William Russell, the Republican candidate seeking the congressional seat now held by Rep. Jack Murtha, is running an ad on the O-R Web site in which he says he wants to "set the record straight" and accuses Murtha of being "wrong about Haditha." Russell, shown at left, asserts that "we now know Murtha was factually wrong." No, we don't. The focus here, and the focus of Russell's campaign, is the 2005 killings of two dozen civilians in the Iraqi town of Haditha and Murtha's comments on the matter. In May 2006, Murtha said people at the highest levels of the Marine Corps advised him that Marines in Haditha "killed innocent people in cold blood." Investigators said the dead included women and children. Well after the fact, charges were brought against eight enlisted Marines and officers. Russell, a retired military officer, notes in his ad that charges have since been dropped against seven of the Marines, while one "awaits justice." But decisions by a Marine Corps general to drop charges does not equal a finding of innocence after a trial in a court of law, and that does not make Murtha "wrong about Haditha." The Marine still awaiting trial, Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich, was the squad leader in Haditha and faces voluntary manslaughter charges. In an earlier hearing for Wuterich, one of his own squad members told the court that shortly before the Haditha incident, Wuterich told him "If we ever get hit again, we should kill everyone in that vicinity." Wuterich's squad gets hit with an IED attack, and 24 civilians die in Haditha. There's an old saying that truth is the first casualty of war. Anyone who was not in Haditha that day and claims to know the truth is wrong. Murtha doesn't know. Russell doesn't know. I don't know. I do feel confident in saying that in any war, atrocities are committed by both sides. We would like to think that our soldiers are above random killings and torture. They are not. Most of us, thankfully, will never know the pressures and horror of being in a war zone where we are walking targets for people who have no respect for human life. We don't know how we would react to being fired on by insurgents or seeing one of our comrades killed by a bomb. In every war, I would suspect that the vast majority of the troops are just trying to stay alive. You have a few true heroes, like Sgt. Alvin York and our own Col. Joe Marm, but you also have a few true criminals, like Lt. William Calley in Vietnam and our own Spec. Charles Graner at Abu Ghraib. None of us can say that what the Marines did in Haditha was criminally wrong. We weren't in their shoes. But to say that Murtha was factually wrong is, well, factually wrong.