In a column posted at Real Clear Politics, former Deputy Undersecretary of Defense Jed Babbin offers some valuable thoughts on the growing media frenzy over Haditha, and its long-erm consequences for our military.
As Mr. Babbin reminds us, we still don't officially know what happened in that day in Haditha, despite the rush to judgment by anti-war politicians (paging Jack Murtha) and the MSM. Moreover, it is completely inappropriate for senior U.S. officials to speculate on the investigation and its potential outcome; if they offer their thoughts or opinions on the matter, they could be accused of exerting "command influence" on the case, and provide possible legal grounds for dismissal of charges against anyone implicated in the incident. Unfortunately, that legal requirement won't satisfy the media, which is already talking about a Pentagon "cover-up."
Ham-strung by a slow military investigative and judicial process, the Bush Administration has been forced to cede the field to the anti-war left, which (as Babbin notes) will attempt to make Haditha the defining moment of the Iraq War. Think "Abu Ghraib times 10" and you'll get some idea of the media and political firestorm that is now erupting. Never mind the fact that U.S. atrocities in Iraq have been few and far between (even Abu Ghraib was ultimately revealed as the misdeeds of a small band of poorly trained military prison guards); or that our military routinely investigates even minor allegations of misconduct on the battlefield--while our enemies celebrate and revere the killing of innocents.
Ultimately, as Babbin reminds us, all of our military personnel will be affected--to some degree--by the events at Haditha. But there is also a responsibility to minimize that damage, to avoid tarring those men (and women) who serve bravely and honorably.
"Just as the few disgraced the many at Abu Ghraib, the very few who may have committed murder in Haditha will place a burden on the shoulders of every soldier, sailor, airman, marine and coast guardsman fighting terrorism. Each of us has a duty to not add to that burden, and to help relieve it as well. If those few Marines killed innocents in Haditha, their conduct is an aberration, not the norm. It is up to each one of us to ensure that the events of Haditha do not tarnish the brave and selfless service of the many who came before, or any who come after. Except for the aberrant few, the Marines are always faithful to America. In times such as this, we cannot fail to be faithful to them."
Sadly, such lessons are completely lost on members of the Murtha caucus and their allies in the press.
One thing that upsets me about the Haditha incident is how it is blown beyond its proper proportion. Yes, there apparently was something terrible going on there regardless of Marine involvement. We have over a dozen dead civilians. That is terrible and it is a damned shame and if any of our people caused intentionally, then let justice be done ... BUT
Where is the outrage when 40 civilians are killed by people who AREN'T Americans? Are you somehow "deader" if you are killed as a result of a US operation? There are people over there that intentionally attack civilians every single day and in numbers that make Haditha look like a good day.
Other than the obligatory remarks, I see no sense of real outrage from our press at the people who commit atrocities of Haditha scale and larger day in and day out.
I see no concerted effort by all major media to expose and condemn the animals that slaughter innocent women and children every day. If they spent as many hours on digging into stories of the insurgents and exposing them to the light of the media as they do criticizing our own, the world might be a better place.
The media is lazy. While that rationalize their actions with slogans such as "America must be held to a higher standard", dozens of people die a quiet and unreported death. Apparently this is because Americans didn't directly kill them so that makes it okay.
I despise the double standard.
I'm sympathetic to the argument that we should let the Military Justice system work, but there has to be more transparancy after 6 months post incident. After that long, Murtha gets credit for trying to 'save' an investigation that may or may not have been covered up. I'm all for thoroughness but the wheels have to be seen to be turning.
It appears that the investigation wasn't even started until a good long while after the incident. As far as I can tell, senior commanders in the unit had never even heard of the incident which seams reasonable considering all that was going on there that day. Another unit was engaged in a firefight for a good part of the day only 600 yards up the road. The commander said nothing every came up about it in meetings with the locals after that day.
Also, some information concerning the reporter who provided some of the information seems a bit troubling. The guy had apparently spent a good deal of time in detention for filming insurgent propaganda.
The current investigation is the military equal to a grand jury. We will see if they recommend charges. It appears that evidence on both sides of the issue is still developing.
My gut tells me that if a unit of Marines wanted to go on a rampage, they could have done a whole lot more damage considering the firepower at their disposal.
"Just as the few disgraced the many at Abu Ghraib, the very few who may have committed murder in Haditha will place a burden on the shoulders of every soldier, sailor, airman, marine and coast guardsman fighting terrorism....."
I wonder why people don't use this logic for what few crazy terrorists did in Sep 11. and tend to generalize it to all middle east Muslims.
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