The unfolding investigation of last November's events in Haditha reveals much more about the Bush administration's critics than it does about the U.S. armed forces. Although the inquiry is ongoing, it appears that 24 unarmed Iraqi civilians were deliberately murdered, allegedly by American Marines seeking revenge for a fallen comrade. If true, the episode was a war crime, something that must be--and no doubt will be--severely punished. However, the administration's critics are already cynically leveraging the Haditha killings as a means of undercutting the president, heedless of the effect this may have on American national interests.
This is very important stuff from today's Wall St. Journal. Consider also this from embedded free-lancer Michael Yon on the issue of context:
It is hard to define the context in a place where the enemy regularly tortures and beheads people, and murders children on a daily basis, and this seems to raise scant ire. They can kill a dozen kids, or come to a classroom and murder a teacher in front of young students, and still be called rebels, or freedom fighters. I call them terrorists. A smart Australian recently told me during an interview that terrorist is not a subjective term; after all, terror is their principle weapon, and so the term is accurate.
He's embedded and not told what to write. This is how U.S. troops operate:
In the matter of Haditha, what we do know is that an investigation is underway. The results of that investigation have not been issued publicly and it is uncertain whether those results will include criminal charges. Because we have one of the only militaries on earth that actually investigates its own troops so openly, at the end of the day, we can and do hold our people to very high standards. Granted, in this case, apparently it took a media pry-bar to crack the lid, but we also have one of the only militaries in the world where a writer even one who is flagrantly anti-military can embed with combat troops.Foreign journalists often contact me for advice on how to get in with troops other than Americans in Iraq. American forces are easy to go out with. A journalist need only contact the Combined Press Information Center in Baghdad, and he or she can be getting shot at while dodging roadside bombs as early as next week. But it can be extremely difficult, unless the journalist in question is a known sympathizer, to go out with militaries of other nations. [Italics added]
I read that as a sign that we are superior to other countries in openness and honesty. But you would not think so to read our daily papers, etc.