The Washington Post’s Josh White begins his article on Haditha today:
A sergeant who led a squad of Marines during the incident in Haditha, Iraq, that left as many as 24 civilians dead said his unit did not intentionally target any civilians, followed military rules of engagement and never tried to cover up the shootings, his attorney said.
Staff Sgt. Frank D. Wuterich, 26, told his attorney that several civilians were killed Nov. 19 when his squad went after insurgents who were firing at them from inside a house. The Marine said there was no vengeful massacre, but he described a house-to-house hunt that went tragically awry in the middle of a chaotic battlefield.
“It will forever be his position that everything they did that day was following their rules of engagement and to protect the lives of Marines,” said Neal A. Puckett, who represents Wuterich in the ongoing investigations into the incident. “He’s really upset that people believe that he and his Marines are even capable of intentionally killing innocent civilians.”
White goes on to call Wuterich’s version “detailed.” The sergeant was in the convoy that was hit by the roadside bomb that started the incident.
Reading through Wuterich’s account, as written in the Post article, it is clear civilians were killed and, shall we say, rather assertive rules of engagement followed; but is also clear that this was no My Lai Massacre – despite what a fair percentage of the press would have us believe – not even close. These Marines were being fired on from inside a house just after one of them had been killed by an IED. They were acting from deeply within the fog of war, but criminally? I doubt it.
So why the Rush to Judgment on our men? Time Magazine has been blindly milking the situation much in the way Newsweek jumped at the bogus Koran/toilet story that resulted in deaths world wide. And before then there have been numerous instances of the press believing the most propagandistic versions of the truth – perhaps most notoriously the fake Mohammed Al-Dura photo that helped instigate Intifada II. Of course that was promulgated by France 2, not the US press (though hardly ever contradicted by it), but everybody seems to have bought into this supposed act of cruelty without questioning – and it was only a couple of days ago.
So what is the explanation for this knee-jerk anti-military behavior? Is it treason? That I also doubt. No class has more to gain in power and money by the continued success of American society than the men and women in our media. For the most part, they live extraordinarily cushy lives of glamour and comfort without even having to face the electoral judgment that politicians do. No, we are in the realm where psychology (narcissism) meets finance (material advancement). For people to change their minds, to open up to the reality that we are no longer in the world of 1968, takes considerable strength of character, as Neo-neocon has shown us. But it takes even more strength when your check is being paid by multi-millionaire ownership so deeply mired in that world view that not even a lifetime in an Iranian prison could alter it.
UPDATE: Hewitt on Murtha’s role.