June 4, 2006

The Skeptical Enquirer

Hatched by Sachi

The video report by CNN's Ryan Chilcote is interesting (click on "Watch a Marine's anguish over death").

The video of three child "survivors" of the alleged attack in Haditha was not taken by CNN reporters; they were not allowed to speak to any of the supposed witnesses. Iinstead, a representative of an unidentified human rights organization (which might have been the same Hammurabi Organisation for Monitoring Human Rights and Democracy, which produced the first videotapes of the supposed witnesses) "went back" to Haditha and videoed the three children.

But unlike CNN's usual uncritical acceptance of any narrative by supposed "victims," Chilcote's seems somewhat skeptical of the children's account. He says they have obviously told the story many times, which implies to us that they were coached. They did not need any probing.

Chicote noted that one of the girls made a very puzzling claim:

I knew the bomb was going to explode. So I covered my ears.

The Iraqi reporter does not follow-up to find out how she knew, or if she really did have foreknowledge; instead, the person from the "human rights group" dismisses it by saying the little girl was just "confused."

That may be true. But it's surprising that a CNN reporter would raise that point, that he was not satisfied with the explanation. If he were there, he would certainly have asked more (and more probing) questions.

I, myself have a question: the surviving children described the "massacre" in detail as a deliberate spree of premeditated, "execution style" murders.

But if that is how it happened, why were these child "witnesses" allowed to live? I can understand if the family members were killed during the fog of war, or in a fit of anger; I could understand that if the Marines were shooting at things in random, the chidren might survive. But if the report is correct, the Marines are supposed to have killed people methodically and at point-blank range... including several other children. In that case, why would they leave anybody alive, especialy witnesses?

We know that children can be coerced to say almost anything; see the McMartin case. Children have only a tenuous grasp of the essential difference between reality and fantasy or the consequences of bearing false witness. They can be browbeaten into falsely accusing their own parents of child molestation just to please the total stranger who is interrogating them. They can be threatened, either directly or by proxy (threatening their survivng relatives).

We also don't know the relationship between the children and the reporters. Children's relatives can be terrorists, terrorists sympathisers, or could have been threatened by terrorists; and "human rights groups" can be front groups for Musab Zaraqawi's al-Qaeda In Mesopotamia group. Each incongruity or unexpected connection forces us to examine the chilredn's stories carefully for internal consistency and consistency with the forensic evidence, as it develops.

Everything yields to the physical evidence; the supposed eyewitness testimony is less than useless, because they cannot be qualified as witneses and they cannot be relied upon to be honest: the city of Haditha is a terrorist stronghold, and many people might come forward and claim to have witnessed the American "atrocity."

If the DNA and ballistics evidence shows conclusively that the bullets which killed the civilians came from the guns used by the Marines -- or alternatively, that they did not -- then any inconsistency of the eyewitnesses' account is irrelevant. Similarly, if the physical evidence itself is inconclusive, the eyewitnesses accounts alone, questionable as they are, cannot be deteminative of the findings.

We must, of course, wait and see. What else can we do? But it's interesting that at least one CNN reporter, who has seen the complete footage of the interviews with the children, is starting to have doubts.

Hatched by Sachi on this day, June 4, 2006, at the time of 5:19 PM

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Comments

The following hissed in response by: RBMN

If I remember correctly, there are documented cases of Iraqi civilian vigilantes, so sick and tired of bomb-makers and their daily slaughter, that they take it upon themselves to solve their local insurgent problem in the traditional Iraqi way. Kill ‘em all, let Allah sort ‘em out. This could just be a case of surviving insurgents finding the aftermath of some vigilante justice--biter lemons--and making some sweet sweet propaganda lemonade (sweet from their point of view) out of it all. What they had to do was create a plausible reason for Marines to lose control. That’s where the IED comes in. Then they have a story for CNN, and a big club to beat Americans over the head with. I don't think that's so farfetched.

The above hissed in response by: RBMN [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 4, 2006 6:11 PM

The following hissed in response by: Terrye

I have a friend who works with Children in abuse cases and she says the greatest difficulty dealing with children is that they want to please. They can not understand the long term ramifications and so they just try to make the important people happy.

I have seen cases where DNA refuted that kind of testimony and there is no way of knowing if people even realize they were not telling the truth. False memory and true memory seem the same.

The above hissed in response by: Terrye [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 4, 2006 8:02 PM

The following hissed in response by: Terrye

monkyboy:

Janet Reno was not all that careful at Waco was she?How many died there? 87? Imagine the shrieking and paranoia that would ensue if Bush killed almost 90 Americans, many of them women and children.

Obviously the US is careful, no one wants or needs the bad press or the guilt. Maybe monkyboy here thinks that the Iraqis are more pissed at the Americans than they are the terrorists who make a point of blowing them up, shooting them, lobbing off their heads, raping them, torturing them, and terrifying them on a daily basis. But then monkyboy lives in the big bad USA and not some place like Saddam's Iraq so I guess he is not the best judge of what horror really is.

The above hissed in response by: Terrye [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 4, 2006 8:16 PM

The following hissed in response by: Bill Faith

The above hissed in response by: Bill Faith [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 4, 2006 10:33 PM

The following hissed in response by: Dick E

Sachi-

"If the DNA and ballistics evidence shows conclusively that the bullets which killed the civilians came from the guns used by the Marines -- or alternatively, that they did not -- then any inconsistency of the eyewitnesses' account is irrelevant."

Unfortunately, we may never really get to the bottom of this case, because, of course, exhuming bodies is FORBIDDEN BY ISLAM (so it has been reported), just like charging or accepting interest and ... hmm, I'd better stop here.

