Skip to comments.Haditha killings recall Vietnam's My Lai
Posted on 06/02/2006 6:52:09 PM PDT by NormsRevenge
NEW YORK - On a March morning in 1968, American troops swept into a village on South Vietnam's central coast in search of communist guerrillas. Instead, they found unarmed civilians and gunned them down, leaving bodies huddled in ditches.
Nearly four decades later, the notorious name of that hamlet My Lai has been summoned from memory again, as the U.S. military investigates allegations of mass civilian killings by a group of Marines in the western Iraqi town of Haditha.
While the numbers differ upward of 300 at My Lai, compared to 24 at Haditha some of the circumstances are eerily similar.
Haditha, a deceptively quiet town in the Euphrates valley, is known as a center of insurgent activity, just as My Lai was 38 years ago.
The killings at My Lai were attributed by some to U.S. troops seeking vengeance for booby traps and mines the "improvised explosive devices" of that time. Just two days earlier, the same infantry unit had suffered casualties from a booby trap.
Flash forward to another war, in another time.
Last Nov. 19, a Marine was killed when an IED struck a four-vehicle convoy at Haditha. The Marines reported that 15 Iraqi civilians also died in the blast, and eight insurgents were killed in an ensuing firefight.
But that story didn't stick. Rep. John Murtha (news, bio, voting record), D-Pa., a leading critic of the Iraq war, said after being briefed by military officials that the Marines actually had killed unarmed civilians at the scene, and others in nearby homes. Lance Cpl. James Crossan of North Bend, Wash., who was wounded by the roadside bomb, told a Seattle TV interviewer the incident might have caused others to be "blinded by hate ... and they just lost control."
Investigators want to know not only what happened, but whether officers of the 3rd Marine Regiment covered up the truth as did senior officers of the Army's Americal Division, to which the My Lai unit belonged.
While the two incidents appear to have similarities, there are key distinctions between the Vietnam era's military and today's an all-volunteer armed force that officials consider more professional and better motivated.
Perhaps most important is that all U.S. service members now undergo training in the "law of armed conflict," which spells out rules for dealing with civilians in a combat situation, said Scott Silliman, a law professor and executive director of the Center on Law, Ethics and National Security at Duke University.
"That didn't kick in until the 1970s, and My Lai was the watershed case," Silliman said. "But this (Haditha) is not My Lai, and those that try to make a direct comparison are not well informed. It may be a gut reaction, but today's troops are much better educated, trained and disciplined than those at My Lai."
My Lai occurred on March 16, 1968, as troops launched Task Force Barker, a "search and destroy" operation in one of South Vietnam's most dangerous areas. It was the turf of a seasoned Viet Cong guerrilla battalion, where locals displayed sullen hostility toward U.S. troops and an estimated 80 percent of casualties were from booby traps and mines.
In what was later depicted as a combination of systematic killing and uncontrolled rampage, the GIs forced men, women and babies from their homes, herded them into groups and shot them.
The incident was noted in the next day's war communique by MACV, the U.S. command headquarters in Saigon. It said U.S. forces had killed 128 "enemy" in a sweep in Quang Ngai province. The name My Lai was not mentioned.
In a particularly chilling moment at his 1970 court-martial, Lt. William Calley, a platoon leader, testified that the "order of the day" from his company commander, Capt. Ernest Medina, had been to move the villagers, and if they refused, to "waste them."
The body count ranged between 250 and 300 by Calley's estimate, and more than 400 by some others. A later U.S. inquiry would settle on 347.
The first inkling of such incidents came months after My Lai, in a letter from a former soldier to the division commander. The letter, which did not specifically mention My Lai, was referred to the operations officer, Lt. Col. Colin Powell the eventual Secretary of State who investigated and reported that the claims were groundless.
It was not until November, 1969, that the truth finally surfaced, after Ron Ridenhour, another ex-GI who had learned of My Lai from participants, wrote letters to President Nixon, the Pentagon, State Department and members of Congress.
