The AP’s Douglass Daniel has written two articles on the Haditha incident. Here’s a glimpse into both articles:

Said Pace: “This investigation is ongoing. It would be premature for me to judge the outcome.” Asked how such a thing could have happened, he replied, “Fortunately, it does not happen very frequently, so there’s no way to say historically why something like this might have happened. We’ll find out.”

Though Gen. Pace didn’t think commenting was appropriate, that didn’t keep Murtha from playing judge, jury and executioner on ABC’s This Week.

“I will not excuse murder, and this is what happened,” he said. “This investigation should have been over two or three weeks afterward and it should have been made public and people should have been held responsible for it.”

Forgive me but isn’t that statement proof that Murtha’s ‘case’ is falling apart? When he first talked about Haditha, he told everyone that “Our troops overreacted because of the pressure on them, and they killed innocent civilians in cold blood.” How can they be overwhelmed by the pressure of being deployed too long and still be able to intentionally kill someone? Murder carries with it the highest evidentiary hurdle and with good reason.

But that legal hurdle apparently means nothing to Murtha. Is it because he’s out to destroy a presidency and win control of Congress? Or is it that he’s labored in anonymity all this time in the lower chamber of Congress and now he wants his 15 minutes of fame? Is it because he doesn’t care if innocent peoples’ reputations are destroyed in his quest for the Chairmanship of the House Armed Services Committee? Is it all of the above?

Murtha said high-level reports he received indicated that no one fired upon the Marines or that there was any military action against the U.S. forces after the initial explosion. Yet the deaths were not seriously investigated until March because an early probe was stifled within days of the incident, he said.

Who gave Murtha these “high-level reports”? Is he willing to name the names of these briefers? Or are they like-minded snitches who hate President Bush as much as Murtha? Are these briefers or are they leakers who want to put out a one-sided version of the Haditha incident? Until there’s a name and/or face connected with these ‘reports’, I won’t trust them at all. For all we know, they might be people whose objectivity is questionable.

Here’s some of Mr. Douglass’ reporting in “Iraq Killings May Hurt War Effort”:

The deaths of as many as two dozen Iraqi civilians and an ensuing cover-up threaten to do more harm to U.S. efforts in Iraq than even the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, a prominent congressman and war critic says. “This is the kind of war you have to win the hearts and minds of the people,” Rep. John Murtha, (D-PA), said Sunday. “And we’re set back every time something like this happens. This is worse than Abu Ghraib.”

As I said in my previous comments, I’m not willing to believe Murtha’s version of events. He’s been badly wrong before, making me question his credibility and motives. Furthermore, aren’t Murtha’s accusations, if they turn out to be wrong, doing more damage to our winning over the hearts and minds of Iraqis?

Murtha’s statements also imply that we aren’t winning over Iraqis hearts and minds. I’m not willing to concede that because of all the reports that I’ve read about how American troops are viewed. Check out Ralph Peters’ ‘post-Civil War’ series to see how Iraqis react to Americans.

A defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly, told the AP on Friday that evidence gathered so far strongly indicated that the Haditha killings were unjustified. Early this year, a videotape of the aftermath of the incident, showing the bodies of women and children, was obtained by Time magazine and Arab television stations. The military then undertook another investigation.

People speaking “on condition of anonymity” aren’t trustworthy at all. Furthermore, whatever happened to the legal principle that the accused gets to confront and attempt impeaching his accusers before the jury deliberates? It seems, at minimum, that Murtha is tainting the jury pool and violating these Marines’ due process rights. If anything, shouldn’t that be a source of embarassment for Murtha?

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Cross-posted at Murtha Must Go

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