Did Time Magazine prompt the Haditha investigation?

When I got this morning’s press release on the latest issue of Time Magazine, the following line stuck out:
“The details of what happened in Haditha were first disclosed by TIME’s Tim McGirk and Aparisim Ghosh, and their reporting prompted the military to launch an inquiry into the civilian deaths. ”
…because I remembered Captain Ed pointing to a story that said that in fact, the military had already begun their own investigation by then. Ed referred to a NYT piece that said:
A military investigator uncovered evidence in February and March that contradicted repeated claims by marines that Iraqi civilians killed in Haditha last November were victims of a roadside bomb, according to a senior military official in Iraq.
Among the pieces of evidence that conflicted with the marines’ story were death certificates that showed all the Iraqi victims had gunshot wounds, mostly to the head and chest, the official said.
The investigation, which was led by Col. Gregory Watt, an Army officer in Baghdad, also raised questions about whether the marines followed established rules for identifying hostile threats when they assaulted houses near the site of a bomb attack, which killed a fellow marine.
The three-week inquiry was the first official investigation into an episode that was first uncovered by Time magazine in January and that American military officials now say appears to have been an unprovoked attack by the marines that killed 24 Iraqi civilians. The results of Colonel Watt’s investigation, which began on Feb. 14, have not previously been disclosed.

The NYT piece seemed to indicate that that, contrary to Time’s self-congratulations, military officials were in fact aware of irregularities in the incident, and started an investigation independently without prompting from Time.
But details in Time’s story today seem to shed more light:
In early February, [Time reporter Tim] McGirk presented this evidence to, and asked for comment from, Lieut. Colonel Barry Johnson, U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad. Johnson viewed the VCD, listened to the accounts and responded straightforwardly, “I think there’s enough here for a full and formal investigation.” Army Colonel Gregory Watt was dispatched to Haditha to conduct a three-week probe in which he interviewed Marines, survivors and doctors at the morgue.
So according to Time, the investigation conducted by Colonel Watt that is the centerpeice of the NYT story was, in fact, prompted by Time’s reporting.
My initial reaction, before reading Time’s story in detail, was that Time was unfairly making itself the center of the story. The truth — if we take Time’s latest account at face value — would seem more banal. The Times was almost certainly aware of the fact that Watt’s investigation was prompted by Time’s reporting. But the Times is famous for slighting other news outlets by failing to credit them for scoops — which appears to be exactly what happened in this case. For while the Times story does mention that the incident “was first uncovered by Time magazine in January”, it fails to make clear the crucial link that it was in fact (according to Time) that very reporting that initiated Watt’s investigation in the first place.
This is unfortunately not good news, as it was reassuring to hear that the military was on the case of this incident prior to the media frenzy caused by Time, Representative Murtha, and others. But as we nagivate through the unfolding of this incident, those of us who, like myself, want the Marines involved to receive a fair and impartial hearing must avoid the temptation to bend over too far backwards. The facts are what they are, and we need to follow them wherever they lead.
More from around the blogosphere on Haditha

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