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Tagging posts, posts by category, next/previous post indicators, and other post-2003 design innovations are incrementally being tweaked/kludged/melting.
Above email address currently deprecated! Use gary underscore farber at yahoodotcom, pliz! Sanely free of McCarthyite calling anyone a traitor since 2001!
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I've a long record in editorial work in book and magazine publishing, starting 1974, a variety of other work experience, but have been, since 2001, recurringly housebound with insanely painful sporadic and unpredictably variable gout and edema, and in the past, other ailments; the future? The Great Unknown: isn't it for all of us?
I'm currently house/cat-sitting, not on any government aid yet (or mostly ever), often in major chronic pain from gout and edema, which variably can leave me unable to walk, including just standing, but sometimes is better, and is freaking unpredictable at present; I also have major chronic depression and anxiety disorders; I'm currently supported mostly by your blog donations/subscriptions; you can help me. I prefer to spread out the load, and lessen it from the few who have been doing more than their fair share for too long.
Thanks for any understanding and support. I know it's difficult to understand. And things will change. They always change.
I'm sometimes available to some degree as a paid writer, editor, researcher, or proofreader. I'm sometimes available as a fill-in Guest Blogger at mid-to-high-traffic blogs that fit my knowledge set.
If you like my blog, and would like to help me continue to afford food and prescriptions, or simply enjoy my blogging and writing, and would like to support it --
you are welcome to do so via the PayPal buttons.
"The brain is wider than the sky, For, put them side by side,
The one the other will include With ease, and you beside"
-- Emily Dickinson
"We will pursue peace as if there is no terrorism and fight terrorism as if there is no peace."
-- Yitzhak Rabin
"I have thought it my duty to exhibit things as they are, not as they ought to be."
-- Alexander Hamilton
"The stakes are too high for government to be a spectator sport."
-- Barbara Jordan
"Under democracy, one party always devotes its chief energies to
trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule --
and both commonly succeed, and are right."
-- H. L. Mencken
"Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom.
It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves."
-- William Pitt
"The only completely consistent people are the dead."
-- Aldous Huxley
"I have had my solutions for a long time; but I do not yet know how I am to arrive at them."
-- Karl F. Gauss
"Whatever evils either reason or declamation have imputed to extensive empire,
the power of Rome was attended with some beneficial consequences to mankind;
and the same freedom of intercourse which extended the vices, diffused likewise
the improvements of social life."
-- Edward Gibbon
"Augustus was sensible that mankind is governed by names; nor was he deceived in his
expectation, that the senate and people would submit to slavery, provided they were
respectfully assured that they still enjoyed their ancient freedom."
-- Edward Gibbon
"There exists in human nature a strong propensity to depreciate the advantages, and to magnify
the evils, of the present times."
-- Edward Gibbon
"Our youth now loves luxuries. They have bad manners, contempt for authority.
They show disrespect for elders and they
love to chatter instead of exercise.
Children are now tyrants, not the servants, of their households. They
no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents,
chatter before company, gobble up their food, and tyrannize
"Before impugning an opponent's motives, even when they legitimately may be impugned, answer his arguments."
-- Sidney Hook
"Idealism, alas, does not protect one from ignorance, dogmatism, and foolishness."
-- Sidney Hook
"Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted."
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson
"We take, and must continue to take, morally hazardous actions to preserve our civilization.
We must exercise our power. But we ought neither to believe that a nation is capable of perfect
disinterestedness in its exercise, nor become complacent about particular degrees of interest
and passion which corrupt the justice by which the exercise of power is legitimized."
-- Reinhold Niebuhr
"Faced with the choice of all the land without a Jewish state or a Jewish state without all the
land, we chose a Jewish state without all the land."
-- David Ben-Gurion
"...the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him
an incapacity of being called to offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this
or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages
to which, in common with his fellow citizens, he has a natural right; that it tends also
to corrupt the principles of that very religion it is meant to encourage, by bribing,
with a monopoly of worldly honours and emoluments, those who will externally profess
and conform to it;[...] that the opinions of men are not the object of civil government, nor under its jurisdiction; that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion
and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency is a dangerous fallacy, which at once destroys all religious liberty....
-- Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, Thomas Jefferson
"We don't live just by ideas. Ideas are part of the mixture of customs and practices,
intuitions and instincts that make human life a conscious activity susceptible to
improvement or debasement. A radical idea may be healthy as a provocation;
a temperate idea may be stultifying. It depends on the circumstances. One of the most
tiresome arguments against ideas is that their 'tendency' is to some dire condition --
to totalitarianism, or to moral relativism, or to a war of all against all."
-- Louis Menand
"The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis."
-- Dante Alighieri
"He too serves a certain purpose who only stands and cheers."
-- Henry B. Adams
"The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the
poor to beg in the streets, steal bread, or sleep under a bridge."
-- Anatole France
"When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle."
