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Revelations about the Haditha massacre

The infamous Haditha massacre that occurred on Nov. 19, 2005, have faded from people’s memories.

That morning, a military convoy of four vehicles was heading to an outpost in Haditha when one of the vehicles was hit by a roadside bomb.

Several Marines got out to attend to the wounded, including one who eventually died, while others looked for insurgents who might have set off the bomb. Within a few hours 24 Iraqis — including a 76-year-old man and children between the ages of 3 and 15 — were killed, many inside their homes.

As the reporter says, “Haditha became a defining moment of the war, helping cement an enduring Iraqi distrust of the United States and a resentment that not one Marine has been convicted.”

When reports of this got out, it was regarded as a horrifying atrocity and, as usual, was quietly buried. But two weeks ago, purely by chance, a reporter came across in a junkyard files of interviews of the people responsible for the massacre. What the interviews reveal is just how routine was the killing of civilians on this scale.

Chief Warrant Officer K. R. Norwood, who received reports from the field on the day of the killings and briefed commanders on them, testified that 20 dead civilians was not unusual.

General Johnson, the commander of American forces in Anbar Province, said he did not feel compelled to go back and examine the events because they were part of a continuing pattern of civilian deaths.

“It happened all the time, not necessarily in MNF-West all the time, but throughout the whole country,” General Johnson testified, using a military abbreviation for allied forces in western Iraq.

One can only imagine the bitterness and hatred engendered in the relatives of those massacred in this way.

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