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Politics: Trial by public opinion
Posted by: mcq on Thursday, May 18, 2006

This is becoming tiresome and, frankly, worrying. The trend can now be found in many areas, not just justice. The trend has authorities making assumptions based on incomplete evidence that certain crimes have occurred (or not occurred as the case may be ... see the Duke rape case) and publicly airing their opinions. Instead of letting investigations take their course, allowing both sides to prepare and air their cases and allowing the system in place to ajudicate the results, it appears now that some public officials will resort to just about anything in order to support their political stance of the moment.

Case in point:
Rep. John Murtha, an influential Pennsylvania lawmaker and outspoken critic of the war in Iraq, said today Marines had “killed innocent civilians in cold blood” after allegedly responding to a roadside bomb ambush that killed a Marine during a patrol in Haditha, Iraq, Nov. 19.
You know, that may very well end up being true. But there's an investigation going on into the incident and silly nonsense like this isn't helpful nor is it necessary - except politically.

Obviously if it ends up being true, then harsh disciplinary action is required. The Marine Corps has already relieved the Battalion commmander and two Company commanders from that battalion. But that in and of itself doesn't mean the allegations are true. Nor does it mean the unsworn testimony of the Iraqis are true. Obviously something happened other than what was initially reported.
One military official says it appears the civilians were deliberately killed by the Marines, who were outraged at the death of their fellow Marine.

“This one is ugly," one official told NBC News.
That's why there is an investigation ongoing:
"There is an ongoing investigation; therefore, any comment at this time would be inappropriate and could undermine the investigatory and possible legal process. As soon as the facts are known and decisions on future actions are made, we will make that information available to the public to the fullest extent allowable."
You'd think a "lawmaker" would know, understand and respect the process and let it run it's due course before using it for political purposes (and yes, I know both sides do this sort of thing, but it doesn't excuse any of them). Apparently that's just too much to ask of some.
 
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Speaking of trial by public opinion, has Karl Rove been indicted yet??

BTW, Murtha is an "influential Pennsylvania Lawmaker"? When the House put his withdrawl resolution to a vote the Dems ran away from him like greased lightning. Just who does he influence, besides the media?
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
The problem is that congressional oversight has become so lax that many non-Bushies assume that that when the Administrtion (or the military) investigate themselves that a whitewash will occur.

We have a hugh credibility problem and we pay for it in 1000 ways, this being just one more.


 
Written By: cindy bravo
URL: http://
Shark, I think when Jason Leopold said 24 business hours, he meant 24 "John Kerry" business hours which means that it will be another 2 months before the indictment comes in. ;)

Say it cindy bee, you know you want to. Abu Ghraib Abu Ghraib Abu Ghraib Abu Ghraib
 
Written By: capt joe
URL: http://
The problem is that congressional oversight has become so lax that many non-Bushies assume that that when the Administrtion (or the military) investigate themselves that a whitewash will occur.
Congressional oversight has zip to do with a military investigation that’s been initiated. The process has started and is proceeding. If, after the results are announced, Congress has problems with them, it should then speak out and, if necessary, do something about it.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://qando.net
You know, that may very well end up being true. But there’s an investigation going on into the incident and silly nonsense like this isn’t helpful nor is it necessary - except politically.

"Silly nonsense"? I doubt the Colonel thinks it’s that. It points exactly to a point he has been consistent on—the bungling of the "lawmakers" who are prosecuting this war. How can you defend the "ongoing investigation" schtick? That’s the nonsense part of it, being used in the same way that Scott McClellan used it. Murtha’s a public servant, and informing the public is part of that job. And the political purpose he serves that you put down here is to stop this from happening again. That is not self-serving.
 
Written By: Thom
URL: http://www.littthomsblog.blogspot.com
Ah, I see Thom, they should have just trotted the 15 out based on the unsworn testimony of Iraqis, put them against the wall and shot them? Investigation? We don’t do those. We simply assume one side is correct, especially when it fits our political needs, and make prejudicial statements to that effect.

