Did a squad of U.S. Marines kill 24 Iraqi civilians in Haditha? The charge is among the most serious that can be leveled in a time of war. Just war principles require that combatants protect non-combatants in so far as this is possible. The principle of discrimination holds that civilians are to be protected — even if this means additional risk to combatants.

On Tuesday, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sen. John Warner [R-VA], announced that his committee would hold hearings into the charges “at the earliest possible date.”

America is served by thousands and thousands of honorable citizen-soldiers. The honor of the nation rides on each of them. An honorable nation will not allow charges like these to be ignored, nor will it rush to premature judgment. Instead, an orderly and timely investigation must determine exactly what did happen in Haditha — and then hold the proper persons accountable to the rule of law.