Friday, June 02, 2006

On Haditha

So, everyone has to wait. I don't care what Murtha said; he isn't exactly the best friend of the military (I know, he was IN the military, and decorated, but he's spent the last 30-plus years in Washington, so he's more of a politician now). Neither am I concerned what Wesley Clark says. What makes Murtha and Clark the authority, the inside scoop, on all things military? Because they have a contrary viewpoint, they must be speaking truth to power regarding Iraq. Heck, we could make my BIL the go-to guy on military information on Iraq, who was actually IN Iraq for a year.

We don't know, what we don't know. I prefer to have faith in our troops, presuming innocence while the wheels of justice turn. W. Thomas Smith Jr. has an interesting article in NRO detailing the stress of combat, and the methods used to prevent events such as those alleged at Haditha. Command may have broken down, and atrocities may have been committed. But, the pieces missing from this story may be pivotal. In a war where the "enemies" wear no uniform, innocence is not easily determined. Especially in the fog of war.

John Temple Ligon, a former Army Ranger officer and artillery forward observer in Vietnam, says that, while he does not condone the killing of 24 civilians, he cannot condemn the Marines, either.  “Chances are, whenever a roadside bomb kills a Marine or a soldier, there are nearby civilians who saw the installation of the bomb and the concealment of the bomb, and the civilians operated at a safe distance when the Marines rolled by,” Ligon tells NRO. “In South Vietnam, I saw soldiers lose their feet, legs, and lives as they walked over land mines hidden in the rice paddy berms. The civilians were planting rice at the time nearby, but never near the mines when the soldiers walked by. They, too, knew exactly where the mines lay.”

Are those who watch a roadside bomb being installed, and then stand off to watch while our servicemen get blown to bits "innocent?" I don't have a good answer to that.

Additionally, some troops on the ground say they are increasingly coming under fire by armed children: a sign of desperation and recruiting woes for the terrorists, but an additional challenge for infantry and special operations units who must confront them.

“This is not new, in war or the Middle East, but seems to be a new trend in Iraq,” says former Marine infantryman Robert L. Rohrer, who claims to have seen “several statements” indicating there is much more to the Haditha story than has been released.

It would be nice if a few more people in the U.S., the media and Murtha especially, could join us in that assumption of innocence. Otherwise, why not just hang them now?

Update: one last thing. The biggest problem with the "Presumed guilty" approach taken by Murtha, and the media, is that it blinds people to any future revelations. HADITHA ATROCITIES gets burned into the psyche, and if (or when) facts later support their innocence, or at least mitigating circumstances that make it a tragedy, but not necessarily a crime, the assumptions (by liberal pundits, Randi Rhodes, Wesley Clark, and Mother Sheehan) is that there is a cover-up. Certainly the Marines are not innocent - BushitlerRovian war machine merely managed to manufacture evidence. I can guarantee that will be the tact taken by terrorists in Iraq. And Randi Rhodes.

Update II: Exhibit A:

Enough details have emerged from survivors and military personnel to conclude that in the town of Haditha last November, members of the 3rd Battalion, 1st regiment perpetrated a massacre.

There you go, we have enough details. Let's hang 'em high! Or, is The Nation one of those "extreme" sides we shouldn't be listening to?