La Shawn Barber shares reflections.
Castle Argghhh! has a three-part Memorial Day series. Start here.
Attention all enterprising milbloggers:
CNN’s “victims or villains only” portrayal of our military notwithstanding, CNN has now graciously invited us, the unwashed peasantry, to submit photos, videos, and stories about our men and women in-country. How cool would it be to flood the CNN inbox with milblogger stories and photos, all of which would provide a markedly more positive and uplifting view of those who serve?
Let the revolution begin…
“I am humbled and ever greatful for those who gave their all so that a 4 year old Cuban child would be able to grow to be a free American man.”
Haditha is casting a pall on this day, and it cannot be ignored. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Gen. Peter Pace, told CBS:
“[I]t would be premature for me to judge” the outcome of a
Pentagon investigation into the killing of as many as a dozen Iraqi civilians by Marines.
But at the same time, Marine Gen. Peter Pace said he believes its critically important to make the point that if certain service members are responsible for an atrocity there, they “have not performed their duty the way that 99.9 percent of their fellow Marines have.”
Time magazine , which initially reported accounts of the alleged atrocities to the military, has a new article up on an alleged cover-up:
With the U.S. struggling to hold on to public support for the war and no end to the insurgency in sight, the prospect of possible indictments has induced an aching dread among military and government officials. As the military launched another probe–into the April 26 killing of an Iraqi civilian by Marines–General Michael Hagee, commandant of the Marine Corps, headed to Iraq to address Marines on the growing crisis. Marine Corps public-affairs director Brigadier General Mary Ann Krusa-Dossin says the allegations “have caused serious concern at the highest levels” of the corps.
A military source in Iraq told TIME that investigators have obtained two sets of photos from Haditha. The first is after-action photos taken by the military as part of the routine procedure that follows any such event. Submitted in the official report on the fighting, the photos do not show any bodies. Investigators have also discovered a second, more damning set of photos, taken by Marines of the Kilo Company immediately after the shootings. The source says it isn’t clear if these photos were held back from the after-action report or were personal snapshots taken by the Marines. The source says a Marine e-mailed at least one photo to a friend in the U.S. Almost as damaging as the alleged massacre may be evidence that the unit’s members and their superiors conspired to cover it up…
…Members of Congress, as well as military sources, have confirmed the critical details of TIME’s initial report–that after gunning down the five fleeing the taxi, a few members of Kilo Company moved through four homes along nearby streets, killing 19 men, women and children. The Marines contend they took small-arms fire from at least one house, but as TIME’s story detailed in March, only one of the 19 victims was found with a weapon.
The day after the killings, an Iraqi journalism student videotaped the scene at a local morgue and the homes where the shootings had occurred. “You could tell they were enraged,” the student, Taher Thabet, said last week. “They not only killed people, they smashed furniture, tore down wall hangings, and when they took prisoners, they treated them very roughly. This was not a precise military operation.” A delegation of angry village elders complained to senior Marines in Haditha about the killings but were rebuffed with the excuse that the raid had been a mistake. TIME learned about the Haditha action in January, when it obtained a copy of Thabet’s videotape from an Iraqi human-rights group. But a Marine spokesman brushed off any inquiries. “To be honest,” Marine Captain Jeff Pool e-mailed McGirk, “I cannot believe you’re buying any of this. This falls into the same category of AQI (al-Qaeda in Iraq) propaganda.” In late January, TIME gave a copy of the videotape to Colonel Barry Johnson, a U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad. After reviewing it, he recommended a formal investigation. The ensuing probe, conducted by a colonel, concluded that Marines, not a bomb, killed the civilians but that the deaths were the result of “collateral damage,” not deliberate homicide. Nevertheless, after reviewing the initial probe, senior military officials launched a criminal investigation.
A military source in Iraq says the men of Kilo Company stuck by their story throughout the initial inquiry, but what they told the first military investigator raised suspicions. One of the most glaring discrepancies involved the shooting of the four students and the taxi driver. “They had no weapons, they didn’t show hostile intent, so why shoot them?” the military source says. Khaled Raseef, a spokesman for the victims’ relatives, says U.S. military investigators visited the alleged massacre sites 15 times and “asked detailed questions, examined each bullet hole and burn mark and took all sorts of measurements. In the end, they brought all the survivors to the homes and did a mock-up of the Marines’ movements.” As the detectives found contradictions in the Marines’ account, “the official story fell apart and people started rolling on each other,” says the military source.
Military sources told TIME that the first probe is focusing on the unit’s leader, who was at the scene of virtually every shooting that day in Haditha. Pentagon officials say the sergeant has served more than seven years in the corps and was on his first Iraq tour. At least two other enlisted men may be directly involved, Pentagon officials say, and perhaps as many as nine others in the 13-man unit witnessed the shootings but neither attempted to step in nor reported them later…
Lt Ilario Pantano, the Marine I mentioned Friday who was unjustly accused of murder, comments on Rep. John Murtha’s rush to judgment. I also note that a GOP congressman, Rep. John Kline of Minnesota, is talking to the press before the official report is out:
Representative John Kline, a Minnesota Republican who is a retired Marine colonel, said that the allegations indicated that “this was not an accident. This was direct fire by marines at civilians.” He added, “This was not an immediate response to an attack. This would be an atrocity.”
A Senate panel will investigate the incident at Haditha.
Four people who identified themselves as survivors of the killings in Haditha, including some who had never spoken publicly, described the killings to an Iraqi writer and historian who was recruited by The New York Times to travel to Haditha and interview survivors and witnesses of what military officials have said appear to be unjustified killings of two dozen Iraqis by marines. Some in Congress fear the killings could do greater harm to the image of the United States military around the world than the Abu Ghraib prison scandal.
The four survivors’ accounts could not be independently corroborated, and it was unclear in some cases whether they actually saw the killings.
The Marine who died at Haditha that day after a roadside IED exploded was Marine Lance Cpl. Miguel Terrazas.
The El Paso Times reported in November:
Lance Cpl. Miguel Terrazas, a Mountain View High School graduate who had been recognized for bravery under fire before he was killed Friday in Iraq, was remembered as a family- oriented man who always had a smile on his face.
Despite success in school, Terrazas, 20, felt it was his duty to join the Marines, following a family tradition, said Rosario Terrazas, the Marine’s paternal aunt who spoke for the family Monday.
“He felt that that was what he needed to do in his life (join the Marines) to protect his family and his country,” Rosario Terrazas said. “He made us very proud of him. … I was pushing him toward college, but he said that wasn’t his route.”
Terrazas said her nephew always looked on the positive side of things and looked forward to family fishing trips. “He was going to do his four years (in the Marines) and he wanted to attend school to get into some kind of law- enforcement agency,” she said. “Then he wanted marriage and kids.”
The family was told that Miguel Terrazas was driving a Humvee that crashed after it was hit by an improvised explosive device set along the road, his aunt said. It was Terrazas’ second tour in Iraq.
During his first tour, Terrazas received a commendation for bravery.
On Aug. 18, 2004, after an ambush that started with the detonation of an improvised explosive device, he quickly moved to high ground and accurately reported the battlefield situation, according to the commendation. As the designated marksman, he shot an escaping insurgent, disabling him and ending the threat to his fellow Marines.
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Is the war effort going to be further undermined because of the actions of 13 out of the hundreds of thousands of honorable men and women who have sacrificed so much, given so much, endured so much in this cause? Can the lickspittles who couldn’t give a good goddamn about the Iraqi people or our military and who only want to hang George Bush and see this incident as another way to attack their political enemies be prevented from making Haditha a code word for failure?
Not if I have anything to say about it.
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