Skip to comments.New Accusations against Servicemen: Can the AP be Trusted?
Posted on 06/30/2006 12:25:24 PM PDT by 60Gunner
BEIJI, Iraq - Five U.S. Army soldiers are being investigated for allegedly raping a young woman, then killing her and three members of her family in Iraq, a U.S. military official said Friday.
The soldiers also allegedly burned the body of the woman they are accused of assaulting in the March incident, the official told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case.
The U.S. command issued a sparse statement, saying Maj. Gen. James D. Thurman, commander of coalition troops in Baghdad, had ordered a criminal investigation into the alleged killing of a family of four in Mahmoudiyah, south of Baghdad. The statement had no other details.
The case represents the latest allegations against U.S. soldiers stemming from the deaths of Iraqis. At least 14 U.S. troops have been convicted.
The United States also is investigating allegations that two dozen unarmed Iraqi civilians were killed by U.S. Marines in the western town of Haditha on Nov. 19 in a revenge attack after one of their own died in a roadside bombing.
"The entire investigation will encompass everything that could have happened that evening. We're not releasing any specifics of an ongoing investigation," military spokesman Maj. Todd Breasseale said of the Mahmoudiyah allegations.
"There is no indication what led soldiers to this home. The investigation just cracked open. We're just beginning to dig into the details."
However, a U.S. official close to the investigation said at least one of the soldiers, all assigned to the 502nd Infantry Regiment, has admitted his role and been arrested. Two soldiers from the same regiment were slain this month when they were kidnapped at a checkpoint near Youssifiyah.
The official told the AP the accused soldiers were from the same platoon as the two slain soldiers. The military has said one and possibly both of the slain soldiers were tortured and beheaded.
The official said the mutilation of the slain soldiers stirred feelings of guilt and led at least one of them to reveal the rape-slaying on June 22.
One of the accused soldiers already has been discharged and is believed to be in the United States, two U.S. officials said on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing. The others have had their weapons taken away and are confined to Forward Operating Base Mahmoudiyah.
The official said the killings appear to be unrelated to the kidnappings. He said those involved were all below the rank of sergeant.
Senior officers were aware of the family's death but believed it was due to sectarian violence, common in the religiously mixed town, he said.
The killings appeared to have been a "crime of opportunity," the official said. The soldiers had not been attacked by insurgents but had noticed the woman on previous patrols.
AP correspondent Ryan Lenz is embedded with the 101st Airborne Division in Beiji, Iraq. He was previously embedded with the 502nd Infantry Regiment in Mahmoudiyah.
The Associated Press News and Information Research Center contributed to this report.
Then Lenz cites "a U.S. official close to the investigation" as saying that one of the soldiers admitted to the crime.
Let's think critically about this report, first looking at the contrast between the named spokesman (Maj. Breasseale) and the unnamed source (the "U.S. official close to the investigation").
Problem 1: The official spokesman said that the Army was keeping mum on the details. But the unnamed source made a statement specific to the case. Why would this unnamed source, who was close to the case, go in a direction contrary to the official Army plan? Army CID personnel know better than to spout off about the details of a highly sensitive case, and if a person close to the case did go against orders to give Lenz the inside scoop, he or she will be in a lot of trouble.
I want to know who Lenz's unnamed source source is, and if Lenz was unwilling to divulge his source, why I should believe him.
We have already seen the Haditha story start to unravel from the moment that critically-thinking individuals began to look into the details of the case. We saw the same style of reporting: U.S. officials close to the case divulging details when standard procedure is to be quiet until the investigation is closed. I have a very difficult time believing the veracity of Lenz's story, precisely because he cites multiple unverifiable sources.
On the other hand, Lenz is imbedded with an Army unit. That might lend some credibility to his story; then again, so was Geraldo Rivera- and he got booted out of Iraq for revealing tactically-sensitive information (his host unit's physical location) on live television during the invasion.
So Lenz's imbedded status really does not mean that he is a trustworthy reporter, only that he is a reporter.
