When the United States military acts without integrity, it is a huge blow to the integrity of the entire mission of the United States. We thought we had learned this with the Abu Ghraib embarrassment. Then came Haditha. It's good that finally today justice is served, but the atrocities were hidden for way too long.
Whenever I pray for the United States military troops, I pray not only for their success and safety, but also that they act with as much dignity and aplomb as they can under the duress of the situation.
When we don't act as we should, it undermines everything we are trying to accomplish. But when something such as the Haditha murders are covered up for several months, it is a major embarrassment to the United States. The Abu Ghraib travesty was more than enough. In retrospect of both Abu Ghraib and Haditha, all we can say is that our best attempt at retro-active justice is complete. But the lives lost can never be replaced.
It is far past time that today 8 Marines were charged either with murder or with complicity in its cover-up of the incident that occurred just over 13 months ago.
I tend to agree with the sentiments of some of the Iraqis.
"Are they terrorists or are they fighting terrorism?" said Jamal al-Obaidi, a 40-year-old teacher. "The trial is not fair because it is taking place in America.
"The American troops should be brought here, in front of an Iraqi court," Naji al-Ani, a 36-year-old laborer, said by telephone from Haditha. "They committed a horrible crime against innocents."
Der Speigel writes recently that the US Army is teaching what it has learned from its mistakes. Let's hope that avoiding future travesties such as Haditha is a required course.