Get a grip, will you?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://qando.net
Murtha’s a public servant, and informing the public is part of that job
So it’s his job to inform the public that Marines "killed innocent civilians in cold blood" before that has actually been determined?
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
We have a hugh credibility problem and we pay for it in 1000 ways, this being just one more.
Cindy B - again with the credibility? Capt. Joe beat me to the abu ghraib pucnh.
 
Written By: meagain
URL: http://
"It points exactly to a point he has been consistent on—the bungling of the "lawmakers" who are prosecuting this war"

What exactly does the bungling of lawmakers have to do with the alledged crimes of a few marines? Are you insinuating that such behaviour is our policy?

," and informing the public is part of that job."

These charges have been in the news for some time now. What, exactly, did he add to our knowledge?
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Over on ESPN we have “analyst” Deborah Robinson complaining that the Duke Lacrosse Team Captain is “tainting the jury pool” by doing a press conference after approximately 70 press conferences held by DA Nifong. Here we have John Murtha, a politician (once you become one of those, why should anyone believe you about anything?), who can have direct influence over a soldier’s career, making charges not yet adjudicated by a court martial board. I have sat on three boards, and I am incensed that this jackass is trying to make political hay before the facts are in.

Wasn’t the way that journalist was injured a while back, was not by the IED but by small arms fire coming from surrounding houses immediately after the blast? The soldiers attacked the ambush and suppressed it. Is it just too much TV? Is that why the initiated don’t connect the blast and the followup fire into one event? The operating standard is to attack when you are drawing fire after the opening rounds of an ambush. The fastest way out is through.

Now consider construction values and the ammunition types that might be used to suppress that “possible” fire. I have participated in a “mad minute” put on as a demonstration at Ft. Sill in 1970. Four of us with M60 machine guns totally destroyed a 10′x10′ brick building (all four walls) in less than sixty seconds. Our sweetness and light enemies do not tend to evacuate their womenfolk or their children from the line of fire and it is harder to see through walls than to shoot through them.

Was it a “My Lai” moment? I don’t know, it could have been. Was it a doctrinaire attack through an ambush? I don’t know. It could have been. But my kneejerk reaction when Newsweek and a politician are on the same page is to cover my wallet and dive for cover. The fact that is still under investigation in this conflict means very little. With all the second-guessing being done by media, I’m quite sure the Marines want to dot every i and cross every t. Even though, back in March, Lieut. Colonel Michelle Martin-Hing, spokeswoman for the Multi-National Force-Iraq, told Time the involvement of the ncis does not mean that a crime occurred. And she says the fault for the civilian deaths lies squarely with the insurgents, who "placed noncombatants in the line of fire as the Marines responded to defend themselves."

Let’s wait for the determination from the people who know something about warfighting and don’t stand to make political points by railing into any loose microphone.

The phrase “in cold blood” means with callous disregard or lack of emotion doesn’t it? Whatever the other circumstances, I doubt this very much.

Required disclaimer for the “chickenhawk patrol”:
I served ’69 -’78 (70-77 with 5th & 10th SF). Medically retired as a Staff Sergeant from wounds received in ‘77. Please don’t tell me we weren’t fighting anywhere then, I have the puckered scars to prove it. Silver Star, two Bronzes with Vs, one without, two Purple Hearts, four ARCOMs, CIB, HALO wings, assorted “i wuz there ribbons” covering Asia, Africa, Middle East and South America. Not eligible to return to service.
 
Written By: Richard
URL: http://soslies.blogspot.com
Sorry, Time and Newsweek are synonymous, aren’t they?
 
Written By: Richard
URL: http://soslies.blogspot.com
And CindyB IF the Marines come back and say, "Regrettable accident. Marines responding to a ’Close Ambush’ fought thru the ambush and in the resulting firefight 15 Iraqi’s, 8 of whom were non-combatants died." what WILL be your response?

I’m willing to bet your response will "White Wash!" Not because of "lax" oversight, but because it fits in with your notions of the situation, the military and supports your position on the War in Iraq. The problem is not in the oversight, it’s in those who read the reports. Murtha nor you want there to be a "good" resolution to this, only a tragedy, justifying our withdrawl/redeployment from Iraq.

