Week in Review Special Edition: Haditha
Generally speaking, “Week in Review” will cover a few stories – at least two. This time, I’m preoccupied with one news item, summed up in a single word we’ve all unfortunately come to know: Haditha. Not only does the story enrage me, but this is exacerbated by the raving right-wingers at FOX News (such as Bill O’Reilly and John Gibson) who actually defend the butchery of innocent civilians. For anybody not up to speed on this story—a scandal that makes Abu Ghraib look innocent in comparison—I will provide a snippet of news coverage.
If confirmed when the official findings are published next week, the incident would be the worst war crime committed by US forces in
Though on a smaller scale, it will inevitably spark comparisons with the massacre of up to 500 Vietnamese villagers at
John Kline, the Republican Congressmen for Minnesota who is a retired marine colonel, was briefed on the findings. "This was not an accident. This was direct fire by marines at civilians," he told the New York Times. "This was not an immediate response to an attack. This would be an atrocity."
A new investigation is also to be launched to determine if any of the men's superior officers tried to cover up the killings after it was first reported that the deaths were the result of a roadside bomb or a crossfire.
OK, before I start on this issue, I must admit that these are only allegations at this point. But, from all indications, this unfortunately isn’t a fairy tale invented by the left-wing media. People with inside knowledge are bracing for the worst; the facts are incredibly damning. The rest of this post will assume the gist of the story is true.
If there’s any bright spot in this breaking story, it’s that murder charges are being considered. For years and years, Saddam Hussein was referred to as the Butcher of Baghdad. Now, it is with great shame I give that nickname to every marine involved in this atrocity. The mindless slaughter of unarmed civilians is an act of cruel butchery, no different from the crimes for which David Berkowitz and Richard Ramirez rot in jail today. I reject the excuse that the marines in question were burned out on combat and simply “snapped.” A perfectly sane and compassionate individual doesn’t “snap” and mow down a row of pleading human beings. These marines must have had psychopathic tendencies, which apparently were simmering just below the surface. By the way, the same goes for those who would engage in torture, as was done at Abu Ghraib.
I’ve made no secret of the fact that I staunchly oppose the death penalty, as well as all forms of punitive torture. I will not throw away my principles to make an exception in this case. With that said, assuming this story is true, this is about as close as I’ll ever come to endorsing use of capital punishment. Savages, cloaked in the American flag and masked in combat fatigues, saw fit to exterminate two-dozen pleading, crying civilians. Even as I type it, my blood boils in anger. No longer can we, as a country, condemn the insurgent butchers who behead innocent people. Innocents aren’t cherished by our side either; we just snuff them out via different means.
But these thugs are going to face serious criminal penalties, right? Doesn’t that distinguish us from them? That remains to be seen. We don’t have such a great record with respect to punishing those who commit wartime atrocities. Just look at the Vietnam War for prime examples. Following will be quotes from one of my college papers.
The most well known instance of American brutality might be March 16, 1968’s infamous My Lai Massacre. The following factual information comes from "My Lai Massacre,” a WGBH Educational Foundation Web site. The soldiers involved, from Charlie Company, 11th Brigade, Americal Division, were in bad shape after losing many soldiers in brutal battles with an elusive enemy. Clearly, Lt. William Calley was uniquely disturbed.
Calley ordered his men to enter the village firing, though there had been no report of opposing fire. According to eyewitness reports offered after the event, several old men were bayoneted, praying women and children were shot in the back of the head, and at least one girl was raped, and then killed. For his part, Calley was said to have rounded up a group of the villagers, ordered them into a ditch, and mowed them down in a fury of machine gun fire.
By the time the firing ended permanently, more than 300 civilians were dead. The story broke in late 1969 but only one member of the unit was convicted for the
Continuing further on in the paper…
The other specific person to be singled out here is Sergeant Roy E. “the Bummer” Bumgarner. His case might be even more disturbing than that of Doyle since “the Bummer” clearly had a passion for killing and an unquenchable thirst for spilled blood. “According to a former commander, ‘the Bummer’ was rumored to have ‘personally killed over 1,500 people’ during a forty-two week stretch in
According to investigation documents, Bumgarner and a subordinate rounded up three civilians found working in a rice paddy, marched them to a secluded area and murdered them. "The Bummer" then arranged the bodies on the ground with their heads together and a grenade was exploded next to them in an attempt to cover-up their crime. Assorted weapons were then planted near the mutilated corpses to make them appear to have been enemy troops.
The massive institutional irresponsibility of the government and particularly the military during this era shines through in all its ugliness when Bumgarner’s fate is explored. His punishment for crimes such as those was a manslaughter conviction that got him a rank demotion and a $582.00 fine over six months. Of course, after his wrist slapping, he re-enlisted in the armed forces and returned to
As I wrote earlier, I’m glad to see that murder charges already are being mentioned. Without question, the alleged offense warrants them. The
Then again, that moral authority might forever have been lost when we started a war based upon false pretenses. In any event, I don’t feel much like waving a flag anymore.