George W. Bush said the other day that new Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki understands his duty to "deliver real improvements in the daily lives of the Iraqi people." Somehow, we doubt this is what he meant.
As the New York Times reports today, Maliki is complaining about what he calls the "daily phenomenon" of violence perpetrated on Iraqi civilians by soldiers in the American-led coalition. "They crush them with their vehicles and kill them just on suspicion," Maliki said of the troops. "This is completely unacceptable."
Iraqi officials say they're demanding access to investigative files on the massacre at Haditha so that they can conduct their own investigation into what happened there. Meanwhile, Maliki said violence against innocents could influence his government's thinking on the desirability of keeping U.S. troops in Iraq.
Although Haditha may be the focus of attention in Washington, it isn't the only incident of concern in Iraq. As the Times reports, Deputy Prime Minister Salam al-Zubaie said Thursday : "This is not the only massacre, and there are a lot." A U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad acknowledged that the military is investigating "at least" three or four separate incidents but insisted that they shouldn't be viewed "as representative of how coalition forces treat Iraqi civilians." On a visit to Singapore this morning, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld articulated a similar view: "We know that 99.9 percent of our forces conduct themselves in an exemplary manner and we also know that in conflicts things that shouldn't happen, do happen," Rumsfeld said.
Among the things that may have happened:
Haditha: U.S. Marines allegedly engaged in the unjustified killing of two dozen Iraqi civilians in November 2005. Sources close to two military investigations expect murder charges to be filed against some of the Marines and questions to be raised about supervisors' oversight and the military's training of its troops.
Ishaqi: Iraqi police accuse U.S. troops of rounding up and killing 11 Iraqi civilians, including several women and children, then blowing up a building they were in. The troops said there were only four civilians -- and that they were killed in a firefight. The BBC says a videotape it has seen seems to undercut that story.
Samarra: U.S. troops shot and killed a pregnant woman and her cousin as they rushed to a hospital maternity ward this week. The military says the car in which the women were riding entered a prohibited area and did not stop despite repeated warnings.
Hamandiya: The Marine Corps is expected to file criminal charges against several Marines and a Navy corpsman for the killing of an Iraqi civilian in April. Rep. Jack Murtha said earlier this week that he's been told that "some Marines pulled somebody out of a house, put them next to an [improvised explosive device], fired some [AK-47s] so they'd have cartridges there. And then tried to cover that up."