Haditha Roundup

BY Herschel Smith
8 years, 2 months ago

I discussed Staff Sgt. Wuterich’s claims that the Marines followed the rules of engagement, as reported in the Washington Post on Sunday, June 11.  I pointed out how absurd it is to believe that the Marines acted in the way they are portrayed as acting (this does not predispose anyone to take any position on the events other than to say that it is highly improbable that the events unfolded as we have heard):

Wuterich’s version contradicts that of the Iraqis, who described a massacre of men, women and children after a bomb killed a Marine. Haditha residents have said that innocent civilians were executed, that some begged for their lives before being shot and that children were killed indiscriminately.

Wuterich told his attorney in initial interviews over nearly 12 hours last week that the shootings were the unfortunate result of a methodical sweep for enemies in a firefight. Two attorneys for other Marines involved in the incident said Wuterich’s account is consistent with those they had heard from their clients.

Kevin B. McDermott, who is representing Capt. Lucas M. McConnell, the Kilo Company commander, said Wuterich and other Marines informed McConnell on the day of the incident that at least 15 civilians were killed by “a mixture of small-arms fire and shrapnel as a result of grenades” after the Marines responded to an attack from a house.

In my post I rely somewhat on experiences and discussions with my Marine son (recently graduated as a Boot and currently in SOI) about his training.

It has become apparent that two members of the clergy were ministering to the unit that was involved with Haditha that day: Rev. Ben Mathes, and Rev. Christopher Price.  Neither reported Marines telling them about any massacre.

I also discussed Time Magazine besmirching of the character of the Marines who were involved with absolutely no evidentiary support (and then printing a small retraction at the bottom of the article).

The Haditha story that the anti-American press so badly wants to exist (and is trying to create) seems to be evaporating.  It now appears that there was quite a fire fight going on in and around the area.  Captain James Kimber reports that this particular time was a period in which Marine units were encouraged to escalate their use of force in dealing with insurgents.  He further reports that:

Nov. 19 unfolded like many other days in Iraq, Kimber said, with reports of violence. A rocket-propelled grenade was launched toward the compound of Kimber’s unit, in a school in central Haqlaniyah, a few miles south of Haditha. Other nearby units also were taking mortar and small-arms fire.

On the radio, Kimber said, he heard the report from Haditha of the blast from a roadside improvised explosive device, or IED, and the death of one Marine there. He also could hear an unfolding gun battle.

Over at Townhall, Mary Katharine Ham reports (from her sources) that:

As the situation developed, the Marines at the initial ambush site were isolated for a period of time in this hostile city and they had every right to fear for their lives.  A group of about 15-20 foreign fighters were believed to be in Haditha that day, supplemented by local insurgents.  Knowing that 6 Marines had been surrounded and killed in Haditha before help could reach them just three months before, the isolated Marines had to fear the worst as they responded to the first attack.

One Marine’s father reports that:

after the car bomb exploded the Marines took a defensive position around his son’s battered vehicle. Insurgents immediately started shooting from nearby buildings, and the insurgents were using women and children as human shields

Brit Hume picked up a story on the suspect nature of the alleged Time magazine videotape of the aftermath of the Haditha incident.  It appears that the budding young journalism student is not quite what he seems, and has a “dog in this fight.”

As this story is studied, inconsistencies and problems become apparent.  CNN reported that:

Suspecting that the four students in the taxi either triggered the bomb or were acting as spotters, the Marines ordered the men and the driver, who by then had exited the taxi, to lie on the ground. Instead, they ran, and the Marines shot and killed them. 

But do “students” really take taxis to school in Haditha, Iraq?

With the mention of “students” who ride taxis to school, little has been said about the nature of the Haditha that the Marines have seen over the last months.  Here is a good primer on the city:

Hardly mentioned at all in the hysterical coverage of Haditha is the nature of this city hard by the Syrian border. If you think Fallujah was a hornet’s nest of insurgency, you should take a look at Haditha and what the Marines have been facing there.

There is good news coming from Haditha too, even as accidently reported on CNN:

There’s been a lot of progress in Haditha, and I’ve been going back there pretty much for a year and a half. My last trip was a month before this incident. And Haditha, at the beginning of 2005 was very violent. U.S. troops would not even enter the city. And little by little, after a series of operations, and finally the last operation was before the operation in Haditha, a certain amount of stability was brought to the area, of course, that is stability on the Iraq barometer of stability. But it’s all relative. And they have brought the city under control to a certain degree, and they have set up fixed bases, both Iraqi and U.S. Army fixed bases to try and build up this relationship with the civilians. They have started the process of trying to clean the city of these roadside bombs that were just about everywhere, and trying to do these sweeping operations to clear out the city of insurgents and bring a certain amount of stability to it. 

There is a good Marine Corps Times article on Staf Sgt. Wuterich (a more personal side).  On an editorial note, it seems to me that it is entirely consistent that unarmed non-combatants were begging for their lives, while at the same time Marines were shooting (with the Marines being innocent of murder).  The reports are consistent that the insurgents used the women and children as human shields.

The Washington Post reports from a lawyer of one of the Marines that:

“There’s a ton of information that isn’t out there yet,” said one lawyer, who, like the others, would speak only on the condition of anonymity because a potential client has not been charged. The radio message traffic, he said, will provide a different view of the incident than has been presented by Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.) and other members of Congress. For example, he said, contrary to Murtha’s account, it will show that the Marines came under small-arms fire after the roadside explosion.

Finally, there is still something very wrong and inconsistent with this whole picture.  The Washington Post reported on May 27 that:

“A U.S. Marine and 15 civilians were killed yesterday from the blast of a roadside bomb in Haditha. Immediately following the bombing, gunmen attacked the convoy with small arms fire. Iraqi army soldiers and Marines returned fire, killing eight insurgents and wounding another.” 

Did you know that 15 civilians were also killed in this IED blast?  I have seen this reported only in the Washington Post.  Further, did you know that Iraqi soldiers were with the Marines?  Additionally, this story is consistent with the other reports of an intense fire fight.  Strangely inconsistent with this account is the statement of one Iraqi:

In the first minutes after the shock of the blast, residents said, silence reigned on the street of walled courtyards, brick homes and tiny palm groves. Marines appeared stunned, or purposeful, as they moved around the burning Humvee, witnesses said.

Then one of the Marines took charge and began shouting, said Fahmi, who was watching from his roof. Fahmi said he saw the Marine direct other Marines into the house closest to the blast, about 50 yards away.

Hmmm.  Either there was a fire fight or ”silence reigned.”  Which is it?  Logic says that it cannot be both.



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  • Eric Esterson

    I think the C.O. at Camp Pendleton has some problems with placing these Marines in the brig, the UCMJ prevents punishment before trial, the accused are to be informed of the charges, the brig C.O. has 24 hrs to report to the Base C.O. of the offense, and the accused are entitled to participate in the investigation. While the officer who ordered these Marines into confinement seems to comply with the UCMJ, this action seems unduly harsh, as it would be appropiate to confine the Marines to the base. The Corps has only to insure the presence of the accused at Court Martial. As a former Marine Oficer and legal officer, I am offended that the Corps has seen fit to allow leaks about this serious matter to certain former Marines in the political arena, who in turn run off at the mouth to the press for political gain. Semper Fie? I think not.

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This article is filed under the category(s) Haditha Roundup,War & Warfare and was published June 13th, 2006 by Herschel Smith.

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