One of the dirty little secrets about
recent claims of massacres is that all too often, they really are not
massacres. The latest case of this now appears to be Haditha, with testimony
now emerging that shows that at least eight of the 24 "victims" were
armed terrorists. If so, Haditha would have more in common with the 2002 battle
of Jenin (also claimed to be a massacre) than it does with My Lai.
The efforts to falsely claim a massacre occurred in
Jenin are instructive. After the 2002 battle, the Palestinian Authority claimed
a massacre had occurred. The mainstream media and human rights groups quickly
echoed their claims. However, further investigations showed that not only had
the body count been exaggerated, but that most of those confirmed killed were,
in fact, terrorists and not civilians.
In the case of Haditha, the testimony from an
intelligence officer and a liaison officer that at least eight of the dead were
terrorists calls into question the claims of a massacre and cover-up. In this
case, it seems that the civilians' deaths may have been part of a firefight
that resulted after an ambush. The initial Haditha investigations uncovered
some apparent discrepancies in the Marines' stories, and a criminal
investigation by NCIS was launched. This, and claims from human rights groups
in the media, led to some criminal charges being filed earlier this year.
In this day and age, it doesn't take long for a
misleading story to spread out. In 2005, Newsweek reported that guards at
Guantanamo Bay flushed a Koran down a toilet, triggering riots that led to a
number of injuries and deaths. Earlier that year, the false claims were about
torture at the detention center in Guantanamo Bay, most notably in a speech by
Senator Richard Durbin on the Senate floor. In both cases, the charges were
investigated. In both cases, the claims proved to have little, if any, bearing
to what really happened.
As was the case with Jenin, many of the claims of
torture were found to be generally unfounded, and in the few cases where lines
were crossed, corrective action had been taken, in some cases immediately (one
such case involved an interrogator who smeared a detainee with red ink after
that detainee spat on her). Worse, the lies were already spread around by the
time the truth was determined and not reported.
If the testimony about Haditha bears out, then it
will just be the latest example of media misreporting. At that point, though,
the real cover-up will begin. Very little, if any, effort will be made to
correct the record. Politicians like John Murtha, who repeated the most
inflammatory charges, will get a pass. The troops are able to fight the
terrorists, and usually win. Fighting false accusations from terrorists that
get repeated by the media, human rights groups, and politicians is much harder.
The worst thing about this is that the myth of the "Haditha massacre"
will be used to by various terrorist groups for recruiting, and the new
recruits mean that there is a greater chance that troops will get killed. -
Harold C. Hutchison (firstname.lastname@example.org)