W. Thomas Smith, Jr

Retired Marine Colonel and serving Congressman Jack Murtha (D-Penn.) has sold his soul: Not to the devil, but to his constituency. And I urge him now to do the only honorable thing: relinquish his sword and his Eagle, Globe, and Anchor. At the very least, he should apologize to the Marine Corps and the American people for making an utterly outlandish statement in an attempt to keep the fire hot in the cut-and-run camp, of which he is a primary stoker.

At a press conference earlier this month, Murtha stated, “they [a squad of U.S. Marines from Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines operating in Iraq] killed innocent civilians in cold blood. And that's what the report is going to tell.” He was referring of course to the November 2005 action at Haditha, a remote farming community in Iraq’s Al Anbar Province, where Marines allegedly killed a number of innocent Iraqi civilians – including women and children – following an ambush launched against the Americans.

Keep in mind, “in cold blood” means “deliberately or cruelly; ruthlessly, showing no concern or passion, a complete lack of emotion.” In other words, killing without heart or mercy. How the Congressman, who was not present with the Marines at the time of the action, purports to know how the men involved felt or what they actually did is beyond me.

Here’s what we know for a fact:

On the morning of November 19, a Marine Humvee was struck by a roadside bomb, killing Lance Corporal Miguel Terrazas. Then, insurgents are said to have opened fire on the Marines from several directions. The Marines counterattacked. Several enemy combatants were killed, and apparently innocent civilians were, as well.

Within hours, I received an e-mailed press release from Multi-National Force West at Camp Fallujah, Iraq, stating: “A Marine assigned to Regimental Combat Team 2, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward), was killed in action when his vehicle was attacked with an improvised explosive device attack while conducting combat operations against the enemy in the vicinity of Haditha.”

The following day, I received a second release from the 2nd Marine Division at Camp Blue Diamond in Ramadi, a portion of which reads: “A U.S. Marine and 15 Iraqi civilians were killed yesterday from the blast of a roadside bomb in Haditha. Immediately following the bombing, gunmen attacked the convoy with small arms fire. Iraqi Army soldiers and Marines returned fire killing eight insurgents and wounding another.”

W. Thomas Smith, Jr

W. Thomas Smith Jr. is a former U.S. Marine rifle-squad leader and counterterrorism instructor. He is the author of six books, and he has covered war and conflict in the Balkans, on the West Bank, in Iraq, and Lebanon. Visit him online at http://www.uswriter.com.
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