Sunday, June 11, 2006

How are we doing?

A search of Google News' sources for "Haditha" for June 10 brought back a result of 298 references. We are pretty close, I think, to seeing Haditha put into its proper perspective. That is, a horrible isolated incident likely involving U.S. Marines and resulting in dead Iraqis - some of who were completely innocent and some of who may have been supportive of the forces that killed a U.S. Marine earlier in the day. Nothing more, nothing less.

This story has had a few runs at gaining momentum. It was first reported on November 20, 2005 by Reuters. Then, Time picked up the story in their March 19, edition. Representative John Murtha accused U.S. Marines of killing Iraqi civilians "in cold blood" and on May 17, this story started getting legs. It wasn't until May 25, on the Thursday before Memorial Day weekend that more than 200 references to "Haditha" appear in a Google News search. The feeding frenzy peaked on Friday, June 2, with 2,210 stories coming back with "Haditha" in them.

Over the last week, there have been countless opinions in the media with handwringing on both sides of the political spectrum about the potential damage to the Administration and the war effort over the fallout from this story. Some of the hand wringing was done with hidden glee - as you might see in a poorly acted movie and the villian is about to strike his prey. Some of the hand wringing was not really over concern for the Iraqi people or the troops, but for some politician's own career. Then there's the media, who seem to wring their hands over every little thing. (The last link is to a story that was the lead story on CBS News the night that Sandy Berger was discovered to have stuffed classified documents into his pants and socks during a visit to the National Archives. CBS' news director must have thought the other story was more important.)

I have a feeling that this Haditha story will hang on for a few days and then fall off dramatically. When the military investigation is completed, it will be quietly reported and then mostly forgotten in America except for by the families of the Marines who suffered because of the hysteria of this press coverage.

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