A Marine who knows what it feels like to be falsely accused of war crimes calls Jack Murtha onto the carpet:

Mr. Murtha’s position is particularly suspect when he is quoted by news services as saying that the strain of deployment “has caused them [the Marines] to crack in situations like this.” Not only is he certain of the Marines’ guilt but he claims to know the cause, which he conveniently attributes to a policy he opposes.

Members of the U.S. military serving in Iraq need more than Mr. Murtha’s pseudo-sympathy. They need leaders to stand with them even in the hardest of times. Let the courts decide if these Marines are guilty. They haven’t even been charged with a crime yet, so it is premature to presume their guilt — unless that presumption is tied to a political motive.

Murtha was on This Week with George Stephanopolous this morning to talk about Haditha; he used the platform to wonder aloud whether Peter Pace personally ordered a cover-up of the incident — then quickly took it back. Our affiliate, Expose the Left, has video.

I’ve already said I don’t want to beat up on Murtha lest it take the focus off the atrocities that were allegedly committed. But I also don’t want to see Pantano redux. Rick Moran notes a recent example of trumped-up charges against the Marines and urges caution. Dan Riehl has questions about the consistency of some of the facts that have been reported. And Patterico wants to know just how fully Murtha had been briefed before he went on TV and pronounced these guys guilty.

Enough Murtha. If you missed the report on the killings in yesterday’s Washington Post, catch up now. For once, the slur “baby-killer” would seem to be appropriate. Also, if Human Rights Watch is correct, it wasn’t just a five-minute rampage: they claim two separate squads of Marines carried out the massacre over three to five hours. The Daily Telegraph contradicts this, insisting that it was a single four-man team of Marines that was responsible for most of the damage. Regardless, most of the killings appear to have been carried out at close range, execution-style.

I wonder how many Americans, left or right, really care about the Iraqis killed here as opposed to “caring” because it’s politically expedient to do so. Come to think of it, I’d rather not know.