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Keeping Haditha in perspective
Posted by: McQ on Wednesday, June 07, 2006

In a blog entry entitled "Hijacking Haditha" Michael Yon provides some much needed perspective to those who would narrowly focus on the alleged events there without understanding what troops are faced with daily and how, in the vast majority of cases, they react to the violence of Iraq:
Few people know what happened last November in Haditha. I first heard about it when the Associated Press called to ask if I was present. The answer was “no.” But I do know how our troops typically act on counterinsurgency missions, how surprisingly honest they can be about mistakes they make in the field, and the lengths to which they go to avoid collateral civilian injuries when on patrol and conducting raids and ambushes.
Read it. Remember it as the feeding frenzy concerning Haditha builds politically and in the press. Remember that no one is condoning murder if that's in fact what happened. Nor is anyone saying that punishment isn't appropriate if indeed that is what is proven in a court martial.

But, as Yon eloquently points out, it is not the way we do business. If what is alleged in Haditha happened as it is purported to have happened, it was wrong and it should be punished. However this insane attempt by many of the war's critics to use it as an excuse to indict the senior leadership and allege they are responsible for creating the atmosphere in which the incident occurred is simply wrong.

And that is the value of Yon's piece. It makes the point in a very convincing way. Yes, civilians are accidentally killed in Iraq. But not as a matter of policy or at the behest of leadership. And every occurrance is tragic and regrettable. But no one in leadership is out there doing a "wink, wink, nudge, nudge" concerning the deaths of civilians and they're certainly not condoning murder.

We need to keep Yon's piece in mind in the next few months as the rhetoric concerning Haditha ramps up to the level of absurdity. He provides an important on-the-ground perspective which lends balance and context to what happened in Haditha. Most importantly, it also helps us understand that Haditha is an anomaly, and not the way we wage war.
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Previous Comments to this Post 

What I mainly find disturbing about Haditha to me are the indications that the military would not have known about it or investigated it were it not for Time magazine’s inquiries. Because of the safety concerns, journalists have a hard time operating in Iraq; yet it seems we must depend on them to keep an eye on our forces.

Written By: Mithras
So what you’re trying to imply Mithras is the only thing keeping our Military from raising the place is the press. Back in your hole.
Written By: coaster
URL: http://
So what you’re trying to imply Mithras is the only thing keeping our Military from raising the place is the press.
That’s not what he implied at all. He made the perfectly reasonable point that a free press can conduct oversight where the government will not — or can ensure that the government does.

If we believe that a free press is necessary to ensure good government, how much more important is that oversight of the free press when the agents of governments have guns and are empowered to kill people?
Written By: Jon Henke
More like laying the ground work before pulling out the broad brush. The Military has included the press in the whole affair and now that they uncovered a wart they are the only over sight. Give me a break. How many investigative reports have been shelved because they were unfounded?? I guess will never know.
Written By: coaster
URL: http://
Do we have a free press if the Marines are paying the price for this?
The press is not free when it is captive to partisan ends.
Slightly off topic and really pertains more to the post on Pentagon Withdraws from Geneva Convention. I think all of this is being driven by the relentless attacks of Muslim organizations to control the argument. From the Burger King swirl, the Mohammed cartoons, the Koran flushing, etc., and this.
That humiliation and degradation clause is going to be a pernicious thorn in our side until it is discarded for good.

Written By: tom scott
URL: http://
We have to keep things in context, and remember we most often hear about the exceptions, and not the majority.,,542-2212203,00.html
American stumbling on the rough road since 2001 has played some part. Yet had there, inconceivably, been no wrong steps, had America been positively obsequious in courting international support (and it has done more on that score than its critics admit), anti-Americanism would still be on the rise. The US is never less popular than when it is aroused and determined in defence of democratic freedoms, never less trusted than when the world is most reliant on its unmatched ability to project power.


Better than most, Muslims understand why Islamist terrorism is war at its unholiest, an existential threat to societies. Iraqis may resent occupation, but they fear a weakening of US resolve. Their fears should be ours. Were it to become politically impossible for a president to keep America’s forces engaged from its shores, then the backbone of international security would be broken. America-bashing may be a popular sport, but its adherents prefer not to contemplate its consequences.
Written By: Keith, Indy
URL: http://
Do we have a free press if the Marines are paying the price for this?
Yes. "Free press" does not imply "press with which I agree".
Written By: Jon Henke
"Free press" does not imply "press with which I agree".
No does it imply responsibility or even morality...
Written By: shark
URL: http://
So Jon, you think that Iraqi’s bound and shot execution style by insurgents and then the photo is labeled the work of the US Marines and offered to the world is just OK as long as you can disagree? Eff’n weak.
The watch dog has morphed into a lap dog.
Written By: tom scott
URL: http://
I fail to see how you think it could be otherwise. What, do you think cartoonists ought to be prevented by law from drawing pictures of dead people based on incorrectly labeled photos?

