Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Tip of the Iceberg

Here we go again! Brace yourself because another blow to our nations credibility is just around the corner. Members of Congress have quietly been warned about the results of an ongoing military investigation into the mass murder of 24 unarmed Iraqi civilians and a broad attempt to distort the facts and cover-up these atrocities. Last week, senior Pentagon officials finally acknowledged that the preliminary results of an ongoing investigation supports the allegations that U.S. Marines killed 24 innocent Iraqis without provocation. It is believed the massacre took place on November 19, 2005 in the western Iraqi town of Haditha and involved a small number of U.S. Marines who went on a rampage after one of their own was killed by a roadside bomb. Initially, the military refused to acknowledge the possibility that the massacre took place, even ignoring eyewitness reports from Iraqi villagers and compelling evidence collected and presented by Time Magazine. The military was incredibly hostile said Time magazines Aparisim Ghosh. “They accused us of buying into enemy propaganda, sticking to their original story that a roadside bomb killed the Iraqis.”

If Congressman John Murtha is correct, the news of the massacre and its subsequent cover-up will be far more damaging to our war efforts in Iraq and that the political fallout will be much worse than was experienced after the Abu Ghraib scandal. Murtha quotes reports at the “highest level” confirming that the massacre took place without provocation and that there exists a military/government conspiracy to cover it up. Murtha alleges that the Iraqi government was aware of the killings because they made payments to the families for “accidental deaths”. Murtha went on to say that the military initially tried to pin the Iraqi deaths on an IED. Murtha said that a military team was immediately deployed on site to conduct an investigation, but that the preliminary results of the investigation were withheld. "Nobody hears about it. "They don’t tell anybody" Murtha said. "Until March when Time magazine broke the news, nobody realized or recognized what happened.”

Another cover-up. Another tragedy our leaders have tried to sweep under the carpet and hide under a veil of secrecy. How can this continue to happen and what else are we not being told? I speak about the power of a free press, a press that has unfettered access to the halls of power. In this instance, you can see how a free press represents a very real threat to this administration and its conduct of the war. We would not have known about the NSA wiretapping policy, the Abu Ghraib torture scandal or now the Haditha massacre if it were not for the free press. If not for the free press we wouldn't know about the attampted cover-up or that the Iraqi government authorized hush money payouts to families of the murdered Iraqis. You can be sure of one thing, if the Iraqi government was making "accidental death" payouts on behalf of the U.S. military, then people in our military and our government knew about it. They will tell you they didn’t, but I would bet the farm that they did. Published reports state that there are as many as eight Marines from Kilo company of the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment who were directly involved, but that other units knew of what happened because they helped document the aftermath. How do you reconcile the fact that the military documents the massacre in November 2005 and then decided that they are not going to investigate further…that is until the Time article forced their hand. Ask yourself, who decided? Who approved the cover-up? Was it the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs? Think about it, if payouts were made by the Iraqi government to cover-up the actions of the U.S. military and that additional Marine units were brought in to investigate, document and clean up in the aftermath, do you really think that the head of the military would be completely unaware? Really? Do you really think that if the Chairman of the J.C.S had prior knowledge of a massacre that Secretary Rumsfeld was ignorant of the incident? Really?

The massacre of innocent Iraqi civilians is a tragedy. It is an extremely disturbing act and those who are responsible must be brought to justice. All indications point to a small group of Marines who snapped after having just lost a fellow soldier to an IED. It is an immense and inexcusable tragedy but hopefully it is an isolated one. What is potentially more disturbing is the fact that our government refuses to come clean. Though the President issued a statment on the Haditha tragedy, his administration does not feel compelled to address the specifics of issue or to discuss any aspects of the cove-up. This administration wants us to have faith in their actions and confidence in their decision-making. Yet these same officials continue to operate outside the boundaries of U.S. and international law. They condone murder, domestic espionage, torture and who knows what else under the guise of national security. Ultimately these acts are committed in our names. The blood of these innocent men, women and children are on our hands and we must ensure that those responsible are held accountable.

Over the next few months, as details of the massacre and the investigation become public, I caution you not to be lulled to sleep by government double speak and political deal making. Remain informed and do not become distracted, as continuing to allow our elected officials to operate with impunity will only encourage them to continue to do so with increasing frequency. Acts like this will severely hinder our efforts in Iraq and damage our prestige and credibility around the world. Make no mistake, victory in Iraq has to be a political victory, it cannot be won militarily. It will be hard to win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people, when the actions of a few taint the image of the whole. Just as the prestige of our military continues to suffer in Iraq because of the indignant actions of a handful of soldiers, so to does the prestige of the American people when its government acts with impunity and operates without conscience or restraint. I fear that we have only seen the tip of the iceberg, and if what we see is only the tip, I can only imagine what lurks just beneath the surface.


Think about it.

1 comment:

thepoetryman said...

It is our shame if we do not correct these wrongs of our nation... Complicity tastes like fecal matter...