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Haditha: Another example (Duke Rape case) where the narrative was right, but the facts didn’t support it
Posted by: McQ on Friday, October 19, 2007

The Wall Street Journal does a fine job of wrapping up the Haditha incident. It's worth the read. But despite its recounting of the incident and the details surrounding it as well as the outcome of the investigations and the fact that murder charges were dropped against all of the Marines, the most important part of the article was to be found in the last few paragraphs:
At Haditha, did the Marines act reasonably and appropriately based on their training? They were in a hostile combat situation where deadly force was authorized against suspected triggermen for the IED, and were ordered to assault a suspected insurgent hideout. In retrospect, the men in the car had no weapons or explosives; in retrospect, the people in the house were not insurgents. No one knew at the time.

Innocents were killed at Haditha, as they inevitably are in all wars—though that does not excuse or justify wrongdoing. Yet neither was Haditha the atrocity or "massacre" that many assumed—though errors in judgment may well have been committed. And while some violent crimes have been visited on civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan, overall the highly disciplined U.S. military has conducted itself in an exemplary fashion. When there have been aberrations, the services have typically held themselves accountable.

The same cannot be said of the political and media classes. Many, including Members of Congress, were looking for another moral bonfire to discredit the cause in Iraq, and they found a pretext in Haditha. The critics rushed to judgment; facts and evidence were discarded to fit the antiwar template.

Most despicably, they created and stoked a political atmosphere that exposes American soldiers in the line of duty, risking and often losing their lives, to criminal liability for the chaos of war. This is the deepest shame of Haditha, and the one for which apologies ought to be made.
The "template" or narrative drove the reaction. John Murtha had been claiming the military was 'broken' and under great stress. This incident fit that template perfectly, and Murtha (and others) wasted no time in assuming "facts" not in evidence and judging that the Marines were cold-blooded murderers because of the narrative he wanted believed.

I'll be on WRKO's Pundit Review Radio Sunday at 7pm (out of Boston, 680am if you're in the area or you can get it through internet streaming) participating in the first interview CPL Justin Sharatt has given about the incident. We've spoken to Justin's father Darryl a couple of times, but this will be the first time Justin has spoken out (and if I'm not mistaken he's out of the Marine Corps now). It should be an interesting show. The irony of all this is Sharatt's congressional Rep is the one and only John Murtha.
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Previous Comments to this Post 

Countdown to Erb appearing to try to convince us that the narrative IS correct, and we’re just being blind/emotional/naive/willfully ignorant and oh yes, we can’t win in Iraq to boot!

Written By: shark
URL: http://
The same cannot be said of the political and media classes. Many, including Members of Congress, were looking for another moral bonfire to discredit the cause in Iraq, and they found a pretext in Haditha. The critics rushed to judgment; facts and evidence were discarded to fit the antiwar template.
I think they left one group out—one which you alluded to in your headline—academics. Like Shark, I too await the arrival of the local academic.
Written By: tom scott
URL: http://
And you can’t claim "all the news that’s fit to print" when you neglect to notice that an American soldier in Iraq just won the Medal of Honor. In the old days, if the Times didn’t cover it, it didn’t happen. That insulation is long gone: if the Times doesn’t cover it, the blogosphere will —
Written By: Neo
URL: http://
Boris is still too tied up trying to dissemble his way out of the global warming thread to beat a quick path over here to reassure everyone that John Murtha was perfectly justified to declare the Marines guilty of cold blooded murder before any of the facts were examined.

Over in the global warming thread he’s defending that as the "precautionary principle."
Written By: Martin McPhillips
It’s suspect, lalalalalala, failed Iraq, quagmire, telling you since before the war, we don’t understand international...blah blah blah, degrading the US image in the eyes of the world, lessening our international standing, soon to be a second rate power, etc etc etc.

All bases covered?
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Nope, you forgot ’if we’d only listen to Jimmy Carter....’
Written By: Joel C.
URL: http://

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