Bottom-Line: I’m willing to bet that the only "good" oversight, for Murtha and you, is a report that indicts the Marines, not one that clears them.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
As long as you guys want to talk about Abu Ghraib ...

How many of you really believe that a bunch of kids from the hills of west Virginia started torturing people without orders from their higher ups? Do you really believe there are no pollitics in the Pentigon? There was a white wash in that investigation.

If the Marines court marshal the lowest ranking man on site in this investigation I’ll suspect white wash as well.
 
Written By: cindyb
URL: http://
As long as you guys want to talk about Abu Ghraib ...
whoooosh - the sound of the oint going right over cindyb’s head. I think you are the only one in here who wants to talk about Abu Ghraib.

Can you answer Joe’s question? Will any determination other than ’they are ALL guilty of killing in cold blood!!!!’ be acceptable to you?
 
Written By: meagain
URL: http://
ooops - ’oint’ should be ’point’
 
Written By: meagain
URL: http://
cindyb, well, having been to West Virginia I will plead the fifth on that particular aspect.

However, you must be aaware of Miliken’s famous experiment aout guards and prisoners. You need be rigorous control and training to prevent just that sort of thing from happening, especially with part timers. My feeling was that the chain of command up to the general in charge of prisons were not paying attention and not doing their jobs.

I suppose in your world view, we are living in a fascist society where such things are common place. Soldiers == murderers? If there are so common place then why do people like you exist at all. Aren’t their camps and torturers for that?

I will leave you alone at this point to let you struggle through your cognitive dissonance moment.
 
Written By: capt joe
URL: http://
Main Entry: pen·ta·gon Pronunciation: ’pen-t&-"gän Function: noun
Etymology: Greek pentagOnon, from neuter of pentagOnos pentagonal, from penta- + gOnia angle — more at -GON : a polygon of five angles and five sides
 
Written By: coaster
URL: http://
Maybe we could coin a new word.

Blackwash. - 1. Painting any scenario as dark as possible regardless of evidence or lack thereof. 2. Taking enemies at their word and calling your fellow countrymen (except politians speaking politics) liars. 3. the backwash from a "black helicopter" blade. 4. Politicians mouths moving.

By the way, how are Murtha’s comments playing on Al-jazeera?

Seems like a propaganda coup to me.
 
Written By: Richard
URL: http://soslies.blogspot.com
You’d think a "lawmaker" would know, understand and respect the process and let it run it’s due course before using it for political purposes
What does the one have to do with the other? I’m sure he understands the process. After all, he was in the military. And I’m sure he respects it. After all, he is not claiming that the matter is being swept under the rug.

But where it is written that a person who has nothing to do with the investigation and does not represent anyone involved in the investigation has to wait for the "process" to run its course before expressing his opinion?

It’s funny - but this blog rants on and on about McCain/Feingold and the limits it places on free speech. So now we have a politican exercising his right to free speech and you are upset with him for what? For exercising his right to free speech.

More to the point, if it turns out that Murtha is wrong then he will have hurt his political cause - not helped it.

The funniest thing about this whole incident is that it once again exposes the utter hypocrisy of the political right on this issue. The very people who are criticizing Murtha for taking a position before each side has a chance to air their cases and to let the process run are the same people who had no problem whatsoever with locking up Jose Padilla - an American citizen - indefintely without ever having access to the courts. Bush said he was guilty and that was good enough for them. Now, Murtha says they are guilty and all of a sudden they have discovered the "due process" clause.

Hypocrites.


 
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
mkultra

You Are Wrong.

This is first and foremost a libertarian blog. And most of the regular denizens here would not restrict Murtha’s free speech. Calling him on it, however, is our free speech. If it furnishes propaganda aid to our enemies it’s consequences might go a little further than calling attention to someone’s voting record 60 days prior to an election that the Incumbent Protection Act (McCainiac-FoolsGold).

