Saturday, June 03, 2006

Haditha-First Person Report

I've refrained from posting on Haditha because I find it hard to add anything to the torrent of reports this alleged massacre has generated and because I prefer to wait for the outcome of the investigation, which we are promised will be published in full. But today I came across the blogpost below, which, while not directly addressing the issue of the alleged murder of 24 Iraqi civilians, several of them children, does provide some insight into what the conditions on the ground are in Haditha.

I Was Stationed in Haditha

by filmgeek83
Thu Jun 01, 2006 at 10:44:19 AM PDT

From about March - June of 2004, the Haditha dam was my home base of operations. I was there with 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines, attached as a Combat Videographer. Aside from a few Operations that took me away from the town, I lived in the dam.

When I first got there in March of 2004, I lived on the seventh floor of ten. The first thing that would hit me when I arrived was the horrible smell. Something was leaking sulfur gas, and it smelled like rotten eggs. People with more knowledge about the subject than me said it was good that we could smell it. That meant the parts per million was so small that it wouldn't kill us. When the gas reached lethal levels, our olfactory senses would shut down long before the gas actually suffocated us. It made me glad they still forced us to carry our gas masks around.

There were showers on our floor, outside on the huge deck where we ate meals (Haditha didn't have hot chow, so it was nothing but MRE's). Most of the time they would work, so we got showers, if not hot ones. There were portable toilets there too, so we didn't have to climb any stairs to go to the bathroom, which was nice. Later, after we came back from Fallujah (the first assault in April, which Bush ordered halted when his poll numbers started to tank; we called it Operation Just Kidding) I ended up on the second floor, which had working plumbing in it. Said plumbing wasn't good enough to let us take a crap, so we had to walk down two flights of stairs to get to the head for a dump.

That was another thing about Haditha Dam, the stairs. When I first got there, (seventh floor, to be clear) I had to hump all my gear from the bottom up seven flights of stairs. No matter where you wanted to go in the dam, there were usually about three flights of stairs between you and your destination. The elevators didn't work.

But really, it wasn't as bad as I'm sure you're picturing. We had a roof over our heads, the lake kept us relatively cool, and it was safe. I was as comfortable there as I could be.

I don't know if this is still true, but we didn't even have to worry about security around the dam. A group of soldiers from Azerbaijan (yes folks, Azerbaijan, another fine member of the coalition of the willing) took care of that. That was about the only benefit of being at Haditha. You could sleep the whole night without worrying about watch.

Haditha is smack between Al Asad Air Base (one of those "not-permanent" permanent bases we're building) and Ramadi (the New Fallujah). I took many trips on the road to both of those places, and I never encountered any enemy. Hell, I actually walked through Ramadi, twice, and no one fired a shot. From what I understand, this is impossible now. That's probably true of Haditha now too.

There are a few things about the degradation of living conditions in Haditha that make me insane with rage. The first, we all know there are millions of dollars missing from the books in Iraq (pure fucking graft) and while that might not be enough to complete the job of fixing the dam, put it would put a dent in it. Our Marines would at least be able to live better than they are right now.

Second, Al Asad is right down the road, about forty minutes by car. Al Asad is fucking Shangri La compared to Haditha. It is an abandoned Iraqi air base the Coalition Forces moved into. There's hot chow (that you would be willing to eat, I'm talking wings, pizza, salad bar) indoor shower stations with working toilets, two man rooms with beds and A/C (we call them cans) a P/X, and any number of things. It is like a small base back here in the states. Why we can't keep Haditha running when we're building a permanent fucking establishment less than an hour away is completely beyond me. It's criminal mismanagement.

And we can't abandon the dam either. It's a prime suspect for terrorism. All some nut has to do is plant one strategic bomb with enough power and the whole place comes down. Thousands would die.

I'm not surprised the Haditha Slaughter happened, like the Mai Lai Massacre in the boondoggle before this. I'm not even surprised it happened where it did. I saw signs of it when I was there. We had picked up a suspect from the town, and brought him back to the damn for questioning. As the grunts were taking him down from the truck (he was blindfolded), they bent him at the waist and rammed his head into the grill of a Humvee, hard enough to draw blood. Keep in mind this is an entirely different unit of Marines than those that perpetrated the Slaughter.

The interrogators were pissed. Such bullshit makes suspect cooperation almost impossible.

Think anyone from Haditha is cooperating with us now?

This is what a war of choice looks like, folks. We've seen it before. We should have been expecting this.

Never again, Goddammit. Never again.


At 7:09 PM, Blogger Richard said...


The consistency of quality here, and your determination to tackle the subjects so many shy away from never ceases to impress me.

And please note that I've posted a note in the comments at my place re: adding you to my blogroll.

Keep it coming my friend -- please. Publish and be damned, eh? As MSM won't, it's down to we bloggers -- for better or worse.

At 7:59 PM, Blogger Gert said...

Richard, I'll return the favour, as I will do to MarkofIreland.

Should be done by tomorrow. Thanks for your kind words.

At 5:53 PM, Blogger he who is known as sefton said...

gotta admit, the pathos in that concluding "never again" sentiment is readily understandable.

anyway, I'm leaving a comment in this blog, motivated in part by the post gert left in the "Hear, O Israel" blogsite . . .

blame my snide sense of humor . . . I go so far as to remark that the average Palestinian, who's attained the conventional age of reason, would more readily concede Israel's right to exist than admit to the failure to sieze a "once-in-a-millennium" opportunity . . .

.he who is known as sefton


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