-- Edmund Burke
"Education does not mean that we have become certified experts in business or mining or botany or journalism or epistemology;
it means that through the absorption of the moral, intellectual, and esthetic inheritance of the race we have come to
understand and control ourselves as well as the external world; that we have chosen the best as our associates both in spirit
and the flesh; that we have learned to add courtesy to culture, wisdom to knowledge, and forgiveness to understanding."
-- Will Durant
"Glimpses do ye seem to see of that mortally intolerable truth; that all deep, earnest thinking is
but the intrepid effort of the soul to keep the open independence of her sea; while the wildest
winds of heaven and earth conspire to cast her on the treacherous, slavish shore?"
-- Herman Melville
"The most important political office is that of the private citizen."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"If we desire respect for the law, we must first make the law respectable."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"It is an error to suppose that books have no influence; it is a slow influence, like flowing water carving out a canyon,
but it tells more and more with every year; and no one can pass an hour a day in the society of sages and heroes without
being lifted up a notch or two by the company he has kept."
-- Will Durant
"When you write, you’re trying to transpose what you’re thinking into something that is less like an annoying drone and more like a piece of music."
-- Louis Menand
"Sex is a continuum."
-- Gore Vidal
"I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should
make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibit the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state."
-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to the Baptists of Danbury, Connecticut, 1802.
"The sum of our religion is peace and unanimity, but these can scarcely stand unless we define as little as possible,
and in many things leave one free to follow his own judgment, because there is great obscurity in many matters, and
man suffers from this almost congenital disease that he will not give in when once a controversy is started, and
after he is heated he regards as absolutely true that which he began to sponsor quite casually...."
-- Desiderius Erasmus
"Are we to have a censor whose imprimatur shall say what books may be sold, and what we may buy? And who is thus to dogmatize religious opinions for our citizens? Whose foot is to be the measure to which ours are all to be cut or stretched? Is a priest to be our inquisitor, or shall a layman, simple as ourselves, set up his reason as the rule of what we are to read, and what we must disbelieve?"
-- Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to N. G. Dufief, Philadelphia bookseller, 1814
"We are told that it is only people's objective actions that matter, and their subjective feelings are of no importance. Thus pacifists, by obstructing the war effort,
are 'objectively' aiding the Nazis; and therefore the fact that they may be personally hostile to Fascism is irrelevant. I have been guilty of saying this myself more than once. The same argument is applied to Trotskyism. Trotskyists are often credited, at any rate by Communists, with being active and conscious agents of Hitler; but when you point out the many and obvious reasons why this is unlikely to be true,
the 'objectively' line of talk is brought forward again. To criticize the Soviet Union helps Hitler: therefore 'Trotskyism is Fascism'. And when this has been established, the accusation of conscious treachery is usually repeated.
This is not only dishonest; it also carries a severe penalty with it. If you disregard people's motives, it becomes much harder to foresee their actions."
-- George Orwell, "As I Please," Tribune, 8 December 1944
"Wouldn't this be a great world if insecurity and desperation made us more attractive? If 'needy' were a turn-on?"
-- "Aaron Altman," Broadcast News
"The great thing about human language is that it prevents us from sticking to the matter at hand."
-- Lewis Thomas
"To be ignorant of what happened before you were born is to be ever a child. For what is man's lifetime unless the memory of past events is woven with those of earlier times?"
"Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it."
-- Samuel Johnson, Life Of Johnson
"Very well, what did my critics say in attacking my character? I must read out their affidavit, so to speak, as though they were my legal accusers: Socrates is guilty of criminal meddling, in that he inquires into things below the earth and in the sky, and makes the weaker argument defeat the stronger, and teaches others to follow his example."
-- Socrates, via Plato, The Republic
"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, represents, in the final analysis, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children."
-- Dwight D. Eisenhower
"The term, then, is obviously a relative one; my pedantry is your scholarship, his reasonable accuracy, her irreducible minimum of education, & someone else's ignorance."
-- H. W. Fowler
"Rules exist for good reasons, and in any art form the beginner must learn them and understand what they are for, then follow them for quite a while. A visual artist, pianist, dancer, fiction writer, all beginning artists are in the same boat here: learn the rules, understand them, follow them. It's called an apprenticeship. A mediocre artist never stops following the rules, slavishly follows guidelines, and seldom rises above mediocrity. An accomplished artist internalizes the rules to the point where they don't have to be consciously considered. After you've put in the time it takes to learn to swim, you never stop to think: now I move my arm, kick, raise my head, breathe. You just do it. The accomplished artist knows what the rules mean, how to use them, dodge them, ignore them altogether, or break them. This may be a wholly unconscious process of assimilation, one never articulated, but it has taken place."
-- Kate Wilhelm
"The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed."
-- Albert Einstein
"The decisive moment in human evolution is perpetual."
-- Franz Kafka, Aphorisms
"All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better."
-- Samuel Beckett, Worstward Ho
"First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. And then they attack you and want to burn you. And then they build monuments to you."
-- Nicholas Klein, May, 1919, to the Third Biennial Convention of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America (misattributed to Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, 1914 & variants).