The My Lai affair had several outcomes, and few were satisfied. Acquitted of murdering 102 Vietnamese after a skillful defense by attorney F. Lee Bailey, Medina later admitted he had suppressed evidence and lied to superiors about the death toll. Fourteen Americal Division officers were accused of taking part in a cover-up, but none was convicted. Lt. Col. Frank Barker, for whom the operation was named, died a few weeks later in a helicopter crash.
Calley, the lowest-ranking officer charged, was convicted of premeditated murder in 1971 and faced life at hard labor. But Nixon ordered him moved from the stockade to house arrest. In 1974 he was paroled and returned to a civilian life of obscurity in Columbus, Ga.
My Lai did have its heroes, however. Chief Warrant Officer Hugh Thompson and two helicopter crew mates landed their reconnaissance chopper in the middle of the killing spree, threatened to shoot any soldiers who continued firing, and directed the evacuation of 12 wounded villagers.
All three eventually were awarded the Soldier's Medal for bravery. Thompson died of cancer in January 2006 and was buried with military honors. In a 2004 television interview, he had said he wanted to forgive what had been done at My Lai, but "I swear to God, I can't."
Richard Pyle covered the Vietnam War for five years and was AP's Saigon bureau chief 1970-73.
Thank you, Dishonorable Jack Murtha!!
Support Murtha's opponent - Diana Irey. Please!
Disgusting - the investigation is not over and the marines are convicted. Same old Vietnam garbage.
ON THE NET...
"Haditha Doctor Was Arrested, Hates US Too"
Sweetness & Light ^ | June 1, 2006 | N/A
Posted on 06/01/2006 6:44:37 PM PDT by Sam Hill
"Haditha: Blood Money, Lies and Videotape?"
Front Page Mag ^ | June 2, 2006 | Andrew Walden
Posted on 06/01/2006 9:09:03 PM PDT by beaversmom
"relatives turned down a request by U.S. investigators to exhume the victims' bodies for forensic tests."
JACK ASS MURTHA IT'S OVER UNLESS YOU DON'T NEED A FAIR TRIAL TO CONVICT THESE MARINES?
Yup! Another My Lai. Jack "The Fragger" Murtha says so. Why waste time and money on investigations, hearings and all that jazz. Let's just execute these Marines. Murtha says they're guilty so it must be true. "THERE THEY ARE! LET'S GET 'EM BOYS!!!!!
Yes, that would describe the media.
Well,,, thank you...uh, duh..oh, yeah... It's yahoo.
Whether you do it on the ground, up close and personal, or from an aircraft, or with missiles...the results are the same. Non-combatants die. Either collaterally, or as an effort to pacify the enemy population.
Non-combatants in enemy enclaves should either get out or their own blood is on their hands, or whomever holds them there. Sorry, AP, libs, liberal media, hand-wringers, RINO's, etc... but thatt's the harsh reality of war.
Richard Pyle of Sh$t!
it's amazing how the lame-stream-media is slowly bringing this comparison closer together....
the other night on some idiot news show when speaking of My Lai they talked of "420 men/women/children murdered"...now, according to this article, the number is a little more then 300.
As I recall there were Iraqi soldiers on that operation. Has anyone seen any reports on what if anything they saw?
One very interesting line in this story...was the one that said that the initial reports of My Lai was INVESTIGATED by Colin Powell...and he found no wrongdoing...
Therefore, it shows that NO ONE can be sure of anything at this time...and maybe never, because if, like I believe, this was some kind of either planned, or spontaneous set up...the Marines won't be able to tell what happened before they got there..and we know the terrorists won't tell.
They're trying to make it Vietnam again, but this time we're fighting back. Don't sit back and take it.
I'm hoping for a re-visit of Wounded Knee next...what dorks!
If these poor Marines are scapegoated and convicted, then I predict this case will spell the beginning of the end of the all-volunteer military. Who the hell wants to join a military that allows an anti-American media to travel with them for the sole purposes of misrepresenting the facts and painting our guys out to be cruel, abusive criminals? And what's worse, who wants to join a military that applies ridiculous constraints on our guys and constantly finds troops to place on trial for "abuse" or even murder?
