The Washington Post reports on the criminal investigation of five soldiers I mentioned yesterday. The article also deigns to mention, five paragraphs in, the deaths of three U.S. soldiers: two were killed by roadside bombs and the third by small arms fire.
Some important new information is that part of the allegation is the soldiers "reported the incident as an insurgent attack," and the Army began its investigation more than a week ago. From the Post:
The case in Mahmudiyah, a rural town in a Sunni Arab region dubbed the Triangle of Death for the insurgent attacks and crimes that are common there, was the latest in a string of allegations of unlawful killings -- and subsequent coverups -- by U.S. forces in recent months, beginning with reports in March that Marines killed 24 unarmed civilians in the western town of Haditha. Investigations continue into that case.
Of course, since the Army has been investigating the incident for over a week, it's rather galling that the Post's reporter, Jonathan Finer, calls it an example of a possible coverup. A coverup implies a decision by commanders, or at least people not involved in the crime, to hide the soldier's actions. If the soldiers are guilty -- at this point an enormous if -- then the only ones involved in hiding the crime are those who actually committed the crime, the ones who reported it as an insurgent attack. This is not what the dramatic word coverup implies.
Here's a priceless quote from an Iraqi politician:
Ammar Jabouri, a spokesman for the Iraqi Islamic Party, Iraq's largest Sunni Arab political organization and a frequent critic of U.S. actions against Iraqi civilians, said he was unaware of previous charges of rape against American soldiers.
Jabouri said that when he and others have spoken to U.S. officials about abuses by troops, the officials "explain it as 'reckless behavior by soldiers under stress.' They promise to investigate, but nothing comes out of that."