"Our credulity is a part of the imperfection of our natures. It is inherent in us to desire to generalize, when we ought, on the contrary, to guard ourselves very carefully from this tendency."
-- Napoleon I of France.
"The truth is, men are very hard to know, and yet, not to be deceived, we must judge them by their present actions, but for the present only."
-- Napoleon I of France.
"The barbarous custom of having men beaten who are suspected of having important secrets to reveal must be abolished. It has always been recognized that this way of interrogating men, by putting them to torture, produces nothing worthwhile. The poor wretches say anything that comes into their mind and what they think the interrogator wishes to know."
-- On the subject of torture, in a letter to Louis Alexandre Berthier (11 November 1798), published in Correspondance Napoleon edited by Henri Plon (1861), Vol. V, No. 3606, p. 128
"All living souls welcome whatever they are ready to cope with; all else they ignore, or pronounce to be monstrous and wrong, or deny to be possible."
-- George Santayana, Dialogues in Limbo (1926)
"If you should put even a little on a little, and should do this often, soon this too would become big."
-- Hesiod, Work And Days
"Your Honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free."
-- Eugene V. Debs
"Reputation is what other people know about you. Honor is what you know about yourself."
-- Lois McMaster Bujold, A Civil Campaign
"All that we have to do is to send two mujahidin to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written "al-Qaida," in order to make the generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic, and political losses without their achieving for it anything of note other than some benefits for their private companies."
-- Osama bin Laden
"Remember, Robin: evil is a pretty bad thing."
Gary Farber is now a licensed Quintuple Super-Sekrit Multi-dimensional Master Pundit.
He does not always refer to himself in the third person.
He is presently single.
The gefilte fish is dead. Donate via the donation button on the top left or I'll shoot this cutepanda. Don't you lovepandas?
Current Total # of Donations Since 2002: 1181
Subscribers to date at $5/month: 100 sign-ups; 91 cancellations; Total= 9
Supporter subscribers to date at $25/month: 16 sign-ups; 10 cancellation; Total= 6
Patron subscribers to date at $50/month: 20 sign-ups; 13 cancellations; Total= 7
...writer[s] I find myself checking out repeatedly when I'm in the mood to play follow-the-links. They're not all people I agree with all the time, or even most of the time, but I've found them all to be thoughtful writers, and that's the important thing, or should be.
-- Tom Tomorrow
I bow before the shrillitudinousness of Gary Farber, who has been blogging like a fiend.
-- Ted Barlow, Crooked Timber
Favorite.... [...] ...all great stuff. [...] Gary Farber should never be without readers.
I usually read you and Patrick several times a day, and I always get something from them. You've got great links, intellectually honest commentary, and a sense of humor. What's not to like?
-- Ted Barlow
One of my issues with many poli-blogs is the dickhead tone so many bloggers affect to express their sense of righteous indignation. Gary Farber's thoughtful leftie takes on the world stand in sharp contrast with the usual rhetorical bullying. Plus, he likes "Pogo," which clearly attests to his unassaultable good taste.
Jaysus. I saw him do something like this before, on a thread about Israel. It was pretty brutal. It's like watching one of those old WWF wrestlers grab an opponent's
face and grind away until the guy starts crying. I mean that in a nice & admiring way, you know.
-- Fontana Labs, Unfogged
We read you Gary Farber! We read you all the time! Its just that we are lazy with our blogroll. We are so very very lazy. We are always the last ones to the party but we always have snazzy bow ties.
-- Fafnir, Fafblog!
Gary Farber you are a genius of mad scientist proportions. I will bet there are like huge brains growin in jars all over your house.
-- Fafnir, Fafblog!
Gary Farber is the hardest working man in show blog business. He's like a young Gene Hackman blogging with his hair on fire, or something.
-- Belle Waring, John & Belle Have A Blog
Gary Farber only has two blogging modes: not at all, and 20 billion interesting posts a day [...] someone on the interweb whose opinions I can trust....
-- Belle Waring, John & Belle Have A Blog
Isn't Gary a cracking blogger, apropos of nothing in particular?
-- Alison Scott
Gary Farber takes me to task, in a way befitting the gentleman he is.
-- Stephen Green, Vodkapundit
My friend Gary Farber at Amygdala is the sort of liberal for whom I happily give three cheers. [...] Damned incisive blogging....
-- Midwest Conservative Journal
If I ever start a paper, Clueless writes the foreign affairs column, Layne handles the city beat, Welch has the roving-reporter job, Tom Tomorrow runs the comic section (which carries Treacher, of course). MediaMinded runs the slots - that's the type of editor I want as the last line of defense. InstantMan runs the edit page - and you can forget about your Ivins and Wills and Friedmans and Teepens on the edit page - it's all Blair, VodkaP, C. Johnson, Aspara, Farber, Galt, and a dozen other worthies, with Justin 'I am smoking in such a provocative fashion' Raimondo tossed in for balance and comic relief.
