I meant to post about this last week when Murtha was making the rounds but I got caught up in other things. Yeah, it’s awful and par for the course that he’d pronounce the Marines guilty before the investigation is complete; and yeah, no one’s surprised that he’d exploit the incident to promote a pullout. But it rubbed me the wrong way to watch righty bloggers go ballistic on Murtha while dismissing the underlying allegations with a perfunctory “these are serious charges.” I’m not accusing anyone of not caring, mind you; this is Hot Air, not the Daily Dish. I’m just saying that it’s bad form to kill the messenger when serious malfeasance might be afoot. Not unlike how lefties reacted to the Swift Vets, to take a more benign example.

Anyway, the Pentagon briefed Congress on the matter yesterday. And … it doesn’t look good.

As this unfolds, military officials say they fear “Haditha” will come to mean what “My Lai” — the massacre of Vietnamese civilians American troops in 1968 — meant for an earlier generation…

Although the investigation is not complete, the Pentagon has already briefed key members of Congress on the details of the investigation. After a briefing on Thursday, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee John Warner told reporters, “there are established facts that incidents of a very serious nature did take place.”…

Sources familiar with the investigation say another group of Marines who came on the scene shortly after the killings took photographs of the dead Iraqis. Those photos were seized by military criminal investigators just before those Marines finished their tour of duty in Iraq in early April. Sources familiar with the photos say they show people shot at close range.

Marine Corps Times has a report, too.

Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, who was also briefed on the reports, said his committee will hold hearings on the incident after lawmakers return from their Memorial Day recess.

Hunter was matter-of-fact about the reports’ contents.

“It is not good,” he said. “Let the chips fall where they may.”

Gen. Michael Hagee, the Corps’s commandant, takes it seriously enough that he flew to Iraq last night to remind Marines that human life isn’t cheap and lethal force isn’t always necessary. Gulp.

We’ll be hearing more about this story — check that; we’ll be hearing nothing but this story — for months to come. Stay tuned.

Update: The LA Times cites military officials as saying the investigation is over. And they’re guilty.

Update: The Commissar feels sick.

Update: Confederate Yankee feels sick, too — not just over what apparently happened, but at the fact that some leftists are gloating over it. Do what I do, Bob: lower your expectations of them to zero and they’ll never let you down.

Update: Rusty asks, “What do you do with a messenger who has an agenda?”

Update: The Commissar responds to Confederate Yankee and Rusty:

This story is not about Murtha, nor his detractors. (Personally, I never mentioned Murtha’s comments on this.) The Haditha story is a tragedy for the victims and their families. It is another tragedy for the people of Iraq, as the blowback from this story will play into the terrorists’ hands. It is a tragedy for the armed forces of the United States, who will be tarred by the actions of a few. It is a tragedy for the people of the United States, as it will help inflame global terrorists; our own security is weaker today due to this story.

Update: Hot Air’s own Bryan Preston weighs in below.

Update: Left-leaning blogger David Anderson of In Search of Utopia says he’s not going to politicize the incident. Good to know there’s someone across the aisle who won’t.

Update: Jon Henke says it’s hard to tell how much damage this will do to the U.S., but Captain Ed despairs:

This makes me physically ill. We can say it happens in every war, and that would be accurate, but it doesn’t excuse it in the least. Our military has the reputation of high discipline and morale, and 99.9% of our troops live up to that standard. As with Abu Ghraib, only on a much less serious scale, the actions of one undisciplined unit will reflect horribly on those who have done their best to protect Iraqi civilians, especially the children. Those 99.9% of our troops provide the best possible security for the United States. If these men turn out to be war criminals of the most despicable variety, they will have damaged the work done by our armed forces immeasurably.

Update: The Times of London claims to have an interview with a ten-year-old girl who survived the incident. It’s horrendous.

Update: Dan Riehl keeps things in perspective.

Update: Michelle says things look bad, but reminds us that Marines have been falsely accused before.