Democrats & Liberals Archives

Probable Cause in Haditha

To the right, folks on the left seem inhuman, from the way we’re spoken of. Some people think we’re actually gleeful about finding out about Haditha, ready to rake the soldiers over the fire for our twisted partisan goals. They think we want to lose this war, want to embolden the terrorists and the insurgents, want to give those folks a pass on their decapitations and IEDs and killings of soldiers. And then, they say we shouldn’t judge these soldiers before they’ve had their day in court. Cute.

Let's get something straight here. We're not naming names, slapping labels of guilty and not-guilty on these soldiers. The general outline of events is most of what's being alleged by folks, including Representative John Murtha, to be true. That the killing of innocent civilians has occured is basically consensus. That a cause was offered for their deaths which was not true is also established. We have probable cause to believe that crime has occured. According to some on the right, given the height of their rhetoric, we liberals would like to hang these soldiers at this point, the whole unit of them.

The stories, though, for those Republicans fair-minded enough to read them and not automatically assume treason and dishonesty, actually paint a picture that it may be the work of just a few, and that there are plenty of mitigating factors in what has occured, though they may not excuse the crime itself.

In an ideal world, we could start from blank slate of unbiased thought, and then proceed by impecable logic to an inescapable and perfect conclusion. The reality is different, which is why we have a bill of rights, a complex legal system, presumed innocence, and a busload of other safeguards which some conservatives have a bad habit of turning their noses up at.

Yes, we liberals can and do jump to conclusions. We're not alone, though. In their quest to defend the soldiers against the shame of what apparently happed at Haditha, they have leapt to their share of them. While we presume innocence in our system, that doesn't mean people cannot form initial theories from the facts. If you actually read the article, the caveats and warnings are there. This is not presented as an ironclad case, and to date no individuals have been named as culprits. balance is given from sources close to and part of the investigation. This article does not claim to know the full extent of the facts.

Yet the right erupts in strident, accusatory language of slander and treason. Many immediately start to speculate about this being a planted story by the insurgents, with faked pictures, faked videos, and even faked massacres. The facts are often presented to these people, but are dismissed as products of the Liberal Mainstream Media, which apparently can't even get one fact right, even when much of the information is replicated in conservative news reporting. It's funny that I rarely hear people actually explain what facts are wrong and why. Typically it's just a blanket condemnation and exclusion, applied whenever the facts or theories in a story make them uncomfortable.

This is the kind of stuff that gives me headaches, or at least lines on my forehead from all the puzzled frowning. I'm a pragmatist about information. What put me off of FOXNews was their repeated stories about the discoveries of WMDs that quickly got retracted or debunked. They were often first, but often wrong, and that left a bad impression with me. I don't like getting burned by sources. There are plenty of occasions where I've run down the details in conservative columns only to find that the basis for their information was flawed if not intentionally misrepresented. That's why I take a dim view of the conservative media: they're poor fact checkers. Only recently one reporter from the AP's been going on about Harry Reid's supposedly "free" "tickets" to the "luxurious" cramped space of folding chairs.

I shouldn't bother to ask where the presumed innocence was on this matter. That's not the point. It's the principle behind presumed innocence that's important: we don't always know the complete facts, so until we get enough information to truly understand what's going on, we should keep our conclusions tentative, and not let our imaginations run wild without factual grounding. I think folks on the right and the left have both experience the wonderful blushing feeling one gets one when one realize one's facts weren't straight. My personal philosophy is, I don't like being put in that position.

Most of all, though, I would not like to be put in the position of being offensively belligerent in the name of my own beliefs, all the while pontificating on less than factual grounds. I do not want to be locked inside a bubble of party-approved information sources, or to believe something simply because it's the party thing to do.

We're only human. We can realize that, and correct our mistakes when we can, or we can get delusions of grandeur and go around making wild claims. Or we can start telling everybody else their claims are wild without touching base on the facts.

Currently, a calm review of the them in the Haditha case indicate that the killing of innocent people likely occur, and that American Marines were likely responsible. It indicates that it was systematic, that folks went from house to house doing this, instead of accidently shooting up things. A report was made by this unit that gave false information as to what had really happened. That is the state of things, as I understand them.

Do I take joy in hearing this? No. This is not what I've wanted for our soldiers, nor what I'd dream of doing were I to become a soldier. For me, the honor of military service is not a matter for cheap political games. I'm a veteran's grandson, and many of my attitudes towards the military are shaped by that. For me, this is about maintaining an image by maintaining discipline and military law in truth. It is an abomination to me that there seems to be so little accountability among the leaders in this war, so little sense of who's doing what and why. In trying to keep this war to himself, and keep Americans shielded from the dust, the grease, the blood and the tears of this real war, Bush has succeeded in distancing your average American from what's going on there.

You can't win a war like this if you're going to treat people like children, or act childishly yourself. Bad things are going to happen in a war. Acting like it's treasonous to report these things, for people to learn that some of our soldier may have done bad things, is acting like Americans don't have the maturity to understand the situation. In this age of image-based politics, the unfortunate tendency of government has been to treat its citizens as if they were incapable of taking bad news, or of accepting human imperfections. By making the standard of spin and PR this impossible squeaky cleanliness, they've both stretched their credibility and made it dependent on an impossible balancing act of idealized virtue- impossible because people realize its impossible. One of Bill Clinton's strong points was being capable of being both charming and human to an audience. Others come off as if they're tap-dancing around an all too obvious weakness.

In terms of the Haditha case, the Right seems to think that if they don't create an image of squeaky-cleanliness for our soldiers, if they don't pre-empt each and every attempt to relate news that could break that illusion of perfection, that our soldiers will end up reviled and betrayed by their own people. It's very much akin to the way that teenagers will deny anything to avoid admitting they've been wrong.

It's just as effective. Which is to say it's not, which is also to say that it makes things look worse than they may actually be. The Right should take a lesson from watching Saving Private Ryan, where despite portrayals of events where soldiers fell short and acted like fallible human beings, the overall impression one took away was that of heroism. Of course war is monstrously difficult, that movie says. Of course it's too horrible to get your head around. War isn't something where doing the right thing is easy, or simple. It isn't absolutely white-hats versus black-hats. And no, not everybody does things which they can later be proud of.

The truth is, many on the right do not trust the character of those on the left enough to give us the chance to form informed opinions about what's going on. That's a real shame, and also a real problem. There is a hell of a lot of useless problems and useless arguments that come of people getting hyperfocused on the political battles, and of people forming their judgments about people based on partisan rancor. You can't win with that kind of argument, no one can. The only think this kind of partisan ship is good for his perpetuating itself.

Viewing war through such a lens is a bad idea, especially in the light of the complexity and chaos that is inherent to it. Many assumptions people have about what's supposed to happen don't survive contact with the battlefield. The enemy turns out the be human. The enemy turns out to be vicious. War turns out to be boring. It turns out to be more violent and frightening than anything you see on television or even the movies. The people we're invading love us. Some fucking hate us and want us dead. The difference isn't always obvious. Faced with this, many doubts arise, even as some die.

Faced with the facts about Haditha, I am willing to believe that something happened. But contrary to critics of liberals like myself, I am wiling to believe that I don't know the full extent of what happened. I will hold my imperfect view of what happened, hoping to learn things in better detail and quality as things go along, but meanwhile I'll believe that things have occured much as Murtha said. Meanwhile, all those soldiers out there who face this difficult war in all its harrowing immediacy have my support. I will not withdraw my support of the many for the actions of the few. I will not regard the death and destruction cause by our enemies as better justified simply because folks broke discipline.

I will expect my leaders, though, to respond immediately to ease the conditions that put this awful situation into motion, and to maintain our standards in practice as much as they boast of them in their statements. If we are to proclaim ourselves a shining example to the world, it's only smart to make a shining example of ourselves as well, rather than become a hypocritical mess of a nation.

Posted by Stephen Daugherty at June 2, 2006 6:46 PM
Comment #153874

I agree with your first paragraph, all the rest is….? Has anyone ever accused you of wanting to hear yourself talk?

Posted by: BP at June 2, 2006 8:16 PM
Comment #153880

“…rather than become a hypocritical mess of a nation.”
Too late.

Posted by: BillS at June 2, 2006 8:55 PM
Comment #153890


Sometimes your writing is intoxicating and breathtaking and I applaud you for it.

However,surely you must agree that some from the left have in fact pre-judged these marines,no?

Review the posts that your collegues have written on my piece to the right….nary a one has an open mind.

Perhaps you do.

No,I know you do.

People get facts wrong all the time.Two weeks ago,John Travassani wrote right on this side that Rove’s indictment was eminnent.American Pundit(he must still be under his bed,I think)wrote that the wacko Phelps was a Republican.

Multiply those two by a couple thousand bloggers that “know” the facts and you gets thousand of bits of disinformation every day on the internet,I think.

Another thing to blame Gore for,I guess.

However cream rises to the top,and after time the bullshit is discovered.

I hope that you write a book,Stephen.I know many many intelligent and gifted writers and thinkers and you are capable of running with them.

