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Wednesday, May 31, 2006


Remembrances of Haditha

Here are two stories from 2005, which bear directly on the current story of the Haditha massacre and its exposure in the press.

First, this one from March, 2005: "US occupation forces' fighter planes have attacked civilian populations in the Iraqi cities of Haditha and Haqlaniyah, in the western province of Al Anbar." This story, as far as I could tell at the time, never appeared in a single corporate news outlet. The old tree falling the forest story. Iraqi civilians are massacred on the ground and from the air by American forces on a routine basis; only the rare stories even make the press for a one-day run, and few indeed get the followup they really deserve.

And, most significantly, this story from August, 2005, which ominously presages the massacre which would occur that November:

Talking to a truckload of troops, sitting in pre-dawn darkness Friday morning, Sgt. Marcio Vargas Estrada made the point to the men of his squad from 3-2's Lima Company.

"If somebody shoots at you, you waste him," said Estrada, 32, of Kearny, N.J. "When you go back to Camp Lejeune, these will be the good old days, when you brought . . . death and destruction to -- what . . . is this place called?"

A Marine answered in the darkness: "Haqlaniyah."

Estrada continued: "Haqlaniyah, yeah, that. And then we will take death and destruction to Hadithah. Hopefully, we'll stay until December so we can bring death and destruction to half of . . . Iraq."

The flatbed truck erupted in a storm of "Hoo-ahs."
Was the massacre in Haditha a case of a few bad apples suddenly going rotten? Hardly. Some of them were bragging about it in advance three months earlier.

As I wrote then: "Support the troops? Count me out."

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