Saturday, August 05, 2006

Murtha's Correction?

When the NY Times or other media outlets misstates a key fact, they issue a correction. When they issue that correction, they state that it's a correction. Based on this excerpt from Robert Novak's column,John Murtha must have different 'journalistic standards' than do the NY Times:
Rep. John Murtha, responding Wednesday to a defamation lawsuit filed by a Marine accused of killing Iraqi civilians in 2005, mistakenly said Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich had been "charged in the incident at Haditha." In fact, no charges have been filed against anybody. Murtha quickly issued a new press release Wednesday deleting "charged" and describing Wuterich as leader of "the squad accused of killing two dozen civilians."
I don't want to suggest that the NY Times is much better in terms of accuracy than John Murtha. That would be a difficult argument to sustain because there are plenty of instances where it appears that neither is particularly interested in the truth. the difference that I'm pointing to is that the NY Times will actually announce their corrections. There's actually a section devoted to all of the Times' corrections.

As I wrote here, the Pentagon itself says that no conclusions have been drawn on the Haditha incident. Here's what I'm referring to:
DoD officials tell TIME that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld recently set up a Pentagon task force, which meets once a week, to track Haditha and prepare for the eventual release of the investigations' results. But a Pentagon source familiar with the criminal investigation says that contrary to the suggestions of some media reports Wednesday, there have been no conclusions that the Marines deliberately killed unarmed civilians. This source also says that the bodies of those killed at Haditha have not been exhumed, which makes proving murder 'very challenging.'
It's hard to believe that what Murtha said was a misstatement, a slip of the tongue. It's fairly easy to believe that he made that statement with the intent of sounding authoritative on the subject. I think it's fairly easy to argue that Murtha's main intent was to poison the waters so that the Pentagon charges Mr. Wuterich for Murtha's 'vindication'. Here's how I'd go about proving it:

I'd point out this Washington Post article, specifically this paragraph:
But a spokesman for the Marine Corps said Hagee briefed Murtha on May 24 about Haditha. Murtha had made comments on the case as early as May 17. On May 17, for example, he said at a news conference, "Our troops overreacted because of the pressure on them and they killed innocent civilians in cold blood."
At the time, Murtha said that he'd been briefed "by people who know what they're talking about." Isn't it rather odd to have Gen. Hagee brief Murtha on Haditha if, in fact, Murtha had been briefed about Haditha earlier? Isn't it even more odd that Murtha would make these specific allegations before any conclusions had been drawn? How did Murtha know that there wasn't a firefight? Who told him that there wasn't a firefight?
  • When Gen. Hagee briefed Murtha on Haditha, did Gen. Hagee confirm Murtha's accusations? Or did he say that the investigators hadn't reached any conclusions?
  • If Gen. Hagee told Murtha that about Haditha, shouldn't Murtha be obligated to tell us that he made a serious mistake about Haditha?
  • Isn't it safe to conclude that Gen. Hagee told Murtha that the investigation wass still ongoing and that the final report hadn't been drafted yet and that a decision hadn't been made on whether these Marines would be charged with anything?
At the day's end, isn't it safe to say that Murtha knows he made a serious mistake of immense proportions and that he's hoping people won't ask the questions that I've just asked? I'm betting that that's exactly what he's hoping.

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Cross-posted at LetFreedomRingBlog