I personally think he is maneuvering for political advantage by getting "face time" and counting on the public to never notice if the findings of the investigation don’t lead to any charges. It will be a few months and will never be brought up by the Main Stream Media Party if charges aren’t filed. If it lasts long enough only his opponent for November will bring it up and then we will hear about "ongoing investigation". So it is pretty much a win-win for him either way. A little sound and fury now may smudge his face time by the election but most voters won’t remember it, just that he was "tellin’ truth to Power" a few months ago. They’ll never even remember what it was about.
 
Written By: Richard
URL: http://soslies.blogspot.com
So now we have a politican exercising his right to free speech and you are upset with him for what? For exercising his right to free speech.
I can disagree with the person while defending his right to say something. Just because you CAN do something does not mean you SHOULD do something. What is going to come from Murtha’s rant? It for sure has been translated and broadcast on Al Jazera. Is that helpful in any way?
 
Written By: meagain
URL: http://
It for sure has been translated and broadcast on Al Jazera. Is that helpful in any way?
What a load.

Yes, it is helpful Meagain. It shows other countries that we permit free speech. That we allow dissent. That we are a democracy. That we do not sweep alleged atrocities by our troops under the rug.

What are we fighting for in Iraq, anyway?

Under your theory, no politican could ever say anything critical of the administration or the war effort or the way in which the war is being conducted. Indeed, since any dissent could be "used" by Al Jazeera, under your theory there could be no dissent.

I mean, what good does it do to put those who were responsible for the abuse at Abu Gharib on trial? After all, it could be broadcast on Al Jazeera. Might as well just let them all go.



 
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
You can have a conversation with my eight year old grandson and get better answers about what free speech is, as from the average adult in the litterbox. Been there, done that, back when I was ignorant, invisible, invulnerable, invincible. Did I say young? The concept doesn’t mean the same thing to them. They actually believe most of what they are told as long as it doesn’t conflict with a known reality. Men with guns? Cold blooded killers? That’s what they’re used to. Standard equipment in most of the militaries in the region, if not the world. Not a stretch to believe it.

Here we know that if American soldiers did it "in cold blood", it is an anomaly, and will be punished, not standard procedure. (As I wrote that I had to consider and dismiss the barking moonbats here that will challenge that statement. I decided that they don’t count in the exchange of ideas because they have never had one they can claim as their own to exchange.)

I still say that if it happened it wasn’t "in cold blood" as Murtha alleges. That is political hyperbole. "Hot blooded" reaction to the death of a comrade? Possible but not quite the same thing. And yes, there is a difference. See differences in sentencing guidelines across the US.
 
Written By: Richard
URL: http://soslies.blogspot.com
Yes, it is helpful Meagain. It shows other countries that we permit free speech. That we allow dissent. That we are a democracy. That we do not sweep alleged atrocities by our troops under the rug
Nice in theory but you know darn well that’s not how it goes off in practice...
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Yes, it is helpful Meagain. It shows other countries that we permit free speech. That we allow dissent.
You mean like they allowed the free speech issue of mohammed cartoons, which actually they did not. I seem to remember you arguing against them being published.

Oh, and accusing someone of a crime without evidence to back it up is called slander (libel when I read it in the paper). Let take a for instance. Lets say I got your name and found that somewhere there was a child sex offender with the same name and said hey it’s the same guy. Then say, I went around telling everyone that MKUltra (or Paul Beneke as some say his name is) is a child molester. Is that free speech? Would you support that? I think not.


I guess free speech is what you define it to be. How wonderful for you.

Like I said to cindy bee, you bozos run around screaming about the horrors of living in a police state completely unaware of the immense contradiction of your core aruments.
 
Written By: capt joe
URL: http://
Nice in theory but you know darn well that’s not how it goes off in practice...
Kind of like our misadventure in Iraq.
Oh, and accusing someone of a crime without evidence to back it up is called slander (libel when I read it in the paper). Let take a for instance. Lets say I got your name and found that somewhere there was a child sex offender with the same name and said hey it’s the same guy. Then say, I went around telling everyone that MKUltra (or Paul Beneke as some say his name is) is a child molester. Is that free speech? Would you support that? I think not.
It is free speech. And I would have a defamation suit. And I would win.