Who wouldn't buy that paper? Who wouldn't want to read it? Who wouldn't climb over their mother to be in it?
-- James Lileks
I do appreciate your role and the role of Amygdala as a pioneering effort in the integration of fanwriters with social conscience into the larger blogosphere of social conscience.
-- Lenny Bailes
Every single post in that part of Amygdala visible on my screen is either funny or bracing or important. Is it always like this? -- Natalie Solent
People I've known and still miss include Isaac Asimov, rich brown, Charles Burbee, F. M. "Buzz" Busby, Terry Carr, A. Vincent Clarke, Bob Doyle, George Alec Effinger, Abi Frost,
Bill & Sherry Fesselmeyer, George Flynn, John Milo "Mike" Ford. John Foyster, Mike Glicksohn, Jay Haldeman, Neith Hammond (Asenath Katrina Hammond)/DominEditrix , Chuch Harris, Mike Hinge, Lee Hoffman, Terry Hughes, Damon Knight, Ross Pavlac, Bruce Pelz, Elmer Perdue, Tom Perry,
Larry Propp, Bill Rotsler, Art Saha, Bob Shaw, Martin Smith, Harry Stubbs, Bob Tucker, Harry Warner, Jr., Jack Williamson, Walter A. Willis, Susan Wood, Kate Worley, and Roger Zelazny.
It's just a start, it only gets longer, many are unintentionally left out.
And She of whom I must write someday.
NOT A COMPREHENSIVE HADITHA ROUND-UP, since as I mentioned the other day, it would be too little, too late, after the ones I did last week, but a smattering of belated articles still worth noting.
Evan Thomas and Scott Johnson have a lengthy Newsweek piece dated June 12th, whose hook is the general rougher approach in Iraq by the Marines compared to the Army, which sets up the story by comparing Haditha to Fallujah. Definitely worth a read. Time also did a cover story by Michael Duffy, Tim McGirk and Aparism Gosh.
[...] Partial findings from the other investigation, into how the Marines' chain of command dealt with the Haditha killings, conducted by Army Major General Eldon Bargewell, were delivered to Pentagon officials last week. Marine Corps officials expect Bargewell, a highly respected member of the Army's special-operations fraternity, to conclude that Marine commanders knew within a few days of the incident that the official account was inaccurate but neglected to investigate the matter further.
The criminal investigation, which will probably produce charges against Marines for committing slayings, is expected to extend into the summer.
The story draws a lot upon "Lucian Read--a freelance photographer who has spent 13 months in Iraq, five of them with Kilo Company."
[...] According to Lucian Read--a freelance photographer who has spent 13 months in Iraq, five of them with Kilo Company--Kilo had drawn a short stick in the battle for Fallujah in 2004, enduring days of street-to-street and sometimes house-to-house fighting. During an operation that came to be known as Hell House, a Kilo unit was ambushed inside a house by half a dozen insurgents armed with machine guns and grenades; one Marine died, and several others were wounded. Trapped inside, with the enemy in the adjoining rooms, the Marines finally blew the house up in order to kill the insurgents and make their escape.
After pulling out of Fallujah, Kilo returned home, but by last summer it was gearing up for another tour in Iraq. The unit remained about 65% intact from the year before. In October it moved as part of a roughly 900-man Marine battalion into Haditha, a Euphrates River--valley farm town that had been in insurgents' hands for half a year. At first, the Marines encountered almost no resistance. According to Read, Kilo took up residence in a municipal building as other Marine companies spread out around town. But over time, the other units were called to duty elsewhere, and Kilo was left to pacify the city on its own. During its daily weapons sweeps and vehicle checks, the unit found dozens of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) rigged to blow up all over town. The insurgents grew bolder: Marines on patrol would go around a corner and then come back an hour later and find two IEDs in a trash can. Read told TIME that Kilo was well led in Fallujah and Haditha. But he says Marine squads sometimes went on patrol without an officer because there were not enough officers to go around.
Read, 31, reports that Kilo was the "most human" of the numerous units he was embedded with. "They were never abusive," he said. "There was a certain amount of antagonism and frustration when people didn't cooperate. But it's not like they had KILL 'EM ALL spray-painted on the walls." Most of Kilo's members had at least one Iraqi tour under their belt, Read noted; several had two, and one was working on his third.
Back a week ago Sunday, June 4th, Thomas Ricks took a look at the contradictions in the original Marine reports with the Iraqi accounts, and at how slowly the story emerged publically.
I've been avoiding blogging Op-Eds and commentaries on the topic until more is known more definitively, but this LA Times piece by former Iraq Marine vet David J. Danelo is worth a read.
ON APRIL 6, 2004, Cpl. Jason Howell, a Marine squad leader who had arrived in Iraq three weeks before, was enduring his baptism of fire in what later became known as the "first battle of Fallouja." Howell, who had not eaten in 18 hours or slept in 36, was running on nothing but adrenaline. His dehydrated spittle, caked around the side of his mouth, was dirty white. Kneeling on a roof, he saw a flash of movement. An Iraqi child put his face out the window.
