Seven of the eight Marines charged in the alleged "massacre" of 24 civilians in the Iraqi town of Haditha in 2005 have been acquitted or had their charges dismissed. Yet the cover of the New York Times's Sunday Book Review is splattered with the charge that Marines at Haditha committed a "crime."
Of all the crimes that sullied the record of the United States military in Iraq -- the torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib, the killings of 24 Iraqi men, women and children by Marines in November 2005 in Haditha -- the murder of an entire Iraqi family in the village of Yusufiya may rank as the most chilling.
That casual smear is the lead sentence of former Newsweek reporter Joshua Hammer's review of Jim Frederick's book about an unrelated incident: "Black Hearts -- One Platoon's Descent Into Madness in Iraq's Triangle of Death." For months the Times dwelled on the Haditha "massacre," with reporter Paul von Zielbauer filing 36 stories on the eight U.S. Marines accused of killing 24 unarmed Iraqis in Haditha as revenge for the death of a fellow Marine in a roadside bombing. Yet the eventual acquittal of all but one of the Marines has been almost completely ignored by the Times, which has contented itself with unbylined briefs, when the paper covered the acquittals or dismissals at all. Apparently no one in the Times Book Review section (including Book Review editor and "The Death of Conservative" author Sam Tanenhaus) read those tiny stories, considering the assumption of guilt splashed across the cover of Sunday's Book Review.