WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Cold blood is a "hot" topic. For pontificating politicians and the potentates of the press it invariably trumps good news. Even the violent demise of terror-mastermind Abu Musab al-Zarqawi wasn't enough to push the bad news off the front page for long. At 7:30 a.m. EST on June 8, the masters of American media paused their drumbeat of negativity from the Global War on Terror just long enough to announce that U.S. Special Operations Forces had killed Zarqawi. The barons of bombast allowed President George W. Bush a few minutes of air-time to commend our troops and note that they had administered "a severe blow to Al Qaeda." Then it was business as usual, bashing the administration, trashing our troops, and making sure that the words "Haditha" and "atrocity" are firmly branded in the minds of everyone with access to American media.
Here's a "self-test" to prove how well this "branding" works. Clip or print this article. Put it in a pocket and a week from now, whip it out and ask a "representative sample" of your family, friends and associates two questions: "What happened at Bakuba?" And then, "What happened at Haditha?" Tabulate the results. Prediction: Eight of ten will be able to tell you something about "Marines accused of killing civilians" in Haditha. Fewer than three in ten will know anything about Bakuba -- and only a few will even know that it's in Iraq.
Bakuba, in case you have already forgotten -- or never heard -- is where Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, one of the most brutal terrorists in history, was tracked down and killed by Joint Task Force 145 -- a special air-sea-ground unit of the U.S. Special Operations Command. That was good news -- and, therefore, transitory. Haditha, on the other hand, is here to stay.
What did or didn't happen in Haditha, Iraq last November will remain a full-throttle topic for every "talk-jock" with a microphone for months to come. TV, radio, and newspaper pundits, armchair admirals, bar-room brigadiers and pontificating politicians are all openly opining on the fates of those involved. Most want you to remember the "horror" of "American crimes" in Haditha. Others purport to be "outraged" at the "mistreatment" of the U.S. personnel allegedly involved. Some politicians, like Rep. Jack Murtha, D-Pa., claim to "know" that Americans committed murder "in cold blood." None of them know what they are talking about because not one of them has seen the final reports of ongoing investigations.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.