From the Mudville Gazette:
Last week brought the first media demands that the Marines revise their original public statements (from last November) on the incident at Haditha before they complete their investigation into the event.
This week, the Washington Post's Dana Milbank joined the crowd.
"General," queried ABC News's Jonathan Karl, "all that we have, officially, on the record, from the military on the Haditha incident, is that 15 civilians were killed by a roadside bomb. Can you now correct for the record that statement and tell us if that statement was inaccurate?"
Hagee could not. "As I've said several times, I cannot comment on anything that has happened until the investigations are complete."
"So you're going to let stand the press release?" Karl demanded.
Hagee was. Without another word, he turned to the next questioner.
Now there's more than a little pretending going on here - the reporters know that an investigation is underway, and that "the military" can't actually comment on an ongoing investigation. Witness each published report quoting an "unnamed senior Defense official" who speaks "on condition of anonymity because the investigation has not been concluded". But as Milbank's piece makes quite clear, reporters were relentless in demanding Marine Corps Commandant Michael Hagee give them the full results of the incomplete investigation right now. Since they know he can't, their line of questions serves a different purpose, and that's to serve as the basis for the sort of story Milbank delivers here - an implied "cover-up" by the military, with just a hint of tin-foil thrown in.
And for good measure, some sneering commentary directed at General Hagee:
There seemed to be a substantial risk that Marine Corps Commandant Michael Hagee would, at the beginning of his Pentagon press briefing yesterday, start crooning about the halls of Montezuma and the shores of Tripoli.
He was giving the first briefing by a top Pentagon official since fresh allegations surfaced three weeks ago about Marines killing two dozen Iraqi civilians in Haditha. But, unable or unwilling to provide information about that dark episode, he chose to talk "about what it is to be a Marine."
Since those comments helpfully lead off Milbank's post, they send a loud and clear signal that the noise level in what follows will not contribute much to the discussion. But given the number of media "investigations" into the story and the number of words on the topic they've delivered to the public over the past few weeks, it could be that there are reporters who actually have difficulty understanding what's taking so long with the official inquiry. But as we'll demonstrate, an actual criminal investigation - with the purpose of uncovering evidence of guilt or innocence (and perhaps ultimately determining punishment of any guilty parties) is a bit more painstaking a process than is the typing of a news report, with the purpose of selling papers.