One of the reasons Vinnie’s posts annoyed me is because they lump me in with the likes of this wretched bastard, who proved last night how much he supports the troops by tossing the work of 130,000 good soldiers out the window. Wishful thinking as only a left-wing anti-war “patriot” can do it. I wonder if it earned him any new pledges this morning.
The British papers are enjoying this, too. As I mentioned yesterday, the Times of London watched the 23-minute video of Lance Cpl. Crossan but came away with only one quote. And it’s exactly the quote you’d expect. This morning the Daily Telegraph published the memoir of a reporter who spent time with the Marines in Haditha that simply defies description. He portrays them, almost literally, as animals. He compares their base explicitly to “Lord of the Flies.” Remember, Arwa Damon of CNN went out of her way the other day to say how restrained were the troops she knew in Haditha. I’ll send the link to the milbloggers and see what they have to say about his article, whether the encampments he mentions are standard for Marines in the field or whether something unusual was going on here.
Back home, Time reports this morning that of the two probes, the one that has Marine commanders most worried is the investigation by Army Gen. Eldon Bargewell regarding possible cover-up. WaPo has details on the Bargewell inquiry:
One of Bargewell’s findings is that two failures occurred in reporting the Haditha incident up the Marine chain of command. The first is that [one Marine], a squad leader alleged to have been centrally involved in the shootings, made a false statement to his superiors when he reported that 15 Iraqi civilians had been killed in the roadside bombing that killed a Marine and touched off the incident…
A second and more troubling failure occurred later in the day, this official said, when a Marine human exploitation team, which helped collect the dead, should have observed that the Iraqis were killed by gunshot, not by a bomb. The team’s reporting chain lay outside that of the other Marines — who were members of the 3rd Battalion of the 1st Marines — and went up through military intelligence channels directly to the 1st Marine Division’s intelligence director, he said. Had this second unit reported accurately what it witnessed, he indicated, that would have set off alarms and prodded commanders to investigate, he explained.
I’m not sure how to square that last paragraph with the LA Times‘s article a few days ago about Lance Cpl. Ryan Briones, who took photos of the aftermath and helped remove the bodies. According to the Times, Briones is a member of the 3/1, and he says he did note that the Iraqis were killed by gunshots, not by bombs.
WaPo says Bargewell’s report is expected by the end of the week. Meanwhile, stupidly, all 130,000 soldiers in Iraq are being forced to undergo “core values” (re-)training. And Iraqi PM al-Maliki is making good on his threat to launch his own probe of the killings.
I’ll leave you with this, from Time. A lot of people, including some milbloggers, have said the Marines should hang if they’re guilty. I’m not so sure.
Haditha has caused [one] senior Marine officer, the one reading up on historical atrocities, to reexamine the concept of punishment in America and it is here that he is resentful of the outside world, not just those who may have committed such acts. He was surprised by a passage in “America in Vietnam” which details how Americans traditionally think a soldier who commits a war crime should be put to death with little regard to the conditions or insight into the soldier himself. But a common murderer is treated more thoughtfully — his background, childhood, education and social circumstances are taken into consideration when looking at what punishment should be meted out. “Isn’t it a strange turn of events that Marines are expected to be perfect under the stresses and brutality of a guerrilla war, but society says we need to uncover every mitigating circumstance that would possibly explain why street criminals kill?”