Thursday, June 01, 2006

"I Wish I Had Died With Them"

From today's Los Angeles Times:

The killing began shortly after sunrise on a November day. As a U.S. patrol rolled through Haditha, a homemade bomb exploded beneath the belly of a Humvee, rocking the sleepy riverside town.

"The Americans who were in the first vehicle came back to the damaged car. They started to scream and shout," said a gray-haired shopkeeper who would give his name only as Abu Mukarram. He said he watched the scene unfold from his bedroom window. "After some minutes, everything was quiet. During this quiet, no bullets were shot. They were moments of expectation."

Ten minutes passed in silence. Then Abu Mukarram heard the crack of the first bullets.

Planted by insurgents at the edge of the road, the bomb had killed Lance Cpl. Miguel Terrazas, a 20-year-old Marine from El Paso. Survivors and witnesses said Terrazas' death drove some of the troops into a murderous rage.

Survivors say that furious Marines rampaged through a quiet street, bursting into homes and gunning down Iraqi civilians -- including children, women and an elderly man in a wheelchair. Their account appears to match details emerging from a military investigation of the deaths of at least 24 Iraqi civilians on the morning of Nov. 19.

The details of what happened when the Marines rampaged through Haditha are sickening:

After the roadside bombing, the Marines arrived first at the door of Abdul Hamid Hassan Ali, 89, an amputee who used a wheelchair. They shot him, then turned their guns on his three sons and their families, survivors said.

Waleed Abdul Hameed, a 48-year-old worker in Al Anbar's religious affairs office, was among the first of the family members to be gunned down. His 9-year-old daughter, Eman, said she was still wearing her pajamas when the Marines arrived. Her 7-year-old brother, Abdul Rahman, said he hid his face with a blanket when his father was shot.

A few minutes later, the boy saw his mother fall to the ground, dying.

"I saw her while she was crying," he said. "She fell down on the floor bleeding." Speaking days ago in Haditha, months after the attacks, the boy broke into tears, covered his eyes with his hands, and began to mutter to himself.

At his side, his elder sister began to speak again. Eman described how the two had waited for help, the bodies of their family members sprawled on the floor.

"We were scared," she said. "I tried to hide under the bed." With shrapnel injuries to her legs, she lay still for two hours.

When the shooting began, Eman's aunt, Hibba Abdullah snatched her 5-month-old niece off the floor. The baby's mother had dropped her in shock after seeing her husband gunned down. Clutching the child, Abdullah ran out of the house. She and the baby, Aasiya, survived.

The baby's mother "completely collapsed when they killed her husband in front of her," Abdullah said. "I ran away carrying Aasiya outside the house, but when the Americans returned they killed Asma, the mother of the child."

Abdullah's 39-year-old husband also slipped out of the house and ran to warn his cousins nearby. But he crossed paths with the Americans on his way back; he died of gunshot wounds to the shoulder and head, Abdullah said.

Seven family members were killed: Ali and his wife; their three sons and a daughter-in-law; and their 5-year-old grandson. Only one of the household's adults survived.

The Marines stopped next at the home of customs official Younis Salim Nusaif, 45, his wife, Aida Yassin, and their six children. The 42-year-old Yassin was in bed that morning, recovering from a recent operation. Her sister had come to stay with the family and help with housework while she recuperated.

Everyone was at home when the troops arrived. And all but one 12-year-old girl were slain. Along with the parents and visiting sister, four girls and a boy, their ages ranging from 4 to 15, were shot by the Marines, said neighbors and the surviving child, Safa Younis Salim.

During a meeting with a reporter, Safa, with a round face and big brown eyes, was withdrawn and reluctant to talk about the attack. Only after her relatives coaxed her did she describe how she played dead. The Americans yelled in the faces of her family members before shooting them, she said, then kicked them and hit the bodies with their guns.

The schoolgirl said she lay on the ground, covered with her sister's blood, and pretended to be dead while her family died around her. Her sister's blood spurted fast; it was like a water tap, she said.

"I feel sorry. I was wishing to be alive," said Safa. "Now I wish I had died with them."

The troops moved along the street to another home. There, they killed four brothers, whose ages ranged from 20 to 38, a woman from the family said. First the Marines herded the women outside, pointed guns at their heads and ordered them to stay still, said the woman, who did not want her name published.

The men were grouped inside. Then the sound of gunfire rang out.

"After some minutes the soldiers ran out and left the house," she said. The women went inside and found the men dead.

"They were shot in different parts of their bodies," the woman said. "Spots of blood covered the place. Blood was coming out."

The last to die apparently came upon the scene by chance. Four university students, two of them brothers, and their taxi driver drove too close to the spot where the families had been killed. Witnesses said U.S. troops stopped their car, ordered them to get out and shot them.

When the killing was over, the Americans continued to guard the street, keeping relatives away, townspeople said. Eventually, the troops took the bodies to the hospital, a medical source in Haditha said.

The response on the right has been just as sickening.

Michelle Malkin approvingly quotes James Crossan -- one of two Marines whose Humvee was hit by a roadside bomb; the other Marine, Miguel Terrazas, was killed -- as he expresses his lack of concern for the villagers who were massacred and suggests that the children who were killed might have been helping the insurgents.

Rick Moran gives us the "traitorous left giving aid and comfort to the enemy" canard again:

... Does the left seriously believe that they have not undermined the war effort by their words and actions? Are they so myopically stupid that they can't understand that these words and actions have given enormous comfort and encouragement to the enemy?

