The next Abu Ghraib has arrived

This emerging story is almost certain to cause severe tire damage to America’s hearts-and-minds bandwagon now criss-crossing Iraq in its vainglorious attempt to force Iraqis to love us. Abu Ghraib involved serious abuse, torture, and perhaps unintended deaths. This story, however, is far more shocking, as it tells of US Marines actually murdering innocent Iraqi men, women and children in ice-cold blood. And a cover-up, to boot.

Officials briefed on preliminary results of the inquiry said the civilians killed at Haditha, a lawless, insurgent-plagued city deep in Sunni-dominated Anbar Province, did not die from a makeshift bomb, as the military first reported, or in cross-fire between marines and attackers, as was later announced. A separate inquiry has begun to find whether the events were deliberately covered up.

Evidence indicates that the civilians were killed during a sustained sweep by a small group of marines that lasted three to five hours and included shootings of five men standing near a taxi at a checkpoint, and killings inside at least two homes that included women and children, officials said.

That evidence, described by Congressional, Pentagon and military officials briefed on the inquiry, suggested to one Congressional official that the killings were “methodical in nature.”

Congressional and military officials say the Naval Criminal Investigative Service inquiry is focusing on the actions of a Marine Corps staff sergeant serving as squad leader at the time, but that Marine officials have told members of Congress that up to a dozen other marines in the unit are also under investigation. Officials briefed on the inquiry said that most of the bullets that killed the civilians were now thought to have been “fired by a couple of rifles,” as one of them put it.

Just what America needs at this point. Keep your eye on this one – I think it’s another nail in the coffin of our failed mission.

The Discussion: 14 Comments

If you read blogs by serving soldiers this doesn’t come as a surprise. They are already well into the “My Lai mentality”. All the gooks are bad gooks – now all the Hajis are terrorists or sympathisers and deserved to be “smoked”, no questions asked.
From Fun With Hand Grenades:

After every bout of combat I’ve been in I realize that I’ve become increasingly angrier, and subsequently more violent. A quote that constantly replays in my mind is what my old squad leader told me: “You have to become someone you don’t want to in order to survive over there.”

Driving over the shit-water filled pot holes I yelled at any Haji I saw, “I won’t hesitate to kill every single one of you fuckers!” I didn’t expect to be understood but I meant every word. And despite the fact it wasn’t working, the barrel of my fifty cal did good on getting my point across.

I can feel myself growing more violent and angry with every near death encounter. I’ve stated before that aside from kids I really don’t give two shits about the civilians in this city. Since I do, indeed, possess a conscience, you can add women to the mercy list, too. Some people back home would say I’m blood thirsty and without morals. To those people, I’ll put it in simple terms: quit talking about something you know absolutely nothing about. If Haji isn’t directly engaging us with bombs and bullets they�re doing it indirectly by opening up their homes for cache locations and hideouts.

May 26, 2006 @ 5:19 am | Comment

I should have said that “Haji” is the soldiers term for all Iraqis, not just insurgents.

May 26, 2006 @ 5:20 am | Comment

Yes, and then that guy will go home, and reintegrate reaaaaaaally well into society.

May 26, 2006 @ 6:31 am | Comment

The acknowledged rates of post-traumatic stress disorder among Iraq vets is something like 37%. That’s a lot of traumatized soldiers.

The way that the violence from America’s wars finds its way back into our society is, I believe, one of the unacknowledged truths about this country. Even a war fought for a good and necessary cause, like World War 2, has a tremendous social cost. Back then, vets were heroes – their traumas simply weren’t discussed. That doesn’t mean they came back whole and healthy.

This endless cycle of war and subsequent violence is self-reinforcing. We convince ourselves of the worthiness of martial virtues without acknowledging their tremendous cost.

I would have thought Vietnam had taught us something, but apparently that lesson didn’t reach enough people and was misinterpreted. So here we are again, caught in an unwinnable war.

