Marines at Haditha acted with courage and sound judgment

Regarding the Oct. 10 article, "Rules of engagement: What were they at Haditha?": As attorneys who represent two of the Haditha marines in various proceedings related to the events of Nov. 19, 2005, (one of whom has served as a Marine major in Iraq), we believe this article overemphasized the rules of engagement, which are a general set of rules that are almost meaningless unless and until they are applied, often in a millisecond by a 19-year-old marine in the heat of battle.

Particularly misleading was the juxtaposition of Haditha with Fallujah. The circumstances were quite different, in that Fallujah, during the invasion, was nearly a free-fire zone for all military-age males, as virtually all noncombatants had fled the city. Haditha, on the other hand, had insurgents, often dressed as and mixed in with the local civilian population.

Our investigation, including detailed interviews with many of the marines who were on the ground in Haditha that day, including members of the QRF (Quick Reaction Force), who literally had to fight their way to the scene of the IED explosion that killed Lance Cpl. Miguel Terrazas, shows that these marines exhibited not only great courage but also sound judgment in completing the mission that our civilian leaders, perhaps unwisely, sent them to Iraq to do. When all the facts come out, America will be proud of how the marines conducted themselves in Haditha on Nov. 19, 2005.

But America will have to examine its collective conscience when it looks back on electing, and then tolerating, civilian leaders who sent our sons and daughters to Iraq based on a demonstrably false – indeed constantly shifting – rationale. The marines on the ground in Haditha conducted themselves with honor and professionalism. Unfortunately, our civilian leaders have not.
Paul Hackett and Michael G. Brautigam

Dealing with America's no-talks policy

I am writing in reference to the Oct. 13 article, "US no-talks policy comes under fire." As I read this article, the methods President Bush and his administration have used to avoid talking to those they have dubbed "evil" were so reminiscent of middle school politics as to be comical. In refusing to talk to enemies of the US, the people who are our representatives to the world mimic the feuds of 13-year-olds, who can go for months never talking to the person they sit next to in class for some reason or another. And they only amplify the situation by not working things out.

And despite the vow of silence these middle-schoolers take toward this "evil" person, they still feel the need to tell this person things, and for this they have their grapevine of people to inform the other of what is being said. And this group communicates back and forth between the two at the center of the feud. I will give politicians kudos for having a term such as "multilateralism" to describe this juvenile process. After reading about how much effort goes into this type of pseudo-talking, I half expect to next hear of Mr. Bush and North Korean leader Kim Jong Il verbally battling via MySpace.com.
Melanie Garvey
Moraga, Calif.

Regarding the Oct. 13 article about America's no-talks policy: Rather than bilateral talks, why not have an entire East Asian summit for a common mutual security pact? Or have an even larger and long-overdue UN meeting of every nuclear state demanding transparency and complete inventory of weapons, plus International Atomic Energy Agency reports on every nuclear state.
Sidney Berger
Pacifica, Calif.

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