Sep 3, 2009

Haditha - Bungles & Forgotten

Anyone Remember Haditha?
Jamie McIntyre's Line Of Departure
September 2, 2009

And then there was one. Only one Marine — Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich — still faces charges for the killings of 24 men, women, and children in Haditha, Iraq in November of 2005. Once compared to the My Lai Massacre, one-by-one the Haditha cases have collapsed and charges have been dropped against the accused Marines.

The latest is Lt. Col. Jeffrey Chessani, who will now face a possible administrative reprimand, not criminal charges, for allegedly failing to properly follow up and investigate the original allegations. [No criminal charges in Haditha deaths for Marine officer – North County Times]

From what I was able to piece together back when I was still following this story closely, Sgt. Wuterich allowed a subordinate, with far more combat experience, to lead the way in clearing the houses in Haditha. That Marine, the primary “triggerman”, was a veteran of Falluja, Lance Cpl. Justin Sharratt. He was was not only exonerated, he was highly praised by Marine Corps leaders. “You may fairly conclude that you did your best… in the face of life or death decisions made by you in a matter of seconds in combat,” Lt. Gen. James Mattis practically gushed when he cleared Sharratt of any wrongdoing.

So wait – Are these the SAME Marines accused of cold-blooded murder by Rep. John Murtha, (D-Pa.)? The same ones prosecutors allege went on a vengeance filled rampage after a roadside bomb killed a fellow Marine? It sure makes one wonder what REALLY happened at Haditha. And what happened to the prosecution cases? Are the Marines simply covering for their own? Was the investigation bungled, too little too late? Or was the massacre a myth, a rush to judgment?

Staff Sgt. Wuterich – the squad leader of Kilo Company – is the only Marine now left facing charges directly relating to the shootings. My sources indicate that crimes were probably committed at Haditha, but that immunity was given to the wrong people, making convictions impossible.

I wonder if any mainstream news organization will do a follow-up story that approaches the attention given the original allegations of a massacre.

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