Saturday, January 06, 2007

The Haditha massacre: the norm


The WaPo has gotten hold of the investigative report on the Haditha massacre (click on the label at the bottom of this post for my previous posts on the subject). It still doesn’t answer whether the Marines were on a rampage after an IED attack killed one of them, or whether they calmly massacred civilians in compliance with rules of engagement that allowed for such massacres. And I’m still not sure which would be worse. One of the most damning aspects is that the events took place over many hours. It was fairly late in the day that Marines “approached a third and fourth house after noticing men they said were peering at them suspiciously,” separated out the men from the women, and executed the men. For peering at them suspiciously.

At the start of the massacre, after the IED blast, the report says that the squad’s leader, Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich, executed five innocent bystanders “one by one,” and that when he ordered Marines to enter civilian houses from which, supposedly, they were being fired upon (I still doubt there was any hostile fire), he told them to shoot first and ask questions later. That quote is from his own statement. (I wonder if they ever did ask those questions.)

Wuterich also told investigators, “I want to make clear that we did not go in intentionally to spray everyone we saw. We were taking fire.” Note that Iraqi bullets = fire, American bullets = spray.

Speaking of spray, another sergeant admits to having peed on the corpses.

The colonel in charge of the unit, Stephen W. Davis, decided that even though there had been many civilian casualties, and an initial attempt at covering up how those civilians had died, there was no need for an investigation: “There was nothing out of the ordinary about any of this, including the number of civilian dead, that would have triggered anything in my mind that was out of the norm.”

That pretty much says it all, huh?

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