Was Haditha A Hoax?

Clarice Feldman has a piece in The American Thinker that puts into narrative form the research Sweetness and Light has been gathering which casts doubt onto Rep. Murtha‘s and the media‘s charge that the US troops massacred civilians in Haditha. After outlining the research so far, Ms. Feldman comes to this conclusion:

The sum and substance of this thumbnail sketch on the Haditha claims is that it follows so closely the template for the TANG and Plame stories. Take a reporter with an anti-Administration agenda, an interested group (think of the Mashhadanis as the VIPS in the Plame case or Burkett and Lucy Ramirez in the TANG case) and a story too good to be checked and circumstances where the people attacked are limited in what they can quickly respond to and you get a story which smells to me like it will soon be unraveled.

I blogged earlier that the media need to take a step back on the charge of a US massacre in Haditha for three reasons: 1) the investigation is not yet complete; 2) we have recently learned that the investigation into massacre charges in Ishaqi proved to be unfounded; and 3) we have reports from troops that terrorists* create massacres so as to blame US troops with the expectation the media will report on them.

In the same way we don’t know a massacre occurred in Haditha, we also don’t know for sure that Haditha was a hoax. However, Sweetness’ research so far is indicating that the allegation that US troops deliberately killed Iraqi civilians doesn’t look as clear cut as Rep. Murtha and the media have reported.

*Good catch commenter Joe. I changed the word “insurgents” to “terrorists.”

Update: A minister imbedded with his son’s US Marine group in Haditha and says there was no indication that anything bad happened.

The father spent 12 days with the unit in January in Haditha as a reporter with the Sacramento, California-based K-Love Christian Radio Network. He also ministered to the troops.

“It was freezing cold and everybody gathered around this kind of metal fireplace where we chopped up wooden pallets and burned them and we’d sit there and talk about home and family and the deepest things with these kids,” he said in an interview on Thursday. “Not once did anything come up that something horrible had happened.”

“They talked about the first battle of Falluja and things that haunt them. They’d talk about they had mortars land right beside them that were duds and three landed right beside them and a third one went off and it injured the buddy next to them and they didn’t get hit.”

He said he also did not feel animosity from Iraqis he encountered while on patrol with Kilo company in Haditha.

“You would think that if something horrible had happened they would just disappear or just have nothing to do with these folks,” Mathes said. “They came out on the streets and brought us bread and tea and invited us into their homes. The businessmen would have them come into their shops.”

Christopher Price, a Georgia-based Presbyterian minister who traveled with Mathes to Iraq, also reported he saw no signs of bad feelings between Iraqis and Kilo company.

Additional thoughts: The two ministers who were imbedded with Kilo company were in Haditha in January, two months after the massacre in Haditha supposedly took place. The point these ministers are making is that if something terrible had happened in Haditha two months earlier, the Iraqi civilians wouldn’t have been as friendly and welcoming to them when they arrived.

Update II: Dan Riehl does a great job pointing out the media’s inconsistencies and errors in their reporting of the “massacre.”

Update III: Time Magazine issued corrections to two articles that really jump-started the Haditha massacre story. In the articles, the author, Tim McGirk, asserts that a young journalism student videotaped the bodies of the Iraqi civilians at the morgue and at the home where the massacre purportedly took place. The video tape was then given to Time Magazine, which then used it as its key source for the two articles that insinuated that US Marines massacred the civilians.

Sweetness and Light has the scoop:

Time had originally reported that it was Human Rights Watch who had provided the tape [of Haditha victims]. They then retracted that and claimed that it came from Hammurabi which works with Human Rights Watch. And now they have backed off even that.

Note that even now Time still does not correct the intentionally false portrayal of the source of the videotape that they gave in all of their original stories and interviews.

Time’s source, Thaer Thabit al-Hadithi, is not a “young man.” He is not a “budding journalism student.”

And al-Haditha is not separate and apart from the Hammurabi Human Rights Group. Nor is he a man who wanted to remain anonymous because he feared for his safety…

…Al-Haditha is 43 years old. He “created” Hammurabi 16 months ago. (Before that he worked directly under the head of Haditha’s hospital, Dr. Walid al-Obeidi, who pronounced that all the victims had been shot at close range.)

In fact, al-Haditha is one of Hammurabi’s only two members. He serves as its “Secretary General” while the only other member, Abdul-Rahman al-Mashhadani, performs as its “Chairman.”)

Al-Haditha is the one and only person behind this tape. He made it. And he sat on it for four months before turning it over to Time magazine.

But it looks like Time did not consider these mundane facts about the maker of this tape compelling enough. So they made up additional romantic details and invented the involvement of the “internationally respected Human Rights Watch” to burnish the video’s provenance.

It’s something Time does on a regular basis.

This is a massacre of the truth.

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