the IED was and let the Marines run into it, or at worst, were intimidated into silence by the insurgents, and fearing for their own lives kept their mouths shut.

Would either case excuse a retribution killing spree? No. It brings dishonor upon the Corps, the military, and America. But the point of this is that there are maybe a half-dozen people on the whole planet who know what happened, and chances are YOU ain't one of 'em. So all the surmising and proclamations in the press are crap.

But here's a secondary point: we suck a IO. Information Operations. PROPAGANDA.

Assume the worst. Somewhere between a fireteam (4) and a squad (13) of Marines went postal and killed as many people as they could with the ammo they had. This would be the EXCEPTION. For those we're fighting against, it's the RULE.

As I've said, I see the reports daily. I have the raw feed. Al-Qaida in Iraq, and the many plethora of other enemy groups, kill civilians daily for imaginary infractions such as wearing shorts. I wish I was making this stuff up. I also wish that I didn't have to go to Canadian, Chinese, Italian, and Malaysian news agencies to find that out (good on the smaller, local American news for picking up on this, but did this lead on CNN, or even FOX?... hell no).

There are an ungodly amount of atrocities committed on a daily basis by the enemy and they go largely unreported. This is a failure not only by our press, but also by the DoD.

The enemy needs to be demonized, both here and abroad. He needs to be reduced to the level of an animal - LESS than an animal - in the eyes of both Americans and Iraqis. How hard is this? We've done it once before...

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Politically incorrect?
You bet... but it did the job, didn't it?

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Clear. Concise. To the point. How hard is this?

So, I refuse to pile on. I will reserve judgment on the action that may or may not have occurred in Haditha until all the facts and findings are made public. Remember (especially YOU, Mr. Murtha) that in this country, you're still innocent until proven guilty. But it's about damn time that we started showing the face of the enemy to the world and stopped just standing there and taking this abuse in the press.

The enemy is evil. They want us dead. We should want them likewise.

*For more solid Haditha coverage visit Hugh Hewitt, The Jawa Report, Hot Air, MilBlogs (which has too many good posts just to link to one), and - of all places - CNN, which has a short report that should not be missed.

UPDATE: More to read over at one of my new favorites, Hot Air, which is now where one of my old favorites, "Allah," hangs his hat. He points out the following from Time magazine:

I’ll leave you with this, from Time. A lot of people, including some milbloggers, have said the Marines should hang if they’re guilty. I’m not so sure.

Haditha has caused [one] senior Marine officer, the one reading up on historical atrocities, to reexamine the concept of punishment in America and it is here that he is resentful of the outside world, not just those who may have committed such acts. He was surprised by a passage in “America in Vietnam” which details how Americans traditionally think a soldier who commits a war crime should be put to death with little regard to the conditions or insight into the soldier himself. But a common murderer is treated more thoughtfully — his background, childhood, education and social circumstances are taken into consideration when looking at what punishment should be meted out. “Isn’t it a strange turn of events that Marines are expected to be perfect under the stresses and brutality of a guerrilla war, but society says we need to uncover every mitigating circumstance that would possibly explain why street criminals kill?”
Interesting take. And in many ways, very valid. But the point Allah misses is that the military (and the Marines in particular) holds itself to a higher standard. That's why many milbloggers are calling for heads to roll if the worst proves to be true. But like I said to start this whole thing off: I will not pass judgement on any of these Marines until all the facts are in. And neither should anyone else.

UPDATE II: From Military.com:

But the Haditha Marines are innocent until found guilty in court, Spring added. "It's always wrong to prejudge the outcome of this procedure."

"I know something about rushing to judgment," former Marine 2nd Lt. Ilario Pantano wrote
in Saturday's The Washington Post. In 2005, Pantano was tried in a military court for allegedly murdering two Iraqi men during combat operations in Mahmudiyah in 2004. "My wife and mother sat in a Camp Lejeune courtroom for five days while prosecutors painted me as a monster; then autopsy evidence blew their case out of the water, and the Marine Corps dropped all charges against me."

"This thing needs to be fully investigated," Smithson said. "To prejudge beforehand is a great disservice to everybody involved."

"It could hurt our troops fighting in Iraq [by bolstering Iraqi resistance]," Smithson continued. It could undermine what we're trying to do [in Iraq]. We need to focus on a lot of the good that we are doing and put an incident like this in context. It's an aberration."

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