What a difference a year has made since charges came down at the end of 2006. The New York Times in October mourned, I mean, noted, the shift: “Last year, when accounts of the killings of 24 Iraqis in Haditha by a group of Marines came to light, it seemed that the Iraq war had produced its defining atrocity, just as the conflict in Vietnam had spawned the My Lai massacre a generation ago.”
No “defining atrocity”? Gee, that’s too bad. The Times went on to lament that the presiding military investigator recommended that murder charges against the ranking enlisted Marine, Staff Sgt. Frank D. Wuterich, be dropped. And this, the newspaper bellyached, “may well have ended prosecutors’ chances of winning any murder convictions in the killings.”
No murder convictions? Well, boo — the heck — hoo.
Rep. John Murtha, an influential Pennsylvania lawmaker and outspoken critic of the war in Iraq, said today Marines had “killed innocent civilians in cold blood” after allegedly responding to a roadside bomb ambush that killed a Marine during a patrol in Haditha, Iraq, Nov. 19. The incident is still under investigation by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and Multi-National Forces Iraq.
“It’s much worse than was reported in Time magazine,” Murtha, a Democrat, former Marine colonel and Vietnam war veteran, told reporters on Capitol Hill. “There was no firefight. There was no [bomb] that killed those innocent people,” Murtha explained, adding there were “about twice as many” Iraqis killed than Time had reported.
I put together a timeline that show the disingenuousness of Murtha's statements. Here's where I nailed Murtha the hardest:
The next day, Murtha was asked about the sourcing for his accusations. Here’s his answer:
Asked about his sources during a midday briefing on Iraq policy in the Capitol, Murtha confidently replied, “All the information I get, it comes from the commanders, it comes from people who know what they’re talking about.” Although Murtha said that he had not read any investigative reports by the military on the incident, he stressed, “It’s much worse than reported in Time magazine.”
Murtha, a Pennsylvania Democrat, is being sued by one of the accused Marines for libel. He had told The Philadelphia Inquirer that Gen. Michael Hagee had given him the information on which he based his charge that Marines killed innocent civilians.
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.”A spokeswoman for Murtha was not immediately available. (Sounds familiar.)