Written by Ben Johnson
June 6, 2008
By Ben Johnson
Front Page Magazine
This Week Yet Again Proved The Party Of Defeat's King Wears No Clothes.
On Wednesday, a jury found Lieutenant Andrew Grayson "not guilty" of covering up the (un)massacre at Haditha. The 27-year-old had been accused of multiple counts of making false official statements and one count of attempting to deceive by making false statements. A charge of "obstruction of justice" had been thrown out the day before.
More than simply another exoneration of those accused of wrongdoing in Haditha – the sixth of eight accused – this verdict will go a long way to redefining Haditha and refuting those who insist on slurring "baby-killer" Marines and the United States herself.
In the atrocity story churned out by left-wingers and "mainstream media" newscasters (but then, I repeat myself), four U.S. Marines murdered 24 blameless Iraqi civilians on November 19, 2005, as their victims cowered, some "as if in prayer." The then-ascendant face of American surrender, John Murtha, made this story his own in a dramatic press conference in May 2006, insisting his fellow Marines acted "in cold blood" even as an internal investigation was taking place.
The story at once illumined the Left's imagination like nothing since Abu Ghraib. More than a massacre, its obsessive observers saw in Haditha a "cover-up," a conspiracy. The official press release stated these civilians had died during an explosion, rather than by gunfire, yet investigators understand they were killed by ammunition fired at close-range. The narrative became set: the Bush White House ordered American soldiers to slaughter innocent civilians every opportunity they got (My Lai by the dozen); the service covered up the story; and a compliant media hid it all from the American people. The fact that Time magazine broke the story gave them little pause. They became keepers of the dirty secret: America, a genocidal nation since 1492, is at it again.
"Mainstream" members of the Party of Defeat also took advantage of the allegations, using them to promote a six-month timetable for withdrawal. Had such a withdrawal gone through, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi would be the acknowledged emir of the al-Qaeda-controlled sphere of Iraq, recruiting Europeans for actions outside Iraq.
The Haditha lie is dying a bitter death not unlike that of the Jordanian terrorist – again, in spite of the Left, and in a way that is unacknowledged by the Left. Wednesday's verdict leaves but one person each charged with any form of wrongdoing: one for the "massacre" (Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich) and one for its reporting (Lt. Col. Jeffrey Chessani). Sgt. Wuterich no longer faces "murder" but reduced "manslaughter" charges, and there are already questions of unlawful command influence in Chessani's case. Lt. Grayson's attorney, Joseph Casas, said he looks for both to follow his client's footsteps. "I think [Grayson's acquittal] sets the tone for the overall whirlwind Haditha has been," Casas stated. "It's been a botched investigation from the get-go. I believe in the end all of the so-called Haditha Marines who still have to face trial will be exonerated."
Previous acquittals also paved the way. In August 2007, the judge stated Lance Cpl. Justin Sharratt was not merely "not guilty" but actually "innocent" of any illegal action whatsoever. Either, or both, Wuterich and Chessani may yet be convicted of some crime, but the narrative of a slaughter and cover-up is long gone.
This is a necessary corollary of the fact that there was no such "massacre." The defendants – who are, it is too infrequently pointed out, U.S. Marines who pledged to give their lives if necessary to keep America safe from terrorists – have maintained the "insurgents" initiated the firefight; hid among civilians (as terrorists often do); and the Marines heard rifles cocking in the smoke-filled room when they inadvertently killed the Iraqis (whom they also pledged to protect from terrorists at the cost of their lives).
The investigation attempting to prove "murder" never made sense. In June 2007, Lt. Col. Paul Ware told the prosecution flatly, “The account you want me to believe does not support unpremeditated murder. Your theories don’t match the reason you say we should go to trial.” Relatives would not allow doctors to autopsy the bodies, and the house in question had been freshly repaired and painted before investigators could retrieve additional evidence. Photographs of the scene revealed the curtains and walls were riddled with bullet holes – indicating a two-way firefight. And these "cold blood"-ed killers have broken down in tears at the remembrance of their actions.
The disgraceful John Murtha doesn't even blush over his.
Now leftist hopes of a conspiracy cover-up have also disappeared like gunsmoke dissipating in the atmosphere. The apparent explanation is that Lt. Grayson was following procedure. The Associated Press reports: "Grayson said the charges appear to be the result of a misunderstanding. He has always maintained he was following Marine Corps policy that prohibits the keeping of pictures on personal computers of Iraqi bodies." One can see the logic of Lt. Grayson's position: he could not allow anyone to possess such pictures in the aftermath of the damage done by the amateur photographs a few enlistees made keepsakes of Abu Ghraib. What would the media have done if it found pictures of dead women and children on a laptop? Had Lt. Grayson allowed them to keep such photos, the DailyKos and The Huffington Post would have accused him of enabling the military's inherently sadistic voyeurism.
Instead, he says he followed procedure and, in return, faced the full legal brunt of his own government. Lt. Grayson is still driven to the point of tears when he remembers the day he first heard of the charges, and the fact that he was facing 20 years in prison: "It was surreal. You can't quite believe you're hearing all this."
Much the reaction patriotic Americans have while reading left-wing accounts of Haditha, Iraq, or the United States.
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Ben Johnson is Managing Editor of FrontPage Magazine and author of the book 57 Varieties of Radical Causes: Teresa Heinz Kerry's Charitable Giving.