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Haditha and the Farrago of Lies: War Crimes Start at the Top
by Counterpunch (reposted)
Thursday Jun 1st, 2006 9:35 AM
The United States military conducted air strikes in Afghanistan on May 21-22 that killed at least 16 civilians. Women and children were ripped to pieces by a hail of bullets and bombs. Over a dozen other civilians were injured and the US military's justification for the slaughter is that some ("between 20 and 80") Afghan fighters against the US occupation were killed, too, in the yippee shoot. US forces blasted an Afghan village and then claimed they did everything that could be done to "prevent killing civilians".

There was not the slightest effort made by the US military in Afghanistan to "prevent killing civilians" in that air blitz. They first announced that the aim of their operation was "to detain individuals suspected of terrorist and anti-Afghanistan activities." Just how do you "DETAIN individuals suspected of terrorism" by having airplanes spray bullets at them? But then, as pointed out at (always worth a visit), the robo-spokesmen dropped the word "suspected" and announced that "These individuals were active members of the Taliban network and have conducted attacks against coalition and Afghan forces as well as civilians".

How could the US Command in Afghanistan know these "individuals" were "active members of the Taliban network"? Did they carry identity cards? Was any American or Afghan government official present at their burial to verify their identity? Can the US Command give an example of an attack by these people on civilians? Why did the military at first say they were suspects then declare later they were active Taliban?

None of the conventional media ever ask such questions about massacres in Afghanistan or Iraq. Tame newspapers like the New York Times carry things like "[it] is expected to find that a small number of marines in western Iraq carried out extensive, unprovoked killings of civilians" on November 19, 2005. Note the words "small number", as if this made the murders not quite so horrible. We're back to the "few bad apples" rubbish spouted by Rumsfeld and his pathetic hand-puppet generals about US troops' torture and murders in prisons, and the killing of unarmed and innocent civilians.

Marines are said to have murdered 24 or more civilians in the "incident" (what a nice word) in Haditha last November. If they did, they were, in the words of Bush, "a totalitarian group of people who will kill innocent life, there or here, in order to achieve an objective." And the objective of this group of marines was slaughter for revenge. A marine had died in a roadside bombing, so there was a killing spree. After firm denials that deliberate murder of civilians had taken place, evidence was produced (not, of course, by the US military), that a major war crime had been committed.

The LA Times, which seems to be better than most newspapers at providing hard facts, reported on May 26 that "In its initial statement to the media, the Marine Corps said the Iraqi civilians were killed either by an insurgent bomb or by crossfire between Marines and insurgents. But after Time Magazine obtained pictures showing dead women and children and quoted Iraqis who said the attack was unprovoked, the Marine Corps backtracked on its explanation and called for an investigation." One military spokeswoman had said that guerrillas "placed non-combatants in the line of fire as the Marines responded to defend themselves", which was an outrageous concoction of lies, and in a bizarre attempt to deflect journalistic investigation Marine Captain Jeffrey S Poole -- he who retailed the original fabrication -- emailed the Time reporter to tell him his story was based on al-Qaeda propaganda.