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Haditha
October 6, 2007 12:10 PM   Subscribe

The Erosion of a Murder Case Against Marines in the Killing of 24 Iraqi Civilians. "Last year, when accounts of the killing 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. But on Thursday, a senior military investigator recommended dropping murder charges against the ranking enlisted marine accused in the 2005 killings, just as he had done earlier in the cases of two other marines charged in the case. The recommendation may well have ended prosecutors’ chances of winning any murder convictions in the killings of the apparently unarmed men, women and children." [Via The Agonist.]
posted by homunculus (46 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
If only America had better lawyers, it could have won Vietnam.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:27 PM on October 6, 2007 [5 favorites]


...but I'm sure the Iraqis will forget all about this murder stuff and love us once their wonderful democracy is up and running.
posted by kgasmart at 12:34 PM on October 6, 2007


Maybe its an export grade democracy they got?
posted by b1tr0t at 12:39 PM on October 6, 2007 [7 favorites]


...or maybe the initial reports were distorted by people with an anti-American agenda? And the court, which reviewed all available evidence, saw that the initial reports were wrong?

And maybe, just maybe, justice just got done?

Naah, couldn't be.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 12:47 PM on October 6, 2007


the next time a deranged schoolbus driver devours some innocent child, perhaps we shouldn't prosecute or schoolbus drivers and their service to the country might be diminished. schoolbus drivers need to know they have the full support of the country.
posted by kitchenrat at 12:47 PM on October 6, 2007


Does "justice" ever get done when an investigation starts 13 months after an incident in a warzone?

Weak juice dude.
posted by butterstick at 12:48 PM on October 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


Those children should have armed themselves.

/apologies to Clint Eastwood
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:53 PM on October 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


Maybe its an export grade democracy they got?

The kind contaminated with lead.
posted by dhartung at 12:54 PM on October 6, 2007 [2 favorites]


but I'm sure the Iraqis will forget all about this murder stuff and love us once their wonderful democracy is up and running.

My guess is that Iraqis will forgive once they get whatever type of government they end up with. Vietnamese people seem to have. I'm always amazed at how much more Christian non-Christians are.
posted by srboisvert at 12:59 PM on October 6, 2007


Experts in military justice say the Haditha prosecutions were compromised by several factors having to do with the quality of the evidence, including a delayed investigation and the decision to conduct hearings in the United States, far from the scene of the killings and possible Iraqi witnesses.

Who could've guessed? Well, I'm sure it was totally unintentional.
posted by salvia at 1:06 PM on October 6, 2007


Just remember: Brown people aren't real people.
posted by Artw at 1:15 PM on October 6, 2007


In an unusual departure from the analysis of the facts in Lance Corporal Sharratt’s case, Colonel Ware warned that putting marines on trial for murder without having the evidence to prove it could “erode public support of the Marine Corps and mission in Iraq.”

And god damn it, we can't have that! Semper fi!
posted by languagehat at 1:26 PM on October 6, 2007


YANKEE GO HOME!
posted by basicchannel at 1:38 PM on October 6, 2007


...or maybe the initial reports were distorted by people with an anti-American agenda? And the court, which reviewed all available evidence, saw that the initial reports were wrong?

And maybe, just maybe, justice just got done?


What's it like in your world? I always imagine it as warm and cozy, if surrounded by horrifying things trying to break in and eat you.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:49 PM on October 6, 2007 [3 favorites]


We have seen the WMD of Iraq, and it is us.
posted by Brian B. at 1:54 PM on October 6, 2007 [4 favorites]


Artw: Just remember: Brown people aren't real people.

I'm not sure that's technically true. I mean, I don't like Condi as much as the next guy, but that has nothing to do with her not being a person.
posted by found missing at 1:58 PM on October 6, 2007


...or maybe the initial reports were distorted by people with an anti-American agenda? And the court, which reviewed all available evidence, saw that the initial reports were wrong?

And maybe, just maybe, justice just got done?


We'll never know, since it's clear from the article -- you did read the article, right? -- that the government tried as hard as it could to make it impossible to even attempt to make a reasonable investigation.

I understand that in your world it's fine if the government simply tells you that justice is done and that we should then shut up.

In our world, the world of the Constitution of the United States of America, it's necessary that justice be seen to be done.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 1:58 PM on October 6, 2007


MetaFilter: you did read the article, right?
posted by homunculus at 2:02 PM on October 6, 2007


I've a sneaking suspicion that about 80% of comments occur in absence of reading the article.
posted by edgeways at 2:15 PM on October 6, 2007


I have a funny feeling that most comments in threads are made without reading previous comments.
posted by found missing at 2:17 PM on October 6, 2007


the court, which reviewed all available evidence, saw that the initial reports were wrong?

Steven, I've highlighted the operative word for you.
posted by dash_slot- at 2:39 PM on October 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


...or maybe the initial reports were distorted by people with an anti-American agenda? And the court, which reviewed all available evidence, saw that the initial reports were wrong?

Emphasis added.

How about, "the court, which reviewed all the available evidence, couldn't establish a case" - because most of the relevant evidence wasn't available and wasn't going to be available.

If the glove don't fit you must acquit. But, you know, we're not going to let you actually see the glove.
posted by kgasmart at 2:39 PM on October 6, 2007


I wonder how many people living in Iraq looked at the news of this incident, and decided that it was time to take up arms against the Americans.
posted by quin at 3:11 PM on October 6, 2007


And maybe, just maybe, justice just got done?

U.S. Marines killed 24 innocent Iraqis. Instead of being tried with committing murder, they are merely being tried with committing negligent homicide... against 24 innocent Iraqis. Who are dead. Because U.S. Marines killed them.

