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Thursday, August 30, 2007


Nothing happened in Haditha

Don't I remember a massacre of Iraqis? I do, and you do too, but it didn't amount to anything much, or so says the U.S. military:
The preliminary hearing for Marine Staff Sgt. Frank D. Wuterich begins today, marking possibly the last chance for prosecutors to bring to court-martial any of the Marines charged with murder in the killing of 24 Iraqi civilians in the Iraqi village of Haditha.

But to prevail, prosecutors have to convince a hearing officer who has been skeptical of the case and also a top general who does not believe in punishing enlisted Marines for mistakes made in a "morally bruising" conflict in which insurgents hide behind women and children.

The Haditha charges represent the most serious case of alleged war crimes committed by Marines in Iraq or Afghanistan. But what once looked to some like a slam-dunk murder case against four enlisted Marines could be on the verge of collapsing.

Of the four initial defendants in the 2005 deaths, charges were dropped against one in exchange for his testimony against other Marines; charges were dismissed against another by Lt. Gen. James N. Mattis after a preliminary hearing; and charges against a third appear to be on the verge of being dismissed by Mattis, also after a preliminary hearing.
And this should shed a little light on how the U.S. operates in Iraq. Not only aren't they committing war crimes (according to them), but they're simply following the "rules of engagement":
Under the rules of engagement for Marines in Iraq, suspects running away from a roadside bomb explosion can be shot in the back even if they are unarmed and there is no immediate proof of their involvement in the explosion, according to testimony from a Marine lawyer called by the prosecution in Tatum's preliminary hearing.
Good old Catch-22. Stick around and you might be injured in a second explosion; run way and you're a "suspect" and subject to being shot in the back.

When reading about Haditha, it's always important to remember that Haditha is the exception, not the rule. Not the exception when it comes to the U.S. slaughter of Iraqis, but the exception when it comes to that slaughter coming to light. This particular incident only came to light four months after it happened, and only then due to exceptional circumstances (including the size of the massacre).

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