Camp Pendleton, Calif. -- The decision is in. Marine Corps
Staff Sergeant Frank D. Wuterich is back on trial this morning to face
charges of voluntary manslaughter, aggravated assault and dereliction
of duty for his role in the deaths of 14 Iraqi civilians who died at
Haditha, Iraq in late 2005. If convicted he could face the rest of his
life in prison.
The 31-year-old father of three young girls was
on the verge of submitting a request for administrative separation
from the Marine Corps when he suddenly changed his mind. Compelled by
the certainty of his own innocence and a deeply ingrained sense of
duty he asked his defense team to end negotiations that have been
going on for most of two days.
The government’s case now rests on evidence the
prosecution has gleaned from outtakes it obtained from the CBS news
program “60 Minutes” in 2007 and the testimony of Naval Criminal
Investigative Service special agents. The NCIS has said the Haditha
investigation was the biggest inquiry in the history so perhaps there
The NCIS special agents who will testify have to
overcome the inherent prejudice of eight hard bitten Marines who have
already heard how its overzealous agents used reprehensible tactics to
badger and bully Marines who had already survived trial by fire.
When the trial unexpectedly recessed Wednesday
prosecution witness Sgt. Humberto Mendoza was testifying. He was a
Private First Class on November 19, 2005 when his squad was ambushed
at the southern edge of the city. The prosecution’s eyewitness was so
befuddled by defense attorney Haytham Faraj’s cross-examination when
it slammed to a halt, he had just admitted he wasn’t sure what
happened the day the entire Marine Corps was stood on its ear.
At the appropriate time Defend Our Marines
will reveal what transpired Thursday afternoon to make SSgt Wuterich
change his mind.
It is safe to say that SSgt Wuterich is once
again displaying innate moral courage. No doubt cynics will scoff and
pundits will proclaim that duty, honor and country is no longer
operable in the age of every man for himself. There must be another
reason, they will no doubt say.
The fighting Marine’s brave stand proves them
The late William Safire, once the speech writer
in the Nixon White House, wrote the
perfect reply in the turbulent Sixties: "In the United States today,
we have more than our share of nattering nabobs of negativism. They
have formed their own 4-H club -- the hopeless, hysterical
hypochondriacs of history."
The more things change the more they remain the
Nathaniel R. Helms
Defend Our Marines
20 January 2012
Note: Nat Helms is a Contributing Editor to Defend Our
Marines. He is a Vietnam veteran, former police officer, war
correspondent, and, most recently, author of
My Men Are My Heroes: The Brad Kasal Story (Meredith Books, 2007).