Murder or Propaganda?
With so many condemning a number of Marines of committing mass murder the level heads are suggesting that we wait for an official investigation. Those who make these allegations are doing so based on a few short clips of video and biased comments made by and through politically and financially motivated sources. Anyone who is not a witness to the incident that makes any claim of guilt today is doing so based on desire and not fact and I question their allegiance for so readily turning against those who stand between them and those who wish to kill them.
The following explanation of the “wedding party” incident of 1 July, ’02 is given as an example of why we should withhold judgment based on media reports.
Although I was in Afghanistan on 1 July ’02 I was not anywhere near Deh Rawod, the location of the “wedding party” incident. I did share a room with an Air Force TAC-P (close air support caller) who maintained contact with the other TAC-P’s in the country. I also talked, face to face, with the navigator of the AC-130 gunship involved in the incident. I heard the details of the incident through both sources and they both explained them from their different perspective and both stories matched.
On the Evening of 30 June, U.S. forces prepared for an operation in the area which required helicopter support. Over previous weeks any aircraft flying in the area received ground fire from both small arms and anti-aircraft guns. This time they coordinated for support from an AC-130 gunship to eliminate the anti-aircraft guns before the helicopters flew through the area. When the gunship arrived they first checked in with a TAC-P on the ground who gave them the exact location of six anti-aircraft guns they had identified from the ground.
Just as the TAC-P was transmitting the last of the coordinates one of the guns opened fire on the gunship and the TAC-P relayed the information with the comment, “one of them is opening fire now.” The gunship navigator saw the incoming fire and confirmed the location. Even Hanoi Jane can distinguish the difference between aimed fire from a ZSU and indiscriminate celebratory fire from a few AK-47’s The gunship eliminated all six anti-aircraft guns.
The first official fact finding mission to the town made a number of discoveries that were only reported in the Stars & Stripes. These include recent wall graffiti depicting people shooting at aircraft, ZSU sized bullet casings that locals claimed fell from the sky (AC-130 gunships retain all brass inside the aircraft) and no bride or groom.
The navigator acknowledged that the video tape (all AC-130 missions are taped) confirmed that the Afghan claim of 48 dead was likely correct but there were no miss-guided bombs or shells. Were there women and children killed and wounded? Yes, but can you claim non-combatant status when you live in a house with an anti-aircraft gun on the roof?
I do not know why the U.S. Government has never released all the facts from this incident even when it continues to be trumpeted as an example of U.S. atrocities. The incident was reported directly to Pres. Karzai by an individual with known anti-U.S. sentiments with the express intent of damaging our reputation.
The Haditha incident may be murder and it may be terrorist propaganda, we do not know. If it is propaganda, it wouldn’t be the first time the media was a terrorist trumpet in the war against terrorism, but if it is murder, it will be the first time any unit has committed mass murder in the war on terrorism.