Military's leadership crisis begins with Bush and Rumsfeld

When the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal broke in 2004, many Veterans, including myself, hoped that would be the only low point in military conduct in the Iraq war. It's one thing to know that the Bush administration cooked the intelligence books to take our nation into an unnecessary war and it's another to see U.S. troops -- who many have viewed as innocent pawns in the Iraq quagmire -- commit acts that shock the world and further humiliate our country.

Such is the case with the confirmed report that U.S. Marines killed up to 24 innocent civilians in Haditha, Iraq on November 19, 2005 in response to an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) attack that killed one of their squad, Lance Corporal Miguel Terrazas, who died at age 20.

While the Marine Corps originally claimed that the Iraqi victims were killed in the same roadside blast, it has since been discovered that a coordinated cover-up was launched by the military to hide what Americans do not want to hear: That U.S. troops may have gone on a bloody rampage in the village after Terrazas was killed and murdered the unarmed Iraqis, including 11 women and children, in their homes.

The military unit that arrived to clean up the gruesome scene later that day found that many women, children and even babies were dead and had been shot in the head and chest. According to one report, an old man in a wheelchair had been shot nine times.

All death certificates issued by the military later that day listed the cause of death as gunshot wounds.

Marines involved in the incident have since claimed that the shootings were the result of a house-to-house search gone bad and that the civilian deaths were unintentional. Meanwhile, witnesses in Haditha say that the villagers were executed, including some who died while pleading for their lives.

What seems to support the Iraqis' version of events is the obvious attempt by the military to lie about the incident immediately after it occurred, with a spokesman saying that 15 Iraqis "…were killed yesterday from the blast of a roadside bomb in Haditha."

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