On MSNBC's Hardball, Chris Matthews asserted that there may have been justification for regarding as "part of the bad guys" Iraqi civilians living in the houses next to where an improvised explosive device that killed a U.S. Marine in Haditha was planted. Matthews also defended the military's reported attempt to cover up the details of the killings, stating: "I can see doing it for patriotic reasons."
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On the June 5 edition of MSNBC's Hardball, host Chris Matthews asserted that there may have been justification for regarding as "part of the bad guys" Iraqi civilians living in the houses next to where an improvised explosive device that killed a U.S. Marine in Haditha was planted. Apparently speculating on whether there was an "impulsive" justification for the ensuing alleged killing of those civilians by U.S. troops, Matthews said that the fact that the civilians allegedly "knew that [the IED] was there ... [and] did not step on it" might, for the troops, have constituted "prima facie" evidence, or sufficient evidence, if not rebutted, that they were "part of the bad guys." During a discussion with former General Electric CEO Jack Welch about the incident, Matthews also defended the military's reported attempt to cover up the details of the killings, stating: "I can see doing it for patriotic reasons." He added: "You'd say, 'Why do we want the world to know we had a few mad dogs who went nuts in some house? Let's cover this baby up.' "
In response to Matthews, Welch asserted that "cover-ups don't work. ...[Y]ou can go through history." Matthews replied, "You don't know the cover-ups if they worked," adding: "The good ones we get away with, right?"
From the June 5 edition of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews:
MATTHEWS: OK, let me tell you where you might have been, in a cover-up. Something went wrong; you didn't want everybody to know about it. A lot of people have those situations. Why advertise it? Apparently, the military had that situation.
WELCH: Yeah, but I --
MATTHEWS: Apparently, what happened in this case is they had a -- guys who went nuts, you know, they shot everybody in their family out of rage because the most popular guy in the unit had just been blown up, and then somebody said, "What good does it do to advertise this around the world?" I can see doing it for patriotic reasons, by the way. You'd say, "Why do we want the world to know we had a few mad dogs who went nuts in some house? Let's cover this baby up."
WELCH: Look, I wrote about this in crisis management. There are no secrets. So, in the -- the first rule of crisis management is get everything out on the table because there are no secrets. It's going to be out. Tell it your way; how it happened; define the situation.
MATTHEWS: But suppose its capital crimes involved? How do you tell it your way? We murdered these people because we were really angry about losing our buddy.
WELCH: Look, I'm telling you, cover-ups don't work. That's what I'm telling you. They don't work. And you can go through history.
MATTHEWS: Well, you don't know the cover-ups if they worked.
WELCH: Come on. Get out of here.
MATTHEWS: The good ones -- the good ones we get away with, right?
WELCH: No, no, no,
MATTHEWS: So, you feel, basically, you can look at this with clear eyes and see Abu Ghraib prisoners were systematically tortured by a bunch of people doing whatever they were doing.
WELCH: It was bad leadership.
MATTHEWS: They were not made -- clearly trained and they weren't clearly managed. In this other case, in an extreme situation in battle where somebody gets killed you really like and you just act on that impulse.
WELCH: That's a tougher call for me. I don't know if it is for you, but it's a tougher call for me.
MATTHEWS: Of course.
WELCH: It's one helluva a tough call.
MATTHEWS: I'm trying to see the impulsive, even -- justification for -- here's the way I look at it. An IED goes off here. There's two houses right next to it. They knew it was there. They don't step on it. That's prima facie. And therefore, they're part of the bad guys.
WELCH: That's why I'm not black and white on this one.