Anyone But Me
The Strategy Page discusses the possibility that the "Haditha Massacre" may turn out to be a battle with a lot of civilian casualties. "With testimony now emerging that shows that at least eight of the 24 'victims' were armed terrorists ... Haditha would have more in common with the 2002 battle of Jenin (also claimed to be a massacre) than it does with My Lai." However things judicially turn out, I think it is reasonable to observe that in the atmosphere of the hostile press coverage of the war in Iraq, it is bureaucratically safer to be overly zealous in prosecuting allegations of misconduct than it is to give the troops the benefit of the doubt. The negative consequences of any consideration in case the accused are guilty will far outweigh those of being excessively strict in the event they are innocent. It's the old minimax of game theory. Minimize your maximum loss. Which translates into doing anything to avoid being accused of a "cover up". What can sometimes result is a military version of the Duke Lacrosse rape case, where in the absence of definitive facts it is always politically safer to assume the worst. It's ironic of course, that the actions of the supposed champions of rights can result in the erosion of the most basic right of all: the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. But irony and self-righteousness are first cousins, and have always been.