Wednesday, May 16, 2007

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.

9 Comments:

Blogger allen said...

Defend Our Marines

5/16/2007 03:38:00 PM  
Blogger Chavo said...

I live in San Diego and I see this story every day, Camp Pendleton is 35 miles up the road. There has never been any back story on this, as what actually happened. The press just states some guy was taken out summarily shot. To this day, I still don't have a clear understanding of what went on.

5/16/2007 03:45:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...

Posted earlier on this site:

Artilce 32 Investigations. JAG Navy

Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). Art. 32. Investigation

Article 32 Investigations. Greg McCormack. McCormack and Associates – A Military Litigation Law Firm

5/16/2007 03:50:00 PM  
Blogger lugh lampfhota said...

We need Roman ROEs:

Kill all the men in the vicinity of an attack

Rape all the women

Sell the women and children into slavery

Burn the place to ashes

It worked two millenia ago, it will work now.

5/16/2007 06:13:00 PM  
Blogger 3Case said...

lugh,

I prefer.

5/16/2007 07:29:00 PM  
Blogger 17797 said...

http://www.newsmax.com/archives/articles/2006/6/25/173358.shtml?s=lh

[...]

"When the Marines first went into the city, they were aware of the tight control insurgents exercised over Haditha. They discovered that the insurgents had freshly paved over dirt roads leading into town under the auspices of civic works projects."

"They were, according to a NewsMax source, "beautiful asphalt-surfaced roads" that even included painted lines. The only problem, the source recalled, was that insurgents had laid more than 100 mega-IEDs under that asphalt. And, in order to avoid having to change batteries in the triggering devices, they had wired them into the city power lines lining the road."

"It is important to remember that the so-called details of the alleged massacre came from Iraqis and residents of Haditha, a city run by insurgents who have those residents not allied with them under their bloody thumbs."

[...]

5/16/2007 08:20:00 PM  
Blogger buck smith said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

5/16/2007 08:57:00 PM  
Blogger buck smith said...

Will Murtha retract the "in cold blood" accusation he made against thsoe Marines, the most obscenely wrong statement about the war in Iraq since it began. I think Glenn Reynolds and several other commenters (Maybe our host!) have pointed that the response to an IED attack can never be in cold blood.

5/17/2007 06:47:00 AM  
Blogger Evanston2 said...

The "minimax" theory applies to the general officer level: investigating and prosecuting the case, but stops there. I've served on USMC courts-martial boards and they will not be swayed by external pressures. I predict guilty verdicts, if any, will be on minor charges. Unless a Marine testifies that he was told words to the effect "yes, those are civilians but shoot them anyway" there simply won't be enough clearcut evidence to convict on the most serious charges.
That said, the careers of all these Marines are over -- they'll have bad Fitreps in their files and have reached their "terminal rank."

It's a crappy business. An additional consideration is that we don't want guys just shooting at unidentified targets (a source of friendly fire incidents). So I'm OK with investigation of this sort of incident.

5/17/2007 11:21:00 AM  

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