Thursday, June 15, 2006

Could this be the final nail in Murtha's political coffin?

From Reuters:

By Dan Whitcomb

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Attorneys for the U.S. Marines accused of killing unarmed Iraqi civilians in Haditha will question the authenticity of a videotape at the heart of the case and the credibility of the group that provided it, sources close to the Marines say.

The videotape, given to Time Magazine in January by the Hammurabi Human Rights Group, purports to show the aftermath of a massacre in Haditha and has prompted a U.S. military probe into the November 19 incident.

Time reported that the footage shows men, women and children who have been shot to death, some in their nightclothes, as well as walls and ceilings marked with blood, shrapnel and bullet holes.

The defense sources agree the tape depicts grim war images but does not prove that a massacre took place in Haditha, especially when so much is still unknown about the source of the tape and how it was made.

"It's clearly going to be one of the themes of the defense: How accurate is this tape and is (Hammurabi) credible?" said a source close to one of the Marines under investigation. The source, who asked not to be identified, said: "Any (prosecutor) who wants to present a videotape in court, they have to demonstrate that it's authentic and hasn't been tampered with."

If what the defense says is true, good ol "rush-to-judgement" Jihad-Johnny Murtha's gonna have some 'splainin to do. Murtha claims he heard what he heard from high ranking Marine officials, yet he has not said just who those "high ranking" officials are.. (could he have possibly mixed up disinformation he received from high-ranking officials from Code Pink?)

Murtha's probable informant, Time Magazine, is doing some backtracking of their own:

Time initially reported that the tape was shot by a "journalism student" the day after the incident and described Hammurabi as working with "the internationally respected Human Rights Watch."

The magazine subsequently issued a correction on its Web site, writing that Human Rights Watch "has no ties or association with Hammurabi."

Defense lawyers say the man described by Time as a journalism student, 43-year-old Thaer Thabit al-Hadithi, was in fact the founder of Hammurabi and one of only two employees.

"Not that a 43-year-old can't be a student or that an organization can't be two people, but these are the kinds of things that you would bring up" in court, the source said.

A lawyer for one of the Marines under investigation, who also declined to be identified, said that Hammurabi was not a known or registered human rights organization and had no track record of reporting any other abuses.

"And it turns out these two employees have family members spending time in local prisons for insurgent activity," the attorney said. "I think the origins of the tape would have been better suited if it came from somebody who really did have altruistic motives in their heart."

Turns out good ol' Jihad Johnny may have bit off a little bit more than he'd care to chew.

Again, if what is reported here is actually the case; that the reported tape is a trumped up phoney, it'll be time for fast-talking U.S. Representative John Murtha to step down from office (not that his out-of-line outspoken presumption of guilt was not reason enough in the first place).

Murtha's hastily chosen words of pre-judgment have already not been without their consequence; as political pressure, no doubt spurred in large part by Murtha's rhetoric, has resulted in the shackling of Marines in solitary confinement without the benefit of due process or proof of guilt; making accomodations for terrorists at Gitmo look like the Waldorf Astoria.

This story could indeed go down as one of the greatest miscarriages of justice in recent memory, at least since the Pantano lynch meme.

Should this indeed be the case, will Murtha muster the honor befitting a Marine to admit that he is wrong, and to step down from a position which he so readily abused in the name of partisan propaganda?

Time will tell.