After a two-year investigation into the killings of up to 24 civilians in Haditha, Iraq, the Marine Corps has decided that none of the Marines involved in the incident will be charged with murder. Instead, two enlisted Marines and two Marine officers will face trial in coming months for the killings and for failing to investigate them.
The most serious charges have been leveled against Marine Staff Sgt. Frank D. Wuterich, who is scheduled to be arraigned on charges of voluntary manslaughter in California next week, the last step before the case officially moves to trial.
Initially called a massacre by Iraqi residents of Haditha and later characterized as coldblooded murder by a U.S. congressman, the case has turned not on an alleged rampage but on a far more complex analysis of how U.S. troops fight an insurgency in the midst of a population they seek to protect.
The Marine Corps at first charged eight Marines and officers with murder or failing to investigate an apparent war crime. The charges have since been narrowed to four men in the unit, after three were cleared and a fourth was granted immunity to testify.
Wuterich is charged with nine counts of voluntary manslaughter, with the charges alleging that he had an intent to kill and that his actions inside a residential home and on a residential street in November 2005 amounted to unlawful killing “in the heat of sudden passion caused by adequate provocation.” Charging documents released this week say he killed at least nine people without properly obtaining positive identification that they were the enemy in the midst of an attack. 1st Lt. Andrew Grayson has been charged with obstructing the investigation.
Wuterich and Lance Cpl. Stephen B. Tatum are the only two shooters that day to face criminal scrutiny; Lt. Col. Jeffrey R. Chessani, the battalion commander, faces charges that he was derelict in his duty for failing to ask for an investigation.
What is it Rep. Murtha said about our troops shortly after these allegations surfaced?
MURTHA: Well, what I worry about, Wolf, is that this happened six months ago.
And nothing — you heard nothing about it. As a matter of fact, the original story was that an IED killed these 15 people. It became very confusing to the public. “TIME” magazine came out with an article, and they still tried to cover it up.
Now, there were payments made to victims, which aren’t made unless we kill them, one way or the other. And, secondly, they knew about it the day afterwards. So, there’s no excuse for not having this be more open and know exactly what — and the longer it goes, the worse it is for us, because it looks like it’s the policy of our troops to do something like this.
These sensationalistic allegations, along with his call for the US to pull out of Iraq back in November of 2005, made him the darling of anti-war moonbats everywhere, not to mention had the same effect the media’s reporting on Fallujah did back in 2004. The mistrust between Iraqi civilians and US troops increased, and I don’t think there’s any question that some of our soldiers have been murdered since in “retaliation.” Now we find out that no murder charges will be filed against any of the accused, with the most serious being against one, for voluntary manslaughter. Nothing light about that, to be sure, but the most serious charges, vicious and cold blooded murder, aren’t being filed.
With all that in mind, is it ok to question the Nutroots (and the mediots) patriotism yet?
Diana West concludes in the piece she wrote about this yesterday:
End of story? Not necessarily. The week before Christmas, the North County Times of San Diego reported that lawyers for Tatum have asked the military court to order Murtha to submit to interviews about his comments. They also “want to force an interview with retired Marine Corps Commandant Michael Hagee about what Hagee may have said to Murtha or others about the Haditha killings.”
The judge has yet to rule on this matter, but I, for one, hope he orders up the interviews. What is said may reveal that the Iraq war has indeed produced its “defining atrocity” — against our own Marines.