(Stars and Stripes)

In last week’s episode of Military Matters, NPR journalists Tom Bowman and Graham Smith discussed the cover-up of a friendly fire incident that killed two Marines and an Iraqi translator during the First Battle of Fallujah — the subject of the “Taking Cover” podcast.

Co-hosts Rod Rodriguez and Jack Murphy examine the case further in this Fast Take episode, including why they think the military is so quick to cover up incidents such as this one.

“It's like when your kid does something wrong, and the first thing I used to tell my kids is, if you screw up, tell me right away. Time does not make it better, it makes it worse,” Rodriguez said. “Tell me when it happens, and we'll fix it. Or sometimes you can't fix it, you just gotta address it and then move on. Lesson learned kind of thing. But the military gets so wrapped around the axle, like it kind of has this idea that it is a sacred duty. … It's sacrilegious to hold them accountable.”

Murphy, an investigative journalist who has reported on military sexual assaults and other crimes that have been covered up in the past, said that these cover-ups are almost always malicious.

“They’re all about taking care of number one,” Murphy said. “It has nothing to do with the organization, although that's the top cover, right? That's the false front that they'll sometimes throw out there. In one particularly egregious case that I know of, a soldier was dragged into an office and told, ‘Why would you want to taint the band of brothers' reputation? Why would you want to tarnish this storied unit's image?’ And it worked at that time. It got him to shut up. And that was regarding a sex assault case. So what it really is, is the brass trying to protect their own careers.”

You can find Military Matters on Twitter @stripesmmpod.

Follow Jack Murphy on Twitter @jackmurphyrgr and Rod Rodriguez @rodpodrod.

A transcript of the episode can be found here.

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Brian McElhiney is a digital editor and occasional reporter for Stars and Stripes. He has worked as a music reporter and editor for publications in New Hampshire, Vermont, New York and Oregon. One of his earliest journalistic inspirations came from reading Stars and Stripes as a kid growing up in Okinawa, Japan.

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