Exhausted, Howell found himself unable to process the Arabic word he had learned for "stop." Without thinking, he screamed. The child pulled the curtains as Howell automatically raised his weapon to shoot. Then Howell blinked. An instant later, clarity returned to his thoughts. The corporal, who was in his first of what would become many days of combat, had almost shot an innocent.
"I don't know exactly why I didn't pull the trigger," said Howell, who now serves with the L.A. County Sheriff's Department. "It all happened so fast. It was a combination of training, instinct and luck."
As the furor grows over allegations that Marines killed 24 Iraqi civilians last November — including women and children — the origins of Howell's discipline are worth examining.
[...] The military concluded that the troops in Ishaqi were forced to use heavy firepower after they were shot at from within the house. The dead family was what the military calls "collateral damage" — 11 more deaths in a war that has felled thousands of Iraqi civilians.
Witness reports and footage filmed by neighbors hours after the attack indicate that a fierce gunfight took place at the house. But beyond that, there is little on which the Americans and villagers agree.
Regardless of which account is correct, the political damage caused by the civilian deaths has been done. Among war-weary Iraqis, the wider Arab world and, increasingly, the American public, civilian deaths of any kind help chip away at tolerance for the presence of foreign troops in Iraq.
Right or wrong, I think that's inevitable.
The deaths in Ishaqi serve as a stark reminder that the killing of innocents is hard to avoid in a war in which insurgents mingle among townspeople. Troops are generally not investigated, let alone punished, for deaths that occur accidentally in the course of hunting and fighting guerrillas.
[...] Pfc. John Jodka III is in the brig at Camp Pendleton pending charges in the April 26 killing of an apparently unarmed man in the Iraqi town of Hamandiya.
His parents, who say their 20-year-old son has been in shackles when they visited him, accuse the Marine Corps of making an example of their son and others because of criticism that it was slow to investigate earlier killings in the town of Haditha.
"It appears to me that this is the reaction of some senior people to show 'we're in charge, we're cleaning up our act,' " John Jodka Jr. said. He said he believes that the generals figure, "If a few privates and corporals have to take it, that's the price of keeping my stars."
Six other Marines and a Navy corpsman, all part of the 3rd Battalion, 5th Regiment, 1st Marine Division, are also being held at Camp Pendleton. Charges are expected to include murder, kidnapping and conspiracy.
[...] To a large degree, John Jodka does not fit the common mold of the Corps' enlisted ranks, which are often filled with the sons of blue-collar families for whom college was not an easy option. His parents are professionals living in this upscale San Diego suburb. He was attending UC Riverside when he decided to enlist.
[...] But the attorneys, speaking this weekend to several news outlets, said the Marines were following established rules of engagement by tossing fragmentation grenades into homes where insurgents were suspected of hiding, and then following up with blasts of M-16 fire.
"I believe the real question is not whether the conduct of these young guys was appropriate," said Gary Myers, among the other attorneys interviewed by The Times, "but rather if those who established the rules of engagement acted appropriately in defining those rules."
The Marines, he said, went through the doors of homes "with no idea what they were facing."
The Washington Post, via Sylvia Moreno, on Sunday looked at the perspective of the family of Marine Lance Cpl. Miguel Terrazas, whose death by IED in Haditha on Nov. 19th, 2005, triggered all that followed.
[...] A sergeant who led a squad of Marines during the incident in Haditha, Iraq, that left as many as 24 civilians dead said his unit did not intentionally target any civilians, followed military rules of engagement and never tried to cover up the shootings, his attorney said.
Staff Sgt. Frank D. Wuterich, 26, told his attorney that several civilians were killed Nov. 19 when his squad went after insurgents who were firing at them from inside a house. The Marine said there was no vengeful massacre, but he described a house-to-house hunt that went tragically awry in the middle of a chaotic battlefield.
"It will forever be his position that everything they did that day was following their rules of engagement and to protect the lives of Marines," said Neal A. Puckett, who represents Wuterich in the ongoing investigations into the incident. "He's really upset that people believe that he and his Marines are even capable of intentionally killing innocent civilians."
Wuterich's detailed version of what happened in the Haditha neighborhood is the first public account from a Marine who was on the ground when the shootings occurred. As the leader of 1st Squad, 3rd Platoon, Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, Wuterich was in the convoy of Humvees that was hit by a roadside bomb. He entered the house from which the Marines believed enemy fire was originating and made the initial radio reports to his company headquarters about what was going on, Puckett said.
It's a mildly long account, and in considerable contradiction to the Iraqi version. Whose version is more accurate? At this time, I most certainly don't know.
[...] Puckett said that while Wuterich was evaluating the scene, Marines noticed a white, unmarked car full of "military-aged men" lingering near the bomb site. When Marines ordered the men to stop, they ran; Puckett said it was standard procedure at the time for the Marines to shoot suspicious people fleeing a bombing, and the Marines opened fire, killing four or five men.
