Sergeant (then Corporal) Sanick Dela Cruz
(Lucian Read, Vanity Fair)
20 April 2007
Congratulations, Sergeant Dela Cruz
Tuesday, the Marine Corps announced that all charges had been dropped
against Sergeant Sanick Dela Cruz. He had been charged with murder for
the incident in Haditha, Iraq, on November 19, 2005.
that was the only part of the story the media got right.
were reports of a plea deal, that this was terrible for the defense.
Lawyers said prosecutors must have had the sergeant over a barrel.
He’s saving his own skin! He’s a traitor!
one had the facts.
was no deal, no pretrial arrangement of any kind for testimony,
sources close to Sergeant Dela Cruz’s defense told me.
Lieutenant General James Mattis ordered Sergeant Dela Cruz to
cooperate and testify eleven days before the charges against
Sergeant Dela Cruz were dropped.
Mattis had come to the conclusion that, on balance, the charges
against Sgt. Dela Cruz should not go forward. Still, Sergeant Dela
Cruz was a witness and (like Corporals Mendoza, Salinas, and others)
he will be required to testify truthfully. It would be incredible if
have said that Sergeant Dela Cruz’s testimony regarding Sergeant Frank
Wuterich firing on suspects at the taxi will convict Wuterich. More
what some people have a hard time grasping.
Sergeant Dela Cruz only knows what he saw. He doesn’t know what
Sergeant Wuterich saw.
Cruz doesn’t know how the situation looked through Wuterich’s eyes
when he came to a split-second decision to fire at the five Iraqis
beside a white taxi.
Dela Cruz, who likes and respects Wuterich, is not going to
second-guess the way his fellow Marine saw things.
November 19, 2005 was Wuterich’s first day in combat. Dela Cruz was in
Operation Iraqi Freedom with the 4th Marines. His second tour was with
the 1/4 in hellholes like Najaf. His third tour (with the 1st Marines)
brought Dela Cruz to Haditha that morning.
may have seen the situation completely differently, tell different
stories about the event, and both be telling the truth as they saw it
when one man saw a reason to act.
Sergeant Sanick Dela Cruz is an honorable Marine. When the full story
of Haditha is known he will be recognized as a heroic Marine. His
coolness in taking prisoners that day is just one instance, among
many, that belies the media's tale of Marines on a rampage.
sergeant will testify to the truth as he saw it. So will the accused.
If the cases go to courts-martial, a jury will weigh the evidence and
reach a verdict.
believe that all the accused will be exonerated, if they all get the
defense they deserve.
meantime, here’s advice for anyone following this case. Be glad that
justice prevailed for Sergeant Dela Cruz, and believe very little of
what you read about the Haditha Marines. From the beginning, the media
got it wrong and it's not getting it right yet.
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