Where are O.J. Simpson's and Bill Clinton's defenders to complain about the "rush to judgment" concerning the alleged Marine atrocities in Haditha? Why are their sympathies free flowing for criminal defendants, but nowhere to be seen when military personnel are accused of wrongdoing?
What has been reported about the Haditha tragedy is that a terrorist improvised explosive device (IED) blew a Marine in half, literally, and wounded several others. Afterward, our soldiers responded to the attack, killing 24 men, women and children.
We don't know for sure yet if the killings were indiscriminate or even if those killed were victims, as opposed to being armed, hostile and threatening to our soldiers.
We do have reports that Haditha is a terrorist hotbed -- referred to by some as a miniature Taliban-like state -- in which the terrorists rule with an iron fist and perform daily executions of those not sufficiently obedient to their rule, or Sharia law, or who knows what else. We are told that Haditha citizens live in fear and may prefer to cooperate with the terrorists purely for self-preservation.
Reportedly, a preliminary military inquiry found evidence that the attacks were unprovoked and that earlier statements by certain Marines that the civilians were killed by a roadside bomb rather than gunfire have been discredited.
Admittedly, the allegations are highly troubling, as is the initial finding that some Marines may have made false statements in their initial reports. But we must remember that at this point, they are just allegations.
While much of this seems damning, there are anomalies in the reports that point toward mitigation of the Marines' conduct. There is evidence, not yet conclusive, that Marines received small arms fire from the houses nearby and returned it. Sometime thereafter, the Marines rushed the houses and killed those inside. Previous media reports on Haditha have told of civilian complicity in attacks against U.S. and Iraqi soldiers. A 12-year-old survivor admitted that she knew in advance of the plot to ambush the Marine convoy with an IED detonation. If she knew, how likely is it that her parents, other family members and neighbors were unaware of the plan?
Let me be clear. If our soldiers killed unarmed, non-hostile, innocent bystander-type civilians, even if in a rage over the murder of their colleague, they deserve to be punished in accordance with the Uniform Code of Military Justice. No nation holds its soldiers to higher account than the United States and that will certainly be true in this case.
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