"The first thing he thought was it could be a vehicle-borne bomb or these guys could be ready to do a drive-by shooting," Puckett said, explaining that the Marines were on alert for such coordinated, multi-stage attacks.
Iraqis in the Haditha neighborhood interviewed in recent weeks said the vehicle was a taxi carrying a group of students to their homes and that the driver tried to back away from the site, fleeing in fear. One account said that the Marines shot the men while they were still in the car.
Wuterich officially reported to his headquarters that there had been a makeshift bomb and called for a Quick Reaction Force, Puckett said. The first group encountered an unexploded bomb on another route -- fueling concerns that insurgents were mounting an attack on the daily morning convoy -- and a second force headed out. That group, including Marines with the 3rd Squad and the platoon's leader, a young second lieutenant, arrived minutes later.
Wuterich told Puckett that no one was emotionally rattled by Terrazas's death because everyone had a job to do, and everyone was concerned about further casualties. As Wuterich began briefing the platoon leader, Puckett said, AK-47 shots rang out from residences on the south side of the road, and the Marines ducked.
A corporal with the unit leaned over to Wuterich and said he saw the shots coming from a specific house, and after a discussion with the platoon leader, they decided to clear the house, according to Wuterich's account.
"There's a threat, and they went to eliminate the threat," Puckett said.
A four-man team of Marines, including Wuterich, kicked in the door and found a series of empty rooms, noticing quickly that there was one room with a closed door and people rustling behind it, Puckett said. They then kicked in that door, tossed a fragmentation grenade into the room, and one Marine fired a series of "clearing rounds" through the dust and smoke, killing several people, Puckett said.
The Marine who fired the rounds -- Puckett said it was not Wuterich -- had experience clearing numerous houses on a deployment in Fallujah, where Marines had aggressive rules of engagement.
Although it was almost immediately apparent to the Marines that the people dead in the room were men, women and children -- most likely civilians -- they also noticed a back door ajar and believed that insurgents had slipped through to a house nearby, Puckett said. The Marines stealthily moved to the second house, kicking in the door, killing one man inside and then using a frag grenade and more gunfire to clear another room full of people, he said.
Wuterich, not having found the insurgents, told the team to stop and headed back to the platoon leader to reassess the situation, Puckett said, adding that his client knew a number of civilians had just been killed.
Neighborhood residents have offered a different account, saying that the Marines went into the houses shooting and ignored pleas from the civilians to spare them.
Marine Reserve Lt. Jonathan Morgenstein, who served in Anbar province from August 2004 to March 2005, said that the account offered by Wuterich's attorney surprised him a bit.
"When I was in Iraq," Morgenstein said, "the Anbar-wide ROEs [rules of engagement] did not say we had the authority to knock down any door, throw in a hand grenade and kill everyone." Still, he said, if someone in a house in Haditha was shooting at them, the Marines' response may have been within procedure. "If they felt they took fire from that house, then that may be authorized."
A Marine who served near Haditha in November said it was not unusual for Marines to respond to attacks "running and gunning" and that it was standard practice to spray rooms with gunfire when threatened. "It may be a bad tactic, but it works," he said. "It keeps you alive."
After clearing the second house, Puckett said, Wuterich immediately got on the radio and reported the "collateral damage." When the company radio operator asked him to estimate how many civilians had been killed, he said he thought it was about 12 to 15.
McConnell, the company commander, "knew the number was high" and reported it to the battalion executive officer, a major, according to McDermott, his lawyer. McConnell also said that a Marine intelligence team investigated the civilian deaths and reported their findings to senior Marine commanders, the lawyer said.
Wuterich told his attorney that he never reported that the civilians in the houses were killed by the bomb blast and maintains that he never tried to obscure the fact that civilians had been killed in the raids. Whether Wuterich gave false information to his superiors is the focus of one of the military investigations. He said the platoon leader, who was on the scene, never expressed concern about the unit's actions and never tried to hide them.
Marine Corps public affairs officers reported that the civilians had been killed in the bomb blast, a report that Puckett believes was the result of a miscommunication.
After going through the houses, Wuterich moved a small group of Marines to the roof of a nearby building to watch the area, Puckett said. At one point, they saw a man in all-black clothing running from one of the houses they had searched. The Marines killed him, Puckett said.
They then noticed another man in all black scurrying between two houses across the street. When they went to investigate, the Marines found a courtyard filled with women and children and asked where the man was, Puckett said.
When the civilians pointed to a third house, the Marines attempted to enter and found a man with an AK-47 inside, flanked by three other men; the first Marine to enter tried to fire his weapon, but it jammed, Puckett said. The Marines then killed those four men.
The unit stayed at the scene for hours, helping to collect bodies as photos were taken.
Back on the Iraqi side, Thaer al-Hadithi, of the Hammurabi human rights association, a Sunni Muslim group, which took the original video of the houses, gave a longer version than before, on June 7th, to the AP's Hamza Hendawi.
[...] Al-Hadithi offered new details on how that might have happened. He said the roadside bombing took place on a road about 100-150 yards from his family home.
