prosecution’s criminal case against LCpl Stephen Tatum and six other
Marines in various stages of judicial process took another nose dive
today. Charges that Chessani and his officers failed to adequately
investigate or report the circumstances of the ambush at Haditha to
higher headquarters were blasted apart by confirmation that a U.S. Air
Force RQ-1 Predator was on station above Haditha for more than five
hours on November 19, 2005.
Chessani and higher headquarters at least at both regiment and
division level were watching it do its thing on big screens, an
officer revealed. The Predator’s amazing capabilities provide
opportunity for anyone in the National Command Authority to watch the
fight in real time if they wanted to.
Scan Eagle from about 0830 until 1700. Predator joined in from about
1030-1400 or so. Scan Eagle was used to maintain continuous PID
[Positive Identification] on human targets as they fled from
neighborhood to neighborhood. We used Predator's IR [Infra Red]
camera to identify them within the palm grove (hotspots) where they
were attempting to hide and to get the bombs on target. Both were
used to guide helos and fixed wing air support on to the targets,” the
least one type of sophisticated UAV was over the battlefield all
morning. In addition to 3/1’s organic Dragon Eye and ScanEagle
following bands of insurgents move from hiding place to hiding place,
theater commanders in Baghdad diverted an orbiting RQ-1 Predator
medium altitude, high endurance UAV to watch as well. The super-secret
aircraft is launched from Balad Air Base in Iraq and controlled by
remote operators at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, the Air Force
says. The Predator is operated by the Air Force for the Central
Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency, and other highly
classified intelligence authorities. It allows senior commanders at
the Pentagon to see what is happening in real time as well as field
commanders in Iraq.
officer who was there said so many people were watching the fight go
down that a faraway Public Affairs Officer wrote 3/1 to suggest it was
time to “maximize the coalition coverage of this, pointing out to the
locals that insurgents don't care about their children."
Chessani is charged with violating his orders for failing to inform
higher headquarters of the situation at Haditha. On November 19 every
Marine Corps senior headquarters in Iraq and the United States could
watch events in Haditha go down in real time and living color thanks
words of one expert, “They can run but they can’t hide [from
blow fell when a spokesman for United States Immigration and Customs
Enforcement said that if Naval Criminal Investigative Service special
agents threatened Venezuelan native LCpl Humberto Mendoza with
deportation if he didn’t cooperate they were at odds with current US
law. Jack Zimmermann, the Texas attorney representing
Lance Cpl. Stephen Tatum suggested NCIS
used the ploy to gain Mendoza’s testimony during his examination of
the 23-year-old Marine.
spokesman for ICE in Washington, D.C. said that NCIS could only make
such a threat if Mendoza was already convicted of a serious crime.
Current immigration law mandates violators must be convicted of a
crime providing for “at least one year in jail or more” before it will
initiate deportation proceedings, according to Pat Reilly, the Public
Affairs Officer for ICE. She noted two exceptions to the law;
1.) If Mendoza lied about his citizenship status and fraudulently
enlisted in the Marine Corps;
2.) If Mendoza had already been convicted of two or more crimes.
spokesman for the Camp Pendleton Media Center said Mendoza’s
citizenship status was a question for the Public Affairs Officer for
the 1st Marine Division. As of this report the 1st
MarDiv PAO has not returned phone calls. Presumably, however, given
Mendoza’s unfettered testimony earlier this week he remains in good
standing in the Marine Corps. Otherwise the prosecution would have to
reveal his tarnished status to the defense.
December 18, 2005, three days before three Marines from his squad were
charged with murder Mendoza was granted immunity from prosecution in
return for his cooperation. Despite previous testimony to the contrary
Mendoza went from being part of a combat stack of Marines attacking a
hostile objective to a lone Marine apparently wandering around in a
smoke-filled house grenades had just been thrown into, he testified.
post-immunity version of events, Mendoza didn’t shoot anyone except a
couple of fellows who must have deserved it. When he discovered
innocent civilians huddled in a room behind a closed door he backed
away, shutting the door behind him. Despite the early morning gloom
stipulated by both sides, he could see the darkened, smoke-filled
chamber was full of terrified women and children. Tatum did all the
killing, he said.
Zimmermann subsequently suggested during his examination of Mendoza
that the NCIS told Mendoza his citizenship was at stake if he didn’t
cooperate. If they did it was a hollow threat. It would particularly
be true if the NCIS special agents knew Mendoza was neither convicted
of a crime or in violation of any citizenship statutes, one Missouri
county prosecutor said. In most jurisdictions the court would call
that type of behavior coercion, she said.
At Haditha, Mendoza was fighting
alongside Tatum, Sharratt, Sgt. Francis Wolf, the late Miguel “T.J.”
Terrazas, and Joe Haman, all who paid so dearly at Fallujah the year
before. Marines who know the fighting caliber of these fighting
Marines find it simply incredulous that a rookie Marine rifleman who
had just shot two men in a firefight would even be capable to shutting
down the way Mendoza claims he was able to.
the truth will be available for everybody to see for themselves. The
continuous video should be 8-10 hours, and includes the entire fight,
one Marine said.
finishes with the insurgent holding a child in order to avoid getting
bombed again,” he added, “before we swarmed in to capture him.”