Reblogged: MSM Bias
Journalistic Competence Begins With the Reader
As media consumers, we often take it for granted that those reporting the news have sufficient competence to report it accurately. It takes a great deal of effort to question every story we read and hear.
I fell victim to such complacency when I read about Marine Captain Kimber who, in the wake of the Haditha story, has been one of three officers relieved of their commands by their Division Commander for "a lack of confidence in their leadership abilities." In an AP report that has hit the blogsphere, as well as MSM, like a storm (Google - "haditha political casualty"), the Captain argues that he is being made a "political casualty".
The story starts back in April. In a Time report,
Three Marine officers are being stripped of command, in the first disciplinary action taken as a result of a massacre in Haditha, a town in Western Iraq, ...
The Associated Press is reporting that three Marines have been relieved of command and reassigned "in connection with problems during their deployment to Iraq, including their battalion's actions during [the Haditha killings last November]."
The Marines named are Lt. Col. Jeffrey R. Chessani, commanding officer of 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment; Capt. James S. Kimber, commanding officer of Company I, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment; and Capt. Lucas M. McConnell, commanding officer of Company K, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment.
and just last week, Kimber's attorney fired back,
Kimber, 33, who was nominated for a Bronze Star for valor in Haditha, was relieved of command last month because his subordinates in the battalion's India Company used profanity and criticized the performance of Iraqi security services during an interview with Britain's Sky News TV, according to [Kimber's attorney Paul] Hackett.
I took umbrage with Captain Kimber and his attorney's apparent attempt to shed his command responsibility and raise conspiracy theories to deflect blame. It was his command and he is ultimately and directly responsible for the conduct and morale of his troops. The whole purpose of command and control in the military is to exercise command and control.
Fortunately, I stumbled upon this at Aljazeera.net,
November 19, 2005 - A roadside bomb kills Lance Corporal Miguel "TJ" Terrazas, 20, from El Paso, Texas, during a patrol by Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division in Haditha. In the following hours, 24 Iraqis are killed.
Captain McConnell's Kilo Company. Not Kimber's India Company.
A similar snippet made Time.com, yet Time continues to lump all three officers together, if only because all three were relieved of duty at the same time.
The clincher was this lead from the Chicago Tribune over the weekend,
Marine Capt. James Kimber, now relieved of his command, remembers what happened near Haditha in western Iraq on Nov. 19.
That's not because Kimber was in the town where his Marine colleagues are alleged to have shot and killed 24 Iraqi civilians after a roadside bomb attack that killed one Marine. In fact, he said, "Not a soul from my company was in Haditha on Nov. 19."
But that day, at about the same time, Iraqi insurgents attacked all three Marine companies patrolling in the Haditha area--one of them commanded by Kimber. He said he could hear over his radio the shots being fired during a running gun battle in Haditha. "They weren't just Marine weapons. You can tell from the sound," he said.
The 3rd Battalion of the Marines' 1st Regiment played a central role in [a previous October 2005] assault. In the battle's aftermath, the battalion's Kilo Company was given command of Haditha, Lima Company was posted in nearby Barwana and Kimber's India Company was moved into Haqlaniyah [about 3 miles from Haditha].
Part of the confusion may be with the AP. In the April AP report cited by Time, the AP switched the two Company Captains. Kimber was identified as "the commanding officer of Company K". I saw a lot of this kind of misreporting during the first Gulf War, where reporters couldn't tell the difference between a Colonel and a Sergeant or an Air Force F-16 Falcon (small; one tail; stubby wings) and a Navy F-14 Tomcat (whale-sized; two tails; swept-back wings).
I do not mean to diminish the import of what happened at Haditha, but to this day the press continues to refer to the Marines who were involved as "3rd Battalion, 1st Regiment" Marines. So far all reports indicate only Company K Marines were involved. That is like saying all of baseball is corrupt because eight players on one team threw the World Series 90 years ago.
This may seem like splitting hairs, but the hairs being publicly split (and roasted) belong to one jarhead named Captain Kimber.