We Are Not Winning Hearts and Minds
Last July, Iraq's ambassador to the United Nations, Samir al-Sumaidaie, accused the Marines of killing his 21-year-old cousin in cold blood during a search of his family's home in Haditha, a city of about 90,000 people along the Euphrates River 140 miles northwest of Baghdad.
The military ordered a criminal investigation but the results have not been announced.
The current Haditha case involves both the alleged killing of civilians and a purported cover-up of the events that unfolded Nov. 19.
That day, Lance Cpl. Miguel Terrazas, 20, of El Paso, Texas, was killed by a roadside bomb in Haditha, a Sunni Arab city considered among the most hostile areas of Iraq.
After the blast, insurgents attacked a joint U.S.-Iraqi patrol with small-arms fire, triggering a gun battle that left eight insurgents and 15 Iraqi civilians dead, the Marines said in a statement issued the following day.
That version stood for four months until a videotape shot by an Iraqi journalism student surfaced, obtained by Time magazine and then by Arab television stations. The tape showed the bodies of women and children, some in their nightclothes.
Although the tape did not prove Marines were responsible, the military began an investigation. Residents came forward with claims that Marines entered two homes and killed 15 people, including a 3-year-old girl and a 76-year-old man - more than four hours after the roadside bombing.
Sheik Sattar al-Aasaf, a tribal leader in Anbar province, which includes Haditha:
America in the view of many Iraqis has no credibility. We do not believe what they say is correct. U.S. troops are a very well-trained and when they shoot, it isn't random but due to an order to kill Iraqis. People say they are the killers.APMarines are not killers. Trained as combat troops, they are being misused as constabularies by our misleaders who are the killers. Those same leaders will claim that atrocities are the fault of a small number of rotten apples, presumably at the bottom of our manpower barrel.
As in a good many things in which Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld have attempted to delude us, this is a lie. The rot may be limited to a small number of men, but it is located at the very top of our government.