OK, girls and boys, who remembers the Haditha massacre? This was supposed to be the My Lai of Iraq, the defining atrocity that would stand as a microcosm of everything that was wrong about the war. In March of 2006, Time magazine ran a story that claimed, based on interviews with locals, that in November of 2005, a squad of Marines had killed 24 civilians in cold blood in retaliation for the death of one of their comrades killed by an IED in Haditha. Responding to the story, the Marine Corps launched an investigation and in May charged a number of Marines from Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment of killing the civilians and a number of officers for covering up the alleged killings.
As I have said in the past, if the Marines killed civilians in Haditha in revenge for the IED attack, they would be guilty of a war crime. But as the complete story has emerged, as opposed to the partial and leaked information from questionable sources that created the original narrative, it seems to be the case that the killings, though a tragedy, did not rise to the level of war crime or atrocity.
The military justice system agrees. Of the eight Marines charged with offenses ranging from unpremeditated murder to dereliction of duty, charges against six have been dismissed and one defendent has been acquitted. Only the leader of the Marine infantry squad involved in the incident still faces reduced charges. His court-martial has been delayed.
The disgrace here is how the Marines were treated by the press and anti-war politicians, led by the odious Jack Murtha. My discussion of the whole affair can be found here.