The Real Legacy of the War in Iraq: Impunity

In 2005, eight U.S. Marines massacred 24 Iraqi men, women, and children in Haditha, Iraq, most of them civilians. Investigations and press reports found that, contrary to the statements of the Marines, they deliberately killed civilians.

Nevertheless, not one of the eight Marines initially charged has been convicted.

The trial of the eighth and final Marine, Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich, is being held this week. And it looks like this one will go the way of the previous seven. That is, no accountability for murdering innocents.

Legal experts say military prosecutors face an uphill battle trying to prove, so many years after the killings, that Wuterich’s actions were criminal and not the unfortunate result of being caught in the chaos of war.

“Memories fade, evidence fades or is lost, so that is bound to benefit the accused and that’s too bad, because the trial should not be one that favors one side or other,” Gary Solis, a former Marine Corps prosecutor and judge who teaches law of war at Georgetown University Law Center.

The fact that innocent men, women, and children were murdered is not special and in fact has become too dampened an event for it to really be the legacy of the war. The legacy of the war is that the crimes of America – and Americans – are excused. The criminals who prosecuted the war, from George W. Bush to Staff Sgt. Wuterich, remain unscathed despite the carnage they wrought.