Sunday, May 28


Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) has characterized the slaughter of Iraqi civilians in the village of Haditha as "worse than Abu Ghraib," which president Bush said in his joint press conference with Tony Blair had plagued our efforts in Iraq. This time, the story isn't going away. Sen. John Warner (R-VA) told George Stephanopoulos on This Week this morning that he would hold hearings on the matter to discover "what happened and when it happened and what was the immediate reaction of the senior officers in the Marine Corps when they began to gain knowledge of it."

That's not too reassuring, though, since Warner went on to say, "I can assure the American public this morning, as chairman of the Armed Services Committee, I'll do exactly what we did with Abu Ghraib." As we all know, that resulted in exactly zero accountability for anyone involved except for lower-ranking Guardsmen and soldiers. Don Rumsfeld, Gen. Geoffrey Miller, Gen. Sanchez et al are still merrily rolling along.

We will likely see a reprise of those results, with the U.S. Marines involved in the Hidatha murders, some of whom were on their third tour of duty in Iraq in three years, being strung up by their thumbs while their superiors escape any responsibility.

No flag officer seems interested in going to the mat for any of the young men in the US military who stand accused of war crimes — and who very likely will be found guilty on most counts. This is a perfect replay of the lack of any responsibility — not even the most infinitesimal drop of responsibility — exhibited by senior military and civilian leaders after the Abu Ghraib abuse scandal.

Instead, modern American military leaders, like trained dogs, sit silently alert. They are not alert to the physical, psychological and moral damage to Americans in uniform brought on by enforcing a wrongheaded police state in a shattered Iraq. Instead, they are alert only to any sign that their political masters may be displeased. Barring that, our great military leaders are as silent as the tombs in which nearly 2,500 Americans already rest.


While the truth of what I have written here is verifiable by every American soldier and Marine in Iraq, and every general officer they serve, not a single flag officer on active duty will risk his reputation as a good boy who sits and stays.

We will figuratively hang those Marines who participated in the slaughter at Haditha. We will also crucify those who did not participate, but failed to stop it, and those who helped to cover it up. We will not pity those young Americans we trained to kill when they failed to show mercy in a place they don’t understand, on a mission as frivolous as it is insincere. We will hold them responsible.

We ought to set our sights a bit higher, and begin in a serious way to politically destroy those people in Washington who placed our young men and women in Iraq, on such a frivolous and insincere mission. Those worthy of a criminal punishment include much of the Senate, many in the House, and of course, our great decider, his untrustworthy Vice President, and their Pentagon senior staff.

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