Iraq Government Launches Probe of Haditha Deaths

The Iraqi government is starting its own investigation into the Haditha incident.

The Iraqi government announced Thursday its own investigation into reports that U.S. Marines killed unarmed civilians last year, and the top U.S. general in Iraq ordered American commanders to hold ethical training on battlefield conduct.

The decision to begin an Iraqi inquiry into the killings was made at a Cabinet meeting, Adnan al-Kazimi, an adviser to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, told The Associated Press. The investigation will be carried out by a special committee made up of the Justice and Human Rights ministries along with security officials, al-Kazimi said.

One can hardly blame them under the circumstances. Given that the Bargewell Report already points to a cover-up on the part of the Marines, one can hardly merely say “trust us.”

I’m not sure of the state of our Status of Forces Agreement with Iraq but can’t imagine that we would allow them to have any criminal jurisdiction over our military personnel. But a parallel investigation by their own government may help legitimate the ultimate findings of our own investigations and any resulting criminal prosecutions under UCMJ.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Bithead says:

    But a parallel investigation by their own government may help legitimate the ultimate findings of our own investigations and any resulting criminal prosecutions under UCMJ.

    … or the lack thereof.

  2. James Joyner says:

    Bithead: Possibly. The preliminary report sure looks damning, though. The standard for going to trial vice conviction is quite different. There’s almost certainly reason for courts martial. Reasonable doubt as to murder charges, obviously, is another ball of wax.

  3. Occam’s razor time, either the reports reach the same conclusion or they don’t. If the multiple US investigations and the Iraqi report reach the same conclusion, then there is likely to be little controversy.

    If they don’t reach the same conclusion, then either the Iraqi report exonerates the marines when our report doesn’t or they opposite. In either case, those that don’t support the mission will cite the report condemning the marines.

    I think the real impact that most of those who support the mission would only withdraw the support if they found the marine behavior was institutionalized or went unpunished. Just as with Abu Gahrib, while no one approved of the acts, the right felt comfortable that the wheels of justice had turned and in the end the system worked. The left foamed at the mouth and lost the election in 2004.

    Likewise with this case, if justice is seen to be done, it is not likely to be the catalyst for eroding support on the right.

    Part of this is because of the actions of the left. If mighty morphin ranger Jessie’s claims were not met with such credulity on the left and then so easily debunked, when real problems emerge they would have a greater impact.

    I am reminded of the even which stopped me from watching Rather (who I had a vague connection with as he was a narrator in a church Easter pageant I was in as a child). He had a story that was about “An American killed when the helicopter he was in was shot down during a contra raid on a school”. This made me re-think my support for the contras. It borrow from the left, not in my name would contras be attacking schools. A little digging turned up that everything said was the truth, but that it was presented in a way that it was a lie (an early flirtation by Rather on ‘fake but accurate’ as it was ‘accurate but fake’). The American was killed when the helicopter he was in was shot down. But the helicopter was flying medivac and was not near the ‘school’. So it happened about the same time, but the helicopters support on the attack was purely logistical and not direct. The school was a school, but it was a school for training officers to serve in the Nicaraguan army. So visions of third graders being machined gunned were replaced with soldiers (or at least proto-soldiers) being killed. In short, beyond the fact that an American was killed (as far as US public concerns went), the real story was that the Sandinista had shot down a medivac helicopter. I never could determine if the helicopter was properly marked or not (aka violation of the Geneva convention). It also turned out that the way CBS reported it was from a Sandinista press conference. Having written and read PR releases, I understand about interested parties putting the facts most favorable to them forward and ignoring inconvenient facts. But I would expect CBS to have at least as much skepticism of a Sandinista statement as they would of a US government statement. Actually, I would expect them to have less given the lack of openness in the society, but I would settle for equality.

    And that brings us back to this case. I have seen the truth distorted enough by the MSM and the left that I am very skeptical when Murtha pronounces this as “cold blooded murder” and the press dutifully amplifies that. It may be, but I will look for the details behind the investigation before I come to a conclusion. Not that I will trust the government report blindly, but given the nature of the press, I would be amazed not to hear if there was a cover up and to see the story dropped with no explanation if the facts prove inconvenient to being used as a club against Bush.

  4. Bithead says:

    James…

    Clearly.

    And yet, that was my point. the process of arriving at what the predisposition would ahve us think, it seems to me is made in at least two steps…

    Are the troops guility of anything at all?

    Are they guilty of murder?

    the second of the two seems to me far higher than the first, and the first is yet far from proven.

    I for one am willing to wait this one out, and not tie in to the hype that has been built up around this whole thing by people who have been wishing for just such an event ot occcur. (Murtha, for one)

    I’m with AnotherJohn on this; Accuracy seems to suffer under such people, and I won’t be sucked in.