As outrage over reports that American marines killed 24 Iraqis in the town of Haditha last year continued to shake the new government, the country's senior leaders said that they would demand that American officials turn over their investigative files on the killings and that the Iraqi government would conduct its own inquiry.
In his comments, Mr. Maliki said violence against civilians had become a "daily phenomenon" by many troops in the American-led coalition who "do not respect the Iraqi people."
"They crush them with their vehicles and kill them just on suspicion," he said. "This is completely unacceptable." Attacks on civilians will play a role in future decisions on how long to ask American forces to remain in Iraq, the prime minister added.
The denunciation was an unusual declaration for a government that remains desperately dependent on American forces to keep some form of order in the country amid a resilient Sunni Arab insurgency in the west, widespread sectarian violence in Baghdad, and deadly feuding among Shiite militias that increasingly control the south.
It was also a sign of the growing pressure on Mr. Maliki, whose governing coalition includes Sunni Arabs who were enraged by news of the killings in Haditha, a city deep in Sunni-dominated Anbar Province. At the same time, he is being pushed by the Americans to resolve the quarreling within his fragile coalition that has left him unable to fill cabinet posts for the Ministries of Defense and the Interior, the two top security jobs in the country.
The above is from Richard A. Oppel Jr.'s "Iraqi Accuses U.S. of 'Daily' Attacks Against Civilians" in this morning's New York Times. First off, just a reminder, a third post is empty and al-Maliki has never filled it -- as noted yesterday: "'Minister of state for national security' is how the AP refers to the third post." And we'll leave it at that and move to Martha's highlight because we've got another issue on Haditha to address afterwards. From Josh White and Thomas E. Ricks' "Investigators of Haditha Shootings Look to Exhume Bodies" (Washington Post):
Criminal investigators are hoping to exhume the bodies of several Iraqi civilians allegedly gunned down by a group of U.S. Marines last year in the city of Haditha, aiming to recover potentially important forensic evidence, according to defense officials familiar with the investigation.
A source close to the inquiry said Naval Criminal Investigative Service officials have interviewed families of the dead several times and have visited the homes where the shootings allegedly occurred to collect as much evidence as possible. Exhuming the bodies could help investigators determine the distance at which shots were fired, the caliber of the bullets and the angles of the shots, possibly crucial details in determining how events unfolded and who might have been involved.
The link above is the same one that yesterday took you to Ellen Knickmeyer and Thomas E. Ricks' article that a sentence is quoted from in the Iraq snapshot. Apparently that was an early draft posted online. There won't be a correction on that -- when it was written, the link worked. There's nothing to correct. If the older draft is available online and somone finds it, we'll do an "ADDED" to the post, not a correction.
Why the issue of correction? I have an e-mail that came in where I'm taken to task on the Haditha issue because "you promoted the story in November." I did?
That seems unlikely. Short of noting a story relies on "military officials say . . ." I don't usually touch what appears to be a one-sided story, let alone promote it. But we do note the Times, so it could be here. If so, I would go in and note "CORRECTION: THIS STORY IS WRONG."
So I've spent the morning trying to track it down. (The visitor provided no details.) The only article in the Times on the Haditha events in real time that I'm seeing is by Edward Wong and Hassan Fattah.
The events took place Saturday, November 19th. The Times writes about it on November 21st. On that Monday, there are two entries (at this site on the paper). The first does address the issue of Iraq but is focused on Scott Shane's article that morning -- "NYT: 'Defense of Phosphorus Use Turns Into Damage Control' (Scott Shane)." The second isn't addressing Iraq -- "NYT: 'Guatemala's Secret Police Files May Hold Clues to Atrocities' (Ginger Thompson)." The only report I'm seeing this morning on Haditha in real time at the Times isn't noted here.
If we had noted it, I would gladly put a "CORRECTION" notice in the entry.
Edward Wong and Hassan M. Fattah's "Road Bomb Aimed at Convoy Kills 15 Civilians and a Marine in Restive Iraqi Province" is the November 21st article we didn't note. It contains "reporting" like the following:
* The Marine Corps said Sunday that 15 Iraqi civilians and a marine were killed Saturday when a roadside bomb exploded in Haditha, 140 miles northwest of Baghdad.
