Scroll down for Amygdala archives! You know you want to. [Temporarily rather borked, along with rest of template.]
Amygdala's endorsements are below my favorite quotations! Keep scrolling!
Amygdala will move to an entirely new and far better blog template ASAP, aka RSN, aka incrementally/badly punctuated evolution.
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!
Commenting Rules: Only comments that are courteous and respectful of other commenters will be allowed. Period.
You must either open a Google/Blogger.com/Gmail Account, or sign into comments at the bottom of any post with OpenID, LiveJournal, Typepad, Wordpress, AIM account, or whatever ID/handle available to use. Hey, I don't design Blogger's software: sorry!
Posting a spam-type URL will be grounds for deletion.
Comments on posts over 21 days old are now moderated, and it may take me a long while to notice and allow them.
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.
THURSDAY HADITHA ROUNDUP. Again, no real major news this morning. Thomas E. Ricks of the Washington Post again has the most significant story, focusing on the cover-up aspect:
The U.S. military investigation of how Marine commanders handled the reporting of events last November in the Iraqi town of Haditha, where troops allegedly killed 24 Iraqi civilians, will conclude that some officers gave false information to their superiors, who then failed to adequately scrutinize reports that should have caught their attention, an Army official said yesterday.
I take it as significant that this is a quote from an Army official, as it's clearly a leak out of General Bargewell's investigation, not -- obviously -- out of the Marines.
The three-month probe, led by Army Maj. Gen. Eldon Bargewell, is also expected to call for changes in how U.S. troops are trained for duty in Iraq, the official said.
Even before the final report is delivered, Army Gen. George W. Casey, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, is expected to order today that all U.S. and allied troops in Iraq undergo new "core values" training in how to operate professionally and humanely. Not only will leaders discuss how to treat civilians under the rules of engagement, but small units also will be ordered to go through training scenarios to gauge their understanding of those rules. "It's going to include everyone in the coalition," the official said.
This is a good thing, but probably somewhat more of a public relations gesture than an effective tool of change, I'm inclined to think -- not because of an excess of undue cynicism on my part, but because as Army Major Andrew Olmsted points out:
But I am unconvinced that any amount of additional training can really stop this kind of atrocity, because I am far from convinced that the Marines in question did not know at the time they acted that what they were doing was wrong. It is one thing to shoot a woman or child in the heat of battle, when you hear a noise behind you and simply react, only to realize you have made a horrible error. It's not necessarily excusable, but it is understandable. But the reports of Haditha indicate that the Marines went into homes and executed people. Under no conceivable circumstances is that acceptable, and I find it difficult to believe that anyone could take such an action and not know that what they were doing was wrong. Therefore, more training on right and wrong is hardly likely to deter such actions in the future, because it assumes that soldiers aren't already capable of determining that.
He'd know better than I would, but this seems completely right to me. Still, it's a good exercise for our military to engage in, nonetheless, and we'd be complaining if they didn't, so: good.
The promotion of a top Marine general also has been put on hold.
Bargewell has pursued two lines of investigation: not only whether falsehoods were passed up the chain of command, but also whether senior Marine commanders were derelict in their duty to monitor the actions of subordinates. The inquiry is expected to conclude by the end of this week, the official added. He said there were multiple failures but declined to say whether he would characterize it as a "coverup," as alleged recently by Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.), a former Marine.
The Bargewell report, which is expected to be delivered to top commanders by the end of the week, is one of two major military investigations into what happened at Haditha on Nov. 19, 2005, and how commanders reacted to the incident. The other is a criminal inquiry by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. That sprawling investigation involves more than 45 agents and is expected to conclude this summer, Pentagon officials and defense lawyers said yesterday. No charges have been filed, but people familiar with the case say they expect charges of homicide, making a false statement and dereliction of duty, among others.