"There was an eerie silence after the explosion," he said in Hammurabi's Baghdad offices.
"Then, we started to hear noises, soldiers shouting, that grew louder and louder," said al-Hadithi, who spoke with a map of the town he downloaded from the Internet.
The first gunshots were heard at around 7:30 a.m., he said, when the Marines moved into the family home of Abdul-Hamid Hassan Ali, a blind and elderly man in failing health. The house is just south of the spot where the roadside bomb went off, al-Hadithi said.
Later, the Marines moved next door to the house of Younis Salem Rsayef and his family.
"There was intense gunfire and I could see a fire at the Rsayef home," said al-Hadithi, who watched from a window at his family home.
One of the 24 bodies taken to Haditha's main hospital late on Nov. 19 was charred, according to Walid Abdul-Hameed al-Obeidi, the hospital director. That was believed to be one of Rsayef's sons, who witnesses said was burned to death after a grenade was thrown into his room.
Ali and his wife Khamisa Toamah Ali were killed along with three of their sons, a daughter-in-law and a grandson, according to witnesses, hospital officials and human rights workers.
In the second home, eight people were killed: Rsayef, his wife, her sister and five children.
"You could tell that someone was killed by the gunfire and then the wailing and screaming of women seconds after the Americans left the house," said al-Hadithi.
He said the Marines stormed the house of Ayed Ahmed, the closest to al-Hadithi's own home, at about 10:30 a.m. There, he said, four brothers, all of fighting age, were ordered inside a closet and shot dead. Everyone else was spared, al-Hadithi said.
At about the same time, a man who stepped out of his nearby house to see what was happening at Ayed Ahmed's home was shot and wounded, according to al-Hadithi. Aws Fahmi, 43, was left to bleed on the street for about two hours before a female neighbor dragged him to safety, al-Hadithi told the AP.
Fahmi's family was not able to take him to a hospital until two days later, al-Hadithi said.
Although the shooting stopped, the security sweep, he said, lasted until about 4:30 p.m. and the Marines did not leave the town.
Al-Hadithi said the Marines imposed a three-day closure on Haditha. They allowed relatives to go to the hospital the day after the killings to collect the bodies and bury them following negotiations with the Americans by the head of the local council, Imad Jawad Hamza. Only close relatives took part in the funeral, said al-Hadithi.
Al-Hadithi said 14 people were detained on the day of the killings, including a woman who was soon released. Of the remaining 13, 11 have been freed and two remain in detention.
He said five men were beaten by the Marines during their security sweep.
Al-Hadithi's account is generally consistent with the sequence of events given to the AP last week by a lawyer for relatives of victims.
Some of the discrepancies in the accounts _ like the number of Marines involved in the security sweep and estimates of how many of them went inside houses _ could have been because they watched the day's events from different homes.
Both men watched from windows at their homes. Al-Hadithi said he had a clear view of two of the houses where killings allegedly took place. Khaled Salem Rsayef, the lawyer, said he could see the site of the roadside bomb as well as the first house stormed by the Marines.
Rsayef has said he learned from conversations with relatives that the shooting was carried out by three or four Marines while about 20 more waited outside. Al-Hadithi said it was difficult to ascertain the number of those involved.
However, he pointed out that since the shootings were not simultaneous, it's possible they were the work of one group of Marines.
About a month after the killings, al-Hadithi said, a Marine major refused a request by the victims' families to offer a formal apology, arguing that the Iraqis were killed in the roadside bombing or caught in crossfire between the Marines and insurgents.
The officer, whose name al-Hadithi said he could not remember, also warned them that the next time a roadside bomb hits a Marine convoy in Haditha he would order an airstrike to level anything within 500 yards.
Al-Hadithi did not attend any of the meetings between victims' families and the U.S. military, but he based his account of what the Marines officer said on briefings from Hammurabi's Haditha representative and conversations with the families.
Very tangentially, a look at how the Army (not the Marines) is dealing with Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome and other psychological stresses brought on by Iraq on its soldiers.
[...] Over the course of a year in Iraq, the 3rd Brigade of the U.S. Army's 3rd Infantry Division saw action in some of the country's most violent places, insurgent strongholds such as Ramadi in the west and Baqubah in the north. By the time the brigade's 4,000 members returned home in January, as many as 800 had been flagged as potentially "at risk" in a psychological screening process conducted in Iraq, according to commanders and medical personnel.
Yet four months after their return, fewer than 80 are still in treatment. Psychologists here attribute what they call a relatively small number of persistent psychological issues to an unprecedented program of battlefield therapy and follow-up care, including having mental health experts assigned to most brigades and combat stress experts deployed for the first time to frontline bases throughout Iraq.
Composed of soldiers who are also trained therapists, the combat stress teams are often sent immediately to debrief soldiers in the hours after a patrol, firefight or bomb attack. They seek to identify those who may need treatment months before they return home, pulling some out of their units for two to seven days of group therapy sessions, video games and sitting by the pool at a cushy compound in Baghdad's fortified Green Zone.