Perhaps when you are in your 30’s or 40’s and the pendelum of your thought swings right(usually that is the case) you will be a voice of the moderate Republican party.

I will work with you to achieve that end.

In the intrim,we have an election cycle coming up and I relish our politicial jousts.

Tell AP he can come out and play,by the way…we forgive him.


Posted by: sicilianeagle at June 2, 2006 9:39 PM
Comment #153895

“What possible “Mitigating Circumstances” can excuse or defend the murder of these victims?”

First of all I don’t see this as a left vs. right issue or otherwise. I think Stephen did an exemplary job of trying to explain the whole damn thing.

The bottom line is that the lines become very foggy when you live with death day in and day out. Will any war veteran here deny that when we’re trained we’re trained to kill. Part of that training involves the dehumanization of the enemy.

I’m not making excuses, I’m stating cold hard facts! Somehow it’s forgiven if a pilot bombs the werong target due to “faulty intel”! How much “faulty intel” do any of you think enters a human mind when that same mind replays images of his or her friends being blown to hell and gone day after day after day.

This investigation will end like all other military investigations where fault is found. It will fall on the grunt. We are, after all, not just cannon fodder for the opposition but when a wrong needs to be righted we’re the scapegoats.

Long occupations of any war zone result in these kinds of things. It’s hardly as though you can go to your “boss” and say, “I can’t handle the job anymore, I quit”.

This is not a Democrat vs. Republican issue and I’m damn sure Murtha is very aware of what’s up. He knows quite well what combat is like. If I believed in god I would pray for the fallen innocents and those that committed the atrocity with equal vigor.

War is hell.


Posted by: KansasDem at June 2, 2006 9:56 PM
Comment #153896

I may not get everything together, but there’s a point there, one that centers on facing the real world complexity of both war and Public Relations, realizing that people aren’t children who have to be fed oversimplified B.S.

It’s the love of the idea, not of the words that can get me talking in circles like that. It’s part of something cohesive, though.

It’s too late to take back what we’ve already done, but nobody says that having done things out of character with this nation, we can’t return to our integrity, given a little blunt self examination and desire to redeem ourselves.

If we don’t hope for that, what’s the point of expressing our views here, besides vindicating our views to the historians when we’re dead and gone?

Nothing can excuse it, but some things can do their part to explain how people not unlike us could come to do these things.

Many on the right fail to recall that many of the atrocities John Kerry described in his address to the Senate Committee during the Vietnam Era were volunteered to him by other soldiers, soldiers who like this one were put in the pressure cooker of an intense, paranoia inducing, problematic war. They think he was just slandering these people when he was really passing on their confessions. They would like to believe that soldiers can be supermen, pulling victory out of any situation, doing well no matter how they neglect supplies, strategy and discipline, but the truth is, they are only human, and given situations like these, a lack of good leadership can let in all kinds of dark impulses into an environment that already sustains a great deal of horror as it is.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at June 2, 2006 9:58 PM
Comment #153897

What I complain about is the same as SE says. You guys jujmp to conclusions. Then we talk about the worst case possible scenarios. They turn out not to be true. Then you say, IF they were true it would be really bad and so whatever lesser things is true is just as bad.

U.S. soldier have displayed remarkable restraint. We have all seen examples where a soldier is killed or maimed and happy crowds dance around and ridicule his comrades. This has happened dozens of times that I have seen in pictures, so I assume it happens hundreds of times when we don’t. His comrades show more restraint than many of us could. AND the crowds know it too, otherwise they would not behave that way.

This incident is being investigated. IF there is wrongdoing, THEN you can talk about it. Until then speculation is wrong.

It does play into the hands of our enemies. Arab radicala take great pleasure in this. Meanwhile Arab militias kills hundreds of thousands of fellow Muslims and none of them say a word. Clearly THEY don’t care about civilians. We care much more.

I tell you what, if I was on the American side, I would wait to find out what happened and then take appropriate action. If I was on the insurgent side, I would speculate as much as possible so that no matter what the outcome of the investigation, everybody would recall bad things. What would you do?

BTW Re private Ryan, did they show soldier shooting captured Germans? In that movie, they certainly should have killed that German sniper right away. I think in real life, they probably would have, but not in a Spielberg movie.

Posted by: Jack at June 2, 2006 10:02 PM
Comment #153901

Judgment to me means coming to a final conclusion, or one meant to be final. The consensus I get is no more than a matter of probable cause. We have reason to believe a crime was committed, and that people associated with this unit may be responsible. I have yet to see any blogger I know come out with a list of suspects, much less a denouncement of those people before they have their day in court. For what it’s worth, I would oppose that. Let them stand trial.

I just hope the Bush administration has the sense not to interfere. What we need now is for the world to know that we take care of our own, helping them when they are right, and disciplining them when they are wrong.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at June 2, 2006 10:12 PM
Comment #153904

I think that no matter what we on the left say on this, or any other topic, people on the right will find a way to twist it in order to demonize and demean us in some way. It’s like a game for them to reduce all our opinions to “Anti-American”, “Hate America First”, “Traitors” and “Terrorist Sympathizers”, “Communists”, “Pinkos”, “Wimps” etc.
The fact that they’ll even do this to a brave decorated Marine veteran like John Murtha, is clear proof that ABSOLUTELY NO ONE is above their smears.
I wonder if they even believe themselves when they jump on him over what he’s said about this incident in Haditha. Do they really believe that man would be so angry and upset for NOTHING? Do they honesly think he HATES the troops? I wonder if they even ask themselves how this would be possible for a guy who has seen two wars and was decorated for valor and galantry?
Don’t they know the special pride that all Marines share in being members of the Corps? And that Murtha wouldn’t have come out and talked about this unless all the evidence he was shown about the murders and about the cover up was really and truly disturbing and incriminating? I knew immediately that it must be very serious for him to have spoken that way. When I read the actual transcript of what he said last weekend, I wondered how people could construe that as an attack on all our enlisted troops, or dimiss it as politically motivated.

What the hell is wrong with these people? They’re always calling us Bush-haters, but by the way they speak to us, and about us, no matter what the subject, it seems clear they carry a lot more hatred in their hearts than we ever could. And when you start adding up in your head all of the things they’ve overlooked, or denied, and made excuses for about this administration — it really begins seem kind of insane, does it not?
And the worst thing about it all is, during all these years, we’ve had America’s reputation dragged through the mud and thoroughly disgraced. And while they’ve continue to rip us to shreds for our comments, we’ve had to watch while our troops either died, were maimed for life, or were treated like they just didn’t matter — like they aren’t even human — all for the sake of this stupid, fucked up, selfish, and greedy administration who has done nothing right or good for this country since the first damn minute they were unconstitutionally given the leadership by the Supreme Court.

To be perfectly honest I wasn’t all surprised by the idea that our soldiers, even Marines, would starting snapping and doing crazy stuff like systematically murder a bunch of civilians — although I am horrified by it. But it’s just like Vietnam, where they’ve been put in such a completely untenable situation. And of course they’ve got to be so tired — anybody would be who has been made to do two three or four tours of duty.
Sorry for this rambling post.
Just makes me so sick and angry and disgusted sometimes.

Posted by: Adrienne at June 2, 2006 10:13 PM
Comment #153906

Some of us do indeed, and I said as much.

I also will concede that our soldiers have shown remarkable restraint. People have their limits, and this war is testing them, especially where guardsmen and other recruits have not been sufficiently trained.

As for image, if you rely on image, the enemy will use that against you, and that is exceedingly easy, given they know better what buttons to push. We have to make a positive, tangible difference on the ground for the Iraqis, or else we can’t win. Experience overrules rhetoric more consistently than vice versa.

If we go into denial on the facts of the case, or on the value of the case, we’ll shoot ourselves in the foot, because that is precisely what they’re saying: not merely that we sometimes kill the innocent, but that we do it maliciously, or with less care for the value of their lives. What we need to tell them is that a life is a life, and if we’ve wronged them, justice will be done.

As for the movie, there are three incidents that deal with this. (spoilers ahead)

The first happens during the end of the Normandy sequence, where a couple of obnoxious guys shoot surrendering Germans, one of them making a crack that the translation of what he was saying was “Look ma, I washed for supper.” This is, of course, after nearly 20 minutes of watching GI’s getting shot and blown to pieces, so there’s a queasy sympathy for both victim and murderer there.

Then there’s that German prisoner that they almost execute who rambles on with 1940’s US pop culture references while the Army Rangers debate whether to kill him or let him go.

Finally, there’s the scene that bookends that, as this German returns and ends up shooting Tom Hanks’ character. He in turn gets shot by Corporal Upham, the cowardly officer who argued for his release.

As for the sniper, I’m not sure how you kill one so immediately, since they’re essentially in his field of fire. I suppose if you’ve got a tank handy, you could do what they did with Barry Pepper’s character.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at June 2, 2006 10:30 PM
Comment #153914

“I think that no matter what we on the left say on this, or any other topic, people on the right will find a way to twist it in order to demonize and demean us in some way.”


You get the prize of the day.