One of Bargewell's conclusions is that the training of troops for Iraq has been flawed, the official said, with too much emphasis on traditional war-fighting skills and insufficient focus on how to wage a counterinsurgency campaign. Currently the director of operations for a top headquarters in Iraq, Bargewell is a career Special Operations officer and therefore more familiar than most regular Army officers with the precepts of counterinsurgency, such as using the minimum amount of force necessary to succeed. Also, as an Army staff sergeant in Vietnam in 1971, Bargewell received the Distinguished Service Cross, the Army's second-highest honor, for actions in combat while a member of long-range reconnaissance team operating deep behind enemy lines.
Clearly Bargewell seems like a good officer to be rendering judgment on this event in the context of counterinsurgency, it superficially appears. (I'll also note yet again the insanity of those rightwingers calling for more brutality and "ruthlessness" as the way to win the war, again hauling out that canard from Vietnam about "fighting with one arm tied behind our back" as people blatantly ignorant of the most basic precepts of counterinsurgency warfare, but 'I digress.)
Expanding on the mention of the held-up promotion, and a small good sign that it's possible that responsibility by senior officers may not be overlooked (but we'll see in the long-run):
In anticipation of the Bargewell report, the Marine Corps has placed on hold its plan to nominate Maj. Gen. Stephen T. Johnson, who was the top Marine in Iraq when the Haditha incident occurred, for promotion to lieutenant general, a senior Pentagon official said. That decision reflects concern that the report may conclude that leadership failures occurred at senior levels in Iraq. It also stands in sharp contrast to the Army's handling of the Abu Ghraib scandal, when the Pentagon forged ahead with plans to nominate Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, who had been the top commander on the ground in Iraq, for a fourth star. Sanchez's promotion has been in limbo for more than a year.
"I don't think the decision's been made" to scuttle the nomination, a Marine officer said. "I think we're going to wait and see."
And so shall we all. Including the Iraqis.
The Marines are also cracking down on leaks:
[...] Also, the Marine Corps issued a directive to its generals telling them not to discuss details of the Haditha case because such comments could compromise "the integrity of the investigative and legal processes" and because "it is not in the interests of the Marine Corps to 'further this story' by providing details or confirming information gathered from other -- mostly unnamed -- sources."
Back to Bargewell:
[...] One of Bargewell's findings is that two failures occurred in reporting the Haditha incident up the Marine chain of command. The first is that Staff Sgt. Frank D. Wuterich, a squad leader alleged to have been centrally involved in the shootings, made a false statement to his superiors when he reported that 15 Iraqi civilians had been killed in the roadside bombing that killed a Marine and touched off the incident. (The other nine dead initially were reported by the Marines to have been insurgent fighters but are now believed to have been civilians.) That report was entered into an official database of "significant acts" maintained by the U.S. military in Iraq, the Pentagon official said.
So clearly this is suggestive of Sgt. Wuterich engaging in the earliest stages of the cover-up.
A second and more troubling failure occurred later in the day, this official said, when a Marine human exploitation team, which helped collect the dead, should have observed that the Iraqis were killed by gunshot, not by a bomb. The team's reporting chain lay outside that of the other Marines -- who were members of the 3rd Battalion of the 1st Marines -- and went up through military intelligence channels directly to the 1st Marine Division's intelligence director, he said. Had this second unit reported accurately what it witnessed, he indicated, that would have set off alarms and prodded commanders to investigate, he explained.
This, obviously, is yet far more significant, because it's outside the original unit, whom might not be found to be acting entirely surprisingly in covering for their buddies; but this act by the exploitation team has to suggest Marines simply covering for fellow Marines because they're Marines. Again, not all that surprising, given the loyalty engendered in the Corps, and in the field, but still ultimately dishonorable, given the need to also do right, not wrong, by the Iraqis, even in a terrorist/insurgent/enemy-infested town where people are shooting at you day and night, brutally killing your buddies, and then speaking two-facedly to you immediately afterwards, and where you can't tell enemy from innocent (the sad but inevitable fact of counterinsurgency warfare).
