Tuesday, January 24, 2012

No justice for Haditha

On November 19, 2005, US Marines massacred 24 Iraqi civilians in the town of Haditha. The killings were initially covered up as "collateral damage" from a roadside bomb, and many of the victims - who included seven children - were labelled "insurgents". But media investigations revealed what had really happened: after one of their number had been killed by a bomb, the US soldiers went house to house, with guns and grenades, murdering indiscriminately.

Eventually, in the face of public pressure, the US charged eight marines with a variety of crimes, including murder, manslaughter, and obstruction of justice. And then, one by one, those charges were quietly dropped. Today, the last of the accused, Sgt Frank Wuterich, who had been facing murder charges, plead guilty to dereliction of duty as part of a plea bargain:

He faces a maximum of three months confinement, two-thirds forfeiture of pay and a demotion to the rank of private.
Given the prior record of US military courts in these sorts of cases, the bus ticket he will be slapped with won't even be soggy.

And this is what the US calls "justice". But there's no justice here - just a military refusing to hold its own to account, and in the process sending a message to the world: we can murder you with impunity, because your lives count for nothing. And then they wonder why people support or join terrorist groups...