Friday, May 26, 2006

Two Investigations Find Grave Misconduct in Haditha Killings

Two separate investigations, one NCIS and one by an Army General, have turned up evidence of war crimes committed by a small number of Marines in the Iraqi city of Haditha and subsequent attempts to cover up the misconduct, according to U.S. officials.

A military investigation into the deaths of two dozen Iraqis last November is expected to find that a small number of marines in western Iraq carried out extensive, unprovoked killings of civilians, Congressional, military and Pentagon officials said Thursday.

Two lawyers involved in discussions about individual marines' defenses said they thought the investigation could result in charges of murder, a capital offense. That possibility and the emerging details of the killings have raised fears that the incident could be the gravest case involving misconduct by American ground forces in Iraq.

Officials briefed on preliminary results of the inquiry said the civilians killed at Haditha, a lawless, insurgent-plagued city deep in Sunni-dominated Anbar Province, did not die from a makeshift bomb, as the military first reported, or in cross-fire between marines and attackers, as was later announced. A separate inquiry has begun to find whether the events were deliberately covered up.

Evidence indicates that the civilians were killed during a sustained sweep by a small group of marines that lasted three to five hours and included shootings of five men standing near a taxi at a checkpoint, and killings inside at least two homes that included women and children, officials said.

That evidence, described by Congressional, Pentagon and military officials briefed on the inquiry, suggested to one Congressional official that the killings were "methodical in nature."

Attempts to mislead superior officers about the events in Haditha are being treated, as usual for the military, extremely seriously by commanders on the ground in Iraq, and now by higher ups in Washington.

The first official report from the military, issued on Nov. 20, said that "a U.S. marine and 15 Iraqi civilians were killed yesterday from the blast of a roadside bomb" and that "immediately following the bombing, gunmen attacked the convoy with small-arms fire

Military investigators have since uncovered a far different set of facts from what was first reported, partly aided by marines who are cooperating with the inquiry and partly guided by reports filed by a separate unit that arrived to gather intelligence and document the attack; those reports contradicted the original version of the marines, Pentagon officials said.

One senior Defense Department official who has been briefed on the initial findings, when asked how many of the 24 dead Iraqis were killed by the improvised bomb as initially reported, paused and said, "Zero."...

Three Marine officers--the battalion commander and two company commanders in Haditha at the time--have been relieved of duty, although official statements have declined to link that action to the investigation.

Meanwhile, the Senate panel that has oversight responsibilities for the military received another briefing yesterday on the incident.

Members of the Senate Armed Services Committee were briefed on allegations that Marines had purposely killed as many as two dozen Iraqi civilians in November.

The two developments were indications of the growing seriousness of two investigations into the incident in Haditha that has led to charges from a congressman that Marines killed civilians "in cold blood."

"When these investigations come out, there's going to be a firestorm," said retired Brig. Gen. David M. Brahms, formerly a top lawyer for the Marine Corps. "It will be worse than Abu Ghraib -- nobody was killed at Abu Ghraib."

An Army lawyer who has heard some accounts of the investigation said, "It's a lot more serious than people thought at the beginning...

Sen. John W. Warner (R-Va.), chairman of the Armed Services Committee, was briefed Wednesday by Gen. Michael W. Hagee, the Marine commandant, and again yesterday by Brig. Gen. John Kelly, the legislative liaison for the Corps. Warner described the case as consisting of "very, very serious allegations" that resulted in "a significant loss of life, civilian."

2 Comments:

Anonymous Meatball One said...

Well goodness me. Who would have dreamed of this coincidence. Certainly not
Protein Wisdom and it's horseless sycophants found down Texas way.

Sometimes the truth hurts but then one cries. But all these horseless cowboys do is whine and look for typos. If typos are the yardstick of veracity then I'm dead in the water, you survive, and Protein Wisdom...well they're also dead in the water.

5/26/2006 12:54 PM  
Blogger Effwit said...

M1:

The fact that this was an anomolous event became public around March. Everyone knew that there had been a cover-up in progress. It was only a matter of time before the brass would get to the bottom of it. And that the results of the investigations would become public.

It does bring the timing of the fake MacBeth video into perspective.

Some people, as you point out, are way out of their league when it comes to dealing with things like U.S. military info-ops. They think that such things belong to tinfoily realms.

Little do they know. And they do not hesitate to advertise their ignorance.

5/26/2006 1:11 PM  

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