Haditha Untold

Friday, February 15, 2008


The story of Haditha is one of a massacre of Iraqi civilians at the hands of American Marines, a low point among low points of the War in Iraq. That was the first draft. However, two of the Marines are about to face Courts Martial. And the defense will try to prove that while the results were horrifying, Marines acted within the rules of engagement. OTM talks with the director of Frontline's new special.

Comments [6]

kb from Middle East

Contrary to the assertions of America-hating ideologues, the vindication of the falsely accused Marines will occur not as a result of some Naziesque, extraConstitutional defense argument, but rather as a result of the introduction of factual evidence at court-martial that the Marines in Haditha properly engaged insurgents who were attempting to kill them in a populated, urban setting. Under the Law of Armed Conflict (LOAC), the actual war crime in this event was the use of human shields by combatant insurgents, not the false accusations of summary execution. Vocal, partisan leftists like Paulie Turdal and Lizzie Dyck don't care much about the facts or the law; they simply buy any story, regardless of its veracity, if it reflects their own agenda in condemning our military. The media's "first draft" on Haditha is an ample example of that, and they were happily satisfied that it fueled their outrage. Unfortunately, the media's "second draft" on Haditha, which is a misleading, agenda-driven condemnation of the military justice process, will similarly ignore the actual facts that vindicate the Marines. This "second draft," which will wrongfully attribute vindication by highlighting some Naziesque, extraConstitutional argument offered by the defense as an alternative theory of the case, will support the anti-military bias of America-hating leftists by providing the outrage they seek in a fresh condemnation of the military and its assertedly unbalanced justice system.

Mar. 31 2008 04:17 AM
Jim Graves from Colorado

Terdel cleverly uses loaded words and terms like "innocent civilians", "unarmed civilians", "just following orders" (always good to compare people you don't like to NAZIs) and "executed" to frame this as a crime.
Why bother with evidence and a fair trial, let’s just hang ‘em.

Some were innocent, some were not. It is clear that the Marines were in fact fired on by small arms from at least three of the four houses that were assaulted.

Right after the story broke in there was an interesting interview of a young girl who survived from the first house. She stated she knew something was going to happen and that before the IED explosion she had covered her ears.

She had to be pretty close to the person who was holding the command detonator to know when to cover up!

"Unarmed civilians": Not quite. Weapons were recovered from the fourth house and real-time UAV photos show armed Iraq terrorists moving away from the buildings as the Marines moved into them.

"Execution" implies that the Marines knew there were women and kids in the room, that they had time to line them up and shoot them down. That's clearly not what happened as the physical evidence documented by the NCIS disputes that claim.

The “just following orders” argument Terdel trots out is odious and just a despicable attempt to smear the Marines. Shades of the 60s.

The two Marines going to court-martial will be found not guilty of manslaughter because what happened was tragic but not a crime.

Feb. 28 2008 04:03 AM
Chris Gray from New Haven, CT

Staff Sgt. Wuterich comes from Waterbury, thus, we in Connecticut get double the minutes devoted to this case in our media than others around the country though, by no means, does that mean double the quality of coverage.

From what I can gather, the poor reporting on this incident began with the Marines and that poor reporting snowballed.

As I wrote on January 31, “This war has its own atrocities associated with it, but we should steel ourselves to realize that if we put people in untenable positions hell breaks loose and none of us is in a position to say that we didn’t put these soldiers in such circumstances.” Still, the authors of this ill-conceived, poorly trained for, inadequately staffed and equipped for war have once again found a patsy nearly as hapless as Lee Oswald to lay the blame on for the foreseeable tragedy at Haditha. Yet, they are the most culpable.
Which reminds me, who do you think had that conversation with Jack Ruby for which a transcript was revealed in Dallas this week? I vote for George H. W. Bush.
While working at the Yale Co-op, every day for several years I was greeted by a larger than life photo of Poppy, as the Captain of the schools baseball team, hung in our lobby and I couldn’t help but imagine what he would have looked like worked over as Oswald was the morning of his murder.

Feb. 20 2008 12:55 AM

Oh, so it's not the media's fault for fundamentally misreporting the events in Haditha as a massacre, it's not Jon Murtha's fault for calling the Marines "cold-blooded killers," and perhaps the first draft of history is "not so wrong after all," in the words of the interviewer.

It's all the fault of the "rules of engagement," huh. That seems like a convenient place to lay the blame.

Yep, that's got to be it. Perhaps we should get the staff at NPR together with Paul Tyrdal and Elizabeth Dyck. I'm sure that this group would be fully qualified to rewrite rules of engagement so that, in the midst of war, civilians are never killed.

Perhaps you can get members of the Mahdi Army and Al-Qaeda in Iraq to sign on to these rules. I would think that would solve the problem nicely.

Feb. 18 2008 01:23 PM
Elizabeth Dyck from Bainbridge, NY

I'm gald I read Paul Terdal's comment before writing this, because at least now I know that I am not alone in finding the thrust of your story untenable--especially when I contrast it to the next story on the coverage of Hillary Clinton. In that other story, your guest said she evaluated what happened to the Clintons against what would have happened if the Obamas had been targeted as "pimping out" members of their family. How about doing the same for the people of Iraq? What would Americans' reaction be if under a state of siege their neighbors had been shot to death in their beds--their friends--husbands, wives and children? For whatever reason--mistakenly, in bad judgment, "following the rules of engagement," in revenge for a comrade's death, for fun, under orders? The point is there is no justification for these actions or others that have taken place in Iraq. There is no justification for killing innocent people. What remains is for justice to be done, and for the United States to get out of the business of deciding when and where it is "okay" to kill. Unless justice is done, the untold story of Haditha will be the same old story--there is one standard of conduct to be used with Americans and another for all those other folks "who really aren't like us and really aren't, well, people."

Feb. 17 2008 08:17 AM
Paul Terdal from Portland, Oregon

As the "Haditha Untold" story explains, the Marines weren't exonerated because they didn't kill innocent civilians, they were exonerated because they were "just following orders" and acting within the rules of engagement when they went into a series of private civilian residents and shot 20 unarmed civilians to death, including children in their pajamas.
Regardless of the decision by the Marine's own court marshal process, executing unarmed civilians - especially children - is a war crime, and "rules of engagement" or "just following orders" is no more of an excuse now than it was in the Nuremberg trials. We need to follow the chain of command to fix the problem - by prosecuting the senior officers who issued those orders, or correcting the rules of engagement to ensure that we don't do this again.
If the media has failed us, it isn't in failing to broadcast these Marines' innocence - it is in failing to follow up to the next step and ask how we Americans got into the business of authorizing the intentional massacre of unarmed children at point blank range through overly broad "rules of engagement."
Aside from the utter immorality of these rules, we can't win in Iraq and Afghanistan by slaughtering the civilians. America's power and influence in the world comes more from its' position on the moral high ground than from economic or military might - and conduct like that at Haditha is far more devastating to America than anything Al Qaeda could possibly home to do to us.

Feb. 16 2008 10:32 PM

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