Tags: haditha | marines

The Media's War Against Haditha Marines

Tuesday, 22 Jan 2008 08:48 AM

By Phil Brennan

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Lt. Col. Jeffrey Chessani, a heroic United States Marine was described by his commanding officer as "a superb leader, who knows his men, knows the enemy, knows his business," and as an officer with "unlimited potential and value to the Marine Corps."

Today, that same "superb leader" who brilliantly led his troops in combat against al-Qaida terrorists is involved in another battle, facing another enemy, which has cut short a career that would surely have led him to a general's stars.

That enemy is not al-Qaida — it is the world's media that is determined to destroy him and three of the Marines in his former command, no matter what the cost to the morale of his fellow Marines still fighting in Iraq and the security of the American people they seek to protect.

In his fitness report, his regimental commander, Col. Davis, wrote that Chessani "Leads Marines from front in every operation. Demonstrates moral courage every day. Doesn't hesitate to report bad news fast or contest unrealistic plans/poor concepts. Despite the complexity and size of his AO (area of operations), he always maintains a calm, cool demeanor."

Concluded Davis, "Long ball hitter; recommend selection for promotion to Colonel and TLS [Top Level School]."

Lt. Col. Chessani. 1st Lt. Andrew Grayson, Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich and Lance Cpl. Stephen Tatum are awaiting courts marshal on various charges resulting from an insurgent ambush on Nov. 19, 2005, in which 15 Iraqi civilians and eight insurgents were killed at the onset of the day-long battle in Haditha, and 11 Marines wounded as the battle waged later in the day.

The facts show that not one of these courageous Marines is guilty of anything other than doing his duty in the face of hostile enemy action; yet from the very beginning they have been adjudged guilty by the anti-war media of conducting a shameful massacre of 24 innocent civilians — a media that willfully ignored or distorted the facts, or just plain lied.

The accused were among eight originally charged, four of whom were exonerated by then Lt. Gen. James Mattis, among them Lance Cpl. Justin Sharratt who Mattis praised as an outstanding young man with an admirable record. As a result it was suggested by the media that Mattis, one of the Marine Corps' legendary officers, was participating in a cover-up.

In an open letter to Gen. Mattis back on Sept. 6, 2006 (http://archive.newsmax.com/archives/articles/2006/9/5/170254.shtml), I warned him that is exactly would happen — that "clearing the Marines involved will create a firestorm of criticism from the media, which long ago found the Kilo Company Marines guilty of committing a deliberate 'massacre' of 24 'innocent' civilians and have no intention of admitting they were wrong."

Having learned the hard way, Mattis apparently recognized that the only way to quiet charges of cover-up would be to allow the process to continue and allow a jury to make the final determination as to the guilt or innocence of the remaining four defendants.

Unless I'm mistaken, whatever the outcomes of the four trials, the media will not be satisfied. They long ago declared the Haditha Marines guilty of participating in a massacre akin to the Mai Lai killings of hundreds of Vietnamese in the Vietnam conflict.

Consider the extent these people will go to blacken the names of the men and women in our armed forces who are risking life and limb in Iraq, one of the most shameful if not downright criminal examples being the recent New York Times report on the alleged post-Iraq lives of armed forces vets.

In a replay of a 1937 anti-war film "They Gave Him a Gun" where Franchot Tone played an ex-doughboy who came home to become a hardened criminal and killer thanks to having been taught to kill in the Army, the Times wrote about 121 Iraq war vets who came home to commit murder.

The report was utterly biased and based on the Times' corrupt view of the U.S. military. Writing in the Pajamasmedia blog, Bob Owens exposed the newspaper's failure to report the true situation.

Wrote Owens "The media is at it again, using questionable statistics and broad strokes to paint the U.S. military as a band of unstable brutes. Case in point: the January 13 New York Times story 'Across America, Deadly Echoes of Foreign Battles,' which collates deaths at the hands of veterans of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The Times found “121 cases in which veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan committed a killing in this country, or were charged with one, after their return from war.

