Military scandals are always front-page news–until they turn out to be less scandalous than thought. The New York Times gave huge play to the allegations of a massacre–”in cold blood,” as Democrat John Murtha put it–by U.S. forces at Haditha. It was front-page stuff, with “World Ends”-sized headlines. But now, almost all of the men charged have had their charges dropped, and many of those who have followed the case wonder why charges were brought in the first place, given that the evidence was so weak that it didn’t even make it to trial.
So where does the New York Times play the dropping of charges against U.S. marine Stephen Tatum? Halfway down the page in the last column of A8.
Here are some of the stories that the New York Times deemed more important than the fact that a marine accused of murder in Iraq is guilty of no wrongdoing at all:
- Japanese Author Guides Women to “Dignity,’ but Others See Dullness
- In Asia, a Fear of Turmoil Over Rice Prices
- Japanese Court Rejects Lawsuit Against Nobel Laureate Over Suicides in World War II
- Growing Gulf Divides China And Old Foe
The story itself is as bad as the play, repeating the prosecution’s libel against our troops: “The charges against him had been reduced to involuntary manslaughter, reckless endangerment, and aggravated assault for what prosecutors said was his role in shooting a group of unarmed women and children.” Of course, what prosecutors said didn’t carry the day–why rely on their characterization of the events? The prosecution tried to block the introduction of evidence and testimony from an intelligence officer who monitored the events as they were happening. His evidence, including video shot from drones and detailed radio logs, confirmed that the marines actually were under fire. The evidence further confirms that the unarmed parties were being used as human shields by the insurgents.
The New York Times cannot even decide whether it really believes the people who died were “unarmed.” Later, the story characterizes them as “24 people, almost all unarmed.” If you brought 24 people into the offices of the New York Times and they were “almost all unarmed,” as opposed to “unarmed,” they’d report about what kind of weapons were present, how many, how they were used, &c. But when marines in Iraq are facing gunfire and explosives from people who were–what’s the opposite of “almost all unarmed?”–armed, and they respond like they’re fighting a war, they get treated like criminals by the military, by the civilians who oversee it, and by the New York Times, too.
And maybe that’s more important that the price of a bag of rice in Seoul or the dullness of Japanese authors? Maybe?