I actually thought maybe I missed something in Stephen’s original post that could be read as a criticism of our brave men and women in uniform. Nope, I don’t see it. Criticism of leadership, you bet.

Do ya’ ever get the feeling that the right disagrees just to disagree?


Posted by: KansasDem at June 2, 2006 11:06 PM
Comment #153921

I for one will gladly wait for a full investigation, a comprehensive prosecution (if neccessary), and conviction (if forthcoming) before I condemn the Marines who have been accused of atrocities in Haditha. But then, I’ve been saying the same damn thing about the hundreds of hostages the bush administration holds illegally in Guantanamo and ghost prisons throughout the world. In his latest assault of lies…. errr, speech…. the president proclaims how the world will marvel at the transparency with which we police our own. There is not a doubt in my mind that the world will make critical note of the double standard THIS president holds for Americans and non-Americans.

Posted by: Thom Houts at June 2, 2006 11:46 PM
Comment #153922

Maybe we have taken another right turn across the quicksand following the Rep. fieascials.This is just another major problem that we can only sink into.The military has every reason in the world to get this one right.We here at home could do many things as good help our Country.We have the power of the net.Lets get as many Democrats elected as possible and boycott Exxon-Mobile stop letting the Reps. side track every one with their bate and switch game.{off our goals}

Posted by: DAVID at June 2, 2006 11:47 PM
Comment #153926

—————STEVEN——————— Thank you for your insight and dedication too this page. I am greatfull! DAVID

Posted by: DAVID at June 3, 2006 12:11 AM
Comment #153932

Love your analysis, Mr. Daugherty. Your honesty and understanding of the quagmire that is Iraq and the frighteningly polarized state of so-called civil discourse in this country are rarely encountered. Unfortunately, as you know, right-wing reactionaries and their legislative operatives dominate a preponderance of opinion and political authority. They are driven to defend their opinions and so-called positions by any means necessary. Their attitudes are focused primarily if not exclusively on a “winner take all” philosophy. Logic is virtually of little use to them. They appeal, by design, to man’s lesser natures. Suspicion, distrusts, and last but not least, fear are the human emotions they appeal to in the messages they disperse throughout the public domain.

There is nothing unique or original in such a strategy. These are not creative or intellectual beings behind these sinister forces. They are cynical, evil and they are using a model that has worked successfully and repeatedly throughout history. It may well work again but I ask who will really win in the final analysis?

Posted by: tim at June 3, 2006 12:26 AM
Comment #153946

Let’s not judge these marines too quickly. As a matter of fact, let’s not judge them at all. We all complain about Big Brother listening and saving OUR phone and internet records, looking over OUR shoulders, watching OUR every move. Well, imagine trying to fight an extremely stressful war with sticky, slow moving reporters breathing down your neck. Give these boys some room and they may just finish up a little faster.

Posted by: Scott Burgoyne at June 3, 2006 5:19 AM
Comment #153950

Don’t investigate reported atrocities?
Keep the press inside the compound and feed them the reports we want them to know about?
Let the troops take care of business without control?

We tried that before.
Didn’t work in Viet Nam.
Won’t work in Iraq.

Posted by: Thom Houts at June 3, 2006 5:57 AM
Comment #153951

Thank You, Stephen,

For speaking in measured tones about what I cannot. The outrage of smearing Sen. Murtha for speaking what the military has itself determined, and then to accuse him of damaging the military is beyond the pale of disgust and dishonesty. Were the person that speaks this rubbish in front of me, I would personally smack him down. This is beyond civility, in my opinion.

As to his recruitment remarks, I think they stand on their own, the situation that Rumsfeld has put our soldiers in has created the problem, not Sen.Murtha. Gen. Pace simply cannot speak his mind against Rumsfeld without resigning. He is in a conflicted position.

For this blogger, to then hide his own outrages by blaming other bloggers is the act of a coward. Of course we pre-judge, as he well knows, this not being his beloved court room. Such as he may make specualtion about minds, motives and actions of the future, we use common sense to express our judgements. The blind partisanship which I doubt is fervor, but rather calculation, is exactly the kind of hysteria this blog does not need.

Posted by: gergle at June 3, 2006 6:16 AM
Comment #153953


I always respect the things you say, even if they are often partisan laced.

You say we should not speculate, but you are already doing that. By presuming that nothing happened, and acting in that fashion, in the light of all that has been published, is to show a lack of common sense. NO ONE has said who has done what or stated that all the facts are out. No one has has asked for a lynching. But given that children were shot inside their homes, conflicting statements that the military itself has reported on, lead one to conclude that something worthy of suspicion and investigation has occurred. We all know what has likely occurred. We all know that the immpossible situation we have allowed Bush and Rumsfeld to put our soldiers in, would eventually lead to these kinds of incidents. We’ve had warnings at Abu Ghraib, warnings with CIA behavior, warnings with contractor’s commiting attrocities. It’s time to stop making excuses, and wake up to failed policy.

Posted by: gergle at June 3, 2006 6:34 AM
Comment #153963

For me, the definition of open-mindedness is the willingness to change one’s mind given new facts relevant to the issue, rather than the absence of any opinion on a subject.

I think the distinction is important, because the refusal to engage a subject can be as much a mark of prejudice, and a means of avoiding unwanted information and meaning as a positive prejudgment would be.

I believe that people like myself are able to accept new facts, though not always with a smile. This would be a case, though, where if things are not as bad as I think, I would definitely smile. The facts I have to work with paint a certain story. I will trust those facts until I’m given reason not to, usually cohesive contradictory facts.

An example is the Reid matter with the “tickets”. I assumed there were tickets until I was told that he was given no such thing, that instead he had VIP credentials which he could not purchase, and which had no monetary value. Now I trust that information because it comes from multiple sources, among those ones I trust to get things right.

I consider such an approach to information part and parcel of being a liberal, being a free-thinker. If you limit your sources, and what information you will accept to those of a certain position in your party, you’re not really a free-thinker, are you?

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at June 3, 2006 8:54 AM
Comment #153967

How many children have died because of roadside bombs? Because of suicide bombers? Where’s your outrage for these children? Outrage for our soldiers that have suffered the same fate? Outrage against the insurrgents?

I have read your posts both here and on the right side, and IMHO, you just want American soldiers proven bad, in order to prove the war bad, in order to prove the president bad, to make your opinion good. Innocent until proven guilty. Remember that. EVERY AMERICAN is entitled to that right and that of a fair trial. And of course Murtha is screaming cover up…. what else would he say? “wait for the facts and we’ll deal with it then?” LOL.

I agree, again, with SE - your post is well written and I can agree with some of it, but not all. Everyone coming to an agreement on the story being told, does not make it factual. Just because someone says something often enough or loud enough doesn’t make it any more true. Wait fot a real investigation. If anyone is charged for anything, then a fair trial needs to be allowed. Hanging people in the court of public opinion does no one any good. People have been executed because of public outrage - not because they were proven guilty. The public is a powerful force fed by MSM - I prefer to form my own opinions based on fact - not some talking head on TV or a blog. Wait for the facts.

Posted by: Ilsa at June 3, 2006 9:11 AM
Comment #153970

Stephen, I cannot believe a Daugherty would be so LIBERAL! lol Everything I have read in this column has these soldiers drawn and quartered before the facts have all been gathered.(Except for Ilsa). Why can’t people wait until the investigation is completed, and the Marines have their day in Court before the Mob gathers with the lynch ropes? None of us were there, although I have had some conversation with people who were in Iraq at the time, which is all I am going to say at this time. If these men are guilty, let the law take due process,and pay the price of their terrible wrong If not, their lives will still be a living hell for the rest of their lives, because, let’s face it, who is going to ever believe it is not just “Another cover up”?

Posted by: Angel 1 at June 3, 2006 9:32 AM
Comment #153982

A writer cannot say everything at once, and often we leave out things that are obvious, precisely because nobody needs to emphasize them.

If I do not come out and say outright that the terrorist and insurgents killing children is a bad thing, that should not be taken to mean that I do not find that or any of the terrorist and insurgent violence reprehensible.

You, like many on the right, seem to assume that we’re practically from a different planet from you on these matters, saying that we don’t support our soldiers, that we want to vilify and humiliate them. You’re saying that we don’t appreciate their sacrifice.

Your view of us is so one-sided, so oversimplified. Even a country that loves its soldiers must see to their discipline. We have a court system and an a code of military justice set up to do just that.

My impression may be one-sided itself, but it seems your people want so much to protect the soldiers that you’ll keep them from being held responsible for what they do. Some would even use the otherness of the people who were the victims or the supposed inherent violence of the culture as an excuse not to punish these actions

A lack of discipline, though, is a problem for the morale of a unit. What a soldier is called on to do is apply lethal force with often gruesome results. If that force is allowed to be applied illegitimately, it can shake their determination to win the fight, as they will begin to question what they’re fighting for. If that force is used against the innocent and the weak, and those who have given up resistance, it can undermine the soldier’s belief in the righteousness of what they do. By limiting the fighting to those who act as combatants, we can reassure the soldiers that their mission is one where the participants are willing.

