A lot was and is again being made of Alexander Haig's declaration on 30 March 1981, when the President was shot and rushed to hospital,
I'm in charge here. Frankly, I think that his remark at that time was willfully misinterpretted by various hostile parties. On the other hand, I remain disgusted by something that Haig said just twelve days earlier, on 18 March.
In 1980, El Salvador was caught-up in civil war, with the United States supporting the Salvadoran state against left-wing insurgents. On 2 December, four American church-women (a lay missionary and three nuns) were beaten, raped, and murdered by members of the Salvadoran National Guard.
As these events were being uncovered, Haig was called before the Foreign Affairs Committee of the United States House of Representatives. Haig told the Committee
I'd like to suggest to you that some of the investigation would lead one to believe that perhaps the vehicles the nuns were riding in may have tried to run a roadblock, or was accidentally perceived to have been running a roadblock and there may have been an exchange of gunfire and perhaps those who inflicted the casualities may have tried to cover it up, and this could have been at a very low level of both competence and motivation in the context of the issue itself.(Underscore mine.) By referring to an exchange of gun-fire, Haig tried to creäte an impression that these women had tried to shoot it out with the National Guard.
Haig went to his grave mocked for attempting to tell the nation that the White House was under active leadership while the President was incapacitated and the Vice President was in-transit. Haig faced minimal consequences for having attempted to depict four unarmed victims of torture and murder as guerillas who had simply died a gun-fight.