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Monday, June 26, 2006

The Haditha eight

The war in Iraq is an insurgency. Coalition soldiers daily encounter warriors who don't wear uniforms announcing their jihadi status; to the contrary. Because our men and women in uniform face killers who hide in civilian populations and attack from the shadows, they need to be able to respond instantaneously to the potentially deadly circumstances of insurgent warfare. The bizarre act of holding the Haditha Eight (seven confined Marines and one sailor) in maximum security sent a dangerous double message to their comrades on the ground in Iraq: "You are expected to be on guard against constant threat from vicious killers who may not appear to be your enemy, but you also need to know that your commanding officers will scrutinize your every action with deep and abiding suspicion. Good luck. You're on your own." What gives? Is it now U.S. military policy to undercut the confidence of our armed services in action? Do we want our military people second-guessing themselves on the ground, in the most dangerous circumstances imaginable? Look: I do not know — and you do not know — precisely what happened at Haditha. Attorneys for the men being investigated for possible war crimes in the deaths of 24 Iraqis insist that their clients did nothing wrong and were simply following the military's rules on how to combat armed insurgents hiding inside homes. I'm confidant that the truth will come out. For now: how interesting that human rights activists who rail about the humane treatment provided terrorists at Gitmo, can't manage so much as a murmur about the treatment of the men being held in the Haditha investigation.