Thursday, December 21, 2006

The Haditha Incident Back in the News

The Haditha incident has disappeared from news for some months. The North County Times, a newspaper not far from Camp Pendleton in San Diego County has the story:
The Marine Corps is charging the squad leader for a group of Camp Pendleton troops tied to the shooting deaths of 24 Iraqi civilians in the city of Haditha last year with multiple counts of unpremeditated murder.

At least two other Marines are also facing charges, but it is unclear at this hour if others will be charged. Neal Puckett, the attorney for Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich, said at about 11 a.m. this morning that his client is being charged with 12 counts of murder plus one count of murdering six others by ordering his troops to shoot and ask questions later.

In a war without clear battlefront lines and often without clear enemies, Iraqi noncombatants are going to be killed. It is important to remember that we imposed ourselves in Iraq and although our troops are usually doing the best they can, we are responsible for noncombatant deaths and it appears there have been a considerable number over three and a half years. And incidents like Haditha are going to happen. The lawyers for the defendents have argued that the deaths at Haditha were combat related but charges are being pressed. You don't press charges unless clear lines have been crossed. The defendants will have their day in court.

The longer soldiers remain in the field, the greater the chance that discipline will break down. That is partly what is meant when generals talk about the wheels coming off the military. Increasing the number of our soldiers in Iraq simply by requiring that rotations be extended within Iraq is not a good idea, particularly if the White House continues to be vague about what we are trying to accomplish at this late date, after earlier justifications for the war have crumbled.

After four years of being obsessed with Iraq, George W. Bush still does not have a rational plan for an exit.

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Blogger Tom Hilton said...

Meanwhile, a whole bunch of right-wing bloggers have taken up the cause of the Haditha defendants--the 'Pendleton 8'. There's a defense fund and everything. The pretext is 'everybody deserves a fair trial' and such, but it isn't hard to see what their real angle is: they don't think killing Iraqis is wrong. Period. And not surprisingly, these are by and large the same bloggers who have adopted the Kurtz solution ('exterminate all the brutes') as the way to victory in Iraq.

5:15 PM  
Blogger Craig said...

Tom, thanks for the comments. I hadn't known they were using the term, the "Pendleton 8." I've known Marines in the Pendleton area (and around El Toro) since the 1960s and they're generally solid people. But there's a difficult situation that goes beyond Haditha. The smarter officers know they have a problem (as well as the older noncoms). I hope they can get it under control but it may take time and the right wing blogs aren't helping. I strongly suspect Murtha knows things he's not at liberty to discuss. Suffice to say, we need to get out of Iraq.

1:49 AM  

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