Haditha has handed our foreign enemies a propaganda victory. Why does the domestic left have to assist them in this? The answer to that question is simple; because both the insurgents in Iraq who are killing Americans and our domestic left have the exact same agenda; the defeat of the United States in Iraq.

In other words, it's unpatriotic and anti-American to condemn mass murder -- if our guys are the murderers. Supporting the war and cheerleading for the Marine Corps is a higher ethical and moral value than speaking up against crimes committed against innocent Iraqis in the name of that war. American soldiers killed by insurgents in Iraq deserve our compassion and support; but a young mother holding her 5-month-old infant who collapses to the floor sobbing after Marines gun down her husband in front of her does not. Weeping for that woman who saw her child's father murdered before her very eyes and who herself was murdered by the same Marines is "giving comfort and encouragement to the enemy."

I can only take that as confirmation, then, that Rick Moran agrees the murdered villagers of Haditha and their surviving family members were not and are not our enemies. Because there is no way even Rick could believe that those survivors are feeling "comfort and encouragement" right now.

And Jed Babbin at Real Clear Politics attacks "irresponsible war critics" and leftists who he says are using Haditha as a political tool to undermine Americans' "support for the troops" and for our "noble cause."

No matter how quickly military investigators work, and no matter how firmly any crimes are punished, the anti-war left won't be satisfied unless Haditha becomes the lever that pushes President Bush to admit the war was wrong and set a time to withdraw from Iraq. My Lai - the March 16, 1968 massacre of about 500 Vietnamese by US soldiers - was first covered up and then exploded in headlines, courts-martial and congressional hearings. (Maureen Dowd, one of the New York Times's hyperliberal columnists, has already labeled Haditha a "My Lai acid flashback.") Screamed about by protesters, shown endlessly on television news, My Lai and the court-martial of one of the perpetrators, Lt. William Calley, provided the final political nail in the coffin of American involvement in Vietnam. We withdrew from Vietnam in 1975, abandoning our allies and hanging our heads in shame. This is the political result the left wants from Haditha, and we cannot allow it to happen for one very big reason. The Vietnam War ended in Vietnam, leaving America incapable of taking action in defense of itself or its allies for decades. The end of the war against the terrorist nations won't occur in Iraq, and we must be prepared - psychologically and politically - to continue the fight. When we lost Vietnam the enemy didn't follow us home. Radical Islamists will. If they win, we will literally lose America.

After reading something like this, it's lucky we are that Shakespeare had a sister, even if only in the blogosphere. She sure knows how to use her words:

This kind of shit is really beginning to piss me off.

The accelerating media feeding frenzy over the alleged killings of twenty-four Iraqi civilians in Haditha by US Marines last November is about to overwhelm American politics. Propelled by their most irresponsible war critics, the left will try use Haditha as it used My Lai thirty years ago: as a political tool to take apart America's support for the war and to shatter the legitimacy of our cause and the morale of our troops.

"The Left" doesn't need to "use Haditha" to shatter the legitimacy of our cause in Iraq. The legitimacy of our cause was undermined from day fucking one when the administration cooked up our cause from cherry-picked intelligence. Even if we are to acknowledge the oft-cited defense of the intelligence issued by the Right -- that everyone from Clinton to the bloody French also believed that Saddam had WMDs, so it was an "error," as opposed to a rationale built out of whole cloth -- the urgency with which we were told we must go to war, and the carelessness we took in doing so, are both the sole responsibility of the Bush administration. And once the WMD cause had been fundamentally subverted and exposed as false, the cause of a humanitarian intervention was tacked on as an afterthought. When all that remained was the idea of liberating the Iraqi people, the liberators allegedly going on a murderous rampage shatters any shred of legitimacy predicated on a humanitarian cause more thoroughly than anything the Left could ever make of the incident thereafter.
... Long before Haditha, Americans were beginning to question this war, to doubt its architects and wonder if it had really been such a good idea after all. It was taking a lot longer than expected; it wasn't going as planned; it was costing more than promised. All abstractions, but nonetheless real concerns. Casualties started to rise. Not so abstract anymore. Stories of soldiers doing things they weren't meant to do at Abu Ghraib and Haditha made the realities of the true costs of war suddenly unavoidable. When abstract concerns crash headlong into images of the ugliness of war, people get uneasy. Support for the war isn't then so easy, either.

War supporters know this. They know it isn't really the devious machinations of the Left that undermines war, but reminders about how brutal war really is. It's why they don't like the media reporting on anything "negative," why they hide soldiers' caskets, why they relentlessly classify anything as innocuous as the reading of fallen soldiers' names as antiwar. They know they must hide the reality of war in order to sustain support for it. They complain that there isn't enough coverage of the good things happening in Iraq, but the belief that all the stories about hospitals being built or schools reopened will somehow persuade people it's worth the tragedy necessitates a fundamental misunderstanding of human nature. Most people don't work that way. They don't offer praise for things you're supposed to be doing. Making sure Iraqis have electricity isn't impressive -- it isn't above and beyond; it's the bare minimum. That people see it that way isn't cruel or irrational; it's a perfectly reasonable expectation that those things will be done. What people care about is what fails to meet their expectations, what surprises them. And a betrayal of the people we're meant to be protecting is surprising indeed. You can't hang the Left with the responsibility for human nature.

Emphasis mine, for especially cogent points.

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