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Haditha

From everything we know so far, Haditha is shaping up as a very bad news story. “Worse than Abu Ghraib” is a description we’re often hearing, but that comparison mostly points up how relatively trivial Abu Ghraib–the most over-blown news story of modern times–was. If the allegations of multiplr murders at Haditha are true, they are of course infinitely worse than Abu Ghraib.

One of the most disgusting aspects of the story so far is the behavior of ex-Marine Jack Murtha, who has been making the talk show rounds trumpeting claims of atrocity:

A bomb rocked a military convoy in Haditha on Nov. 19, killing a Marine. Marines then shot and killed unarmed civilians in a taxi at the scene and went into two homes and shot other people, according to Murtha.

Murtha said high-level reports he received indicated that no one fired upon the Marines and there was no military action against the U.S. forces after the initial explosion. Yet the deaths were not seriously investigated until March because an early probe was stifled within days of the incident, he said.

“Who covered it up, why did they cover it up, why did they wait so long?” Murtha said on “This Week” on ABC. “We don’t know how far it goes. It goes right up the chain of command.”

The investigation is not yet complete, but I guess we don’t need to wait for its conclusions, since Murtha is getting “high-level reports,” i.e., leaks. The antiwar forces are licking their chops at the prospect of being able to use Haditha to discredit the efforts of hundreds of thousands of American and coalition servicemen in Iraq, just as My Lai was used to discredit our sacrifices in Vietnam. For now, all the rest of us can do is wait for the Marine Corps to finish its investigation and release its report.

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