Allegedly, and then burned her body to destroy the evidence. Five stand accused, and according to a source, one of them’s confessed. Good Christ.

They’re from Tucker’s and Menchaca’s regiment. The timeline isn’t crystal clear, but it sounds like it happened before the two were kidnapped:

The official said the killings appear to be unrelated to the kidnappings but that a soldier felt compelled to report the killings after his fellow soldiers’ bodies were found.

The killings appeared to have been a “crime of opportunity,” the official said. The soldiers had not been attacked by insurgents but had noticed the woman on previous patrols.

Whom to blame? Bush, obviously — the placing of panties on a detainee’s head at Abu Ghraib established a “culture of rape” that trickled down to the 502nd regiment in Iraq — but also, how about … “Hadji Girl”? Granted, it was a joke, and it doesn’t involve rape, and it was sung by a Marine to other Marines whereas these five were Army, and trying to connect the song to murder would involve the same logic that leads people to sue heavy metal bands for their kids’ suicides. But you know someone on the other side’s going to make the connection anyway, don’t you?

I had a post planned on the outrageousness of this E&P analysis finding “chilling links” between Haditha and My Lai, but since it pales in comparison to the news about the rape, I’ll just pass it along. If you’re disinclined to read all of it, the “chilling links” derive from the fact that in both cases:

1. A U.S. soldier was killed, and shortly thereafter his unit killed civilians.
2. Photos of the bodies were leaked to the press, which started asking questions, which in turn led to a military investigation.

Chilling, as is the fact that E&P cites the L.A. Times’s story on the Bargewell report from June 21st while selectively omitting the fact that it found no evidence of a deliberate cover-up. “[I]n today’s overtly partisan atmosphere,” concludes E&P, “most readers will likely flock to positions without close attention to the evidence.” Indeed, as the man might say.

Time’s got a new mini-scoop about Haditha, too: apparently Sgt. Wuterich was promoted on January 1 of this year, some six weeks after the alleged massacre. Says Time, “That has led some Marine sources to suspect there was at least a failure to report relevant details up the chain of command.” But Murtha said there must have been a cover-up from the top down based on the fact that blood money was paid to the families’ relatives. Surely Time’s not saying Murtha’s wrong. Are they?

Update: Speaking of “Hadji Girl,” the boss says it sounds like the Corps has gagged Cpl. Belile. The president of the National Institute of Military Justice says he might have a First Amendment defense.

Update: Rusty calls BS.