Small tragedies can get lost in a big war, but it is sad and troubling that, so far at least, it looks like no one is going to have to pay for the November, 2005, massacre of 24 civilians in Haditha, Iraq. That’s the mostly Sunni city in which, at the height of the insurgency, U.S. Marines mowed down a carful of unarmed Iraqi men, apparently shooting them point blank as they lay on the ground, and then stormed into surrounding homes where they butchered men, women, and children.
So the tragedy of the massacre is now compounded by the tragedy of a judicial whitewash and coverup. As Bob Dylan wrote in “The Lonesome Ballad of Hattie Carroll,” about a maid slaughtered by her employer who was then given a six-month sentence for murder: “Now is the time for your tears.”
Here’s the latest, from AP, in the case, just one in a string of such dismissals:
A military judge dismissed charges Tuesday against a Marine officer accused of failing to investigate the killings of 24 Iraqis. … Of eight Marines originally charged in the case, only one is still facing prosecution in the biggest U.S. criminal prosecution involving Iraqi deaths to come out of the war.
Only McClatchy, formerly Knight-Ridder, bothered to wonder what the people of Haditha think about this ongoing miscarriage of justice, in a story by Leila Fadel:
Khadija Hassan still shrouds her body in black, nearly three years after the deaths of her four sons. They were killed on Nov. 19, 2005, along with 20 other people in the deadliest documented case of U.S. troops killing civilians since the Vietnam War. …
The residents of Haditha, after being told they could depend on U.S. justice, feel betrayed.
“We put our hopes in the law and in the courts and one after another they are found innocent,” said Yousef Aid Ahmed, the lone surviving brother in the family. “This is an organized crime.”
And McClatchy bothers to provide the horrific details:
This is how the residents of Haditha recall that day: U.S. Marines were apparently bent on revenge after a roadside bomb killed one of their own. They killed four unarmed men and an unarmed taxi driver. Then they threw grenades and entered two homes. In the Younes’ household, they killed eight people, including two toddlers, a 5-year-old and a mother recovering from an appendectomy.
In an adjacent home, they killed seven people, including a 4-year-old and two women, according to death certificates and one of the children who survived. Across the street, residents of two houses shared by a family were pulled out. The men were separated from the women as the Marines asked them about weapons.
One of the survivors told Fadel: “Right now I feel hatred that will not fade. It grows every day.”