Ahmed Amr: Washing War Crimes at the Washington Post

By Ahmed Amr

You can read all about the nasty business of washing war crimes at the Washington Post. They start with fixing the headline. “Death in Haditha”  – not ‘mass murder in Haditha’ or ‘Another American Atrocity in Iraq.’ Next, forget the damning details, screw the truth and give the perpetrators all the room in the world to blame their conduct on ‘mistakes’ made in the heat of battle amidst the fog of war.

There never was any mystery about what happened in Haditha. Four of the victims were students and the fifth was a taxi driver giving them a lift back from school. One of the Marines involved in the executions later urinated on the bodies. The same company of marines continued their killing spree by butchering twenty other civilians, including women and children. As usual, the Pentagon managed to cover up the story for a few months. Fortunately, in this instance, the survivors got to tell their story. 

Remember the name of the rotten excuse of a journalist who covered the story for the Washington Post – Josh White. After giving an obligatory sanitized version of the facts, he speculates that “the accounts provide evidence that as the Marines came under attack, they responded in ways that are difficult to reconcile with their rules of engagement.” Really! Is that it? Maybe we should throw the book at this death squad attired in Marine uniforms for the crime of  “breaching the rules of engagement.” That should at least qualify as a misdemeanor of some sort.

As it turns out, the accounts provided no such ‘evidence.’ In fact, the Associated Press explicitly contradicted Josh White. It noted that “U.S. criminal investigators found no evidence to support the claim of Marines charged in the deaths of unarmed Iraqi civilians that five were shot after trying to flee the scene of a roadside bombing that killed one Marine. Investigators determined that all five Iraqis were shot within arm’s length of each other and no more than 18 feet from the white taxi they were ordered to exit by members of a Marine squad in the western Iraqi town of Haditha.”

It’s a matter of historical record that the Post was instrumental in marketing the war of choice in Mesapotamia. Its reporters and neo-con commentators were among the elite shock troops that conspired with the Office of Special Plans to perpetrate the WMD hoax against the American public. Spreading the canard that the pre-meditated murders in Haditha took place in the heat of battle – as “the Marines came under attack” – is exactly the kind of coverage one should expect from the likes of Josh White.

Haditha is a carbon copy of the slaughter at My Lai.  And just like My Lai – it is but a representative sample of hundreds of war crimes that have been committed by the American occupation army against the Iraqi people. The policy of dismissing civilian casualties as ‘collateral damage’ has become nothing more than a grant of immunity to each and every ‘coalition’ combatant. 

Do the rules of engagement that govern the behavior of troops in Iraq encourage this kind of atrocity?  Were Rumsfeld’s rules legal? Do they comply with international law governing the conduct of an occupation army? Is Haditha really an exception? How many Haditha type incidents took place in the sieges of Fallujah, Tel Afar or Ramadi? Is the conduct of our troops part of the reason for the insurgency? The Haditha story stayed buried for two months. How high up did the cover-up go?

These are just some of the questions that any responsible journalist should have examined in a feature article on Haditha. But that’s not the kind of scribe they retain at the Washington Post. The Post, after all, is the paper of Charles Krauthammer and like-minded Likudnik warmongers.  And this is precisely the kind of reporting favored by the chairman of this war mongering rag, Donald Graham.  Together with Murdoch and Sulzberger and an assortment of lesser media titans, Graham is one of the major players responsible for enabling Bush to launch an illegal war of choice on the strength of a pack of lies. 
The marines who committed this massacre are no better – and a few years older – than the mass murderers responsible for the mayhem at Columbine. What journalist worthy of the name would have dared accord the perpetrators of the Columbine atrocity the luxury of twisting the truth to manufacture ‘plausible rationales?’ 

What exactly do you call a ‘journalist’ who shrugs his shoulders at the scene of a war crime? By the time you finish White’s apologia – you would think he was reporting on a reckless driver inadvertently killing a stray dog.

Is the man a psychopath? Is he capable of committing the same kind of crime and coming up with the same kind of excuses as Marine Colonel Stephen W. Davis – one of the officers who stands accused of burying the Haditha massacre. Davis is quoted in the article as saying “There was nothing out of the ordinary about any of this, including the number of civilian dead, that would have triggered anything in my mind that was out of the norm. There is nothing about this incident that jumped out at any point to us." 

Maybe we shouldn’t come down too hard on Josh White. Because when you consider the long trail of canards at the Washington Post, "there was nothing out of the ordinary about any of this.”

-Ahmed Amr is the editor of NileMedia.com

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