At a joint news conference with Tony Blair in Washington, Bush said he regretted saying “bring ’em on” when responding in July 2003 to a question about the Iraqi insurgency. Bush now says the remark was “kind of tough talk, you know, that sent the wrong message to people… I learned some lessons about expressing myself maybe in a little more sophisticated manner, you know. ‘Wanted, dead or alive’; that kind of talk. I think in certain parts of the world it was misinterpreted.” He also cited the Abu Ghraib prison abuse as “the biggest mistake that’s happened so far, at least from our country’s involvement in Iraq … We’ve been paying for that for a long period of time,” he said. (Reuters, May 26)
A real change for Bush, who has heretofore considered himself above all error—but “misinterpreted”? As what? It really is bellicose rhetoric, of course! No need to “misinterpret” it. This show of contrition is just in time for the latest revelations of atrocities by US forces. From The Jurist, May 26:
An ongoing investigation into the November 2005 deaths of two dozen Iraqi civilians in the city of Haditha has yielded concrete evidence indicating that the US Marines may have committed unjustified murders, according to a senior military officer speaking to AP Friday on condition of anonymity. The investigation was launched in March after a TIME magazine report alleged that the soldiers may have killed civilians without warning after a roadside bomb killed Lance Cpl. Miguel Terrazas. The soldiers may have violated the US law of war and international law of armed conflict if they committed murder and/or failed to positively identify the enemy and determine whether there was hostile intent before firing on civilians. Though the AP source did not disclose the nature of the evidence, a piece may be a video aired by an Arab television station that allegedly shows pictures of the aftermath of the killings, including the bodies of women and children.
A congressional aide said Friday that members of Congress were briefed on the investigation Thursday, and both the House and Senate armed services committees plan to hold hearings on the incident. The Naval Criminal Investigative Service is conducting the investigation and is expected to issue a report within 30 days. Top Marine General Michael W. Hagee said Wednesday that the Marines involved in the incident will face charges, and on Thursday he took the unusual step of flying out to Iraq to stress to his troops the importance of avoiding war crimes [Washington Times report]. AP has more.
See our last post on Iraq.