"The point is to get at some of these issues before they start to fester back here," said Capt. Christopher Hansen, 33, of Jamestown, N.D., a psychologist assigned to the 3rd Brigade. "In Vietnam, nobody did much about this stuff until it was too late."
The most comprehensive psychological study of Iraq war veterans -- completed in 2004 as the insurgency was still gaining strength -- found that about 18 percent suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a constellation of physical and psychological symptoms first diagnosed among soldiers who served in Vietnam.
Contrast with this account by Scott Anderson in the New York Times Magazine on May 28 (now behind the Times paywall, but this link includes the full article) on a Reservist named Chuck Norris (no jokes) and his dealing with the death of his best friend, Carl Morgain.
I'd like to again highlight the videos I've previously linked to, including this from the BBC on Ishaqi, near Balad; here the footage of an interview with Cpl. James Crossan, one of the accused at Haditha; and particularly the two inter views with Safa Younis (variously reported as 12, 13, and 14) -- this by American Broadcasting Company (ABC), and this one from Britain's ITV. Lastly, the Ishaqi pictures and Flash version.
It's probably worth mentioning the nomination for promotion of Lt. Gen. James Conway, to be the next commandant of the Marine Corps, previously reported as on hold, has gone ahead.
Prior to serving as director of operations, Conway commanded the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force during two combat tours in Iraq.
I wrote a post about Conway here, in September, 2004. I also blogged about him in December, 2003; the article from the NY Times seems worth revisiting:
Marine commanders say they not plan to surround villages with barbed wire, demolish buildings used by insurgents or detain relatives of suspected guerrillas. The Marines do not plan to fire artillery at suspected guerrilla mortar positions, an Army tactic that risks harming civilians. Nor do the Marines want to risk civilian casualties by calling in bombing strikes on the insurgents, as has happened most recently in Afghanistan.
General Conway [...] said "[...] I'll simply say that I think until we can win the population over and they can give us those indigenous intelligence reports that we're prolonging the process."
Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Richard F. Natonski has been nominated for a third star and for the assignment of deputy commandant for Plans, Policies and Operations.
Natonski, commander of the 1st Marine Division at Camp Pendleton, Calif., made headlines in April when he fired a battalion commander and two company commanders amid an investigation into whether Marines from the battalion killed Iraqi civilians in Haditha last November.
Natonski has served as commander of the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade in Iraq. He led the efforts to retake the city of Fallujah from insurgents in 2004.
I'm also including this timeline from the Timepiece from the past week:
THE DAY AFTER
Nov. 20, 2005: U.S. Marines spokesman Captain Jeffrey Pool issues the military's first official report on the incident, noting that "a U.S. Marine and 15 Iraqi civilians were killed yesterday from the blast of a roadside bomb." The same day, Haditha journalism student Taher Thabet videotapes the scene at the homes where the killings had occurred and at the local morgue
December 2005: The U.S. military pays $2,500 per victim to families of 15 of the dead Iraqis. A U.S. officer, Major Dana Hyatt, later confirms he gave out a total of $38,000
January 2006: TIME's Tim McGirk obtains a copy of Thabet's videotape from the Hammurabi human-rights group
Feb. 10, 2006: After gathering witnesses' reports, TIME presents Iraqi accounts of the killings to Colonel Barry Johnson, chief military spokesman in Baghdad
Feb. 14, 2006: Lieut. General Peter Chiarelli, commander of U.S.-led forces in Iraq, orders a preliminary investigation by Gregory Watt, an Army colonel in Baghdad
March 3, 2006: Watt concludes that the Marines may have acted inappropriately. He recommends a further investigation
March 10, 2006: Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Peter Pace are told about the incident
March 11, 2006: The President is told about the killings
March 13, 2006: A Naval Criminal Investigative Service team arrives in Haditha to open an investigation. Marines begin briefing members of Congress about the probe
March 19, 2006: After being given a briefing on the military's probe, TIME publishes its investigation into the Haditha killings on TIME.com The next day, the article appears in the March 27, 2006, issue of TIME
March 19, 2006: Chiarelli assigns Major General Eldon Bargewell to investigate the Marines' reporting of information about the incident up the chain of command
April 7, 2006: Three Marine officers are relieved of their command, in part because of actions that may have been related to the Haditha incident
May 17, 2006: Congressman John Murtha, left, briefed on the results of the ongoing internal investigation, says the information demonstrates that U.S. troops killed innocent civilians "in cold blood"
May 31, 2006: Bush promises a full investigation
June 1, 2006: The Iraqi government announces it will launch its own investigation into the incident
Gary, I'm very grateful for the work you've been doing to gather these stories. I haven't the time or heart lately to dig around myself.
I'm a bit nauseated by the suggestion that Marines or any U.S. troops were the victims in the November 2004 assault on Fallujah -- other than in the sense that troops asked to treat a city as a free-fire zone are victimized by the brutalizing effects of carrying out an illegal, immoral policy.