Thursday, June 01, 2006

Marine Officers Gave False Information To Commanders About Haditha Massacre

Apologists who mistakenly believe that they are supporting the troops when they issue chickenhawkish defenses of war crimes usually compound their error by claiming that there was no cover-up of the incident at Haditha.

The apologists are flat out wrong or intentionally lying when they assert that there was no cover-up.

The U.S. military investigation of how Marine commanders handled the reporting of events last November in the Iraqi town of Haditha, where troops allegedly killed 24 Iraqi civilians, will conclude that some officers gave false information to their superiors, who then failed to adequately scrutinize reports that should have caught their attention, an Army official said yesterday.

There you have it, wingnuts. Giving false information to one's superiors is not only an unforgivable breach of military discipline, but it constitutes a cover-up. The cover-up, which started in the after-action reports, is believed by military investigators to go even higher.

(A three-month probe, led by Army Maj. Gen. Eldon Bargewell) has pursued two lines of investigation: not only whether falsehoods were passed up the chain of command, but also whether senior Marine commanders were derelict in their duty to monitor the actions of subordinates. The inquiry is expected to conclude by the end of this week, the official added...

One of Bargewell's conclusions is that the training of troops for Iraq has been flawed, the official said, with too much emphasis on traditional war-fighting skills and insufficient focus on how to wage a counterinsurgency campaign. Currently the director of operations for a top headquarters in Iraq, Bargewell is a career Special Operations officer and therefore more familiar than most regular Army officers with the precepts of counterinsurgency, such as using the minimum amount of force necessary to succeed. Also, as an Army staff sergeant in Vietnam in 1971, Bargewell received the Distinguished Service Cross, the Army's second-highest honor, for actions in combat while a member of long-range reconnaissance team operating deep behind enemy lines.

In anticipation of the Bargewell report, the Marine Corps has placed on hold its plan to nominate Maj. Gen. Stephen T. Johnson, who was the top Marine in Iraq when the Haditha incident occurred, for promotion to lieutenant general, a senior Pentagon official said. That decision reflects concern that the report may conclude that leadership failures occurred at senior levels in Iraq...

One of Bargewell's findings is that two failures occurred in reporting the Haditha incident up the Marine chain of command. The first is that a squad leader alleged to have been centrally involved in the shootings, made a false statement to his superiors when he reported that 15 Iraqi civilians had been killed in the roadside bombing that killed a Marine and touched off the incident. (The other nine dead initially were reported by the Marines to have been insurgent fighters but are now believed to have been civilians.) That report was entered into an official database of "significant acts" maintained by the U.S. military in Iraq, the Pentagon official said...

A second and more troubling failure occurred later in the day, this official said, when a Marine human exploitation team, which helped collect the dead, should have observed that the Iraqis were killed by gunshot, not by a bomb. The team's reporting chain lay outside that of the other Marines -- who were members of the 3rd Battalion of the 1st Marines -- and went up through military intelligence channels directly to the 1st Marine Division's intelligence director, he said. Had this second unit reported accurately what it witnessed, he indicated, that would have set off alarms and prodded commanders to investigate, he explained.

Bargewell's report also is expected to address why the Marine Corps let stand statements issued by official spokesmen that were known to be false at least two months ago. On Nov. 20, the day after the shootings, Marine Capt. Jeffrey S. Pool told reporters that the Iraqis died in a crossfire, stating that, "Iraqi army soldiers and Marines returned fire, killing eight insurgents." Time magazine, which first began making inquiries about the incident in January, reported that when one of its staff members asked Pool about the allegations, he accused the journalist of being duped by terrorists. "I cannot believe you're buying any of this," the magazine said the officer wrote in an e-mail. "This falls into the same category of any aqi [al-Qaeda in Iraq] propaganda." Another military representative, Lt. Col. Michelle Martin-Hing, told the magazine that insurgents caused the civilian deaths by placing the Iraqis in the line of Marine fire.

Hopefully Capt. Pool's e-mail makes it's way to his next promotion board.

The Bargewell investigation evolved from a preliminary inquiry conducted in January by Army Col. Gregory Watt, the New York Times reported yesterday. Watt was asked by senior commanders to look into why there had been no formal Marine Corps review of the Haditha incident. After reviewing death certificates that showed the 24 Iraqis had been killed by gunshot rather than a bomb, as the Marine report had stated, Watt recommended a broader inquiry.

When the Marine leadership in Washington reviewed his report, a senior Marine said yesterday, it asked that an Army general step in to conduct the investigation, another indication that the actions of Johnson and other top officers have been a subject of Bargewell's review.

6 Comments:

Blogger Dawn Benko said...

Tried and convicted by? Oh you. You're privy to all the evidence, eh? Lucky you.

6/01/2006 11:19 PM  
Blogger Effwit said...

Dawn:

No where in my piece does it say that these people were convicted.

Yes, I am privy to enough of the evidence to know that the military considers this matter serious. Apologists for the administration disregard the damage to the reputation of the U.S. from these massacres.

Your odd publicly-stated incuriousness about allegations of blatant war crimes is interesting...

6/02/2006 9:00 AM  
Blogger DrewL said...

Not the first time and won't be the last that American troops embarass themselves and this country while overseas. Of course, it's a very small minority of troops who drag down the reputations of all the others, but isn't that what military discipline and training is supposed to control? We don't need them shooting up a town or hosing down a Japanese school girl. Doing such nasty things tends to invite just a bit of international attention, scrutiny and scorn.

As in any endeavor, the few hooligans tend to ruin things for the majority of good soldiers. But that's no excuse. Just because they are U.S. soldiers doesn't necessarily mean they're "good guys". Most of them are. But let's not bury our heads in the sand, Ms. Benko, by trying to pretend that there aren't some "bad guys" mixed in. They must be held accountable by all of us. Our standing in the world - whatever's left of it - depends on it.

6/02/2006 11:33 PM  
Blogger Effwit said...

DrewL:

Quite correct.

The pitiful attempts of apologists to play down this incident doesn't portray a flattering picture of their moral development.

I wonder if there is any outrage bad enough that they wouldn't feel compelled to defend the administration over.

6/03/2006 7:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Moral development ? what a quaint notion... I think I'll take a break now to read Crime and Punishment... :-) -- just kidding -- so nice to feel the glow of moral outrage on blogs such as this...

Dena

6/03/2006 10:58 AM  
Blogger Effwit said...

Dena:

LOL

You should see the moral outrage the wingnutty blogs exhibit towards anyone who opposes the Iraq war.

They have been known to advocate the death penalty for anti-war bloggers.

6/03/2006 5:35 PM  

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