And Murtha probably knows he could be sued. So I imagine he has access to some damming and convincing evidence. Which makes me believe him even more.

So when do you think the involved soldiers are going to sue him?




 
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
I’m suprised we have not had MORE incidents like this seeing as how our troops are being blown up in IED attacks where the natural frustration would take over...
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
Given that Murtha, as a member of the House Military Appropriations Committee, gets 50% more contributions than any other member on the committee from military suppliers, I am left to wonder if one of the military suppliers his brother represents has a better solution to protect from those IEDs that started this mess.

When an "anti-war" Congressman gets lots of campaign money from the Military Industrial Complex, you’ve really have to wonder just what in the world is going on.
 
Written By: Neo
URL: http://
And Murtha probably knows he could be sued.
Actually Murtha knows he can’t be sued:
Furthermore, public organizations and political activists can not be held for libel if they act within the limits of carrying out their official responsibilities. For example, a congressman can not be taken to court if his Capitol address contains slanderous remarks. The law defends the right of politicians and government officials to freely express their thoughts.
So this has nothing to do with him having or not having evidence.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Whether it was a good idea to discuss it publicly as he did, I have no idea. But let’s step back and recall that Murtha does have a lot more internal sources than we do. And the military doesn’t seem to be really pushing back.

If a politician spoke out against My Lai before the investigation had finished based on the internal reports he was getting, I don’t think I’d have had a problem with that. If, at the end of the day, Murtha turns out to have been wrong, castigate him them. In the meantime, consider the possibility that he really does know what we don’t. And if it’s true as alleged, that’s certainly something people ought to speak out against.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
"And the military doesn’t seem to be really pushing back."

Oh yeah.
The military is going to get in a mud-slinging match with a professional.
That is not what they are trained to do. You want to get in the ring with George Forman. Even at his age?
Also a congresscritter can ruin any particular officer’s career just out of spite.
There is also the possibility that he doesn’t know and doesn’t care. Please remember his civil war statements which Ralph Peters (on the ground at the time) disputed with eye-witness testimony.
 
Written By: Richard
URL: http://soslies.blogspot.com
Whether it was a good idea to discuss it publicly as he did, I have no idea. But let’s step back and recall that Murtha does have a lot more internal sources than we do. And the military doesn’t seem to be really pushing back.
That’s because the military isn’t allowed to "push back" by tradition and custom.

This:
"There is an ongoing investigation; therefore, any comment at this time would be inappropriate and could undermine the investigatory and possible legal process."
... constitutes about has hard as the military can push.
If a politician spoke out against My Lai before the investigation had finished based on the internal reports he was getting, I don’t think I’d have had a problem with that. If, at the end of the day, Murtha turns out to have been wrong, castigate him them. In the meantime, consider the possibility that he really does know what we don’t. And if it’s true as alleged, that’s certainly something people ought to speak out against.
And that assumes that getting it out is more important than waiting until the investigation is complete and the whole story can be told.

Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t buy it.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
You don’t think Murtha’s comments were helpful?

Did you miss the part where the Marines attempted to cover up this story once?

I’d say Murtha is providing a service. Serving notice that a second coverup is not going to be acceptable.

Here’s a novel idea. Rather than getting your panties in a wad over what Murtha said why not try to muster up at least a little huff over the military trying (and failing this time, but it’s likely worked well in the past) to cover up some pretty heinous war crimes?

 
Written By: davebo
URL: http://
"Please remember his civil war statements which Ralph Peters (on the ground at the time) disputed with eye-witness testimony. "

You’ve got to be joking right? Or have you forgotten already what happened in Iraq the very week that Peters was telling us how swell things were.

Of course, Reed isn’t the only one guilty of disseminating fairy tails
 
Written By: davebo
URL: http://
Here’s a novel idea. Rather than getting your panties in a wad over what Murtha said why not try to muster up at least a little huff over the military trying (and failing this time, but it’s likely worked well in the past) to cover up some pretty heinous war crimes?
So, Davebo, you’re absolutly positive it went down like Murtha said, right?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog

 
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