As Michael Savage calls it, "the enemy within", they are doing more damage than the external enemies of America are.
Thanks for the links!
The despicable Murtha needs to go. Support Diana Irey FReepers.
DIANA IREY FOR CONGRESS
600 PARK AVENUE
MONONGAHELA, PA 15063
You have a way with words...Mystery!!
What the left and the media love to forget is that My Lai was a planned assault on Viet Cong strongholds and that Lt. Calley was ordered freed by Federal Judge J. Robert Elliot after 3 1/2 years of house arrest while waiting for his appeal.
Calley's commanding officer was charged with giving the order to wipe out all the inhabitants of "Pinkville" or My Lai 4 but was aquitted.
Also My Lai happened during the height of the Tet offensive and launched the journalistic career of one Seymour Hersh.
Why stop at Wounded Knee?
Let's see, have they left anything out?
But .. it's possible that the villagers were being too friendly to the Americans ??
Here's my scenario: A group of villagers were gathered together and held hostage in the house. Our guys came down the street .. the terrorists started shooting at us .. we shot back .. then the terrorists turned and shot all the villagers and ran out of the house screaming that the Americans shot all the people .. does that about cover it ..??
And .. what tipped me off .. all of a sudden this statement was made .. "it was women and children and old people". Hmmmmm?? Now .. where have I heard that before .. oh yeah, when we bombed several terrorist hideouts at the beginning of the war (because they were shooting at us), and they all claimed it was a wedding party and there were "women and children and old people".
The whole incident stinks to high heaven .. and I believe this was a set-up from the beginning.
You know how Rush has made a point of showing how the terrorists are always repeating the democrat talking points? Well .. what have the dems been saying, "bring the troops home now". What better way to make that happen ... discredit our military and then the terrorists can march in protests in the street (like they see the dems do) and DEMAND THE NEW IRAQI GOVT FORCE THE USA TO GO HOME.
[end of story]
Like I said, it was a setup from the beginning.
The situations are similar. As usual, the MSM report it in the fashion they prefer "one Marine was killed and they just went berserk!" At My Lai, the same unit patrolled the same road around the same town and REPEATEDLY lost soldiers to the IUD's of the day. Pick out your closest frieds and people you trust. Picture them losing arms, legs and testicles to a village that willfully harbors the people that do that to you. I guarantee if that happened, I would be severly tempted to do my own investigation in 5.56 mm.
That said, IF it happened as the MSM judge, jury and executioner (they hope) it was a war crime. American soldiers, aiding the safety of the homeland by shining a light of freedom in the Middle East have to behave as a civilized bunch. My fear of this is that it is so overplayed in the media it paints with a broad brush hundreds of thousands of good Americans. How many Jihadis were spured to action because they were insulted by the presence of used panties on their heads? If they weren't from Lydie England, I might enjoy that myself. Put that into contrast to "wanton massacre" as it is posed? How many people (I use the term loosely) will see this and decide to uload an AK clip at the next exposed soldier? One is too many and I suppose the number will be more than one.
If an American soldier executed civilians I hope he spends a long time in the brig. The strenth of this countries morals is demonstrated by the fact that we exonerate these people. We do not promote or encourage the indiscriminate killing of non-combatants. Let the jihadi's do that. Their time will come We are civilized and we do not do that. But the fact that this is the best way the Democrats have of winning this war says alot about their base and their goals. Not to mention that their frontline defense is to grasp at straws. Sorry, ALLEDGED straws. Contrived American humiliation should never be a campain platform.
More sludge from the UN-AMERICAN pigs at AP.
They will need a time machine to make Iraq Vietnam because this Lyndon Johnson (a.k.a Bush) got re-elected.
Thanks for your service..
You know, my husband was in Vietnam...and I have never asked him about My Lai...whether he heard anything or not..and since I met him after he got back, I don't even know if he was there before, during, or after.