The time to reassure a soldier about the deaths of the innocent is when it was accidental. Even then, the actions should be reviewed, so as to find ways to avoid the mistakes and make apologies.

If we do not set for our soldiers a limit to extent they go into the darkness of war, then they will fall apart under the strain as human beings.

I will again emphasize that nobody has condemned any one here. To merely state that there is reasonable cause to believe this unit has done this thing is not to conclude that their hands are all soaked in victims blood, or that they were all equally culpable. We will not repeat the mistake of those who called returning soldiers baby-killers, simply for wearing the uniform. We will let each Marine, each soldier in the Army, each person stand on their own actions. I have no urge to add to this tragedy by tossing a verbal bucket of blood on the entire unit. Each is innocent until proven guilty. Take me at my word.

Angel 1-
You make the same misinterpretation, based on the notion that we liberals are sub-human, unpatriotic soldier haters. It’s convenient to believe that one’s virtue is superior, but the fact is, we’re nowhere near judging these soldiers. All we’re saying is that something likely happened, and that they likely were involved. Who, to what extent, and why exactly they took the actions they did, merits our interest as well, and most of us are willing to wait to let the courts decide their guilt.

Don’t underestimate us, I would say, is the point of my Entry last night. I am sick to death of being told that because I consider it likely something happened based on the information I have that I have somehow passed judgment on these people. I freely admit, and I think most Democrats and Liberals will admit as well, that we don’t have all the facts, and until the investigation finishes, the charges are brought and those responsible are convicted, that we shouldn’t pass any final judgments on the folks in the unit.

I would also say that judgment should not be passed on the unit as a whole, either. Each person’s deeds are their own.

I’m just tired of conservatives passing judgment on us for not being blindly unquestioning about this war, treating us like we’re betraying our soldiers when we bring up matters important to their ability to do their jobs. People would not be so intent on withdrawal were it not for the failures of those in this administration to take care of their concerns and our soldiers as well. I would say myself we should either get serious about victory and apply sufficient resources to that, or we should quit grinding our armies into the dust trying to win this war with dysfunctional strategies and hamstrung leadership.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at June 3, 2006 10:55 AM
Comment #153985


The neutal option would be to say that something may have occured and we are invesigating. What we see in reporting, and even here, are speculative details. Right now we KNOW little about the actual incident. But we know some other things.

- The Marines have an excellent record or restraint.
- The U.S. military investigates these sorts of things in a reasonably transparent manner
- The terrorists and insurgents hide amnong civilians, pose as civlians and try to maximize civilian deaths.
- If a terrorist or insurgent is killed they often try to claim them as civilians.
- The terrorist and insurgents kill scores of civilians every day and often try to blame the U.S.
- The whole situation is confused.

So all the speculation re details is unjustified.

Posted by: Jack at June 3, 2006 10:59 AM
Comment #154006

BROKEBACK WAR-Someone needs to explain to the left exactly what war consist’s of.Let me try Death is one element of war and saddly enough innocent people die in war.YOU CAN GO BACK IN HISTORY AS FAR AS YOU LIKE AND I’LL BET THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A BLOODLESS WAR.This new brokeback war that the liberals want to fight is a no win situation for the U.S.A. Its up to every american citizen to decide do you want the U.S.A. to be a leader in the world or do you want to depend on another country to take the leadership role and protect you.Don’t you get it?There is no other country able to protect america.You might say what about the united nations can’t they protect us?Look at the countries The u.n. are responsible for people being murdered by the hundreds every day!Why not vote democrat in 2008 and put a liberal president in the white house?Now this is where the brokeback theory comes in to effect.There is no such thing as a just war in the eyes of the democrats.Our reputation went to pot during the viet-nam war.we were branded cowards as we ran from a war that we won but the liberals refused us our victory.So dont blame Usama Bin-laden for thinking he could be victorious against the U.S.A. Blame John Kerry,Jane Fonda,Rep.murtha,Wesley Clarke And the rest of the liberals who condemned our Military then as they are doing the same thing now.I ask you will our troops be spat upon as they return home from Iraq as they were as they returned home from veit-nam?Will Rep. murtha set up camp at air base stations to be the lead spitter though he is doing a lot of spitting right now.Who is the jane fonda of this war?Could it be Barbara Boxer or Nancy Polosi?Are the Traitors of the Iraqi war the same Traitors of the viet-nam war?Did it ever accure to you that these liberals are quoted all most daily by those who invented 9-11 ?Yes war is hell and god bless all who have fought for what they beleive in but shame on those americans who in one breath say i love my country and i love my military but in the next breath say we and they are murderers and baby killers.The real war is not in Iraq but right here at home.The real enemy is living amongst us Americans who have no loyalty to the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.

Posted by: lookingout at June 3, 2006 12:34 PM
Comment #154007

—-The Republican party has taken us back to the Robber Barron Days in six years, The people on the right keep on defending-torture prisons-spying on millions of Americans-changing laws to help the richest among us and then give us the Dark Robs of justice. You right wing folks can keep defending Your leaders if you like,an most shrewdly their will be a day of atonement.

Posted by: DAVID at June 3, 2006 12:35 PM
Comment #154015


You will notice that I use the term terrorist separate from insurgents. In Iraq the groups overlap but they are not the same.

Many insurgents in Iraq certainly DO NOT behave the way I would if someone invaded the U.S. and they DO NOT behave as resistance movements did in Europe during WWII in that they target civilians of their own country. In this respect they are analogous to the KKK, where the former ruling class used terrorism in an attempt to create an insurgency against occupation AND against local populations.

Insurgent is not necessarily a pejorative term and it correctly describes some of what is happening in Iraq. Terrorism is pejorative and that correctly describes what some of the insurgents are doing in Iraq. And one man’s terrorist is only another man’s freedom fighter if the latter man is a terrorist too.


Stirring rhetoric w/o basis in fact, but I suppose it is your point of view.

Posted by: Jack at June 3, 2006 12:59 PM
Comment #154021

What speculations would those be, pray tell? Is it speculation to say that these people were shot rather than killed in an explosion? Is it speculation to say that a report that says they were blown up would then be questionable and suspicious?

I think the Left has done little speculation about the actual events. Mostly, it’s putting two and two together.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at June 3, 2006 1:20 PM
Comment #154027


It is the precise detail. The color. If all anybody said was what you did above, it would acceptable.

Think of it in the terms of a lawsuit. If you are sued, the opposing attorney might try to provide details against you. He wants to play on emotions of the jury. He may not be interested in being fair. He is an advocate for one side. Many Americans are behaving like the advocate for the other side. I prefer to give our own troops the benefit of the doubt. I can understand that not all Americans agree with me. They can argue that we should try to be unbiased and fair. I see their point. What I don’t understand is when people like Murtha and some others behave in ways I can only describe as advocating for the other side.

Let me preempt your concerns. I am not calling anyone a traitor. I am truly perplexed by their behavior. Maybe they think they are doing the right thing. I disagree. Strongly.

Posted by: Jack at June 3, 2006 2:12 PM
Comment #154048

One man’s freedom fighter is another man’s insurgent. 95% of the “insurgents” are native Iraqis who are pissed as hell that an occupier is trying to take permanent control of their country.
Americans who are truly aware of their own history going back to 1776 know this.

Insurgent is a label that was pinned upon them by the mainstream media and the shrub admin. within weeks of Bush’s 2003 MISSION ACCOMPLISHED photo op.

Do I hate Bush? Damn right! Does he deserve the wrath of every American? Fill in the blanks! Only the most obtuse among our countrymen think otherwise.

Posted by: tim at June 3, 2006 3:21 PM
Comment #154056

—————-JACK—————- Our Constitutional guarantees. Good moral character. Do you believe at this time this is what we are providing and displaying to others around the world.

Posted by: DAVID at June 3, 2006 3:31 PM
Comment #154062

… support a government spying on Americans without warrants

… support secret prisons and torture

… support murder of innocent civilians

… support fraud and price-gouging by Haliburton

… support leaking classified info (Plame)

… against leaking of classified info (NSA story)

… support lawyers and the court system (indicted politicians)

… against lawyers and court system (activist judges & frivolous lawsuits)

… against larger government (welfare, social programs)

… support larger government (military, pork-barrel projects)

Being a Republican looks complicated.

Posted by: tony at June 3, 2006 4:01 PM
Comment #154065

good work -tony-

Posted by: DAVID at June 3, 2006 4:13 PM
Comment #154069


- support a government spying on Americans without warrants. As opposed to not wanted to monitor calls between terrorist. Yes.
- support secret prisons and torture. Nobody supports torture. Secret prisons is mostly a figment of the imagination, but yes, I do support keeping some dangerous terrorist in secret.
- support murder of innocent civilians. Nobody supports this unless it is you.
- support fraud and price-gouging by Halliburton. Nobody supports fraud, except Dems talking about this issue.
-support leaking classified info (Plame). Leaking secret information is illegal. If investigations and the courts determine a damaging crime has been committed, I believe the perpetrators should be punished.
-against leaking of classified info (NSA story). See above. I give the same answer under similar circumstances. I am not a Dem after all.
—support lawyers and the court system (indicted politicians). This I don’t understand. I am sure you have a point, but who knows what it is?
- against lawyers and court system (activist judges & frivolous lawsuits) I am against frivolous lawsuits. I didn’t know anyone was in favor of them. I prefer judges follow the law.
- against larger government (welfare, social programs). I support social programs when they work. Much welfare actually causes problems. Bill Clinton understood this. Don’t you?
… support larger government (military, pork-barrel projects) We need as much military as we need. The debate should only be how much that is. I oppose pork barrel spending.
Being a Republican looks complicated. I suppose it is. Dems don’t do well with complexity or nuance.