Based on these findings, here is my view on this incident:
First, the investigation is ongoing. Let's see how things play out at the end of the day. If the soldiers are indeed guilty, line 'em up and squeeze 'em off in an execution held in front of the Iraqi people. The Army needs to send the message that soldiers who do these things will die, and the Army needs to do it in a very clear way to the Iraqis.
However, if the story is just another trumped-up fabrication like the Haditha massacre is turning out to be, then rip Lenz's credentials from his hands, send him stateside on his own dime, and lock him up in the stockade to await trial for providing aid and comfort to the enemy in time of war through false information aimed at demoralizing our troops.
Second, the Army needs to find these three unnamed sources and smoke them. Give them an Article 15 (nonjudicial punishment) at least, or bump them down to E-1 private and ship them to Adak where they won't be a hazard to anyone except the puffins. Cowards like these who willfully and arbitrarily act contrary to standing orders (and not revealing information related to a case is a standing order in a murder case) do as much damage to our troops' credibility and morale as any false story would. Spineless dogs like Lenz's unnamed sources need to man up. If they don't have the guts to give their names, they should shut up and follow their standing orders for the case.
On that note, reporters who cite unnamed sources should not be trusted. In the scientific world, in order for something to be proven, all the data has to be traceable and repeatable. Of course, journalism is not a science. It's a liberal art (which alone speaks volumes about its social vcalue). Lenz is not being a good reporter; he's being lazy. How do we know that Lenz has not made this up? Why should we trust Lenz if he won't provide credible proof for his information?
(Journalists are generally very sloppy with facts and sources if they can get away with it, and have even made stories up a' la Dan Rather if it suited their purposes. They need to be held accountable for their laziness. Okay- I'm off the soapbox.)
What is the bottom line with regard to these allegations? Simply that we must keep our minds open and wait for more information from verifiable sources, of whom Lenz appears incapable of providing. We also need to wait until the Army concludes its investigation before drawing our own conclusions. That may not be what Lenz and the AP want us to do, but it is the fair, responsible and necessary thing to do. I say "necessary" because the lives of five soldiers hang in the balance. Justice needs to be served here, and it can only be served by letting the whole truth, whatever it may be, come out as the investigation proceeds.
So keep your powder dry and your torches and pitchforks in the barn until we know for certain against whom our outrage should be directed.
"Senior officers were aware of the family's death but believed it was due to sectarian violence, common in the religiously mixed town, he said."
Nothing any report has said has changed the original assessment.
The jihadis and their allies now know how to defeat the US military in the field. Flood the zone with phony atrocity accusations until every soldier and Marine is in detention awaiting court martial while the investigation proceeds.
Thus do the Lilliputians tie down the pitiful, helpless giant.
The Main Smear Media's coaltion with the Rats workiung for the terrorists gets a couple of airburts from me. Traitors all.
I think you are using your head. The press always tries to get the American people to think the worst about our military. There is something very unAmerican about that kind of thing. The military is there to protect us and our nation. They are our sons and daughters. We have an obligation and a duty to believe accused military personnel are innocent until proven otherwise.
Kevin Sites was embedded. It didn't do anything for his credibility. In my opinion Lenz is just a Kevin Sites/Tim McGirk wannabe.
What I was trying to focus on was presenting the story and then presenting the problems I had with the story's veracity. This is the first time I have posted a thread on FR, and if I overdid the source provision I apologize. I just wanted to make sure that everyone knew where my information came from.
If these allegations are true I would be inclined to say....SO WHAT!
Bahbah, that's an excellent point. This leads to the 64,000 dollar question: why doesn't the military stop inbedding reporters? It's pretty obvious that they are a major liability to the units and just one more body to have to protect- a body that is a hindrance to the unit's combat effectiveness, I might add. And they have the annoying tendency to release misleading information about our troops' conduct.
And, as it turns out, the press is always there doing the worst. Most recently there's the New York Times commiting open treason.
It's definitely time for some criminal investigations, but not necessarily about the military.
I smell another set-up. I will take one soldier's word over any 10 reporters.
I agree. The utter contempt that the media has toward anything American or good about America burns me up, too. My point is that it is important to know and examine what they are saying in order to respond appropriately to it. If they lie, we must catch them and bring them down for it.
