The Tangled Web of Haditha Reports

The media is overflowing with stories about the incident in Haditha on November 19, 2005. There are so many stories and so many interviews but there is a problem. Many of the stories and recountings of events are inconsistent and seem ever changing.

Take the conflicting stories from Thaer al-Hadithi - the "young Iraqi journalist" and AP's "Iraqi human rights investigator". Al-Hadithi claimed that his "own house was barely 100 yards from the IED explosion." He recounted that the blast shattered his windows. Al-Hadithi claimed he "ran outside in time to see Marines from three other humvees springing from their vehicles and heading for four homes on either side of the road."

But in his interview with the AP, he claimed "he was visiting his family in Haditha". Al-Hadithi described an "eerie silence after the explosion". He told the AP that he watched from the window of his home and had a clear view of two of the houses.

Or we can go with this version from al-Hadithi’s interview with the Atlanta Journal Constitution published on 6/3/06. He stated that he "heard the roadside blast, the gunshots and the helicopters" (only article that mentions helicopters). He described the IED explosion as "window shaking" in the AJC version of events. Al-Hadithi claims in this interview "After 9am, Marines started kicking and pounding the gate outside his family home." (only article this event has been mentioned) Per the AJC, al-Hadithi was not alone when he made the infamous video - "The next day he and a couple of friends visited the morgue and 3 blood stained houses." (only time any mention made of friends being with him when he made the video)

Al-Hadithi described Abdul-Hamid Hassan Ali as a "blind and elderly man in failing health" in the AP article. But another Haditha "witness" said Ali "used a wheelchair since diabetes forced his leg amputation years ago. Ali was always one of the first on his block to go out every morning, scattering scraps for his chickens and hosing the dust of the arid western town from his driveway." Pretty good moves for a blind man in failing health.

Riehl World has many significant contradictory reports in the media - the biggest being Aws Fahmi who "watched and listened" to the incident but according to Al-Hadithi was severely wounded and lay bleeding in the street for two hours.

Another interesting little tidbit from an interview with Dr. Waleed Abdul Khaliq al Obaidi, the Medical Director of Haditha Hospital from CNN...
"The hospital director says his night shift examined the bodies before they were released to the families."
Does this mean that the doctor did not examine the bodies personally?

Oh but there are more discrepancies still to be found…

The AP claims that the lawyer in Haditha (that is suddenly related to the victims) Khaled Salem Rsayef watched the events unfold from a window in his home. BUT Rsayef claims in other interviews that he watched the attacks from his roof.

"Rsayef said he witnessed U.S. troops responding to the bomb attack from his house. Rsayef said his account of what happened was based on his personal observations from the rooftop of his home and windows."

But digging a little deeper into the muck, I found this little gem...
"Khaled Ahmed Rsayef, whose brother and six other relatives were killed by the troops, vividly described the blind frustration of the American soldiers and their impulsive revenge at losing one of their own. “American troops immediately cordoned off the area and raided two nearby houses, shooting at everyone inside. It was a massacre in every sense of the word,” said Rasayef.
While he was not present at the scene, his 15-year-old niece was and her story was corroborated by other residents of the area who witnessed the carnage."

Even the stories about the how the bodies were transported to the hospital are all over the map...
Islam Online 11/29/05 - "They lifted 40 bodies from pools of blood and throw them in the yard of Haditha Hospital"

Washington Post - "In Haditha, Memories of a Massacre" 5/27/06 - "On November 19 Marines in an armored convoy arrived at Haditha Hospital...Placed bodies in the garden and left without explanation."

AP Article -" Update: Video Taken by Journalism Student Key as 12 Americans Face War Crimes Probe in Iraq" 3/20/06 - "Dr. Walid al-Hadithi, chief physician at Haditha General Hospital, said that about midnight the day of the attack, two US Humvees arrived at the hospital... 'They (the Marines) told me the women and children were shot in their homes, and they added that the men were saboteurs."

Time Magazine - Collateral Damage or Civilian Massacre in Haditha? March 19, 2006
"Dr. Wahid, director of the local hospital in Haditha, who asked that his family name be withheld because, he says, he fears reprisals by US troops, says the Marines brought 24 bodies to his hospital around midnight on Nov. 19. Wahid says the Marines claimed the victims had been killed by shrapnel from the roadside bomb."

Asharq Al Awsat - "Revisiting Haditha" 6/6/06 - "A medical source at Haditha General Hospital told Asharq Al Awsat, "the US army brought many bodies [to the hospital] and some of the victims were still alive but later succumbed to their injuries."

Can someone tell me how the media continues to get away with not fact checking their own stories? Or does it not matter if the stories reflect badly on the military and President Bush? I guess I just answered my own question.

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