Posted by: Jack at June 3, 2006 4:16 PM
Comment #154079


“You are either with us or against us” - George W. Bush, Nov. 6 2001. So much for complexity or nuance.

Posted by: Tim at June 3, 2006 4:40 PM
Comment #154088

——Have you seen it Jack’ while you were spitting out all that rhetoric, the rep.polls just fell below 35%they are from republican pollster’no matter how you try deceiving people, truth is coming out. A Republican point of view is fine,please do not try spin and exaggerate after all we all see the same news reports.

Posted by: DAVID at June 3, 2006 5:24 PM
Comment #154092

“What I don’t understand is when people like Murtha and some others behave in ways I can only describe as advocating for the other side.

Let me preempt your concerns. I am not calling anyone a traitor.”

How disingenuous and insincere can you get, Jack?
“Advocating for the other side” is the exact definition of being a “traitor” — but no, you aren’t actually calling “Murtha and others” that. Sure you aren’t.
By the way, you righties keep bringing up Murtha, when you know damn well that one of those “others” who came right out and said it was clear that a least some of these marines had lied and that there had obviously been a cover up was Republican Representative Kline.
Murtha and Kline are United States Marines. Also, this is what another Marine General just had to say:

A senior Marine general familiar with the investigation, which is being led by Maj. Gen. Eldon A. Bargewell of the Army, said in an interview that it had not yet established how high up the chain of command culpability for the killings extended. But he said there were strong suspicions that some officers knew that the Marine squad’s version of events had enough holes and discrepancies that it should have been looked into more deeply.

“It’s impossible to believe they didn’t know,” the Marine general said, referring to midlevel and senior officers. “You’d have to know this thing stunk.”

All these people who are saying such things know a lot more than we do, and all of them are Marines. Maybe instead of thinking that the best men of our Military has produced are “advocating for the other side”, you might consider that what these men are actually doing is voicing outrage and disapproval over the kind of leadership our troops are getting in Iraq — leading right up the chain of command, and reaching all the way to the top of that chain to Rumsfeld and Bush.

Posted by: Adrienne at June 3, 2006 5:37 PM
Comment #154094


Another excellent article as usual. Yes we should maintain a presumption of innocence for legal purposes. But human beings are inevitably going to make assumptions based on available information. I do that. I think many, probably most, perhaps all people do that to some extent. I assumed that the Clintons were guilty of White Water from the start. It appears that I was wrong.

I think that one of the problems is our unreasonable expectations. People are flawed and imperfect. I certainly am. Ask anybody on the right - they will tell you. Soldiers are going to commit atrocities. These soldiers are put in extremely difficult situations beyond our comprehension. We must try to control their out of control behaviour. We must also try to control the out of control behaviour of this out of control regime. But in truth we should not judge Bush, (laugh at him - but not judge him - no doubt he is doing the best he can) and we certainly should not judge these soldiers even “assuming” the worst. However we should “air” this out - openly and transparently through investigation to determine the real facts and through public discourse. That is what you do in a democracy. The right seems to have lost sight of that.

Posted by: Ray Guest at June 3, 2006 5:43 PM
Comment #154103

Presumed innocence is good for court-cases, but I think it’s perfectly possible to discuss the facts of the case without prematurely convicting anybody of anything.

Outside a court of law, it’s a person’s own prerogative whether they pass judgment or not; nothing legal compels us to be fair-minded.

Journalists should do their best to provide balance and not jump to conclusions the facts don’t support, in addition to allowing different sides of the stories to be given out.

The conservatives here believe that if the facts of the case are discussed, the Marines of that unit will be unfairly represented in the media, whom they don’t trust. We get into this feedback loop where basically, eventually, everybody’s in the dark because discussion of the facts becomes an act of vilification.

The military, especially when we learn of atrocities like this, doesn’t need such reactionary protection. It’s counterproductive, in fact. If we are not allowed to see our soldiers as human beings, neither angels in uniform nor devils in camouflage, we will have unrealistic expectations of them.

A good discourse, though it allows problems like this to tarnish images, also allows people to see the real virtues of the military as well, virtues that and more complex and engaging than the canned stuff apologists, politicians, and propagandists give out.

We don’t need our soldiers to be canonized. We need them to be understood, and for us to understand in turn what we owe to them, what is burdening them that we can remedy.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at June 3, 2006 6:09 PM
Comment #154109

Somebody name me a war where atrocities were not committed on both sides.

War is a violent and vicious affair, and whether we like it or not, soldiers are trained to be violent, vicious, relentless killers.

Ever hear anyone talk about “putting on their war face?”

Most of the time, this violence is controlled and channeled directly at the enemy combatants. But, sometimes it becomes uncontrolled and atrocities occur.

Soldiers are human beings, not machines. We can’t just turn that killing instinct off and on like flipping a switch.

That doesn’t mean we don’t punish the perpretrator. The question for me has always been who’s guiltier? The soldier or the men who made him that way?

In the heat of combat in Vietnam, I came close, so close, to stepping over the edge.

Nearly 40 years later, it still scares me.

Posted by: vietnam_vet at June 3, 2006 6:31 PM
Comment #154111


Generic Republicans candidates lose to generic Democrats. I understand the generic Democrat also won the last presidential race When you meet Mr. Generic let me know. I think he hang out with Mr. Notme and Mr. Somedude.

Your point about popular opinion has nothing to do with you point about these other things in any case. Some things are subject to opinion. Others are just true or not.


A person can be mistaken w/o being a traitor. He can do wrong and still be acting within his rights. I strongly disagree with what Murtha has done. I believe his method harms our country. But I don’t believe he is a traitor. Nuance is hard for Dems, I know. I have been trying to explain nuance on a variety of topics w/o much success.

The example you give is not the same as Murtha. In your example he just says it probably went higher up. He does not extrapolate to talk about details of the incident.

Think of yourself in a routine traffic accident. It is a bad accident. The details are unclear. Would it be justified for the non-witnesses to go into gory details when they wre not sure of them? Would it be right to say, IF your ran the red light and IF you were speeding and IF you hit the other car broadside and IF there were five babies in the car and IF they were killed … IF is the important word.

They can express outrage AFTER they are reasonably sure of the facts involved. But extrapolation is not justified. Extrapolation is a strategy people use in public relations to demonize their opponents. I truly do not understand my Murtha AND others are doing it. If you believe someone you love and respect has committed a terrible crime, do you talk about the worst case scenario possible or do you wait to find out the details and then talk about them in sadness if they are confirmed?


Airing it out is fine and necessary. Investigating is required. Speculation is unwarranted. I agree with what I think you said.


Yes outside a court of law people will speculate and form opinions. Most of these opinions will prove to be incorrect in details once the details are known. My point that there is no logical reason for people on our side to speculate or feed speculation. There is plenty of time for talking after all is known (or as much is known as can be). In the information gathering phase we should just wait. NOW from the PR point of view, which side would favor restraint and fact finding and which would favor speculation and discussing lurid details in the hopes of making this the image that sticks?

Posted by: Jack at June 3, 2006 6:34 PM
Comment #154113

————adrienne————— You write and sound like a very young person! Maybe you should go back down to the children’s web site.In the event you are not a very young personalty you are just another illiterate right wing jaw bone I will just ignore you ignorance.

Posted by: DAVID at June 3, 2006 7:13 PM
Comment #154118

——Sorry Adrienne————-Did not mean to come down on you.Bad hair day.

Posted by: DAVID at June 3, 2006 7:40 PM
Comment #154133

- support a government spying on Americans without warrants. As opposed to not wanted to monitor calls between terrorist. Yes.
-> Many people support Bush’s need of the program and the unchecked nature on it’s face. He has lied about the program twice… why shouldn’t we suspect he is telling the truth now?

- support secret prisons and torture. Nobody supports torture. Secret prisons is mostly a figment of the imagination, but yes, I do support keeping some dangerous terrorist in secret.

Bush & Cheney support and encourage torture. Why keep them in secret? Why transport them to foreign countries - this is against the law, should we all be held to following the law?

- support murder of innocent civilians. Nobody supports this unless it is you.

Well - if you are so willing to let things so as planned - and many others here wish to dismiss this issue because “war is hell” … tell me what the difference between supporting and ignoring is…

- support fraud and price-gouging by Halliburton. Nobody supports fraud, except Dems talking about this issue.

Why is it that Halliburton still has government contracts? If a company has been proven of fraud and price gouging, why are they allowed to continue thier contracts? This is illegal… agina isn’t it important to hold everyone to the law?

