By all rights, this should already be a huge story. It isn't yet, but it's starting to pick up steam. The New York Times:

A military investigator uncovered evidence in February and March that contradicted repeated claims by marines that Iraqi civilians killed in Haditha last November were victims of a roadside bomb, according to a senior military official in Iraq.

Among the pieces of evidence that conflicted with the marines' story were death certificates that showed all the Iraqi victims had gunshot wounds, mostly to the head and chest, the official said.


When Colonel [Gregory] Watt [the officer leading the investigation] described the findings to Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli, the senior ground commander in Iraq, on March 9, they raised enough questions about the marines' veracity that General Chiarelli referred the matter to the senior Marine commander in Iraq, who ordered a criminal investigation that officials say could result in murder charges being brought against members of the unit.

Colonel Watt's findings also prompted General Chiarelli to order a parallel investigation into whether senior Marine officers and enlisted personnel had attempted to cover up what happened.
Rep. Murtha has already been demonized for merely mentioning that the killings took place and that a cover up followed. Nevermind that Time Magazine has Minnesota Republican (also a retired Marine) John Kline saying, "This was a small number of Marines who fired directly on civilians and killed them. This is going to be an ugly story."

Time also discusses photos of the massacre taken by those involved. And our good buddy George didn't know about the whole situation until the press told him about it. I feel safer knowing he's the Commander in Chief. Really

All this while increased violence in Iraq makes any sort of draw down in forces look increasingly unlikely. From the LA Times:
BAGHDAD - The Pentagon's hopes of making substantial reductions in U.S. troop levels in Iraq this year appear to be fading as a result of resurgent violence in the country, particularly in the Sunni Arab stronghold of Al Anbar province, military officials acknowledge.

Army Gen. George W. Casey, commander of U.S.-led forces in Iraq, said Tuesday that he was moving 1,500 "backup" troops from Kuwait to Al Anbar, the western region that includes the war-torn cities of Fallouja and Ramadi.


But the [Pentagon's congressionally mandated quarterly status] report also shows an increase in the overall average number of attacks, from fewer than 500 per week last year to more than 600 per week in the most recent quarter. The increase was attributed to sectarian violence that erupted after the February bombing of a prominent Shiite mosque in Samarra.

On average, nearly 80 Iraqis were killed or wounded every day from mid-February through mid-May, up from the previous quarter's 60 per day. At least 92 U.S. soldiers have been killed in Al Anbar since the start of the year.
Not good news for Republicans looking into the 2006 elections. More importantly, not good news for all of the people with friends and loved ones in Iraq, be they military personnel, civilian aid workers or ordinary Iraqis.

No comments: