Jamie Allman is not happy that the President has been lukewarm in his response to the Haditha story and is standing by as Marines get blasted by the democrats and the media. Instead, George Bush seems to be joining the chorus of questioners.
My Fellow Americans — Tonight, a group of your fellow Americans are under investigation for possible war crimes. They are members of a group of Marines operating in Haditha. So far, based on filtered and sketchy information, they are accused of murdering Iraqi civilians after a member of their unit was killed by a bomb. I do not know what happened in Haditha. The Marines may have done what they are accused of doing. The insurgents may have killed the innocents themselves just to set the Marines up. I am ordering the use of every available investigative tool to find the truth. Until then, as their Commander in Chief, I am supporting the Marines involved until I am given concrete evidence that I should not.
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As Commander in Chief I owe them that support. I sent them to Iraq to fight the War On Terror and promote Democracy. I cannot deny them justice. I cannot deny them the very justice for which I am expecting them to die. Many Marines and other soldiers have been killed precisely because the United States Armed Forces have followed the rules of engagement while our enemies have not. Our enemies hide behind roadside bombs, behind sacred Mosques, and indeed behind women and children. That is another reason why we owe those Marines under investigation the benefit of having all information gathered before we indict them back home in news magazines, in headlines and in congressional news conferences and talk show appearances. Our Marines, as a rule, do most everything right often much to their peril. If they are wrong we must demand proof. I am speaking to you directly tonight because the story of what may have happened in Haditha is out of control. Those who are against the war are exploiting the alleged incident and using it as proof that they are right about this being “another Vietnam”.
Unfortunately they believe they have found another sideshow they can use to bark more people into their anti-war tent. At the same time those who support the war are trying hard to somehow insist such a terrible act did not happen. They too are doing a disservice to our nation and the troops. Tonight, my fellow Americans, I am simply urging you to find a place to sit between those who want to believe a massacre took place and those who don’t want to believe it. That is the most honest place to be right now.
In the meantime many of you may wonder: what if it turns out to be true? As Commander in Chief I sit before you tonight to assure you I will take full responsibility for what happened. Haditha is, by all accounts, an anarchistic hell hole inhabited and loosely led by rabid insurgents and their families. Of the 90,000 people who live there only 150 voted in the last election. Just a few weeks ago the mere rumor that Osama Bin Laden had visited caused celebration in the streets and town halls. Iraqi civilians are executed every day by terrorists who accuse them of a variety of transgressions. But Haditha has been a hell hole for months. I and my commanders allowed it to get that way. It’s another example of our mixed success in our efforts to weigh the goal of sovereignty for Iraq with the need to be able to cleanse and clear out certain areas known to be terrorist hotbeds. We could have leveled Haditha in six hours if we wanted to whenever we wanted to. But the rules of engagement dictate we fight, for the most part, on a case by case basis.
Still, I should have ordered Haditha be taken care of much like Fallujah and I didn’t. The Marines in question went in as good and abiding soldiers who strived to avoid civilian casualties at every turn. If that changed on a fateful day in November then I will accept full responsibility. Within the next 24 hours Marine and Air Force Commanders have been instructed to pursue a full scale assault on insurgent strongholds in Haditha. In cooperation with the new Iraqi government and Iraqi Police Forces, all women and children will be evacuated prior to the engagement along with men who come forward to present themselves.
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My Fellow Americans, I am urging caution tonight as you are bombarded with allegations and rumors about what happened in Haditha. I am before you tonight to say that even if crimes did occur, it says nothing about the overall conduct of our brave men and women and the overall integrity of our war effort. Haditha itself stands merely as another black example of the challenges we face in Iraq. But the Marine Corps itself will always stand as a shining example of the fight for what is right. And the United States of America will always stand as a beacon of hope and justice in the world–no matter what the headline of the day may read. Thank you and may God bless the United States of America.
Right on, Jamie! This would really help the situation… But, instead the media, Leftists, and democrats have whirled up a political hurricane over these alleged military crimes.