-support leaking classified info (Plame). Leaking secret information is illegal. If investigations and the courts determine a damaging crime has been committed, I believe the perpetrators should be punished.

Well - REPs flip flop on this issue. One the one hand, they are willing to let things slide - I have yet to hear a single REP come out against what Libby did…

-against leaking of classified info (NSA story). See above. I give the same answer under similar circumstances. I am not a Dem after all.

In this case- based solely on what REPs had to loose on this, of course REPs are against leaking classified information. I’ve heard many people want to stirng the bastards up - even before they have their day in court. (How odd.)

—support lawyers and the court system (indicted politicians). This I don�€™t understand. I am sure you have a point, but who knows what it is?

REPs are basically OK with letting the court systems setting the standard for who should hold office. By all means, don’t even question you representative unless they’ve been convicted of a crime (ask Bush who he has let go in the Plame case… those involved or simply those who were indicted.)

- against lawyers and court system (activist judges & frivolous lawsuits) I am against frivolous lawsuits. I didn’t know anyone was in favor of them. I prefer judges follow the law.

This was simply to point out attacks on the legal system when it doesn;t fit the REPs need, but all faith in the legal system when it allows them to delay facing the ugly facts of corruption of thier leaders.

- against larger government (welfare, social programs). I support social programs when they work. Much welfare actually causes problems. Bill Clinton understood this. Don�’t you?

Please elaborate… I’d love to see you prove this point? It’s very easy to lambast this program (damn poor people getting a free ride - but most of this diatribe is based on pure junk & BS)

�- support larger government (military, pork-barrel projects) We need as much military as we need. The debate should only be how much that is. I oppose pork barrel spending.

This was to point out of the empty air from REPs as to less taxes and less government. They love to call DEMs tax and spend - maybe we can call REPs the “Charge & spend.” At least the prior doesn’t come with interest payments… also… what happened to “pay as you go” & “state’s rights.” Guess it’s all based on what serves the immediate need.

Being a Republican looks complicated. I suppose it is. Dems don�’t do well with complexity or nuance.

Complexity based on contradictions is a really stupid way to live… even if you toss in nuance, it’s doesn’t buy you anything. (I love the idea of a REP selling the idea of nuance… that one made me laugh.)

Posted by: tony at June 3, 2006 8:26 PM
Comment #154138

At the top of each column in this blog it reads: “Critque The Message, Not The Messenger.” If your plan is to be a regular contributor to this blog, you’d do well to keep that idea in mind beneath all that Bad Hair of yours. For the record, I’m a 43 year old woman, well educated, and a Liberal Democrat. I also can’t stand attack trolls, whether they come from the right or left side of the political spectrum.

“I strongly disagree with what Murtha has done. I believe his method harms our country.”

Ah, you’re forgetting Kline again! He said the exact same thing as Murtha, though perhaps less eloquently.
You know what I think harms our country more? Denying when torture or murder has taken place, then finally having to admit that it did because the truth got out anyway. This I consider especially harmful in a country where we were pre-emptive invaders and occupiers, and where we were supposed to win hearts and minds.
You know what else I think is is harmful? Having no discernible or bad leadership.
Putting our soldiers in a competely untenable situation, such as making them fight a civil war that has nothing to do with America — with not enough numbers and inadequately equipped — very harmful.
Lying the country into a war, spending 320 billion dollars on that war, much of it going missing, this is very harmful, too.
What Jack Murtha said? Nah, not so harmful.
In fact, possibly very helpful. Because this insane, war of never ending goals that are never able to be met needs to END. NOW. And the fact that even “the few, the proud, the Marines” are starting to crack under the ungodly pressure of this utterly impossible situation may just serve as a wake up call.

“But I don⦣x20AC;™t believe he is a traitor.”

I don’t think a Marine who fought in two of our wars, rose to the rank of Colonel and was elected to represent the people of his state in Congress would give a rats ass if you did. He’s already proven himself to be far more dedicated and patriotic than most Americans will ever be.

“Nuance is hard for Dems, I know.”

But why bother with nuance when your going for a smear? Karl Rove never bothers to pussyfoot around or mince words, so why should you? Seriously.

“The example you give is not the same as Murtha. In your example he just says it probably went higher up. He does not extrapolate to talk about details of the incident.”

Actually, that “senior Marine general familiar with the investigation” went further than Murtha. He said: “it had not yet established how high up the chain of command culpability for the killings extended”.
Culpability has already been established? That’s what he seems to be saying, hence, he called them “killings” rather than “deaths”.

Nuance must be equally hard for Republicans to grasp?

Posted by: Adrienne at June 3, 2006 9:12 PM
Comment #154139
In the event you are not a very young personalty you are just another illiterate right wing jaw bone I will just ignore you ignorance.
Adrienne? A right wing jaw bone? I don’t even know where to begin with that one. Who’s illiterate? Which way is up?
Posted by: Introspective at June 3, 2006 9:14 PM
Comment #154143


All greatness is based on contradiction.

I don’t want to get too much into this back and forth. The Halliburton thing is just a diversion. Government and contractors constantly bicker. Government pays slowly; firms do weird things. It is not pretty, ever. Halliburton is being treated no different than other. In fact there is probably more scrutiny to Halliburton than most others.

The success of welfare reform shows how much the previous system hurt poor people. The poor are not a class. Poor are just people with some combination of being w/o money or skills, bad luck, victims of some general malady etc. We want to figure out ways for the poor to become not poor. To do that, we need to remove whatever impediments that are keeping them poor, and if that impediment is the result of behavior, we need to address that too.

Re leaks, I have been consistent. Leaks should be investigated. Leakers should receive appropriate punishment. But we first have to determine the guilt of the person and the extent of the damage. During the Plame case, I cautioned Dems not to be too crazy about this because the time would come when they would regret their passionate intensity about going after leakers. You can find this in the archives if you care to look. Investigations in these things, as in the Marine case, should be done dispassionately and accurately. We need to be circumspect in all these cases.


I precisely object to the eloquence and the imagery. I don’t want to deny this problem. I want to investigate it. But it is not helpful to create images that will survive any inquiry results. If I was TRYING to harm the U.S., I would quickly create the most heinous image possible, since the image will make the lasting impression. I would inject emotion as much as possible. My problem with Murtha is not that he is saying those things about the troops. It is the image he is creating and the emotion he is stoking. In a case like this you want logic, circumspection and probity. Murtha sure seems like a PR campaign. Don’t you think?

BTW - I didn’t know you were a right wing jawbone. I would not have guessed that.

Posted by: Jack at June 3, 2006 9:58 PM
Comment #154145

I think you nail many of the important issues right on the head, and why we can’t just ignore or mindlessly rationalize the issue. Thank you.

Wesley Clarke, Rep. Murtha, and John Kerry actually fought in Vietnam, which is more than the top two men in this country can say. Your brave president patrolled the Texas Gulf Coast, then slacked off in the Alabama Air National Guard. Cheney got five Deferrals, because he just wasn’t interested in fighting that war.

So many of those who shaped this war were men who never fought in one themselves. Even Rumsfeld, a former Navy Pilot, never saw battle. The only people who actually knew war firsthand in the administration went over the side When Colin Powell and his deputy Richard Armitage left the State Department.

You folks spent years telling us liberals that you would fight the wars better, defend us against our enemies better, yet when you come up to the plate, the only thing your people do is screw up and blame the liberal for the sad state of things.

There’s one advantage to believing your own fellow citizens are theenemy. You can fight them and feel as if you’re protecting America, even as you fail to defeat the folks who really are a threat to you overseas, or intercept them here at home.

You cannot ask for folk’s loyalty in one breath then slander them as your enemy in the next, and hope for unity.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at June 3, 2006 9:59 PM
Comment #154150

You know what I’m most upset about, Jack? The fact that this thing looks like another cover up for something bad. Because this administration has been denying everything that isn’t above-board, rather than just facing mistakes/bad decisions/shameful behaviors and dealing with them honestly and honorably.
Like I’ve said earlier, I’m not even surprised by the idea that some of these guys are starting to crack, even though it makes me sick at heart. I’ve been expecting something like this because of how many of them have been serving so many tours of duty. The fact that these were Marines in this incident is almost as horrifying to me as what it appears they may have done. Those guys are the best we’ve got, and if they’re starting to lose it, well, it just goes to show us all how f*cked up things truly are for them.

“BTW - I didn’t know you were a right wing jawbone.”

I am hightly insulted by this “jawbone” word. I consider myself more direct and concise, than verbose. ;^)

Posted by: Adrienne at June 3, 2006 10:32 PM
Comment #154152

—————Adrienne—- Please accept my deepest apology for what I said to you. I saw your name under that diatribe that Jack had written about me.My redress should have been directed at him.Again I apologise

Posted by: DAVID at June 3, 2006 10:59 PM
Comment #154162


Now that you have figured out who you want to insult, I must say that I am flattered that you think I can construct a whole jawboning diatribe in only 68 words and that you think I am very young. I have been called worse by better men and expect to be again. You are forgiven in advance.