History will judge, and history will not be kind.

May 26, 2006 @ 12:36 pm | Comment

Is this going to be used as an excuse to pull out early, do you think? I’m a bit peeved at US opinion starting to want that. America made the mess (mostly), so clean it up!

May 27, 2006 @ 4:15 am | Comment

Hell, half of us never wanted to be there in the first place.

The argument is that the US presence is actually destabilizing – that some of the insurgency is driven by the American occupation.

At this point, with a civil war going on, I don’t know whether this argument still applies.

May 27, 2006 @ 1:16 pm | Comment

Meh, I think it’s an easy answer banded about by people that didn’t want to go to war in the first place.

Put it like this. If the US/foreign prescence was doing more harm than good the Iraqi government would say “OUT! OUT! OUT!” tomorrow. The fact they want them to stay even after things like this shows how much the troops are needed.

The Iraqis might be ready in the near future, but certainly not until next year (at the earliest).

May 27, 2006 @ 4:16 pm | Comment

Also given that Bush is in his second term, he should not be tempted to bring the troops home too early.

May 27, 2006 @ 4:19 pm | Comment

There was a recent poll in which a large majority of Iraqis preferred that the US troops leave ASAP. Of course the Iraqi government doesn’t want the troops to leave – US troops helped put them in power in the first place.

I agree that it’s a difficult question to answer, but look at it this way: has the presence of US troops provided real security for Iraq or helped to bring about a stable government?

Mmm, not so much.

Would it be worse if US troops withdrew?

Impossible to say.

I favor a clear timeline, as articulated by Murtha.

May 27, 2006 @ 5:36 pm | Comment

Why should the U.S. preserve the current government in the first place? It’s filled with Iran-lackeys and former Baathists anyhow. What’s the purpose of helping along a government that doesn’t even serve the purpose of containing a crazy jihadist nuke-seeking regime?

May 27, 2006 @ 6:23 pm | Comment

And while they’re at it, maybe the US military can start closing the rest of the 702 overseas bases it operates in 130 other countries where they have no legitimate business.

May 28, 2006 @ 5:03 am | Comment

“There was a recent poll in which a large majority of Iraqis preferred that the US troops leave ASAP.”

That’s funny because people have come up with polls to say the reverse – I think polls on that sort of thing aren’t very reliable. Anyway given that Bush won more conclusively last time I rather think it proves that people don’t always want what’s best for them.

May 28, 2006 @ 8:42 am | Comment

I think the 702 bases figure must be on the low side — after 9/11, Bush decided to make bases smaller but increase the number of them.
But I’m expec
As for leaving Iraq, there is some debate on whether the “enduring” bases there will become permanent like the ones in Kuwait. I’m sure Bush is hoping that they can be permanent, keeping the Iraqi government in the U.S. fold. I’m thinking this is a pipe dream — but then, I also honestly didn’t believe that Americans could elect Bush twice…

May 28, 2006 @ 10:05 am | Comment

Danfried, we didn’t!

Gore won in 2000, the Supreme Court (and brother Jeb) gave Bush the White House. There are a lot of arguments about 2004 as well, but I’ll just say that Bush did not win in 2000…

Now, how as many people could have voted for him as they did, I’ll never have a good answer to that question. With his approval rating down in the nether 30’s, I’m holding out hope that most Americans have wised up and that the system’s ability to correct itself still holds.

Re: American bases, for those who haven’t, check out Chalmers Johnson, author of SORROWS OF EMPIRE. Tom Paine Dispatch has an excellent series of interviews with him…

HIs basic thesis is that American does not have much of an economy beyond defense/military and financial – Kevin Philips says much the same thing in his new book about American Theocracy.

Scary stuff and all too true, IMO.

We are going to have to make some major changes, and I am not sure whether they can be made without a great deal of pain and turmoil.

May 28, 2006 @ 2:53 pm | Comment

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