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November 17th, 2009
02:20 PM ET

Killings at the Canal: Holding on to secrets

Abbie Boudreau
Special Investigations Unit Correspondent

A group of 13 soldiers left Iraq holding on to a secret – the murders of four detainees at a Baghdad canal. They were told not to say a word, and for nine months, they kept quiet. Then, one of the 13 soldiers reported the crime and the secret was out.

But what if that soldier hadn't come forward and reported the murders? What if years had gone by, and these young soldiers were still holding on to this battlefield secret?

Especially for the twenty-somethings who are fighting this war – how do they keep a secret in a day and age where people from their generation are encouraged to live such public lives?

They are taught from a very young age to "talk it out," and why it's unhealthy to "keep it all inside." And now, with easy access to social networking sites, it's almost expected for people to splash their private lives, and personal photos all over the pages of Facebook and MySpace.

We share our lives with just about anyone who will listen – we expose our fears, our likes and dislikes, and even our secrets to a community of online strangers.

Yet, for soldiers who might come home, holding on to real secrets – big deal secrets – what happens? Where do they turn? And how do the secrets affect them?

soundoff (52 Responses)
  1. Gene

    As combatants, we can kill those that are shooting at us. Once the shooting stops & people are tied up we can no longer shoot them. Even if we are really angry.

    What these men did is plain murder. They knew it was wrong... they tried to cover it up. Its as despicable as raping the local population or torturing children for fun.

    Life in prison is where Hatley belongs

    November 19, 2009 at 11:55 am |
  2. Sundara

    Each and every soldier who set foot on foreign soil in order to protect their country and people is without doubt heroes who deserve highest respect. And although I don't agree with what the soldiers did, I understand why they had to do it. But here is the catch, recently Hilary Clinton accused the military personnel of several countries of human rights violations. Later the state department admitted that she was mistaken about the allegations on Sri Lanka. So the country which so freely throws accusations at other nations SHOULD take this seriously and deal with it accordingly. But for the sake of the soldiers I hope they won't. You can't compare everything else they do with one mistake (no matter how big it is). I hope America will learn that "war crimes" are not a black n white issue

    November 18, 2009 at 10:20 am |
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