Friday, December 22, 2006

Marines Charged in Iraqi Civilian Deaths - NEWS - US NATIONAL -

Marines Charged in Iraqi Civilian Deaths - NEWS - US NATIONAL -

By THOMAS WATKINS, Associated Press Writer

"CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. - With eight Marines charged in connection with the deaths of 24 Iraqi civilians, the Marine Corps sent a clear message to its officers: They will be held accountable for the actions of their subordinates.

In the biggest U.S. criminal case involving civilian deaths to come out of the Iraq war, four of the Marines _ all enlisted men _ were charged Thursday with unpremeditated murder.

But the remaining four Marines in the case are officers, the highest ranking among them a lieutenant colonel. They were charged with dereliction of duty for failing to report or properly investigate the killings in the Iraqi town of Haditha last year."

I don't know what happened here. I don't know if these men are guilty or not. I don't know much, granted.

I do know that there was a cover-up. While I applaud the fact that Officers are being taken to task for this, and not just enlisted men, I do not believe the investigation will go far enough up the chain of command. It needs to go all the way to the top. To the clown in the picture.

I tried to remember my own training over 30 years ago. We have all seen television shows where police are training. Everyone has seen the excercise where police officers have to differentiate between pop-up targets of civilians and bad guys. They are supposed to react quickly, shooting the bad guys and well, not shooting the civilians. They are trained to defend life. Simply put, Marines are not. Asking Assault Troops to do a Police Officer's job is like asking the Bull to guard the China Shop.

Marines are taught to take life. So are Soldiers and Sailors and Airmen. The conditioning we receive hardens us to the loss of life of innocents. How else could an Air Force pilot drop a bomb, "smart" or otherwise, on a target that he knows may have civilian occupants as well as hostiles. A certain amount of civilian deaths is "acceptable". The military calls this "collateral damage". The difference here is that these men are accused of actively and knowingly seeking out civilians and killing them.

What has to be determined here is whether these civilians were killed in a "crossfire" as some of the accused Marines claim, or if, in fact, some of the "civilians had fired on them, as has also been claimed, or if the men in question just lost it and took their frustrations out on innocent people. Personally, I don't know. How do you tell the civilians from the hostiles in an environment where you don't know who the enemy is until he shoots at you?

Like I've said over and over...I don't know. What I do know is that this madness has gone on long enough. Our young people are caught in the middle of a civil war with no clear enemy and no defined objective other than to "move forward", not "cut and run" and "get the job done". So I'm willing to wait and see what happens and I'm trying to give these guys the benefit of the doubt.

It's only going to get worse. Adding more troops to the madness will only make it much worse. It's time to bring our young people home.

Marine Corps Investigations


Enemy of The Republic has an Excellent post on this. I recommend visiting.
Betrayal of What's Right: When Soldiers Lose Faith

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