Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Truth from across Walden's Pond

A fellow by the name of Andrew Walden, writing in the Hawaii Free Press, unloads some big ones on the Haditha "massacre" story. Writing from halfway across the Pacific, which we may rename "Walden's Pond", Andrew has done some heavy research into the incident and, especially, the news reporting and "evidence" shown us to date.

He points out that, to date, not one American eyewitness has had his statement made public. He reminds us that one person portrayed by the press as an eyewitness, Lance Cpl. James Crossan, was wounded in the IED attack that supposedly triggered the mayhem. Crossan, however, was evacuated before the killing supposedly started. He was interviewed from a hospital bed where he was first told that his fellow Marines had massacred 24 civilians, including women and children. His response? "I think they were just blinded by hate ... and they just lost control." What was he supposed to say? He wasn't told until later that all of this was merely supposition on the part of the press. But the press took his words as a confession when, in fact, he was not present at the time.

Most damning is Walden's interview with Marine Captain James Kimber, commander Lima Company of the 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment. Capt. Kimber says he had weekly meetings with the Haditha City Council well after the incident and no one ever mentioned it. And this in spite of the fact that several of the alleged victims were relatives of a city council member.

Walden explains a bit about the meaning of "blood money" to the tribesmen. Most important to remember is that "blood money" payments do not indicate an admission of guilt. Just about anyone can pay the blood money because, to the tribesmen, compensation is what is important. If, in fact, the terrorists had killed the 24 civilians or, as is most likely, they died in a firefight while being used as human shields by the terrorists, the US Marines still would have paid the compensation to the victims' families because the terrorists would not.

Walden says that the issue would have been settled by the Americans' payment of $2500 to the families of 15 of the victims as well as $250 to each of two children wounded in the affair except that the Marines refused to pay the blood money to the remaining 9 victims' families, claiming that they were the hostiles who provoked the attacks on the Marines.

It was only after this refusal to pay the additional 9 victims' families that the "massacre" scenario was dreamed up. The news has been filled with reports that Time Magazine was the first to blow the cover off of the "coverup". Not true. According to Time itself,
A day after the incident, a Haditha journalism student videotaped the scene at the local morgue and at the homes where the killings had occurred. The video was obtained by the Hammurabi Human Rights Group, which cooperates with the internationally respected Human Rights Watch, and has been shared with Time.
Human Rights Watch is "internationally repected" by its supporters, such as bankroller numero uno George Soros and most other anti-American zealots. This video is the source of all the horrific shots from Haditha. The interviews with supposed Iraqi eyewitnesses, of which there appear to be three, were shot by one Ali al-Mashhadani. al-Mashhadani spent 5 months in Marine detention due to suspected insurgent ties and has recently been re-arrested on the same charges. It is on the basis of his interviews with these three "eyewitnesses" that Rep. John Murtha has been moved to declare the Haditha incident "cold blooded murder", a "coverup" and "worse than Abu Ghraib". Also remember that of the eyewitnesses, only one is an adult. The other two are little girls, one 9 years-old and the other either 12 or 13, depending upon which interview you believe.

It is also a help that Walden provides not only background in the meaning and importance and traditions of "blood money", but he also gives us some recent examples of prosecutions against both US and British troops that fell apart during trial. First, from the BBC, the British prosecution of 7 soldiers upon which the Brits spent some $18 million and 29 months:
" . . . it has become clear to everyone involved as the trial has progressed that the main Iraqi witnesses had colluded to exaggerate and lie about the incident."

Three women had admitted lying about being assaulted by British soldiers and one witness had told the court that Mr. Abdullah's family encouraged others to tell lies, Judge Blackett said.

Witnesses some distance from the scene "could not possibly have seen what they said they saw", he added.

And Iraqi court witnesses had used the case to seek "compensation to what were patently exaggerated claims", he said.

One witness at the court martial, Samira Rishek, a Marsh-Arab who had claimed to have been brutally beaten by the soldiers while she was pregnant, admitted to the court it was a "wicked lie".

The court heard that Mrs. Rishek, along with other witnesses, was paid $100 a day to give evidence at the trial and that she only agreed to give evidence after being told she would be paid.

BBC correspondent Paul Adams said there was an "underlying sense" that some of the witnesses were "out to try and get something for themselves".

A number of questions were going to be asked about why the trial had been mounted, he added.

Roger Brice, solicitor for defendant Pte Samuel May told BBC News there had never been a case to answer.

"What the judge has done today is stop the case when the prosecution have concluded . . . there was never a case for any of the defendants to answer.

"He summed up the fact that the evidence as it came out in these last two months has been one of acknowledged lies."
And then Walden tells us of the case of Marine Second Lt. Ilario Pantano who was charged with murder based on Iraqi eyewitness accounts. When he presented autopsy evidence at trial, the case against him collapsed, also. Stephan Holland, a Baghdad-based US contractor,
I’ve been in Iraq for about 18 months now performing construction management. It is simply not possible for me to exaggerate the massive amounts of lies we wade through every single day. There is no way - absolutely none - to determine facts from bulls*** . . .

It is not even considered lying to them; it is more akin to being clever - like keeping your cards close to your chest. And they don’t just lie to westerners. They believe that appearances--saving face--are of paramount importance. They lie to each other all the time about anything in order to leverage others on a deal or manipulate an outcome of some sort or cover up some major or minor embarrassment. It’s just how they do things, period.

I’m not trying to disparage them here. I get along great with a lot of them. But even among those that I like, if something happens (on the job) I’ll get 50 wildly different stories, every time. There’s no comparison to it in any other part of the world where I’ve worked. The lying is ubiquitous and constant.
And, finally, I quote Walden's reprinting of CNN reporter Arwa Damon:
I know the Marines that were operating in western al Anbar, from Husayba all the way to Haditha. I went on countless operations in 2005 up and down the Euphrates River Valley. I was pinned on rooftops with them in Ubeydi for hours taking incoming fire, and I've seen them not fire a shot back because they did not have positive identification on a target. I saw their horror when they thought that they finally had identified their target, fired a tank round that went through a wall and into a house filled with civilians. They then rushed to help the wounded -- remarkably no one was killed.

I was with them in Husayba as they went house to house in an area where insurgents would booby-trap doors, or lie in wait behind closed doors with an AK-47, basically on suicide missions, just waiting for the Marines to come through and open fire. There were civilians in the city as well, and the Marines were always keenly aware of that fact. How they didn't fire at shadows, not knowing what was waiting in each house, I don't know. But they didn't . . .
More at Ace of Spades, Roger L. Simon and Blue Crab Boulevard

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