Bargewell's report also is expected to address why the Marine Corps let stand statements issued by official spokesmen that were known to be false at least two months ago. On Nov. 20, the day after the shootings, Marine Capt. Jeffrey S. Pool told reporters that the Iraqis died in a crossfire, stating that, "Iraqi army soldiers and Marines returned fire, killing eight insurgents." Time magazine, which first began making inquiries about the incident in January, reported that when one of its staff members asked Pool about the allegations, he accused the journalist of being duped by terrorists. "I cannot believe you're buying any of this," the magazine said the officer wrote in an e-mail. "This falls into the same category of any aqi [al-Qaeda in Iraq] propaganda." Another military representative, Lt. Col. Michelle Martin-Hing, told the magazine that insurgents caused the civilian deaths by placing the Iraqis in the line of Marine fire.
[...] The Bargewell investigation evolved from a preliminary inquiry conducted in January by Army Col. Gregory Watt, the New York Times reported yesterday. Watt was asked by senior commanders to look into why there had been no formal Marine Corps review of the Haditha incident. After reviewing death certificates that showed the 24 Iraqis had been killed by gunshot rather than a bomb, as the Marine report had stated, Watt recommended a broader inquiry.
When the Marine leadership in Washington reviewed his report, a senior Marine said yesterday, it asked that an Army general step in to conduct the investigation, another indication that the actions of Johnson and other top officers have been a subject of Bargewell's review.
And probably a prudent step to ask the Army to investigate the Marines, even though it won't be helpful to inter-service relations. But that should be the least of anyone's concerns just now.
The incident began November 19 when the Humvee that North Bend, Wash. native Lance Cpl. James Crossan was riding in was blown up by a roadside bomb.
He was seriously injured and one of his good buddies died. Lance Cpl. Miquel Terrazas, TJ, was killed by the blast.
"He was my point man and he was pretty much the guy that I went to if I needed anything," Crossan says now.
Terrazas was so admired that Crossan tattooed his name on his leg as he recuperated from the broken back, shattered bones, and perforated eardrums he suffered in the blast.
Now some, including Crossan, believe the anger his colleagues felt over that attack may have driven them to kill innocent civilians.
"I know in my heart if I was there I possibly could've stopped what happened," Crossan said.
But the military is now investigating whether other members of the close-knit unit expressed their grief in a more immediate and lethal manner.
Crossan said he doesn’t' think much about those who were killed.
"Probably half of them were bad guys and we just never knew, so it really doesn't cross my mind."
Crossan said the guys in his unit were young and that he was often the calming influence.
While he doesn't condone the apparent rampage, he says he understands why it happened.
"If you see your friend get killed… you're going to do something irrational and all that stuff and they probably just weren't thinking and they killed a bunch of people," he said.
"I feel bad for the guys because they are going to get in trouble and… but other than that I really don't have any emotions for it," he said.
There's no reason to think Crossan is atypical of his unit, or of other Marines with his experience. (There's also a picture at the link, if you want to see how baby-faced the kid looks; as well, here is the raw video of the interview, which I've not yet seen due to my dial-up limitations -- but, hey, just to be Fair And Balanced, here's Malkin's transcript of what she thinks is important from it.)
The killing began shortly after sunrise on a November day. As a U.S. patrol rolled through Haditha, a homemade bomb exploded beneath the belly of a Humvee, rocking the sleepy riverside town.
"The Americans who were in the first vehicle came back to the damaged car. They started to scream and shout," said a gray-haired shopkeeper who would give his name only as Abu Mukarram. He said he watched the scene unfold from his bedroom window. "After some minutes, everything was quiet. During this quiet, no bullets were shot. They were moments of expectation."
Ten minutes passed in silence. Then Abu Mukarram heard the crack of the first bullets.
Planted by insurgents at the edge of the road, the bomb had killed Lance Cpl. Miguel Terrazas, a 20-year-old Marine from El Paso. Survivors and witnesses said Terrazas' death drove some of the troops into a murderous rage.
Survivors say that furious Marines rampaged through a quiet street, bursting into homes and gunning down Iraqi civilians — including children, women and an elderly man in a wheelchair. Their account appears to match details emerging from a military investigation of the deaths of at least 24 Iraqi civilians on the morning of Nov. 19.