I am thinking of keeping a tally sheet of such things. BTW - I never have a bad hair day, but if I did I would not excuse my behavior because of it.

Posted by: Jack at June 3, 2006 11:47 PM
Comment #154193

I almost choked when I read the following article:

Army works to prevent combat stress among soldiers

Of course on the surface this sounds totally commendable but IMO it reveals the need for troop replacements:

“The idea is that giving soldiers time to rest and eat well without leaving Iraq reduces stress and quickens the return to duty.
“Every time you evacuate the soldier further from where they work, your chances of getting that soldier back to full duty decrease,” said Lt. Col. Elizabeth Bowler, an Army psychiatrist in Iraq. “The closer we can treat to the front, the better our chances.”“

For crying out loud, many of our troops are serving their 3rd, 4th and even 5th deployments in Iraq, but the focus is clearly much more on keeping “the army we have” on the job.

DRAFT anyone?


Posted by: KansasDem at June 4, 2006 2:33 AM
Comment #154201

Jeeez..How do you really feel?
Can’t say as I disagree with your conclusions and I will leave to others to scold you for your tone.

Seems the puppet prime minister of Iraq is saying Americans are attacking civilians every day. I wonder how much longer we will be there. Until after the November elections in the US?Well Bush did a great job of creating more terrorist to keep his stupid war going strong.
I will have to disagree with you on one point. We never had any moral high ground to lose.

Posted by: BillS at June 4, 2006 4:06 AM
Comment #154206

don’t hold back novenge, tell us how you really feel.

For all his spin, and the lies, excuses and alibis of his partners in crime GEORGE W. BUSH is responsible for the deaths of those in Haditha. He is responsible for the death of every American GI and Marine who shed their blood for him in Iraq. He is responsible for the deaths of every innocent civilian blown to bits by Iraqi insurgents. That responsibity was given to him by a cowardly congress in 2002 when they resolved to authorize Bush to wage war as he sees fit rather than declaring war as specified in the constitution. And he took it and he ran with it. No Less than the President’s own Secretary of State (at the time) Colin Powell said it best: “You Break it… You Own it.”

It’s All Yours George. Every death. Every dismemberment. Every drop of blood spilt. Every tortured mind returning home to cut GI benefits. All yours George. There is no hell hot enough nor eternity long enough to amend your sinful soul you rat bastard.

Posted by: Thom Houts at June 4, 2006 5:05 AM
Comment #154230

Thanks, Ilsa ,
For ignoring reality and justifying your willful ignorance by ascribing motive to me. I think it is sad when people demonstrate a lack of ability to think for themselves, but rather echo the blatherings of political hacks. If you can find one place where I opposed our troops or opposed a fair trial perhaps you’d have a case, but instead you deal in your own, or rather your echo of, fantansy.


Actually what we know here is this,

-The marines have an excellant record of restraint.
-This was being covered up and not investigated.
-Once exposed, it will be investigated, though the grunts will likely bear the most consequence.
-Three year olds are not likely terrorists
- Military insiders say this is likely an incident of overreaction of the marines and superiors covering it up.

We can continue to pretend it is something else, employ defense lawyer tactics to divert the blame, or we can begin to face the truth.

I think the marines are honorable, and honorable men do not countenance such behavior. You don’t hesitate to apply common sense to most things in the world like global warming, Jack, but for what appears partisan reasons, it fails you here.

I always prefer the truth, it will set you free. Something, I think Americans value.

Posted by: gergle at June 4, 2006 10:20 AM
Comment #154272

I don’t understand how the right can smear Murtha as unpatriotic. It just seems like George Orwell lost in Alice and Wonderland to me. The best metaphor that I can think of for right wing America today is that of an addictive / codependent / dysfunctional family. “Don’t talk about the truth.” “Don’t talk about the pink elephant dung in the middle of the room.” “Keep the family secrets from the neighbors.” Like as if the neighbors don’t know that you are a bunch of dysfunctional drunks.

This needs to be aired out. The problem isn’t that a few Marines that have been trained to be tribal went renegade tribal. The problem is America’s belief in false power - that you can bomb somebody into liberal democracy. “They were asking for it.” “They really wanted it.” The best metaphor for that: Raping a women - then saying she wanted it. Americans - Repubs especially - are in love with the illusionary false power of our nuclear weapons (WMD). We think that they keep us safe. The only thing they do is too make other countries and dangerous subversive groups think that they need WMDs in order to be as “powerful” as we are. So they get their WMDs and we shudder in fear.

The problem here is not a few Marines going off the reservation ( we’ll send Geronomo out to round them up) - the problem here is the idiot jackass gun slingin Texan that lied us into this war.

Posted by: Ray Guest at June 4, 2006 1:43 PM
Comment #154275

The headlights are smashed out of the car. The door to Dubai ports is hanging off the hinges. Grandmas drowning in the flooded New Orleans basement. But don’t tell the neighbors anything is going on.

Posted by: Ray Guest at June 4, 2006 1:59 PM
Comment #154277

Grandpa Dick just shot cous Whittington. Cain slew Able. Daddy W is having an affair with big oil. But don’t tell the neighbors anything is going on.

Posted by: Ray Guest at June 4, 2006 2:04 PM
Comment #154278

Daddy wanted aunt Harriet to watch the yungins but Brother Jeb don’t like her. Cousin Rove likes the little boys. Big brother has cameras in little sissies bedroom. But don’t tell the neighbors anything is going on.

Posted by: Ray Guest at June 4, 2006 2:17 PM
Comment #154294

Novenge, that was one awesome rant.
BillS, Thom, gergle, Ray all very good posts.

Posted by: Adrienne at June 4, 2006 4:08 PM
Comment #154305

Just a follow-up to my previous post.

That control I spoke of is, in real time, in the hands of the officers and non-commissioned officers on the battlefield.

If they turn a blind eye to atrocities, if they do not draw a line in the sand that says this far and no farther, then both the volume and severity of atrocities will increase.

But their effectiveness in controling the battlefield is directly affected, for good or bad, by the effectiveness, the honesty, the morality and the integrity of the commander-in-chief.

Therein lies the cause of the cesspool in which our young men and women in uniform find themselves in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The presidency is like a computer: Garbage in, garbage out.

And this from a man who voted for this president not just once, but twice.

Thank God and the 22nd Amendment I don’t have to worry about making the same mistake a third time.

Posted by: vietnam_vet at June 4, 2006 4:53 PM
Comment #154308

——Stephen————You are right on and those who can”t see past the end of their nose will insure us of a repeat of the V>N> When we came home people jeered us, threw things at us and in some cases just down right hated us. This time lets blame the instigators and not the people taking the orders.Most of all, get this thing stopped before their can be no turning back!

Posted by: DAVID at June 4, 2006 5:31 PM
Comment #154317

It’s more than time for ranting and anger and rage….enough is enough, and we need the committment and conviction of all that to make damn sure the right things happen this fall !!! It is just pathetic that the price is so dear…..

Posted by: Sandra Davidson at June 4, 2006 6:04 PM
Comment #154326

My personal opinion on what did or didn’t happen is this. Where were all of these watch dogs when Americans were getting dragged down the street and hung, where were all of the watch dogs when Americans and civilians are getting blown up and kidnapped just because they are on the street. If the Iraqi’s are so innocent and want to stop getting treated like that then they need to quit harboring the insurgents and others like them. These people go into a house and pull a woman or child next to them and fire at the military. Then they wonder why someone gets killed and scream how much injustice they are suffering. I for one would do what the soldiers did. These soldiers have been put in the position of being the bad guys either way they look at it. It’s time to bring them home where they can hopefully heal from what they have seen and had to do.

Posted by: Sherri at June 4, 2006 7:12 PM
Comment #154329
If the Iraqi’s are so innocent and want to stop getting treated like that then they need to quit harboring the insurgents and others like them.
Some Iraqis harbor insurgents. Other do not. You can’t condemn the majority of Iraqi civilians because a small number are harboring insurgents anymore than you can condemn the military in general because of a few bad apples in Haditha.

You need to ask yourself this question: If the Iraqis are as guilty as you seem to believe they are, then why are we trying to “liberate” them in the first place? If they are not worth saving, then why are we there at all? We are there for the Iraqi people right? Isn’t that one of the latest excuses we were given?

These soldiers have been put in the position of being the bad guys either way they look at it
And who put them in that position? Hint: It wasn’t “all the watchdogs”, it wasn’t the “terrists”, and it wasn’t the Iraqi people.
Posted by: Introspective at June 4, 2006 7:25 PM
Comment #154331

“But their effectiveness in controling the battlefield is directly affected, for good or bad, by the effectiveness, the honesty, the morality and the integrity of the commander-in-chief.”

Ah, the pure unadulterated truth always reads and feels good. Thanks “vet”.


Posted by: KansasDem at June 4, 2006 7:38 PM
Comment #154332


Based on your logic why are we there?

Why didn’t we just nuke the shit out of the whole damn Arab world and sit back till shit cooled of?

You may or may not be a fool but your logic is totally foolish.


Posted by: KansasDem at June 4, 2006 7:42 PM
Comment #154347


I’m sorry, my hair caught on fire a little bit. Please let me rephrase.

