As it comes to light that John Murtha was premature in his criticism of the Marines and incorrect in his assessment about what happened in Haditha two years ago, will he apologize? I predict that you will never see the headline "John Murtha Apologizes to Haditha Marines".
Where is Congressman John Murtha now that several Marines who were charged with murder from a November 19, 2005 incident in Iraq have been exhonerated? Has he apologized for mischaracterizing what happened there and then? Nope. But he was wrong, and I suspected he was wrong way back then.
I was in Ramadi in September of 2005, when six Marines at an established observation post not far away in the town of Haditha were overrun by a band of al Qaeda insurgents and killed. The insurgents displayed and wore captured equipment from the soldiers and taunted the US military in the process with a lot of free television air time. About a week later, a gigantic bomb killed 14 more Marines in Haditha. The air-time for those killings was enormous and enormously gratifying for the newly emboldened Haditha terrorists. Some people could be forgiven for imagining that the Marines might use these events as a pretext to ignore their rules of engagement in Haditha as retribution. But you can't be forgiven for voicing these concerns on international television, as Congressman John Murtha did. Such actions are treasonous.
An improvised explosive device tore through a convoy and killed another Marine on November 19th. Under normal circumstances, the Marines would be expected to seek retribution, right? Apparently, Congressman John Murtha thought so, when at the time he said "our troops overreacted because of the pressure on them, and they killed innocent civilians in cold blood." How can John Murtha be forgiven for speaking out without possibly being able to know the facts surrounding the events and fanning the flames of American liberal hatred of the American military in Iraq, despite the suspicions of a senior Marine officer that he supposedly was privy to. The event quickly but incorrectly came to be referred to as The Iraq My Lai, despite even if the allegations of Haditha were true, the two incidents are hardly comparable.
Oops! So sorry.
It turns out John Murtha was wrong, and yesterday he apologized.
Even though nearly every member of the Marine unit that supposedly went on a rampage that night has been exhonerated, John Murtha is still in hiding.
His premature revelation of a conversation he supposedly had with "The Commandant of the Marine Corps" is inexcusable. It did more than almost any other event to sour the American public on the Iraq war. It created in many who were violently opposed to the war unfair expectations that many heads should roll, regardless of what the truth is.
The American opinion of the Iraq war (and the greater or lesser likelihood that US troops would exit Iraq) has a marked effect on the Iraqi mood toward the American troops. But John Murtha was not interested in the proven innocence or guilt of those supposedly involved in the Haditha incident on November 19, 2005. It was supposed that at least 6 individuals would be found guilty of their participation in the events of that evening. All but two, however, have now been exonerated. The trials of the last two marines are still future, but the political pressure will now be enormous to find the last two to be tried guilty of murder, in large part because of what John Murtha said.
He was clearly wrong to reveal to the American public what he had heard. But he didn't care. He's in lockstep with those who have overinvested in American failure in Iraq. The exoneration of yet two more of the Haditha Marines is very frustrating to those who already have their minds made up that America should fail in bringing liberty to Iraq. So if you're planning on holding your breath until John Murtha apologizes, I give you fair warning--your bones will long have decayed in your grave before that happens.