May 24, 2004
Brutality, arrogance, lack of remorse, and mendacity are the characteristics of the U.S. military leadership in Iraq.
This unpleasant amalgam of traits was on full display after U.S. planes bombed a wedding party in eastern Iraq on May 19.
The attack killed around 45 people, including some young children. That's the brutality.
But the arrogance, lack of remorse, and mendacity showed themselves in the military's reaction to this slaughter.
No apologies whatsoever. No remorse for the victims. Only one implausible denial after another.
Listen to what the chief spokesman for the U.S. military in Iraq had to say. That's Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt: "There was no evidence of a wedding, no decorations, no musical instruments found, no large quantities of food or leftover servings one would expect from a wedding celebration."
Problem is, general, the Associated Press has now found a video of the event, with plenty of evidence of a wedding.
On the video, a woman shows up in a bride's gown; that's pretty good evidence.
On the video, the wedding singer is at the podium, and a corpse of that same person was found at the site. That's pretty good evidence, too.
Plus, other news outlets found eyewitnesses testifying to the fact of the wedding. Also good evidence.
Now just because General Kimmitt didn't find any leftovers does not deny the fact that a wedding--and a slaughter--took place.
Steeped in PR, the general gave himself an out.
"There may have been some kind of celebration," he said. "Bad people have celebrations too."
Was the bride a bad person?
Was the wedding singer?
This kind of indifference to human carnage is what's giving America a bad name in Iraq.