The above hissed in response by: Dick E [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 4, 2006 10:53 PM

The following hissed in response by: Dick E

Monkeyboy-

"Sure that's the story you wanted to link to?"

So in your world the good guys would never make a mistake and kill an innocent bystander AND DEMONSTRATE THAT THEY THOUGHT WHAT HAPPENED WAS DEVASTATINGLY HORRIBLE.

Oh, but that's right: In your world there would never be any wars.

The above hissed in response by: Dick E [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 4, 2006 11:02 PM

The following hissed in response by: Sachi

The video I am referring to is titled "Haditha Uncovered." You can access the video by going to the link above and clicking on "Watch a Marine's anguish over death."

The above hissed in response by: Sachi [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 5, 2006 12:04 AM

The following hissed in response by: Terrye

monkyboy:

In every poll done the Iraqis want us to stay until and unless they can keep it together without us. In every poll they rate security as a higher priority than the US leaving. But in spite of what you say not every poill shows Iraqis saying it is a good thing to shoot Americans.

As for not attacking us, Saddam Hussein tried to kill a president. He shot at our planes. I can remember years ago when he "accidentally" fired on one of our ships, he has ties to the first WTC attack and then again he made the Serbs in Bosnia look almost civilized.

You know I hear Clinton say that the biggest regret he has is that he did nothing to stop the killing in Rwanda. They did not invade us either. So we just sat back and watched a million people die. The same thing would have happened if we had not stopped Hussein.

So I guess that means if your neighbor wants to beat his kid to death it ain't no big deal unless he attacks you. None of your business. No sir.

And then there is the simple fact that the world's economy and with it global stability and the ability of billins to feed themselves is subject to the whims of a bunch of autocratic and psychotic crybabies who happen to be sitting on a large chunk of the world's energy supplies.

BTW, perhaps we should give the southwest back to Mexico, they did not attack us. And then again we can carve up the US because there was no reason to fight the civil war. Lincoln could have just let them go. And then again, Germany did not attack us in either WW1 or WW2, they were malicious and threatening but if German troops landed on our shores in mass I missed it. And of course Korea did not attack us either, so let's pull the troops out of the South and let the North swoop down and take it back, kill a million people in the process. None of our business. And Milosovic did not attack us. What do we care if he does some ethnic cleansing? and so on and so forth.

And of course the tsunami did not get us either so why send in our troops? Why is it when something goes wrong, it is the US they expect to come save them?

In Iraq one of the reasons they are angry is not that we invaded, it is that we waited so long to do it.

The above hissed in response by: Terrye [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 5, 2006 3:35 AM

The following hissed in response by: hunter

monkyboy,
The problem is that we on the American side of this war do recognize that there is a vast differnce between the patriots we send to Iraq and the terrorists who fight us and murder Iraqis. Your side of this war is working very very hard to erase those differences.

The above hissed in response by: hunter [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 5, 2006 5:49 AM

The following hissed in response by: Harold C. Hutchison

Inconsistencies...

The above hissed in response by: Harold C. Hutchison [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 5, 2006 6:26 AM

The following hissed in response by: MTF

I'm always puzzled by this claim "we attacked a country that never attacked us".

First, you know we were previously at war with Iraq, don't you? Never attacked us? Well, I guess, if you overlook an entire war.

Second, you know they helped Al-Qaeda with training and logistics. Never attacked us?

Third, they funded suicide attacks against civilians in Israel. In all of those attacks the civilian victims could and often were American tourists or students. At some point even Jefferson would have sent in the Marines to stop that sort of nastiness (oh, yeah, I forgot: he did!).

Painting the fascist Baathist government as a bunch of innocents, and the America government as domineering bullies is the absolute height of intellectual dishonestly, nihilism, and deliberate ignorance in pursuit of isolationism.

The above hissed in response by: MTF [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 5, 2006 6:33 AM

The following hissed in response by: KarmiCommunist

Sachi,

Excellent post/report/observations!!!

War is about killing and breaking things, and atrocities shouldn't even be making news unless they are on the scale of a Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, etc.

Marines were attacked and killed in Haditha (again), and they struck back. When striking back after being attacked becomes illegal, then it is time to surrender the War, and surrender to Islamism.

Karmi

The above hissed in response by: KarmiCommunist [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 5, 2006 2:58 PM

The following hissed in response by: KarmiCommunist

War is not about "war", it's about *WAR*. Clearly, few amongst America's socialist/leftists will ever understand such simplicity. That simple fact, is why most Americans don't trust America's security in the Democrat Party's feeble hands.

Thanks for making my point, monkyboy...

KårmiÇømmünîs†

The above hissed in response by: KarmiCommunist [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 5, 2006 3:58 PM

The following hissed in response by: ben

Good job Monkyboy. Great use of parsing and implication, with your classic "Sure that's the story you wanted to link to?" Those poor right wing suckers will never know that the VERY NEXT SENTENCE after the one you quoted from that article is "They then rushed to help the wounded -- remarkably no one was killed." Wow, jeez, if they read that, I mean, there goes the whole meme, right? If the warmongering bushies realized that we really do know that US Marines are the kind of people to go rushing to help wounded Iraqi civilians- wow, that's not going to help your case now is it? Rushing to help civilians-something our insurgent freedom fighting heros never, ever, ever do, I guess they would but they can't find the time- but let's not discuss that little problem! Good cover up move, Monkyboy, can't let them in on that one, because obviously they'd see through the whole scam!

The above hissed in response by: ben [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 7, 2006 11:51 AM

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