*The bombing on Saturday in Haditha, on the Euphrates in the Sunni-dominated province of Anbar, was aimed at a convoy of American marines and Iraqi Army soldiers, said Capt. Jeffrey S. Pool, a Marine spokesman. After the explosion, gunmen opened fire on the convoy. At least eight insurgents were killed in the firefight, the captain said.
Those are the only statements (lies) I'm seeing on Haditha althought the entire areticle is "Generals say . . ." and similar statements. We don't usually note those articles. They're one sided. They're not reporting. They're press releases from the Green Zone. When I note them, I'm noting them for that reason and critiquing them as such. I've searched the Times and searched this site. Unless there's another article on Haditha that I'm not finding, we didn't note their real-time (if non-real) coverage of Haditha.
The angry visitor might want to take that e-mail, copy and paste Wong, Fattah and Bill Keller's names onto it and send it to the Times because the Wong and Fattah 'report' is obviously wrong and there's no current correction ammended to the piece.
There was a lengthy period where we didn't note any of the Iraq coverage from the paper at all because it was so one-sided. I try to be careful in what I select (if a member makes a case for something, we'll note it with "___ highlights . . .") for that reason only. We can quote a portion of a story from the paper and have the quote blow up in our face. I'm fully aware of that. (And read the corrections section each morning to see if a correction is needed to anything we've quoted.) But we didn't quote that story. We didn't even note it. It's one-sided nonsense and not the sort of thing we'd note here. The Times could stop embarrassing themselves (they did it again yesterday with John F. Burns' 'reporting') if they'd stop parroting military talking points and presenting p.r. as 'reporting.' But I'm not finding any thing on the Times here that "promotes" the lies of Haditha. Ask the Times for a correction.
We'll again note Dahr Jamail's "Countless My Lai Massacres in Iraq" (Truthout via Iraq Dispatches):
The media feeding frenzy around what has been referred to as "Iraq's My Lai" has become frenetic. Focus on US Marines slaughtering at least 20 civilians in Haditha last November is reminiscent of the media spasm around the "scandal" of Abu Ghraib during April and May 2004.
Yet just like Abu Ghraib, while the media spotlight shines squarely on the Haditha massacre, countless atrocities continue daily, conveniently out of the awareness of the general public. Torture did not stop simply because the media finally decided, albeit in horribly belated fashion, to cover the story, and the daily slaughter of Iraqi civilians by US forces and US-backed Iraqi "security" forces has not stopped either.
Earlier this month, I received a news release from Iraq, which read, "On Saturday, May 13th, 2006, at 10:00 p.m., US Forces accompanied by the Iraqi National Guard attacked the houses of Iraqi people in the Al-Latifya district south of Baghdad by an intensive helicopter shelling. This led the families to flee to the Al-Mazar and water canals to protect themselves from the fierce shelling. Then seven helicopters landed to pursue the families who fled … and killed them. The number of victims amounted to more than 25 martyrs. US forces detained another six persons including two women named Israa Ahmed Hasan and Widad Ahmed Hasan, and a child named Huda Hitham Mohammed Hasan, whose father was killed during the shelling."
The report from the Iraqi NGO called The Monitoring Net of Human Rights in Iraq (MHRI) continued, "The forces didn't stop at this limit. They held an attack on May 15th, 2006, supported also by the Iraqi National Guards. They also attacked the families' houses, and arrested a number of them while others fled. US snipers then used the homes to target more Iraqis. The reason for this crime was due to the downing of a helicopter in an area close to where the forces held their attack."
The US military preferred to report the incident as an offensive where they killed 41 "insurgents," a line effectively parroted by much of the media.
Lloyd notes Matthew Rothschild's "Rice's Iranian Ruse" (The Progressive):
We've seen this play before, haven't we?
You know, the one where the Bush Administration pretends to be interested in a diplomatic solution but is really trying to get its ducks in a row for going to war?
This is the very same ruse that the Administration wheeled out in the months leading up to the Iraq War, and some of the language is identical.
Bush said many times that Saddam Hussein faced a clear choice: to back down or face the consequences.
Condoleezza Rice, in appearing to offer an opening for negotiations with Iran, said the same thing at her May 31 press conference. "The Iranian government's choices are clear," she said. And if it makes the wrong choice, "it will incur only great costs."
Thus does the Bush Administration put the onus on those it intends to attack.
Remember to listen, watch or read Democracy Now! today. The e-mail address for this site is email@example.com.
the new york times
richard a. oppel jr.
the washington post
thomas e. ricks
hassan m. fattah