It's a happy Memorial Day from the Associated Press as they inform that nation that a few Marines involved themselves in a "shooting spree" in Afghanistan. Yes, the AP makes it seem as if our Marines began "firing indiscriminately at vehicles and civilians" during a March 4th altercation near Nangarhar province. But, a closer read finds a far murkier story and one that seems to say that our Marines didn't go wild but that they thought they were under attack. Whether the Marines were right or wrong about being attacked is the real question at the end of the day. But whatever the case, right at the outset the AP presented the incident as if the Marines were in the wrong.
Even the headline casts the Marines actions in the negative: "Afghans appalled Marines not charged in killings." No benefit of the doubt there. In fact, the whole first half of the story explores the charges against the Marines before a single word in their defense appears.
Afghan officials expressed outrage Saturday at the decision by the U.S. military not to charge U.S. Marines involved in a shooting spree that left 19 Afghan civilians dead in 2007.
...Afghan witnesses and a report by Afghanistan's Independent Human Rights Commission concluded that a unit of Marine special operations troops opened fire along a 10-mile (16 kilometer) stretch of road, killing up to 19 civilians and wounding 50 other people.
However, we come to discover that the Marines determined that the soldiers "acted appropriately and in accordance with the rules of engagement and tactics, techniques and procedures in place at the time in response to a complex attack." And that the incident occurred after their convoy was hit by a suicide bomber. And we also find out that this ruling came after a three-week tribunal investigating the charges was held.
Now, an unbiased reporting of this story would have been headlined something more like "Marines Vindicated in Shootings," or even "After Marines Cleared, Afghans Still Unhappy." But, no, the headline used seems more like the Marines were merely allowed to kill civilians without even being required to face even an investigation.
CNN didn't help this story to be presented better, either. On the CNN webpage upon which this AP story appears, all the "story highlights" but one stress the aspect of the story that mitigate against the Marines involved.
Here are the "highlights" as noted on CNN's website:
- Story Highlights
- 2007 shooting spree left up to 19 Afghan civilians dead in Nangarhar
- Marines accused of firing indiscriminately after their convoy hit by a suicide bomber
- U.N. mission, Afghan officials, outraged: "This is too much. They are killing people"
- Military finds Marines "acted ... in accordance with the rules of engagement"
On this Memorial Day weekend, the AP and CNN have decided to give us a negative tinged story that presents our Marines as trigger happy, murderers.
Yes, happy Memorial Day, indeed.
(Map credit: CNN.com)