We don’t live in Iraq so our situation is quite different, but let’s just imagine that a gang of hoodlums takes over your neighborhood here in the states. It really doesn’t matter if it’s Tony Suprano or some drug dealers.

You may at first try to take actions against them but find you’re simply overpowered. Perhaps the local PD is even on the take from “the gang”. So you learn to look the other way and you hope not to get caught in a crossfire someday.

Then the day of judgement comes. When the dust clears your family, your friends and you find yourselves now being targeted by the “good guys” because (pick one) you’re the wrong color, you’re wearing the wrong attire, or you just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

This kind of thing happens just the same as the “Rodney King” syndrome here in the states happens. Adrenaline effects the mind. Once you’ve reached the point of PTSD it may take no more than a backfire to put you in motion.

That “motion” will sometimes be just what was “drilled” into your subconscious through hours, days, and weeks of training. They don’t call ‘em drills for nothing.

Your final conclusion is however point on. Again, I apologize. I get a bit too emotional from time to time.


Posted by: KansasDem at June 4, 2006 9:06 PM
Comment #154377

I agree with the above statements, but as I have said many times, I have family and friends over there, my nephew is one of the ones that disarm the OED’s and several of his unit have been killed. I am just tired of all the crap that has been said about our brave men and women in all branches of the service that lay their lives on the line for those ungrateful assholes in the administration. We are trying to liberate people that do not want liberation because the same said assholes in government think that they are god and they know what is best for everyone. We are there because same said president wanted to finish the job his father couldn’t do. If it weren’t there for that then why weren’t we after the ones that really caused all of this in the first place?
Introspective, my point exactly the only time anyone is judged is when it is the Americans that do something that shouldn’t be done. Stop and think, some of these soldiers are on their second and in some cases even third tours of duty in that hell hole. Anyone even someone that has a heart of stone is going to get sick and tired of seeing and doing what they are doing, and yes maybe even snap. Day after day I hear on the news about how bad the Iraqi’s hate America, and how we are the most godless country around, etc, etc. But yet we do not bomb innocent people in the name of our god. Yes this might sound heartless and cruel, but for the money that has come out of all of our pockets we could have wiped them out and started from scratch and it would have been cheaper and we wouldn’t have lost almost 3,000 members of our armed forces.
Yes Kansas, I can understand when you say your hair caught on fire, I to get frustrated when crap like this goes on, my husband is ex-military, my nephew is there now, one of my best friends from school lost his life in Beirut, when the Americans were held hostage. Most of the people in this administration have no clue what is going on or what these soldiers are and will go through for the rest of their lives, and that is what pisses me off most of all. If it was them or one of theirs you can almost bet your ass it would not have happened at all or been over a long time ago.

Posted by: Sherri at June 4, 2006 11:47 PM
Comment #154399

Third conundrum upon review: Why are we not the enemy? we destroy the lives of the entire population and get a hundred thousand killed and we won’t help people out of those neighborhoods but leave them there to get killed and we aren’t the enemy? Hmmm no wait we’re liberators that’s right—sorry takes a while for the spoonfed horseshit propaganda to kick in.

We destroyed the entire country and all of its civility along with thousands of it’s civillians—we are the enemy. the time for playing good guy nonsense ended after the first five minutes of arrival and occupation. We have no goals there anymore but to terrorize them with daily horror and generate further chaos. Sitting duck targets for no good reason what so ever other than to attempt to control that region dictatorially all the while lying about a democracy that Bush will not let them have.

The reason they don’t want to cooperate with us is because we are the enemy and the occupier and that is not what we should be. WHO ARE WE SAVING THEM FROM THAT GIVES US THIS SUPPOSED HEROIC ROLE? We are attempting to save them from the problems we brought them when we established ourselves as a foe of the population of that entire country. WE do nothing to help them—if you think so name one at this point. Saddam Hussein is captured and the Iraqi army is defeated. Then we didn’t do anything like turn on water again, rebuild the electric grid, nothing and so they want us out. We have killed them at checkpoints, not allowed them to move about safely, not protected them from bombings neither ours or theirs. drop bombs and streak gunfaire across their neighborhoods, do huge search and seizures and bust in their doors, create curfews with shoot on sight orders for people looking out their doors—GUYS WE ARE THE ENEMY. How can we not be?

They have every right to fight against us sadly and that is what people do when occupied by an enemy who does nothing but endanger, harm, imprison, torture, violate and kill them as a people all with a bullshit banner of saving them—from what I can’t imagine other than them fighting against their “enemy”. Not to mention parade them around nude in their own neighborhoods writing faggot and homo on their backs with marker probably taking them off to be tortured, beaten or even killed as far as we know. What does that sound like? An enemy. This has been our PR over there for the duration of this “war on terror” to do all these things to the people of that country. WE aren’t saviors.

America, the country I love, is the enemy of Iraq—debate me.

Posted by: Novenge at June 5, 2006 1:40 AM
Comment #154401

I agree, we had no business being there then and we still have no business there now. I support the troops I have never nor will I ever support anyone with the last name of Bush. As I have stated in previous posts. It sickens me to have the armed forces take the rap for everything that happens, when for the most part the orders are given from SOMEONE from higher up. As was stated by KansasDem, it is drilled into the troops heads from the time they step foot into whatever branch of the service you go in, you take orders from your CO and they take orders frome their CO and so on. Guess What the CO that they all take orders from is the biggest jackass of all Mr. Bush himself, he’s the one that needs to face time in the brig for all the crimes that he has committed. Not these soldiers just following orders. When you sit and hold a loved one because they just sit and shake because a car backfires and they think its a bomb going off, because of what they have seen there and they shouldn’t even be there to begin with and they sit and say it should have been them that died not their friends or its their fault that their friends died because they didn’t disarm or see the bomb till it was to late, then you have the right to critize the troops. My husband has been out of the service for 26 years and still on occasion has nightmares from what he saw when he was in, and he wasn’t even in the situation that these kids are in, some of whom are just barely out of school. No I have no love for Bush or any of his policies, but I do support the troops.

Posted by: Sherri at June 5, 2006 1:57 AM
Comment #154475

Whew! I think I got whiplash on that one.

Posted by: gergle at June 5, 2006 1:35 PM
Comment #154532

More info on Haditha story from Newsweek: Haditha: Probing A Bloodbath
In the article the wife of a Marine staff sergeant from the same battalion who is accused suggests that there had been a total breakdown in disclipine within the batallion, and that drug and alcohol abuse may have played a role in whatever took place that day.

Posted by: Adrienne at June 5, 2006 4:07 PM
Comment #154598

I have always believed that this war’s problems boiled down to mismatches between the war the leaders in the Bush administration wanted to fight, and the one they actually had to.

The breakdown in discipline and the substance abuse are only the results of sending our soldiers in to fight a war they have not been equipped or given the personnel to fight.

It’s unfortunate that Bush politicized this war so deeply, because our soldiers have suffered for that. They’ve suffered for the right’s emphasis on moral rather than material support.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at June 5, 2006 9:07 PM
Comment #154805

Stephen, I agree 100%.
And to think they ran their election on “keeping us safe”! From their insane decision to wage this war in Iraq in the first place, to their total lack of leadership. From their total failure at homeland security, to the utterly brutal mentality they have displayed (Guantanamo, torture, renditions, use of WP, etc.) during this war — have all combined to make our soldiers nothing but targets for a rapidly multiplying number of home-grown Iraqi insurgents, and do nothing but endanger us here at home.

These reports of atrocities being perpetrated by our soldiers on their umpteenth tours of duty, and the subsequent military cover-ups are guaranteed to make this war even more unbearable than it has already been.

Posted by: Adrienne at June 6, 2006 2:21 PM
Comment #154849

A good solution to all our problems.Nuke iraq Nuke Iran nuke China and last but not least Nuke california.After all liberals are relocated to Cali.

Posted by: lookingout at June 6, 2006 4:47 PM
Comment #154866

I’m going to take a guess here — you’re approximately eleven years old, and your Daddy has always really hated Liberals, right?

Posted by: Adrienne at June 6, 2006 5:31 PM
Comment #155055

Personally, I think suggesting the premeditated murder of your political opponents is a great way to tell people how just much you believe in Democracy and the American way.

So just what would you kill billions in all those countries for? Because they’re not Democracies that play well with others? One could point out that the murder of political opponents for the good of the country fits right in with the agenda of the rulers (or former rulers, in Iraq’s case), and that unprovoked attacks on other countries would as well.

America was founded with nobler principles than that.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at June 7, 2006 7:50 AM
Comment #155240

Stephen Daugherty This would be the only thing that will shut the big mouths of anti-americans hell bent on distroying the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA!!THEY WOULD BE TOO BUSY HIDING UNDER THEIR DESKS TO OPPINE!!

Posted by: lookingout at June 7, 2006 3:47 PM
Comment #155264

Adrienne-Im going to take a guess here You hate your mother.Any one who hates their country as much as you do has to hate their mother also!

Posted by: lookingout at June 7, 2006 4:38 PM
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