A CNN Reporter On Haditha

Maybe John Murtha should read this and then take a deep breath before continuing to slander U.S. Marines before the Haditha incident has been fully investigated.

It actually took me a while to put all the pieces together — that I know these guys, the U.S. Marines at the heart of the alleged massacre of Iraqi civilians in Haditha.

I don’t know why it didn’t register with me until now. It was only after scrolling through the tapes that we shot in Haditha last fall, and I found footage of some of the officers that had been relieved of their command, that it hit me.

I know the Marines that were operating in western al Anbar, from Husayba all the way to Haditha. I went on countless operations in 2005 up and down the Euphrates River Valley. I was pinned on rooftops with them in Ubeydi for hours taking incoming fire, and I’ve seen them not fire a shot back because they did not have positive identification on a target. (Watch a Marine’s anguish over deaths — 2:12)

I saw their horror when they thought that they finally had identified their target, fired a tank round that went through a wall and into a house filled with civilians. They then rushed to help the wounded — remarkably no one was killed.

I was with them in Husayba as they went house to house in an area where insurgents would booby-trap doors, or lie in wait behind closed doors with an AK-47, basically on suicide missions, just waiting for the Marines to come through and open fire. There were civilians in the city as well, and the Marines were always keenly aware of that fact. How they didn’t fire at shadows, not knowing what was waiting in each house, I don’t know. But they didn’t.

And I was with them in Haditha, a month before the alleged killings last November of some 24 Iraqi civilians.

Read it all. I know Murtha is not going to stop “bomb throwing” (as Bill O’Reilly referred to it on his show tonight). In fact, it is probably going to get worse before it gets better. Wesley Clark, not to be outdone by Murtha, joined in and defended him tonight on The O’Reilly Factor. When the Haditha report is complete, if the results are as many claim and a massacre did occur, those guilty should be punished to the fullest extent of the law, and then some. In the meantime, especially on Memorial Day weekend, it is inexcusable to rush to judgment in order to take political advantage, and in the process slander an entire group for the actions of a few.

Update: Bruce Kesler has more at Democracy Project.

Update II: Mary Katharine has a good roundup of stories and Sister Toldjah has more.

Update III: John Hawkins makes an excellent point that even if the worst is true, it helps to show that incidents like the one alleged at Haditha, are the exception, not the rule. Read it all.

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