- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 1, 2006

Rep. John “Cut and Run” Murtha, Pennsylvania Democrat, thinks he knows the truth about Haditha — and he has been blabbing it to every last cable show host that will host him. The loose-lipped former Marine has accused troops of wantonly killing some two-dozen civilians, including children, “in cold blood” in the terrorist stronghold in Iraq last November. There are two ongoing military investigations into the incident itself and the actions of higher-ups in the Haditha aftermath.

Let me repeat that: The investigations are ongoing. Not complete. Official reports aren’t expected for several weeks.

I do not know the truth about Haditha. Neither do Mr. Murtha and the media outlets calling the alleged massacre a massacre before all the facts are in. It would be helpful if they could handle these grave charges without serving as al Jazeera satellite offices.

Sen. John Warner, Virginia Republican, who, like Mr. Murtha, served in the Marines, struck the right tone over the weekend — refusing, unlike Mr. Murtha, to render a verdict against the Marines before trial and avoiding Bush Derangement Syndrome, but also taking the allegations very seriously.

I do know this. Children are dead. Other children have been orphaned. There are pictures of bullet holes and bloodied homes. There are evolving stories about what happened last Nov. 19 and serious allegations of a possible cover-up.

I also know Lance Cpl. Miguel Terrazas, the Marine killed by a roadside IED (improvised explosive device) that day, followed a proud family tradition of military service. He had received a commendation for bravery on his first tour of duty in Iraq in 2004. One of his fellow Marines said Terrazas’ body was split in two by the bomb explosion that rocked his Hummer while on patrol that morning.

And there’s this: Haditha is crawling with terrorists. The Associated Press points out that “in just three days last August, six Marine snipers were killed in Haditha and 14 Marines died in nearby Parwana in the deadliest roadside bombing of the war.” Most-wanted al Qaeda leader Abu Musab Zarqawi is said to have lived in Haditha. The Washington Post quoted a military lawyer noting Nov. 19 was the Marine 3rd Battalion’s “hottest day” in Iraq.

“In addition to drone surveillance that day, AV-8 Harriers were dropping bombs, helicopters were evacuating wounded, and a large firefight occurred about one-third of a mile from the site of the civilian shootings, said several people familiar with the investigation,” the paper reported. Audio of radio traffic reportedly contradicts Mr. Murtha’s claim the Marines did not come under small-arms fire after the roadside explosion, a military source told The Post.

We know this, too: Naval Criminal Investigative Service officials have not turned their backs. Time magazine, which initially broke the story of survivors’ accounts that prompted the military probe, reports Haditha residents — yet to be visited by any of Iraq’s own officials — “were gratified by [the investigation’s] thoroughness” and “were especially impressed by the NCIS investigators” conducting three separate enquiries.

Finally, this is incontrovertible: There are countless antiwar zealots on the American left rooting for failure. They believe the worst about the troops. They’ve blindly embraced frauds who have lied about their military service and lied about wartime atrocities. They’ve allied with socialist kooks and coddled murderous dictators. They look for any excuse to pull out, abandon military operations and reconstruction, and impeach the president.

They insist on giving suspected foreign terrorists more benefit of the doubt than our own men and women in uniform. And that I know I am not willing to do.

I will wait. I will pray. And I will remind you that while the murder of civilians is and remains an anomaly in American military history, it is the jihadists’ way of life.

Michelle Malkin is a nationally syndicated columnist.

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