Let's face it. If the stories circulating in Iraq are true -- if even half are true -- then there have been many occasions in which American troops have deliberately killed civilians. Here's an excerpt from a report on NPR yesterday in which correspondent Peter Kenyon interviewed Iraqis about the Haditha massacre:
Kenyon: [A Sunni politician] agrees that Haditha could become a rallying for Iraqis sick of the American presence.
Sunni politician: Definitely. The call for an American withdrawal of the troops is going to be there and not only because Haditha accident. Haditha accident is one of thousands of accidents that happened in Iraq.
Kenyon: [He] was referring to numerous stories of atrocities, all horrific, all unverified, that constantly circulate among Iraqis. Prime Minister Maliki's declaration today that there will be investigations of Haditha and other unspecified incidents raises both legal and political questions.
And then there's Afghanistan. The first news came out day before yesterday on NPR and in the New York Times:
A deadly traffic accident caused by a United States military convoy quickly escalated into a full-blown anti-American riot that raged across much of the Afghan capital on Monday, leaving at least 14 people dead and scores injured.
Tomorrow's New York Times, has a fuller account of that incident, though of course it's probably not the last word, as we've come to realize:
Three people died in the crash caused by a runaway United States Army truck, and four people died of gunfire from the last vehicle in the convoy as the American forces extricated themselves from an increasingly hostile crowd, General Gozar said in an interview on Wednesday. He dismissed rumors that had spread through the city that the American soldiers deliberately rammed vehicles, even including his own car. "I can say clearly it was an accident," he said.
The United States military initially said in a statement that the truck had a mechanical failure and called the incident "a tragic accident." It said there were "indications" that "warning shots over the crowd" had been fired from at least one military vehicle. General Gozar's account is the first declaration from a senior Afghan official that American soldiers directed lethal fire on the crowd.
An American military spokesman, Col. Tom Collins, said he had not heard that the last vehicle had fired into the crowd or that four people had been killed by Americans. "Our soldiers believed fire was coming from the crowd, and they fired their weapons in self-defense," he said.