What would the world...what would America...be like without the New York Times? On page A20 of today's paper, the Times reports on remarks made yesterday by the President and the First Lady at Fort Bragg (the full remarks are here at the White House website). I'll have a little more on these later.
But on the front page is this story: "Junkyard Gives Up Secret Accounts of Massacre." Here's the lede:
One by one, the Marines sat down, swore to tell the truth and began to give secret interviews discussing one of the most horrific episodes of America’s time in Iraq: the 2005 massacre by Marines of Iraqi civilians in the town of Haditha.
The rest of the piece...let me put it this way...is something the late unindicted ABSCAM conspirator and corrupt Democrat congresscritter Jack Murtha would approve of as it could have been written by his former congressional staff. The article is a blatant hit job intended to disgrace our troops as they are leaving Iraq, even as the Times reports on the President's praise of our warriors...19 pages later. Even with all that, the piece notes that of the eight individuals that were charged for committing this "massacre", six had their charges dropped, one was acquitted, and one (Sgt. Frank Wuterich; his name is not mentioned in the piece) who is still awaiting trial (after six years).
The Times provides a 20-page PDF of some of the interviews (many are incomplete). The Times uses some scattered parts of several interviews to paint how our troops were just inhuman monsters with a lot of anecdotal information about other incidents outside of what happened at Haditha. For what happened at Haditha itself, this short summary is provided in the middle of the piece:
That morning, a military convoy of four vehicles was heading to an outpost in Haditha when one of the vehicles was hit by a roadside bomb.
Several Marines got out to attend to the wounded, including one who eventually died, while others looked for insurgents who might have set off the bomb. Within a few hours 24 Iraqis — including a 76-year-old man and children between the ages of 3 and 15 — were killed, many inside their homes.
Townspeople contended that the Marines overreacted to the attack and shot civilians, only one of whom was armed. The Marines said they thought they were under attack.
That's it. No new facts about what happened during the encounter. And despite quotes from several interviews, they didn't bother pulling quotes from this key interview of one Col. Davis on pages 13 and 14 of the PDF:
Q. But here you've got specific allegations, whatever the source, however suspect--however suspicious you are of the source, that your Marines killed guys in ways that they shouldn't have killed them.
A. I asked my, my Judge Advocate, my PAO, "Okay, what do we have here? All right. Let's go back and review the story boards." We reviewed the story boards, talked to Chessani, there is no meat here. If I am not mistaken, McGirk's [ed. note - Time magazine's Tim McGirk, who wrote the first hit piece on Haditha] allegations are that he had been contacted by the Mayor of Haditha, that the Americans had slaughtered people and that there was a video of that. Now I have never seen this video but I've been told it's films of the deceased in a morgue or something along that line. Haditha is a special place for the insurgents. It was the center of their information operations, operations. When we did Operation River Gate we overran a facility, captured it, ten stack computers, each one capable of producing ten CD's simultaneously. So if you have a beheading, and IED incident, within ten minutes you get 100 CDs out in the sukes. And this is all part of the murder intimidation campaign. We to this day don't know why, outside of the obvious strategic nature of Haditha, why Haditha is so important to the enemy. I mean, it figures
greatly in their history, the revolt against the British of 1920. Quite clearly, it is very strategic terrain for them for other than just the geographic reasons. They don't want us in that town. We are well aware of that. The Mayor, if he is not an insurgent himself, he is clearly an insurgent sympathizer, which Colonel Chessani dealt with routinely through out that time. In my mind this was all part of a play. They could not get what they wanted through Chessani, this was never hidden, this was never covered up, so they go outside to let the press come in and try to work it as an angle to move us out of there.
Q. Yeah, and again, to tag along on that thought, just common sense tells me that, you know, I am very suspicious of these allegations based on the source of the allegations. But, my first response would be, "Okay, we need to know, no kidding, what happened down there so that we can respond."
A. I never felt that we didn't know what happened down there.
The remainder of the interview with Col. Davis has to do with a report he hadn't yet read, and then the rest of the interview is cut off.
What's striking is how the Times piece avoids mentioning how the Marines on the ground knew Haditha was a hotbed of terrorist activity, with even the mayor of the town being referred to as, at best, a sympathizer. Yet reading the account in today's piece, it's as if the Marines were engaging in some kind of serious police matter instead of a battle with terrorists that started with an IED explosion that killed one Marine and wounded several others, as this 2007 CNN story confirms.
The reporter does manage to get this in a few paragraphs later, to continue their portrayal of how bloodthirsty the Marines were:
When Marines arrived on the scene to assess the number of dead bodies, at least one Marine thought it would be a good time to take pictures for his own keeping.
“I know I had one Marine who was taking pictures just to take pictures and I told him to delete all those pictures,” testified a first lieutenant identified as M. D. Frank.
This is how the New York Times wants people to remember the war in Iraq, with smears and deliberately misleading information.
As far as I'm concerned, Barack Obama did much to undermine the war effort while he was a U.S. Senator from Illinois. Via Jim Hoft in 2006, then-Senator Obama backed up Murtha's slandering of the Marines regarding Haditha. Since I've never been a soldier, I can't tell how his remarks from yesterday will be taken by those who have served. From the point of view of this non-soldier, there just seems to be something wrong with the whole situation.
Reading through his speech, there was no mention of President Bush or all those Democrats, or anyone else in Congress, who voted to send the troops. There was a slight reference to Saddam Hussein, but not even by name. Obama's speech hit all the right notes, was respectful of the troops and their bravery; but, like I said, it just seemed wrong. I don't know how else to put it.
Cross-posted at Scipio the Metalcon.