Recently I wrote of the media indignation when images came to light of US marines urinating on Taliban corpses. US television news channels were aghast at the very idea that this nation’s ‘heroes’ could be capable of such behavior.
Back in 2005, when the horrors of the massacre in the Iraqi town of Haditha finally surfaced, and after official US army sources had tried to save face by blatantly lying, the media appeared less keen to broadcast their disgust and indignation.
The army’s initial report stated:
“A US marine and 15 civilians were killed yesterday from the blast of a roadside bomb in Haditha. Immediately following the bombing, gunmen attacked the convoy with small arms fire. Iraqi army soldiers and marines returned fire, killing eight insurgents and wounding another.”
But then a video was discovered that revealed the truth about Haditha.
…the bodies of women and children, still in their nightclothes, apparently shot in their own homes; interior walls and ceilings peppered with bullet holes; bloodstains on the floor…
…Twelve-year-old Safa Younis appears on video saying she was in one of three houses where troops came in and indiscriminately killed family members.
“They knocked at our front door and my father went to open it. They shot him dead from behind the door and then they shot him again,” she says in the video.
“Then one American soldier came in and shot at us all. I pretended to be dead and he didn’t notice me.”
There were eight bodies in the house, including Safa’s five siblings, aged between two and 14.
In another house seven people including a child and his 70-year-old grandfather were killed. Four brothers aged 41 to 24 died in a third house. Eyewitnesses said they were forced into a wardrobe and shot.
In the street, US troops gunned down four students and a taxi driver they had stopped at a roadblock set up after the bombing.
According to a witness, they were shot by the side of the road, as they stood with their hands on their heads…”
This is Staff Sergeant Frank Wuterich.
He led the marines that day in Haditha. There was no commissioned officer present.
Wuterich and others were charged with murder. But that was years ago. One by one the charges against the other six soldiers were quietly dropped or dismissed. One was acquitted.
Today, Wuterich walked away free after pleading guilty to, not murder, but ‘dereliction of duty’ in a plea deal.
The outcome of this case has caused uproar in Iraq.
Survivor Awis Fahmi Hussein, who had been shot in the back, said: “I was expecting that the American judiciary would sentence this person to life in prison and that he would appear and confess in front of the whole world that he committed this crime, so that America could show itself as democratic and fair.”
Was Awis Fahmi Hussein right to have faith in American justice?
 “What happened at Haditha?” BBC, March 10th 2008
 “US marine in Haditha case ‘should serve no time'” BBC, January 24th 2012
And further reading on this incident with links to press reports of the time:
“Just Obeying The Rules” Sparrow Chat, October 5th 2007