Well, when he gets home from work, I will have to ask him
But, you reminded me of the fact that a LOT of the people, one I heard call a radio show tonight (the father of a Marine), that were over there right after Haditha supposedly happened, have said there was NO scuttlebutt about this, no gossip..or anything.
You would think there would have been some hints that something happened out of the ordinary.
Yeah, you got that right.
Now you know that type of information would not advance the story line.
The insurgents understand one thing well.
They cannot beat us in a stand up fight. They are not that unobservant.
The tradition of armies using uniforms is because they want to avoid civilian casualties. Agincourt, Flanders, Thermople and thousands of battles were waged away from civilians by clearly defined armies that as warriors wished to seperate the battle from the civilian population.
If you kill our troops, run into a civilian area and try to blend in, don't be shocked when women and children are killed.
If you respect your holy place, don't fund, feed and offer santuary to militants from your mosques. We should JDAM your hand-wiped ass if you do. We will have to live in fear of the UN response afterwards, but in order to make an omlette, first you have to break some eggs. Hide your militants inside your mosque? Don't be surprised to find a well done Mosque Mc Muffin in the morning.
If they execute enough civilians and blame it on Marines, Army, Iraqi police units, they can stalemate us into a loss.
They understand that if they can beat 51% of our electoral college votes in a media war they will win. America will cower and hide, hoping for the best and blaming all future attacks on Bush. If only he had understood the middle east and the fact that they have the right to behave in a militaristic, mysoginistic war of terror on any civilization that escaped the 9th century.
Does it look like I am? LOL
I was against us going into Iraq, but from 2 seconds after went in, we had to set this straight. Nobody in their right mind thinks that abandoning Iraq, an oil rich country with a sizable radical element, will help our security at home.
A defeat here, to the Democrats, would ensure that they would never try again. They would be happy that they have a radical Islamic state and would not cause us any harm. As long as we all take a walk around the Karballa...(stolen idol from other religions)
I am still waiting for the international outrage and the demands for justice of those Blackwater guys shot, burned to death and hung dismembered in Fallujah. Amnestry International must be putting together a very comprehensible report to have taken this long....
This Lyndon Johnson has cojones...
Well, let's drege up some older dirt while we are at it!
In the Mexican War several families in Mexico were hiding in a cave when murdered by "Undisiplined militia troops from Arkansaw."
I could go back 2000 years but that's too many to write about.
Media feeding frenzy aided and abetted by Murtha. I wonder if he still visits wounded GIs around DC? When will DOD learn to stop confiding in him and sharing information? I dont give a damn what his position is in Congress, he cant be trusted.
I listened to Savage tonight. I have been with an ill Mom and not up on the latest news. Savage played bits from Chris Matthews, Murtha, etc. I want to know how to bring down Matthews like Rather was brought down. The guy is so filled with hate for President Bush as are others but Matthews just rants on and on. When this story turns out not to be true, can we organize a campaign to get him off TV??????
But .. the dems mistakenly believe that if they can get us to surrender and bring the troops home NOW - that it will somehow catapult them back into power.
I just don't see the logic of that ......??
I see all the logic in that. If we retreat as a nation, they will inherit this discredited, vilified country. That to them is far better than a bit part in strong country.
Well .. yes, I can see how they might think that way.
And .. they know how to fix it .. just appease the enemy and make friends .. then those of us who know better will start watching the skies for the next attack.
"Did you exchange, a walk on part in a war,
For a lead role in a cage?"
Wish you were here
They may be British, but probably not a conservative bunch in that band
The difference is that My Lai happened. The massacre at Haditha is a manufactured incident. It didn't happen.
The media is sure TRYING to make it seem like My Lai.
I don't have any inside information, but I believe that when the smoke clears and the dust settles on this incident, our Marines will be vindicated. This smells like a "spontaneous riots over Mohammed cartoons" setup to me.
What is the LIEberals' fascination with Vietnam? These DUmbasses are STILL STUCK IN THE '60s!
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.