CNN reporter Arwa Damon writes today about knowing and reporting on the K Company Marines who are now charged with the Haditha massacre and of her shock in realizing they were men she'd been impressed by in combat. She tells stories of them holding fire under pressure-- to avoid hitting civilians-- in the months prior to the atrocities.
Her report points further in the direction of understanding the virtual impossibility of the Marines’ mission— to simultaneously protect the population from friendly fire and to deal with the Iraqi people’s understandable antipathy toward the occupation.
…and to do this while taking ferocious casualties from unseen enemies and IED's.
I was with them in Husayba as they went
house to house in an area where insurgents
would booby-trap doors, or lie in wait behind
closed doors with an AK-47, basically on
suicide missions, just waiting for the Marines
to come through and open fire. There were
civilians in the city as well, and the Marines
were always keenly aware of that fact. How
they didn't fire at shadows, not knowing what
was waiting in each house, I don't know. But
And I was with them in Haditha, a month be-
fore the alleged killings last November of
some 24 Iraqi civilians.
I'm told that investigators now strongly suspect
a rampage by a small number of Marines who
snapped after one of their own was killed by a
Haditha was full of IEDs. It seemed they were
everywhere, like a minefield….
The coverage abroad of this story is graphic and damning of the U.S. military. Viewers are glued to the CNN World screens in the Geneva airport. This will make Abu Ghraib look small, I'm afraid. Reports that this kind of retribution against civilians occurred often is now a recurring theme in stories.