When I get a bunch of emails with the word 'traitor" in the contents line, I usually check James Taranto's blog to see what he's saying about me now. He selects three citations from my blog in chronological order in order to insinuate that I always assume the worst about American soldiers and rush to judgment as to alleged war-crimes. He calls his item "selectively excitable." In fact, I held off comment on Haditha for weeks because we had no firm details, and my first reference, last May 31, offered context that spoke well of the soldiers in the unit. My reference to Ishaqi was also very careful:
Investigations continue, and exactly what happened has not been established. But the omens are grim. And these pictures of infants with bullet holes in their skulls simply defy my comprehension of what has happened to this country.
Given verified images of children with neat bullet holes in their skulls, it was indeed hard to believe the official U.S. version of the event, which was that the victims were killed by a collapsing house under fire. I did indeed find the military investigation a little dubious, but when they subsequently added the detail of a possible gun-ship being involved, I noted that new fact as soon as I discovered it, a few hours after my first mention. But I also absorbed the lesson of a reader:
As you said, we still need to find out more information about Ishaqi. But an AC-130 gunship obviously would have torn bodies apart, not put neat holes in the middle of foreheads.
My response to that was: "I don't know what to think at this point." I still don't - and that was my last statement on the matter, something Taranto selectively omits. My response on an hourly basis to new allegations and information inevitably means a changing judgment, based on new facts. But the notion that I have jumped the gun on these incidents, that I am selectively citing them because I am interested in impugning the integrity of the vast majority of servicemembers, and that I haven't presented a wide array of views on them and cited the evidence in full, is patently unfair. If you selectively Dowdify anyone's blog, you can insinuate anything. But the record shows I am only interested in finding out what happened, and making sure those responsible are held to account. It is tiresome to have to respond to allegations of being anti-American, but I've learned you have to answer, because over time, the smears can stick. And Taranto does very little but sneer and smear.