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Thursday, June 01, 2006

Time Magazine, Murtha and the Taxi Driver Incident in Haditha

For the first time today, I read both articles about Haditha written by Time Magazine. A few things that I have not heard before jumped out at me...

"For US troops, Haditha, set among date-palm groves along the Euphrates River, was inhospitable territory; every day the Marines found scores of bombs buried in the dirt roads near their base." - March 2006 article "One Morning in Haditha"

"Their combat experience seemed to prepare them for the ordeal of serving in an insurgent stronghold like Haditha, the kind of place where the enemy attacks US troops from the cover of mosques, schools and homes and uses civilians as shields, complicating Marine engagement rules to shoot only when threatened." - May 28, 2006 article "The Shame of Kilo Company"

Couple those statements with the Guardian article from August 2005 "Under US noses, brutal insurgents rule Sunni citadel" and you get the picture of an extremely dangerous town. According to the article in the Guardian, the residents of Haditha believe that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is a "celebrity". This is a town that gives away DVDs of beheadings of "American Agents" for free. Six US snipers were ambushed and killed in Haditha in August 2005. Shortly after the ambush, 14 Marines were killed by three landmines outside of Haditha. Certainly not the quiet little family town that the media would have you believe.

Time also quoted US military officials "familiar with the investigation" about specifics of that day in November. The statements from the anonymous officials confirms that the Marines were not deliberately targeting civilians - but no one is reporting these "leaks" from the investigation...

From the March Article...
"They (Marines) thought they heard the clack-clack sound of an AK-47 being racked and readied for fire. Believing they were about to be ambushed, the Marines broke down the two doors simultaneously and fired their weapons."

"The Marines say they then started taking fire from the direction of a second house, prompting them to break down the door of that house and throw in a grenade, blowing up a propane tank in the kitchen."

"In all two AK-47s were discovered."

From the May Article...
"The Marines made hand and arm signals for the taxi to stop. But as the taxi halted near the first humvee, a bomb under the fourth humvee exploded, killing it driver - Lance Corporal Miguel (TJ) Terrazas... Suspecting that the four students in the taxi either triggered the bomb or were acting as spotters, the Marines ordered the men and the driver, who by then had exited the taxi, to lie on the ground. Instead, they ran and the Marines shot and killed them."

This is how Murtha described the taxi incident on Good Morning America...
"The first five victims in Haditha were unarmed Iraqi civilians, who were riding in a taxi near the Marine convoy soon after it was hit by an improvised explosive device. The five Iraqis were said to be running away when the Marines shot them, although none of the Iraqis were armed."

By leaving out the questionable connection to the triggering of the IED or the possibility of spotters and neglecting to mention that the men ran after being ordered to lie on the ground, it changes the entire context of the incident. But we would not want the specifics to get in the way of a prime Iraq War Bashing opportunity.

While we're on the subject of Murtha, here's a few other choice comments from his GMA interview.

"Hopefully, this is an isolated incident." [hopefully?]

"Day after day these roadside bombs go off. They don't know who the enemy is. Then they kill innocent people."

"There's no question in my mind about what happened here."

"I will not excuse murder, and this is what happened."

So much for the claims that Murtha never called the soldiers "murderers". So much for "no rush to judgment".

There's also a report from the AP via FoxNews about Capt. James Kimber, one of the Marine Commanders reported as being removed from duty after the Haditha incident...

"A Marine captain who was relieved of command after members of his battalion were accused of killing civilians in Haditha, Iraq, denied any role in the slayings and complained that he had become a "political casualty." Kimber said he first learned about the shootings in February when he heard that a Time magazine reporter was asking questions about civilian deaths.

Kimber said he heard nothing about a civilian massacre during city council meetings and talks with local leaders. "It would have been huge, there would have been no question it would have filtered down to us," he said. "We reported no significant atmospheric change as a result of that day."

Other interesting tidbits that are now seeing the light of day...

Marine Dad Backs Son's Comrades Involved in Iraq Shootings
The father of a U.S. Marine killed by a roadside bomb in western Iraq in November believes his son's comrades did nothing wrong despite a criminal investigation into events that left more than 20 Iraqi civilians dead, including women and children.
"It's very hard for me, I don't even listen to the news," Martin Terrazas said of reports of the mass killings in Haditha, in Iraq's Anbar province. "The insurgents were hiding in there with the kids."

From Fellow Freeper Velveeta -
">>>>He told Time the Marines claimed the victims had been killed by shrapnel, "But it was obvious to us that there were no organs slashed by shrapnel. The bullet wounds were very apparent. Most of the victims were shot in the chest and the head—from close range."<<<

Please note the 10 year old survivor, Iman (Eman) Walid (Waleed) has SHRAPNEL wounds on her left leg as she shows the reporter here."

From my favorite blog - Sweetness & Light - Haditha Doctor Was Arrested, Hates US

The next few weeks leading up to the release of the official report of the investigation should be very interesting....

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