von Zielbauer, New York Times / May 9, 2007
Officer Says Civilian Toll in Haditha Was a Shock
Calif., May 8 — The only Marine Corps officer who was in Haditha,
Iraq, when American troops killed 19 civilians in their homes in 2005
testified at a military hearing on Tuesday that he was “shocked” to
find only unarmed people, including women and children, among the
dead. But he said the marines had not violated any law of war.
The officer, First
Lt. William T. Kallop, said that soon after the killings, he inspected
one of the homes with a Marine corporal, Hector Salinas, and found
women, children and older men who had been killed when marines threw a
grenade into the room.
“What the hell
happened, why aren’t there any insurgents here?” Lieutenant Kallop
testified that he asked aloud. “I looked at Corporal Salinas, and he
looked just as shocked as I did.”
Lieutenant Kallop, a
platoon leader, was the first witness called by lawyers for Capt.
Randy W. Stone, one of four Marine officers charged with dereliction
of duty for failing to properly investigate the deaths of two dozen
civilians in Haditha on Nov. 19, 2005. The hearing, in a Marine Corps
courtroom here, is meant to determine whether there is sufficient
evidence against Captain Stone to refer the charges to a general
As Captain Stone and
his three lawyers sat quietly at the defense table, a Marine
prosecutor spent most of the day cross-examining Lieutenant Kallop
about the actions of Staff Sgt. Frank D. Wuterich, the Marine squad
leader whom Lieutenant Kallop had ordered to “clear” an Iraqi home in
Haditha after a roadside bomb had killed a Marine lance corporal
earlier that morning. Sergeant Wuterich is charged with multiple
counts of murder in connection with the killing of the civilians that
“Did he tell you
that he had left two wounded children in that house?” the prosecutor,
Lt. Col. Sean Sullivan, asked Lieutenant Kallop, referring to Sergeant
Wuterich. “Did he tell you that he had killed a child? Did he tell you
that there was a woman at the bottom of the stairs that they had
who is not charged in the case and testified after being given
immunity from prosecution, replied to each question with a firm “No,
“Did he say
anything,” Colonel Sullivan later asked, “about the five children in
the back bedroom being killed on the bed” in the second house?
again answered no.
A hearing for
Sergeant Wuterich, who was not present, is more than a month away.
In addition to
Captain Stone, the other Marine officers charged in the case are Capt.
Lucas M. McConnell, the company commander; First Lt. Andrew A.
Grayson, a Marine intelligence officer who inspected the scene of
killings; and Lt. Col. Jeffrey R. Chessani, the battalion commander,
who sent an electronic slide show presentation of the killings to his
None of the four
officers was present during the explosion of the roadside bomb and the
subsequent civilian killings by marines.
Despite the number
of civilians killed by marines that morning in Haditha — five men who
ran from a car, and then another 19 people in their homes after
Lieutenant Kallop arrived — he testified Tuesday that he believed his
men had acted appropriately and according to their training.
He said Sergeant
Wuterich had told him that they had killed people in one house after
approaching a door to it and hearing the distinct metallic sound of an
AK-47 being prepared to fire.
“I thought that was
within the rules of engagement because the squad leader thought that
he was about to kick in the door and walk into a machine gun,”
Lieutenant Kallop said. “Corporal Salinas told me the same thing.”
Later he added, “I
had no doubt in my mind that they were telling the truth.”
Kallop, who arrived in the town after the roadside bomb had killed
Lance Cpl. Miguel Terrazas, said his platoon had been told that
Haditha was “an insurgent-controlled-and-occupied city.”