"Bruce Kesler of the Democracy Project was among the first to note that despite finding the time to pen 6,253 words in this first article of the series, 'the New York Times could not find words to put the 121 cases of physical violence by vets in full perspective,' by providing the context of how these deaths measure up against the number of deaths attributed to similar civilian demographics.'

"In an article in the Weekly Standard, John J. DiIulio Jr. offered the much-needed context that the Times failed to provide: 'Assuming 121 homicide cases in relation to 749,932 total discharges through 2007, 99.98 percent of all discharged Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have not committed or been charged with homicide.'"

And assuming 121 cases and 749,932 total discharges, the homicide offending rate for the discharged veterans would be 16.1 per 100,000. The U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) has demographic data aplenty on homicide offending rates. For instance, in 2005, for white males aged 18-24, the rate was about 20 per 100,000. The Times opined that 121 was the “minimum” number, even as it counted veterans charged but not convicted with veterans tried and found guilty. Doubling the number to 242 would double the rate to 32.2 per 100,000.

"Far from being an indictment against veterans, the actual homicide rate among civilians is higher in similar demographic groups."

To get a better idea of the media's shameful reporting of the Haditha incident here's a report from Britain's Independent: "The civilian deaths were initially explained away by the US military as a result of the bomb. However, a local journalism student handed over to Time magazine what he said was a video record of the results of the massacre, filmed in the houses and the morgue.

"While there is dispute over the integrity of the tape (it has since been claimed by the American battalion intelligence officer monitoring the day's events that it was made by an insurgent propagandist trying to foment further anti-American feeling), it did force an official investigation."

Note the allegation that "a local journalism student handed over to Time magazine what he said was a video record of the results of the massacre, filmed in the houses and the morgue." The newspaper either willfully or from ignorance ignored the fact that the so-called "local journalism student" was instead a known insurgent propagandist.

Moreover, the "American battalion intelligence officer" told Newsmax that his testimony far from being based on a mere claim, was based on a number of intelligence intercepts of insurgent communications before and during the actual engagement.

In another British newspaper, the Times online, one Jon Swain wrote about "The Truth about Men who Kill."

He writes that "Haditha became a metaphor for the war just as the My Lai massacre had been for Vietnam. Next month two marines will finally stand trial in connection with the killings. Two others will be tried later this year. But most of the marines charged with murder have had their cases dropped.

"Next month will also see the release of a powerful film called 'Battle for Haditha' by Nick Broomfield, the director of hard-hitting docudramas such as 'Ghosts,' about the Chinese immigrants who drowned while collecting cockles at Morecambe Bay."

He writes that the film "captures every unnerving second of the killings, while admitting 'although it was made according to a detailed structure, most of the dialogue was improvised.'" In other words, out of Broomfield's imagination!

He quotes Broomfield as explaining "'They have already let half the guys off. They have discredited all the Iraqi witnesses as being prejudiced. They have discredited the two marines who came up with evidence implicating the others. They have done all they can to negate anything that pushes it towards murder.'”

In other words, Jeffrey Chessani, authentic Marine hero, is guilty no matter what a court martial finds, as are Andrew Grayson, Frank Wuterich, and Stephen Tatum, a hero of the blood soaked battle of Fallujah. The media found them guilty years ago and they are determined to make their verdict stick.

Some might call it treason.

I sure do.

Phil Brennan is a veteran journalist and World War II Marine who writes for Newsmax.com. He is editor and publisher of Wednesday on the Web (http://www.pvbr.com) and was Washington columnist for National Review magazine in the 1960s.

He also served as a staff aide for the House Republican Policy Committee and helped handle the Washington public relations operation for the Alaska Statehood Committee which won statehood for Alaska.

He is also a trustee of the Lincoln Heritage Institute and a member of the Association For Intelligence Officers.

He can be reached at pvb@pvbr.com.

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