So even an examination of stories that make us recoil is necessary. If Lenz is making this stuff up, then he needs to get caught out and smoked for this. At the very least, he needs to know that we are examining his work very closely. And we can't catch 'em if we don't examine their work.
I hate looking at this garbage, too. But if anything good comes out of this, it should be that we develop a deeper suspicion against the media- especially when it comes to the methodology of citing unverifiable sources. Stories like this one should serve to activate a stronger desire within each of us to take the initiative in finding the truth of any matter.
In times like these, the responsibility and the duty of finding and exposing the truth rests upon every patriotic American.
I want to see proof. I don't want to hear from a multitude of "un-named sources." Until they have proof they have nothing but vicious accusations against our military. Is this how the press is going to cover this war as opponents of our military? They are doing their best to destroy the confidence and love of country that our troops have with countless investigations? I stand with and support our troops against their enemies in the press.
You don't think that American soldiers raping a woman and killing her family for no military purpose is a problem?
I find the anonymous sources to be suspect, and will not believe this until I hear the results from the official investigation. However, if they are true, this is a big problems. Our soldiers are putting their lives on the line every day for us. They are courageous and deserve nothing but respect. Soldiers that would rape and kill innocents should be punished according to their crimes, out of respect for the vast majority who do the right thing. I expect that most soldiers would agree.
Exactly my point! We need to get our information from known, reliable sources. Ryan Lenz is being sloppy with his sources. If he can't come out and give us names, why should we belive him- ESPECIALLY in a case where men's lives are on the line?
Our soldiers are in a death struggle with savages. If they fight back just as savagly, so be it.
When a population allows terrorists to hide behind them, to raid from ambush and meld back into the civilian population, it is that populations own fault if they receive casualties.
pART of the civilian population in Iraq is the enemy. Which part? Dig/
Well, my response to that would be that American troops have historically been known for their compassion and generosity, even to captured enemy troops, and toward the civilian population among whom they work. When a story like this, or Abu Ghraib, or Haditha, or any of the other ones comes out, it impugns the character of the troops both in theater and around the world.
The Iraqis already know that our military deals swiftly and decisively with people who mistreat them. I'll bet thet the Iraqi response to this will be, "If they are guilty, then they will be dealt with." This story will not change that.
But the media have given American servicemen have yet another black eye, and I want that to stop. I want to see our generals and admirals expend more energy defending our troops against this kind of slander, and I would like them to start by discontinuing the ridiculous and detrimental practice of imbedding media with units in-theater.
Certainly the presumption of innocence should apply. If this story is true, however, then it's true and there's no defense for it. The worst part of this is that some of the drive-by Media "journalists" are speculating that the recent torture/mutilation murder of two GI prisoners was "in retaliation for this act" (even though the Jihadis claimed it was revenge for Zarqawi).
But raping a young woman and murdering her and her family are not in the ROE (that's assuming that this story is true, which I am NOT). Rape and murder are war crimes. The SS and the Japanese did that as a matter of policy in WW2.
Americans are set apart from other combatants because we do not do such things, and we punish to the maximum extent of the law those who are caught doing it. This is only right.
-- snip --
Ryan Lenz of the Associated Press reports that five U.S. Army soldiers from the 502nd Infantry Regiment are charged with the rape of a young Iraqi female and the murders of the female and three members of her family. Lenz quotes military spokesman Maj. Todd Breasseale as saying simply, "We're not releasing any specifics of an ongoing investigation."
You have to remember that the soldiers are from the same company then the two soldiers were that had been recently kidnapped tortured and killed. So you have to ask yourselves when did the alledged incident happen, and remeber it is only alledged. Did it happen before the soldiers were kidnapped and killed or did it happen before they were kidnapped and killed?
The various commands issue press releases all the time. This story is obviously based on at least one of them and from unnamed officials. Would you rather the reporter not have written the piece? Seems to me there is a plenty of "shooting the messenger" on this and other threads. BTW, the title of the thread doesn't match what's at the link.