When did "I disagree, but I will defend to the death your right to say it" turn into "down with the free press"?
Written By: Jon Henke
Yes. "Free press" does not imply "press with which I agree".
So Jon, Pravda was a free press. I think that a press shackled by ideology and partisanship is no freer than a Pravda shackled by a government. Both are prisoners-one to a government and the other to ideology.
I am not saying "down with free press." I am questioning your version of what a free press is. When it is as dishonest as the photos and cartoon were it is as much a prisoner as Pravda was.
And while I am here I’d like to endorse this defense of Gerard Baker of the Times over at Mudville Gazette. I do believe that it was done by a lower level employee and zealot but I’ll wait and see.
Written By: tom scott
URL: http://
But, as Yon eloquently points out, it is not the way we do business.
Unfortunately, McQ, there are quite a few Americans who believe that we do “do business” that way. Indeed, there’s at least one sitting U. S. Senator who built his career on the claim that our military operates (or, at least, operated) in just that way. Which lends credence to the claim.

What do Europeans, presumed allies, believe? I think there are lots of them who believe that we’re engaging in a genocidal war, killing indiscriminately. I’ve read enough claims along those lines from European bloggers and received enough comments to that effect from Europeans on my own blog to know that there are at least some who do.

Here are some translations of what people in the Arabic-speaking world are reading about our military.

What you and I both believe with absolute conviction, unfortunately, probably doesn’t matter that much. I don’t think we can win a propaganda war without controlling the battlespace and I don’t see us as willing to do that.
Written By: Dave Schuler
I BELIEVE the investigation was initiated BY THE US ARMY, Mithras, NOT Time Magazine. Upon receiving complaints from Iraqis and believing that the Marine statements were not entirely credible the Army, in the form of a O-5/6 initiated an investigation.

This ain’t Vietnam, this ain’t My Lai and Time ain’t Seymour Hersh, Mithras, so let’s retire our Vietnam era MYTHS to the grave, because MYTHS they were, then and now....
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
From the Time cover story (requires watching an ad):

Nov. 20, 2005: U.S. Marines spokesman Captain Jeffrey Pool issues the military’s first official report on the incident, noting that "a U.S. Marine and 15 Iraqi civilians were killed yesterday from the blast of a roadside bomb." The same day, Haditha journalism student Taher Thabet videotapes the scene at the homes where the killings had occurred and at the local morgue


December 2005: The U.S. military pays $2,500 per victim to families of 15 of the dead Iraqis. A U.S. officer, Major Dana Hyatt, later confirms he gave out a total of $38,000

January 2006: TIME’s Tim McGirk obtains a copy of Thabet’s videotape from the Hammurabi human-rights group


Feb. 10, 2006: After gathering witnesses’ reports, TIME presents Iraqi accounts of the killings to Colonel Barry Johnson, chief military spokesman in Baghdad

Feb. 14, 2006: Lieut. General Peter Chiarelli, commander of U.S.-led forces in Iraq, orders a preliminary investigation by Gregory Watt, an Army colonel in Baghdad

March 3, 2006: Watt concludes that the Marines may have acted inappropriately. He recommends a further investigation
Or from the LA Times:
Once Time magazine began investigating the Nov. 19 incident, the Marine Corps launched its own probe, which led to a more comprehensive inquiry by a two-star Army general.

The report from his inquiry, dealing with issues of a possible coverup and "chain of command failure," is to be delivered within days to Army Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli, the top operational commander in Iraq, for his review and recommendations.
The fact is, the top brass would never had known that something bad happened there were it not for Time’s investigation.
Written By: Mithras
I am not sure if I get it right...but there is nothing to debate about Hadith. It was probably the cruellest thing American soldiers ever did. Executing children and women, bullets in their heads from close range...

there is nothing to debate

Huge shame of the US Army

morally unacceptable, totally unacceptable
Written By: krisson
URL: http://
I started on this several years ago when the MSM had an earlier feeding frenzy over American military operations.

To my knowledge Nato has never released the Serbian civlian death toll. It is merely an oversight or something Nato has no desire to release.

Here is an excellent feeding frenzy for the MSM.
Twenty eight days of bombing should have caused
some casulaties. Another area the MSM has no interest in publicizing?

Written By: Ben There
URL: http://

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