Jesse Macbeth, a self-styled "special forces ranger," regaled moonbat audiences with tales of
the atrocities he committed in Iraq:
"Fallujah is where we slaughtered people in mosques," he said. "We would dig holes and leave
mass graves of children, women and old men."
Unfortunately for Mr. Macbeth, he made a video which was seen by actual veterans. In it, he is
wearing his beret improperly ("like a pastry chef," said an Army spokesman). He's wearing a
Ranger beret, but it has a Special Forces flash. The sleeves on his BDU jacket are rolled up
the way the Marines do it; not the Army.
In short, Mr. Macbeth was a fraud so obvious even the moonbats should have seen through him,
but they didn't because they wanted so badly to believe the terrible things he was saying about
U.S. forces in Iraq.
In every war America has ever fought, a few soldiers have committed war crimes. In no war has
their behavior been representative of our soldiers as a whole, or been sanctioned by their
superiors. But the moonbats think smearing our servicemen and women discredits the war effort.
To his everlasting shame, Rep. Jack Murtha (D-Johnstown) a retired Marine reserve colonel, is
playing to the same crowd. He's accused Marines of having committed "cold-blooded murder," and
their superiors of covering it up.
"It goes right up the chain of command right up to General (Peter) Pace (chairman of the Joint
Chiefs of Staff)," Mr. Murtha said on ABC's "This Week" program last Sunday.
Something horrible did happen in Haditha on the morning of Nov. 19, 2005. A powerful roadside
bomb destroyed a Marine humvee, killing LCpl. Miguel Terrazas, 20, and injuring two other
The incident report filed by Terrazas' unit said the IED was accompanied by small arms fire,
which the Marines returned, killing eight insurgents and wounding another. The report said 15
Iraqi civilians were killed in the blast.
That wasn't true. Autopsies indicated the 15 civilians four of them women and four of them
children had all suffered gunshot wounds.
The civilians were killed inside two houses near the blast site. An Iraqi journalism student
videotaped the bodies in the morgue and the scene in the two houses. It was shown to reporters
for Time in Baghdad.
Time gave a copy of the tape to a military spokesman in January, which triggered an
investigation which is now nearing completion.
Residents of Haditha told Time last week they were pleased with the thoroughness of the
"They asked detailed questions, examined each bullet hole and burn mark," a relative of the
victims told Time's Aparism Ghosh."It was a very professional investigation."
Criminal charges are likely to be filed against the 13 Marines in the squad involved in the
But in our system, it is customary to hear the evidence before rendering a verdict. The
Marines have yet to be charged, let alone convicted.
"Cold-blooded" implies emotionless premeditation. From what little we know of the case, it
seems the Marines were guilty of a hot-blooded over-reaction. Perhaps some Marines committed
premeditated murder. But perhaps it was manslaughter, or criminally negligent homicide.
And maybe they're innocent. Haditha's a hotbed of insurgent activity. Perhaps the Marines were
receiving fire from the houses, as they claimed.
If the Marines under suspicion are found guilty of murder or manslaughter, they should be
punished severely. But they deserve the presumption of innocence until then.
Rep. Murtha's accusation of a cover up clearly is false. The Marines under investigation
apparently lied in their report of the incident, but as soon as their superiors were made aware
of the discrepancies in their story, they ordered an investigation which the Iraqis say is
thorough, and which is about to result in criminal charges.
But if there is no cover up, it is harder to turn the incident into a broad indictment of U.S.
policy in Iraq.
News media that haven't reported much on the heroism of U.S. troops in Iraq have been playing
this incident up, as they did the appalling conduct of a few guards at Abu Ghraib prison. The
incident routinely is described as a "massacre," a term journalists don't use when insurgents
bomb a mosque or a marketplace.
Smearing our troops gives our enemies a propaganda victory. But whatever happened at Haditha
on Nov. 19, 2005 has nothing to do with the wisdom or justness (or the lack of it) of the war