This is exactly what is happening, in my opinion. The question now is... are we seeing journalistic complicity in this new and dangerous form of fraud? My guess is that ALL of so far 5 or 6 widely publicized cases of US troops committing some sort of blatant atrocity, fit this pattern. All are fabricated by savvy Iraqis and others who are sympathetic or involved with the terrorists, familiar with the easily stampeded Western Press and its hot buttons. Now, they are pressing them, all at once. This alone should be suspect,... that all this is starting to happen now and under such similar circumstances.
It has been a long time since I trusted the media's reporting about Iraq, Iran, and most other places on the face of this rock.
I will stick with our American military through thick or thin. They are up against very strange forces.
Pawdoggie, you are right, and I stated as much in my commentary. Such an act, if it was indeed committed, is indefensible; no doubt about it. But there is time enough to learn the facts. Yet as I write this, Fox is broadcasting it every fifteen minutes on the radio. Sometimes even they cause me to shake my head in despair.
Fox is reporting that the incident occurred last March (Just heard).
I would rather have a story in which ALL the sources are verifiable. Otherwise it's really just another gossip column, isn't it?
The new info was 2 soldiers heard it from other soldiers and only disclosed it during a stress debriefing after their friends got killed (the 2 soldiers kidnapped and murdered) but neither was actually there.
No to which?
Well, something else that Fox is saying is that the Army acted on a tip from a soldier who overheard others talking about the incident. That's hearsay in a court of law.
On the one hand, we have hearsay. On the other, we have unverifiable sources. This is stinky.
The AP can't be trusted. I was responding to the title of the article.
I can't put my hands on it right now...but if you can find the lyrics to the haji song written by the young Marine that caused such a hub-bub a couple of weeks back...you will notice a striking similarity in the two stories.
Over-hearing a few guys talking about...the lyrics...the story in the song...
Just an idea....
Fox also reported earlier that a soldier who took part in this came forward and told his CO....guilty conscience......
Yeah... Lenz wrote the same thing. It breaks this old soldier's heart to think that this could be true.
Same here...I pray this is not true....
No, I don't consider it "just another gossip column."
I'll ask my question again - - would you rather AP not publish stories based on command press releases and quotes from unnamed military officials?
That's not the title of the article.
GIs eyed in alleged rape, murders in Iraq
By RYAN LENZ, Associated Press Writer
27 minutes ago
BEIJI, Iraq - A group of American soldiers in an insurgent-riddled town allegedly noticed a young Iraqi woman when on patrol and later returned to rape her, according to U.S. officials Friday. In an apparent cover-up attempt, she and three members of her family then were killed and her body was set on fire.
Five U.S. troops are being investigated, a U.S. military official told The Associated Press.
It is the fifth pending case involving alleged slayings of Iraqi civilians by U.S. troops.
The suspects in the killing, which took place in March, were from the same platoon as two soldiers kidnapped and killed south of Baghdad this month, said the official, who is close to the investigation and spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case.
One soldier was arrested after admitting his role in the alleged attack on the family, the U.S. official said. The official said the rape and killings appear to have been a "crime of opportunity," noting that the soldiers had not been attacked by insurgents but had noticed the woman on previous patrols.
One of the family members they allegedly killed was a child, said a senior Army official who also requested anonymity because the investigation is ongoing. Some of the suspects allegedly burned the woman's body to cover up the attack, the U.S. official said.
In Baghdad, the U.S. military issued a sparse statement, saying only that Maj. Gen. James D. Thurman, commander of the 4th Infantry Division, ordered a criminal investigation into the alleged slaying of a family of four in Mahmoudiya, 20 miles south of Baghdad.
However, the U.S. official said the soldiers were assigned to the 502nd Infantry Regiment. The official told the AP that the suspects were from the same platoon as two slain soldiers whose mutilated bodies were found June 19, three days after they were abducted by insurgents near Youssifiyah southwest of Baghdad.
The military has said one and possibly both of the slain soldiers were tortured and beheaded. The official said the mutilation of the slain soldiers stirred feelings of guilt and led at least one member of the platoon to reveal the rape-slaying on June 22.
