A 14-year-old girl (Abeer Qassim al-Janabi) was repeatedly raped, then shot to death in her home in a village near Baghdad March 12. Her body was set on fire. Her mother, father and sister also were murdered.
The alleged perpetrators: American troops.
Before the incident, the soldiers allegedly downed whiskey, played cards and hit golf balls. Afterward, they dined on grilled chicken wings. It also appears there was a clear intent to cover up by those directly involved, and those who monitor these incidents within the military.
If this had happen within the U.S. , it would have triggered overpowering outrage, non-stop TV coverage and a grave concern about our military. It might even have surpassed the wall-to-wall coverage that the arrest and release within the JonBenet Ramsey murder received But because it happened in Iraq, the press has been relatively quiet.
In fact, more coverage has been given to Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), a decorated Vietnam veteran and a critic of the Iraq war who said U.S. troops "killed innocent civilians in cold blood" in Haditha, when one of the Marines under investigation in the attack sued him for libel.
Our own Rep. John Kline (R-MN), a retired Marine Corps colonel, even apologized to the Marines for appearing to suggest troops had lied and covered up the Haditha incident when private briefings with Kline at the Pentagon left no doubt as to what allegedly happened.
Kline has brushed off this rape-murder case of a 14 yr. old as an aberration, saying the majority of our troops would never do such a thing. He avoided the same lawsuit against Murtha by stating ‘the media took statements out of context’. He's keeping his bond with his 'brothers in arm' at the expense of truth. It's another example of the Bush Administration and our legislators shieding away from hard questions, reluctant to criticize troops, and avoiding the truth for answers.
This war didn’t happen by chance. Among the chief supporters (every step of the way) was John Kline. He sits on the very powerful Armed Services Committee which gets regular private briefings on the war. He knows what is really happening verses what this week's Bush Administration 'spin o war'.
As a retired colonel Kline is aware that:
--The lowering of recruiting standards to fill spots in an all-volunteer army has made it less safe. It may be a voluntary military but more than 95 percent of our citizens have elected not to serve. That leaves less desirable personalities in the military.
--The use of inexperience troops and commanders to police in an extremely dangerous atmosphere results in stress and poor decision making -especially when they lack both training and resources and are placed in life and death situations.
--Prolong, extended tours of duties has an adverse affect on the military’s morale and performance.
It’s difficult to believe that the nice kid next door could do something like this? Nobody want’s to believe it. But it happened and the evidence of the crime and the cover up point to a bigger problem.
As shown by John Kline's apology, there is a denial by both elected officials and the public to accept and take responsibility for anything wrong with the war in Iraq. This may in part be blamed on those who frame the war in simplistic terms of ‘for/against’ or ‘patriot/unpatriotic’. Any support for the truth can be twisted to appear to be against the war and therefore against the troops and therefore unpatriotic. Unfortunately, many of our elected officials, like Kline, haven’t risen above the rhetoric and championed the truth regardless of how it may look or affect their ‘image’, or where it may lay the blame.
Among those charged with the rape and murder of al-Janabi is Steven Green, an Army private who has since been discharged for a personality disorder. He denies wrongdoing, but before the incident he told a Washington Post reporter, "Over here, killing people is like squashing an ant. I mean, you kill somebody and it's like, `All right, let's go get some pizza.'"
At a Baghdad hearing, a member of the same unit, Pfc. Justin Cross, said constant attacks in the Triangle of Death had put the soldiers under incredible stress. "You're just walking a death walk," he said. "It drives you nuts. You feel like every step you might get blown up."
The deaths of two soldiers before the slayings in Mahmoudiya "pretty much crushed the platoon," Cross said. To deal with the stress and the toll on their unit, he said, they turned to whiskey and painkillers.
The murders are another horror piled on top of a series of horrors, including the killing of 24 Iraqi civilians in Haditha last year and the torture at Abu Ghraib prison. How many more ‘abberations’ will there be in Iraq before Kline speaks out in support of the truth.
Until we hear the truth, Kline isn't supporting the military, he's supporting corruption.