Tuesday, March 21, 2006
Collateral Damage?
There’s an article in Time (h/t AmericaBlog) shedding new light on what may be an incident of American soldiers purposely killing innocent Iraqi civilians.

The incident seemed like so many others from this war, the kind of tragedy that has become numbingly routine amid the daily reports of violence in Iraq. On the morning of Nov. 19, 2005, a roadside bomb struck a humvee carrying Marines from Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines, on a road near Haditha, a restive town in western Iraq. The bomb killed Lance Corporal Miguel (T.J.) Terrazas, 20, from El Paso, Texas. The next day a Marine communique from Camp Blue Diamond in Ramadi reported that Terrazas and 15 Iraqi civilians were killed by the blast and that "gunmen attacked the convoy with small-arms fire," prompting the Marines to return fire, killing eight insurgents and wounding one other. The Marines from Kilo Company held a memorial service for Terrazas at their camp in Haditha. They wrote messages like "T.J., you were a great friend. I'm going to miss seeing you around" on smooth stones and piled them in a funeral mound. And the war moved on.


To be quite honest, I’m not really sure what to think about this. It is possible that this was simply an incident where innocents were killed by accident. But… but, if any of this is true, I think that it is quite sickening. I would not give this article any weight at all, except for one thing:

There are also questions about why the military took so long to investigate the details of the Haditha incident. Soon after the killings, the mayor of Haditha, Emad Jawad Hamza, led an angry delegation of elders up to the Marine camp beside a dam on the Euphrates River. Hamza says, "The captain admitted that his men had made a mistake. He said that his men thought there were terrorists near the houses, and he didn't give any other reason."

But the military stood by its initial contention—that the Iraqis had been killed by an insurgent bomb—until January when Time gave a copy of the video and witnesses' testimony to Colonel Barry Johnson, a U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad. After reviewing the evidence, Johnson passed it on to the military command, suggesting that the events of Haditha be given "a full and formal investigation." In February an infantry colonel went to Haditha for a weeklong probe in which he interviewed Marines, survivors and doctors at the morgue, according to military officials close to the investigation. The probe concluded that the civilians were in fact killed by Marines and not by an insurgent's bomb and that no insurgents appeared to be in the first two houses raided by the Marines. The probe found, however, that the deaths were the result of "collateral damage" rather than malicious intent by the Marines, investigators say.


For the life of me, I can’t figure out why the military would lie about what really happened. I’ve always been a firm believer that people only lie when they don’t want the truth to be known. If this was truly an accident, why would they not want people to know what really happened? It seems like the military has done everything in their power to make it seem like this innocent wasn’t an accident at all. The sad thing is no one will ever know the truth.

The real positive of this article is that it really shines a light onto the Iraqi side of this war. From the quotes of this little girl, I felt that I really got inside of what it is to be an Iraqi civilian during these times. Sometimes I really forget that there are real people over there, living real lives. It’s nice to be reminded of that.

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