The U.S. is investigating reports that in November 2005, U.S. Marines killed twenty-four civilians in the Iraqi town of Haditha. According to news reports, the killings occurred after a Marine was killed by an improvised explosive device.
Appearing on the CBS television network, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said, "When there are incidents that need to be investigated, they are fully investigated":
"Let's remember that when this happens in a democracy, there is a full investigation and there will be a full investigation. But there is also the right of the accused to have due process and so we want to be sure that both are protected. . . . When something like this happens, we'll get to the bottom of it."
Ms Rice said, "The United States goes out of its way to try in any counterterrorism operation to avoid civilian deaths":
"American men and women are there on the front lines making tremendous sacrifice, losing their own lives in defense of a free Iraq, in defense of the protection of the Iraqi people and in fighting these terrorists who on any given day, do drag people off buses and try to blow up schoolchildren. So American forces are the solution here, not the problem."
President George W. Bush says, "The world will see the full and complete investigation. It also is a reminder to our commanders that they must constantly enforce the proud tradition of our military, and that's what they're doing." Mr. Bush says, "If there is wrongdoing, people will be held to account." The U.S., he says, "has got a willingness to deal with issues like this in an up-front way, in an open way, and correct problems. And that's what you're going to see unfold."
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.