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The Truth was Massacred:
A Clear-Eyed View
of Haditha

30 March 2007

The Truth was Massacred:
A Clear-Eyed View of Haditha

The media has waged a successful campaign against the Haditha Marines. With hearings on the horizon, the accused have very little public support--even among patriots who should know better. 

Nearly a year ago, Congressman Murtha pronounced the Marines guilty, basing his conclusion on pictures in Time magazine. The media ran more Haditha stories, quoting Murtha, who was quoting them, and so a My Lai was made out of nothing.

We did our enemy's work for them. The pictures, and witness accounts, came directly from the heart of the Iraqi insurgency. Islamic fascists have become experts at Information Operations, and the gathering and coaching of Haditha witnesses was just another deception.

It will all come out in court.

The Haditha incident was not a massacre. Neither is it complicated. When civilian-combatants fight Marines, only civilians and Marines are killed. Insurgents hit and run, taking their dead and wounded, along with their weapons, to regroup for another attack. The lack of dead Iraqis in Haditha clearly labeled "insurgent" is not surprising. And the dead women and children are a tragic consequence of insurgents shooting at Marines from people's living rooms.

It's also not surprising that the Corps brought charges. Failure to do so would have resulted in a media and congressional firestorm. There would have been extensive hearings about the military's fitness to police itself. Heads would have rolled. Easier all round to unleash the NCIS and take the Marines to Article 32s.

Leftists will never be convinced that soldiers and Marines are not all killers. But normal people who have only followed the case through the traditional media are in for a surprise when the hearings begin.

The media's case against Sgt. Frank Wuterich and his squad avoids the real issue:  Rules of Engagement.

Murtha and the media have claimed that the result proves the crime. Not so. ROE does not mean Results of Engagement. The media lynched the Marines over the deaths of women and children. This won't work in military court. The results of an action may be tragic, but are legally irrelevant when the Rules of Engagement were followed. It can't be any other way. A serviceman or woman can't be accountable when proper actions lead to bad results.

The coming hearings

The center of the prosecution's case will be testimony by Iraqis. I personally can't wait until they are cross-examined. Ultimately, the investigating officer will weigh the word of Marines against Sunni Iraqis who wish Saddam was still in power.  

Iraqis have always had a clear motive to misrepresent what happened in Haditha. Compensation is only paid for noncombatants. How many Iraqis would turn down a payday, and a chance to hurt Americans, by telling the truth about Uncle Waleed?

The facts won't go away. Haditha residents lived in an insurgent-controlled city. IEDs were paved into the streets. The US-backed police force had been publicly executed to leave no doubt about who was in charge. When the Marines were sent back to Haditha after the battle of Fallujah, a civilian could collect $1,000 reward for killing a Marine. There was no age or gender limit.

The prosecutors will have none of the media's advantages in presenting the Haditha case. The prosecution won't be able to assert, like Murtha, that there was no firefight in Haditha. Defense JAGs, and civilian attorneys, will bring out the full circumstances of the ambush, a complex engagement that involved four Marine platoons and air support. 

Truth is, the media made the Marines out to be guilty by being selective with the facts. All the facts about that day's engagement will exonerate these eight Marines.

The Marines were facing the enemy in combat.

There was an ambush and a firefight that morning. Multiple witnesses (including an Iraqi soldier and a Marine explosives-and-ordnance squad) have told investigators that the road came under fire after the IED explosion.

Shots came from the first house that Sgt. Wuterich and his squad would enter that morning. And we don't only have the word of the accused for that.

Lt. William T. Kallop was the first officer on the scene in Haditha that morning. He arrived minutes after the IED exploded. Kallop told investigators he began to receive enemy fire almost immediately.

Cpl. Hector A. Salinas spotted a man firing at the squad from the corner of a house on the south side of the road. Cpl. Salinas then stated that he could see the enemy so Kallop told Salinas and Sgt. Wuterich to 'take the house'.

Contrary to rumor, Sgt. Wuterich and his squad did not launch an attack against civilian residences on their own or without knowing that the house contained insurgents.

The diagram above shows the approximate position of the convoy, heading west. The taxi was heading toward them, moving east. The men in the taxi that Sgt. Wuterich and Sgt. Dela Cruz shot were military age males, no different from the group killed later by an air strike. Until the trial, we won't know the full circumstances of the shooting.
The house at the lower right is the first of several entered by Marines that day. There were some noncombatant casualties in three of the houses. The exact number of "innocent civilians" and "civilian combatants" remains to be proven.

If you only read media reports on Haditha, you’d never know that insurgents were killed and wounded that day. Four Kilo Company platoons were engaged in Haditha after the IED blast. One patrol was fired upon and, in the return fire, reported that they wounded three of the enemy.

One insurgent was shot and killed as he left a house that had been searched by Sgt. Wuterich and his team.

A group of ten insurgents were spotted near the ambush by a drone. The men split up and entered two houses. Cobra helicopters arrived and fired two AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, one into each house. As William Langewiesche recounted in Vanity Fair, "Kilo Company Marines then rushed forward to clear the rooms as required. The first house was empty, but as they approached the second one they were greeted by small-arms fire and grenades. The Marines pulled back—way back—and called in an AV-8B Harrier jet to drop a guided 500-pound GBU-12 Paveway bomb.....directly through the roof, blowing the whole house and everyone in it to bloody shreds."

The Marine Corps has said that twenty-four Iraqis were killed in the vicinity of the IED blast. Only Freepers and The North County Times noticed that there aren't twenty-four individual murder charges. Both Cpl Salinas Cpl Mendoza shot or grenaded Iraqis in the houses, and neither has been charged with wrongdoing. How many of the twenty-four were insurgents will be just one of the issues in the hearings.

The Marines responded proportionately to the threat they perceived.

Thanks to media silence, few people know that the Marines took prisoners that day in Haditha. The Marines entered a house and, in a tense standoff, convinced suspected insurgents to surrender. There were no casualties.

Several other houses were identified as safe and were entered without incidence. Murtha's accusation of Marines snapping under pressure is utterly groundless.

A side benefit to the hearings is just how many times Murtha will be proved to be a liar.

If you support the troops, support the Haditha Marines.

Murtha and the anti-war media love comparing Haditha to My Lai. And the comparison is instructive. The investigation into My Lai began because conscience-stricken soldiers could not keep silent.  

In the Haditha case, the investigation was driven by accusations from our enemy in Iraq and our enemy within. They succeeded in fooling most people. But the truth will come out and this PC-ROE prosecution of our Marines will only have served our enemy’s desires. 

All American citizens are entitled to a presumption of innocence. Citizens who put on uniforms and fight our nation's wars are entitled to our support.

Keep an open mind in the months ahead as the hearings commence and facts become public. If you don't support the Haditha Marines now, you will wish you had supported them all along.

David Allender
Defend Our Marines