According to the senior Army official, the alleged incident was first revealed by a soldier during a routine counseling-type session. The official said that soldier did not witness the incident but heard about it.
A second soldier, who also was not involved, said he overhead soldiers conspiring to commit the crimes and then later saw bloodstains on their clothes, the official said.
Before the soldier disclosed the alleged assault, senior officers had been aware of the family's death but believed it was a result of sectarian violence, the official said.
One of the five suspects has already been discharged for unspecified charges unrelated to the killings and is believed to be in the United States, two U.S. officials said on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing. The others have had their weapons taken away and are confined to a U.S. base near Mahmoudiya.
The allegations of rape could generate a particularly strong backlash in Iraq, a conservative, strongly religious society in which many women will not even shake hands with men who are not close relatives.
The case is among the most serious against U.S. soldiers allegedly involved in the deaths of Iraqi civilians. At least 14 U.S. troops have been convicted.
Last week, seven Marines and one Navy medic were charged with premeditated murder in the shooting death of an Iraqi man near Fallujah west of Baghdad.
U.S. officials are also investigating allegations that U.S. Marines killed two dozen unarmed Iraqi civilians Nov. 19 in the western town of Haditha in a revenge attack after a fellow Marine died in a roadside bombing.
Other cases involve the deaths of three male detainees in Salahuddin province in May, the shooting death of unarmed Iraqi man near Ramadi in February, and the death of an Iraqi soldier after an interrogation in 2003 at a detention camp in Qaim.
The allegations have aroused public anger against the U.S. military presence at a time when the new Iraqi government and U.S. authorities are trying to reach out to disaffected Sunni Arabs to quell the insurgency and calm sectarian tensions.
On Saturday, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki leaves for a whirlwind trip to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates to seek support for his national reconciliation initiative, which includes an amnesty for the mostly Sunni insurgents.
Al-Maliki is also expected to brief the Sunni leadership of those three countries on his efforts to deal with the divisions between Shiites and Sunnis. Iraq's neighbors in the Persian Gulf fear sectarian tensions will spill over into their countries, which are dominated by Sunnis but have large Shiite minorities.
On Friday, radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr rejected al-Maliki's initiative because it does not include a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S.-led foreign troops.
"We demand the occupation forces to leave the country, or at least a timetable should be set for their withdrawal," al-Sadr said during a sermon.
Despite al-Maliki's efforts, there has been no letup in Iraq's violence. The U.S. military reported four more American service members have died, including a Marine killed Friday in fighting west of Baghdad. Three Army soldiers died in combat the day before, the military said.
AP correspondent Ryan Lenz is embedded with the 101st Airborne Division in Beiji, Iraq. He was previously embedded with the 502nd Infantry Regiment in Mahmoudiya. AP correspondent Lolita C. Baldor in Washington contributed to this report.
Before you continue to bash the socalled "MSM," there is this above the fold, front page story in "The Washington Times" this morning. I just got it off the driveway:
Army probes Iraq family deaths
By Rowan Scarborough
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
July 1, 2006
The Army has opened a criminal investigation into charges that soldiers murdered an Iraqi family south of Baghdad last month, marking the fourth such ongoing probe of American personnel in the war.
At the Pentagon, a top U.S. commander in Baghdad said yesterday that attacks have gone up, not down, since new Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki ordered a citywide crackdown.
Army Col. Jeffrey J. Snow, a brigade commander in the 10th Mountain Division, also openly worried that negative press coverage of the war will sap the American public's support for the troops.
"I think sometimes we just focus a little bit too much attention to, you know, [improvised explosive devices], and kidnappings and murders," Col. Snow said.
The command in Baghdad said Maj. Gen. James D. Thurman, who heads all forces in and around Baghdad, had asked the Army Criminal Investigative Division to probe whether five soldiers were involved in killing an Iraqi family of four in the town of Mahmoudiyah, in the so-called Triangle of Death.
The probe follows the brutal killings by insurgents in the area of two Army soldiers who belonged to the same platoon as those now being investigated in connection with murder.