I've been rather conspicuously silent about the whole Haditha thing. Until facts come out, rather than rumor, I don't really have anything to say. During times of war, even in the best regulated military, soldiers have been known to do some pretty awful things. You can't take young men, arm them, and drop them into territory where everyone is trying desperately to kill them, and then assume that nothing bad will ever happen.
The correct approach, in my mind, is what's happening here: the Marines are conducting a full investigation and, if the Marines involved committed atrocities (which I devoutly hope they didn't), they'll be punished to the full extent of military law. End of story, unless you're an anti-War activist and want to flog this to death for the benefit of those who repeatedly voice and act upon their wish to kill us all . . . but that's another story.
I did read one thing today, though, that reminded me, right off the bat, that there could be another way to understand the story of dead women and children:
The father of a U.S. Marine killed by a roadside bomb in western Iraq in November believes his son's comrades did nothing wrong despite a criminal investigation into events that left more than 20 Iraqi civilians dead, including women and children.
"It's very hard for me, I don't even listen to the news," Martin Terrazas said of reports of the mass killings in Haditha, in Iraq's Anbar province. "The insurgents were hiding in there with the kids." [Emphasis mine.]
As has been repeatedly demonstrated in Gaza, the Arab/Jihadist/Muslim/Insurgent (whatever you what to call 'em) fighters like to integrate with the civil population. One can readily imagine a scenario in which Marines, going on the attack following an IED bombing, ended up engaged with Jihadists who had surrounded themselves, for tactical reasons, with a defenseless civilian population of women and children. If this scenario were true, the blame for the deaths of these innocents rests with the Jihadists, and not with the Marines.
I'm not, of course, saying the above scenario is true. As I noted at the beginning, we have no facts. I'm just noting before everyone rushes to convict the Marines involved, that there are more ways than one (certainly more ways than Murtha's) to imagine this story.
UPDATE: Michelle Malkin also addresses the possibility that the children may have been combatants, which is a terrible thought, or at least used as tools by the fighters, an equally terrible thought.