Friday, August 25, 2006

Murtha's Accusations Crumbling

John Murtha's categorical declaration that Marines had killed people in Haditha in cold blood took another hit today in this Washington Post article. Let's look at what they're reporting:
In a 34-minute interview with two colonels, Laughner described taking pictures of each of the bodies while moving from room to room in three houses, as the Marines described what happened in each circumstance. The Marines told Laughner they had taken fire from the houses and believed they heard people "racking AK-47s", preparing to fire the automatic weapons. The Marines then "cleared" the rooms using fragmentation grenades and rifle shots. Two other accounts given by lawyers for Marines in the unit are consistent with the version Laughner heard from the Marines involved in the incident on Nov. 19.
It hardly sounds like these Marines went off the deep end. Rather, it sounds like they were defending themselves from imminent danger. It's a big stretch to say that people defending themselves from imminent attack killed people in cold blood. If you heard someone getting ready to fire automatic weapons at you, what actions would you take? Personally, I wouldn't hesitate in using everything in my arsenal to defend myself in such a hostile environment.

Remember the conditions in Haditha. Here's what Wikipedia says about Haditha:
As the fighting continued following the fall of Saddam Hussein, Haditha became a center for insurgent activity. It lies between Al-Qaim, an insurgent entry point, and Baghdad. On July 16, 2003 Mohammed Nayil Jurayfi, mayor of Haditha, and his youngest son, Ahmed, were assassinated.
In other words, Haditha was as dangerous a place as Fallujah used to be. This wasn't a place for the faint of heart. It essentially was a place of death.
Laughner also said that 30 Jordanian passports and large amounts of cash were found in a home near the shooting scenes. One investigator asked Laughner if there was anything about the number of civilian victims or the circumstances of the casualties that gave reason to pause and "say jeez." "Any time you see women and children, sir, I thought that," Laughner said. "But from what the Marines had told me and from what I understood from them, that I can't say I wouldn't have done the same thing in their situation. If I hear somebody racking AK rounds, and I don't know how many guys are there, I'm going to protect me and my guys."
If you find a bunch of passports and large wads of cash, then it's likely that you've found a terrorist hangout or headquarters. I suspect most people would expect these Marines to take aggressive action.

The bottom line is that Murtha's story sounds like a total fabrication every time more information comes out. The more information that I hear from people like Sgt. Laughner, the more credibility I give to the Haditha Marines. Frankly, I hope the Marine Corps commandant demands that Mr. Murtha formally apologize for his misstatements.

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Cross-post at LetFreedomRingBlog