President Bush said Wednesday that he was "troubled" by news reports of the slayings.
"I am mindful that there is a thorough investigation going on. If, in fact, the laws were broken, there will be punishment," Bush said in his first public comments on the incident, made during a photo session with President Paul Kagame of Rwanda.
In Iraq, by contrast, word of the deaths has spread slowly out of Haditha, blurring into the steady background noise of daily horrors. To a public that has endured more than three years of combat, rampant bombings and executions, news of two dozen more lost lives grabbed few headlines.
Sliced in half by the Euphrates and nestled in fruit groves, Haditha is a quiet farming community of 90,000 people in the midst of barren western desert in Al Anbar province. Farmers tend date orchards, and grow oranges and apples in the shadow of the palms.
This account of the Nov. 19 killings comes from witness and survivor interviews conducted by Iraqi reporters for The Times in Baghdad and Haditha. The reporter who traveled to Haditha cannot be named for security reasons.
After the roadside bombing, the Marines arrived first at the door of Abdul Hamid Hassan Ali, 89, an amputee who used a wheelchair. They shot him, then turned their guns on his three sons and their families, survivors said.
Waleed Abdul Hameed, a 48-year-old worker in Al Anbar's religious affairs office, was among the first of the family members to be gunned down. His 9-year-old daughter, Eman, said she was still wearing her pajamas when the Marines arrived. Her 7-year-old brother, Abdul Rahman, said he hid his face with a blanket when his father was shot.
A few minutes later, the boy saw his mother fall to the ground, dying.
"I saw her while she was crying," he said. "She fell down on the floor bleeding." Speaking days ago in Haditha, months after the attacks, the boy broke into tears, covered his eyes with his hands, and began to mutter to himself.
At his side, his elder sister began to speak again. Eman described how the two had waited for help, the bodies of their family members sprawled on the floor.
"We were scared," she said. "I tried to hide under the bed." With shrapnel injuries to her legs, she lay still for two hours.
When the shooting began, Eman's aunt, Hibba Abdullah snatched her 5-month-old niece off the floor. The baby's mother had dropped her in shock after seeing her husband gunned down. Clutching the child, Abdullah ran out of the house. She and the baby, Aasiya, survived.
The baby's mother "completely collapsed when they killed her husband in front of her," Abdullah said. "I ran away carrying Aasiya outside the house, but when the Americans returned they killed Asma, the mother of the child."
Abdullah's 39-year-old husband also slipped out of the house and ran to warn his cousins nearby. But he crossed paths with the Americans on his way back; he died of gunshot wounds to the shoulder and head, Abdullah said.
Seven family members were killed: Ali and his wife; their three sons and a daughter-in-law; and their 5-year-old grandson. Only one of the household's adults survived.
The Marines stopped next at the home of customs official Younis Salim Nusaif, 45, his wife, Aida Yassin, and their six children. The 42-year-old Yassin was in bed that morning, recovering from a recent operation. Her sister had come to stay with the family and help with housework while she recuperated.
Everyone was at home when the troops arrived. And all but one 12-year-old girl were slain. Along with the parents and visiting sister, four girls and a boy, their ages ranging from 4 to 15, were shot by the Marines, said neighbors and the surviving child, Safa Younis Salim.
During a meeting with a reporter, Safa, with a round face and big brown eyes, was withdrawn and reluctant to talk about the attack. Only after her relatives coaxed her did she describe how she played dead. The Americans yelled in the faces of her family members before shooting them, she said, then kicked them and hit the bodies with their guns.
The schoolgirl said she lay on the ground, covered with her sister's blood, and pretended to be dead while her family died around her. Her sister's blood spurted fast; it was like a water tap, she said.
"I feel sorry. I was wishing to be alive," said Safa. "Now I wish I had died with them."
The troops moved along the street to another home. There, they killed four brothers, whose ages ranged from 20 to 38, a woman from the family said. First the Marines herded the women outside, pointed guns at their heads and ordered them to stay still, said the woman, who did not want her name published.
