May 23, 2006:
In a recent press conference, U.S. Congressman Jack Murtha claimed that U.S. Marines massacred Iraqi civilians in the wake of a bomb attack near Haditha this past November. The matter is currently under investigation by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, who will determine the facts of the case, and make the decisions as to whether or not people need to answer to a court-martial. If any civilians were murdered in cold blood, the perps will be dealt with by the military justice system. This has been the latest in a series of instances where wild claims have been irresponsibly made… and often these claims have been inaccurate.
In this day and age, it doesn't take long for a story to spread. Torture allegations last July by Senator Richard Durbin of Illinois were promulgated across the world in a matter of hours, and al-Jazeera featured them prominently. The same was also true of Newsweek's story claiming a Koran had been flushed by guards at Guantanamo Bay. In both cases, the charges were investigated. In both cases, the claims proved to have little, if any, bearing to what really happened. 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 the detainee spat on her). The Koran-flushing turned out to have been done by a detainee, not guards at Guantanamo.
That said, the lies were already spread around by the time the truth was determined. In the case of the Koran-flushing, lives were lost. The comments by Congressman Murtha, who has advocated withdrawing American forces from Iraq, are also already on their way around the world - while NCIS is still investigating the case. 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 means that there is a greater chance that troops will get killed. - Harold C. Hutchison (email@example.com)