If you're happy because this is what you call "justice" then you have an even lesser concern for the participants in this grand disaster than I previously thought.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 3:29 PM on October 6, 2007 [3 favorites]


I wonder how many people living in America looked at this news and didn't wanna throw up?
posted by ZachsMind at 3:33 PM on October 6, 2007


Well, as you know, atrocious things are not actually atrocities if the organization that does something investigates, and subsequently clears itself.

That's just LOGIC.
posted by delmoi at 3:49 PM on October 6, 2007


SdenB - THE TRUTH? YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH!

It's possible, but unlikley.
posted by asok at 6:03 PM on October 6, 2007


It's a good thing you all know exactly what happened.
posted by Krrrlson at 6:27 PM on October 6, 2007


Krrrlson: "It's a good thing you all know exactly what happened."

I don't have to know exactly what happened. Even if I knew exactly what happened, all this senseless bloodshed would still make me wish I could throw up.
posted by ZachsMind at 6:29 PM on October 6, 2007


Too bad all those who were and are for the war can't be put on trial. Approaching a figure of something like a million Iraqis have killed because of the war.
posted by j-urb at 6:50 PM on October 6, 2007


I wonder how many people living in America looked at this news and didn't wanna throw up?
posted by ZachsMind

Unfortunately, I would guess about 80% of the population.
posted by notreally at 7:44 PM on October 6, 2007


Ah, the noble apologist, planting weapons in a dead child's hands.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:44 PM on October 6, 2007


At its peak, public support for the war was 79% (May 2003); that was regardless of whether there were WMDs.

It was pretty popular back when it made good TV.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:01 PM on October 6, 2007


Ah well. Didn't Calley only get 10 days house arrest or something like that?
posted by A189Nut at 4:43 AM on October 7, 2007




That link should've gone to this page.
posted by hadjiboy at 5:06 AM on October 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


That last link of hadjiboy's had me literally weeping by the end. Vanity Fair has had some very strong political pieces recently like "Billions over Baghdad."
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:22 AM on October 7, 2007


I included the Vanity Fair article in the FPP because it's so good, and I was surprised that it hadn't been posted before. Anyone who's interested in what happened in Haditha should read that piece. There's also a Q&A with the author.
posted by homunculus at 1:30 PM on October 7, 2007


In other Iraq news: Iraq Embassy Cost Rises $144 Million Amid Project Delays
posted by homunculus at 2:51 PM on October 7, 2007


Did anybody else ever wonder if ParisParamus and SCDB are the same guy?
posted by pax digita at 12:14 PM on October 8, 2007






What’s galling, apart from the murder itself, is that, as with most things, the cover up makes it worse. They could indeed be innocent, we don’t know, but that’s exactly the fault of the battalion officers (and to some degree the relatives who refused to allow forensic analysis) but we’ll never know it now because of all the foot shuffling.
And if they are guilty the case needs to be prosecuted and justice needs to be served otherwise you suffer a serious degredation of morale as those personnel who are professional see that nothing happens to the fuck ups.
That “treated fairly” thing works both ways.
It goes without saying that the Iraqis need to be shown justice. Not sure how to compensate them for that (other than competent, swift investigation and trial), nor where that line is drawn. That is, obviously I favor withdrawal, but that not being in the cards, what then is the remedy for a commander on the ground? Apparently policy is to front the family some cash.

“I don't have to know exactly what happened.” - ZachsMind

Swell. So they don’t recieve the protections of the law like “reasonable doubt?” Why? Because they’re in the military and therefore evil and it’s ok to fuck over evil people because...oh, wait, kind of a slope there...
I’m with you on the senseless bloodshed tho.

“Too bad all those who were and are for the war can't be put on trial.” - posted by j-urb

The prosecutors in this case are military officers. Not sure what most civilians are doing to take care of our side of the equation.

“Did anybody else ever wonder if ParisParamus and SCDB are the same guy?” -posted by pax digita

It’s a legitimate point given the mass of speculation. There could well have been some agenda here, and certainly not turning over the bodies for forensic analysis lends itself to that speculation. (“By that time the killing of Iraqis had already begun, though here again uncertainty reigns. From transcripts, conversations, documents, press reports, and above all a sense for the plausible in Iraq, it is possible to reconstruct a lot. Nonetheless, given the complexities of guerrilla war, and the confusion that exists in the minds of those closest to battle, only the barest facts are indisputable.”)
That said, I doubt less the push done by Time than the other side of that coin - that it’s in the interest of those pushing the war to avoid publicity on incidents like these.
It is not, however, in the interest of the troops on the ground, whether they like it or not.
Deliberate targeting of civilians is bad for everyone there and affects all of the people on the ground there, in a very real and life threatening way, no matter how much anyone here in comfort and safety empathizes.

As much as I dislike what I percieve to be an injustice here, I’d feel similarly if it was a Breaker Morant type situation and it was convenient to arbitrarially hang someone - anyone - to serve the conveniance of the political agenda. I’m more interested in actual justice - as much as can exist in this FUBAR situation.
I get the feeling that some of you might not care if it went that way tho, just gotta have your pound of flesh.
Empire (whether you will it or not) as long as there’s scapegoats to ally the conscience (makes it easier to blind oneself to empire with one than without).
posted by Smedleyman at 4:00 PM on October 8, 2007


I mean, that is the opposition right?
Isn’t the goal supposed to be freedom, truth, justice, all that?
You can’t support those things and not uphold them.
There’s practical, solid, and explicit evidence from what’s going on in Iraq.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:07 PM on October 8, 2007


Decimation
posted by Smedleyman at 5:00 PM on October 8, 2007




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