The men were grouped inside. Then the sound of gunfire rang out.
"After some minutes the soldiers ran out and left the house," she said. The women went inside and found the men dead.
"They were shot in different parts of their bodies," the woman said. "Spots of blood covered the place. Blood was coming out."
The last to die apparently came upon the scene by chance. Four university students, two of them brothers, and their taxi driver drove too close to the spot where the families had been killed. Witnesses said U.S. troops stopped their car, ordered them to get out and shot them.
This has to be the car referred to in other reports as "the taxi."
When the killing was over, the Americans continued to guard the street, keeping relatives away, townspeople said. Eventually, the troops took the bodies to the hospital, a medical source in Haditha said.
Since that November day, the people of Haditha have felt haunted. The survivors described sinking into depression.
Much of the talk has centered on the U.S. offer of $2,500 in compensation for each death. Some of the families said they turned the money down.
In March, the townspeople said, U.S. investigators arrived. They brought cameras to record the witnesses' accounts, and toys for the surviving children.
In contrast with the prominence of the Haditha story in the U.S. media, the deaths have received little attention here.
Some Sunni Arabs allege that the Shiite Muslim majority simply isn't very interested in the bloodshed in the mainly Sunni western provinces.
"The local satellite channels are affiliated with militias and Shiite parties," said Omar Jubouri, head of the human rights office for the Iraqi Islamic Party. "That's why they don't show the violations against the Sunnis."
Others point out that Iraqis already have a tarnished view of the U.S. military, that the notion of foreign troops killing innocent civilians simply doesn't deliver much shock.
"It doesn't mean that much to hear that 20 people were killed by the Americans," said Hassan Bazzaz, a political analyst in Baghdad. "Every single day people are killed and thrown in the streets, in the garbage cans. They're scared to death. They don't even have time to think about what happened in Haditha."
I prefer to let the quotes speak for themselves. Some will, of course, question the veracity of the Iraqis, pointing out that Haditha is filled with insurgent fighters, and that's a valid question. But we know nothing at this time to contradict these accounts, either, and so one is left to one's own prejudices as to how much credibility to give them.
President Bush said Wednesday that he was troubled by the allegations that American marines killed 24 Iraqi civilians in an unprovoked attack, and he vowed that "those who violated the law, if they did, will be punished."
"I am troubled by the initial news stories," Mr. Bush said in his first public comments about the accusations. "I am mindful that there is a thorough investigation going on. If, in fact, the laws were broken, there will be punishment."
For many of the 12-year-olds bent over their final exams in classrooms where the stifling heat already edged toward 100 degrees by 9 a.m., Wednesday's tests would signal the end of their families' days in Iraq.
With the school year reaching its close, and life in Baghdad unbearable for many, some of the mothers at al-Mahaj school in north Baghdad's Adhamiyah neighborhood began collecting the school records that their sons and daughters would need in new homes in other countries. They would soon join a three-year exodus of the middle class from Iraq, where outbound flights are booked near-solid through June, travel agents say.
Sometime after 9 a.m., bullets started flying. The 12-year-olds, well into their math tests, "were terrified," screaming and sobbing, said Um Bakir, a mother who recounted the battle.
You can click to read the rest. Note the emphasis on how everyone who possibly can is fleeing the country. We see reports of this from every Iraqi blogger and every source we look at. Soon few from the educated classes will be left.
Read The Rest Scale: 2.5 out of 5 for most; 4 out of 5 for the last.
On the other hand, a vastly lesser offense that has clearly been common, according to universal Iraqi testimony, has been great quickness to fire at vehicles approaching checkpoints, and generally to engage in "force protection" that too often results in the deaths of Iraqi innocents; innumerable incidents of this nature have been reported, and are resented little or no less by Iraqis.
Just to touch a bit further on this, my cousin - a Christian Peacemaker - was in Iraq for year following the invasion, and wrote very detailed emails to us that noted this "hair-trigger" tendency amongst US forces, amongst other things.