Marine Corps Clears Company Commander
at Haditha of All Charges
September 18, 2007
Pendleton, CA - Capt. Lucas M. McConnell, the company commander
charged with dereliction of duty for his role in the alleged Haditha
“massacre” in November 2005 has been cleared of all charges, the
Marine Corps announced Tuesday in a press release. The decision,
reached by Lt. Gen. James Mattis on September 12, was communicated to
McConnell and his attorney Monday night.
A Grant of Immunity and Order to Cooperate with All Parties were
issued to McConnell in order to further the fact finding process into
McConnell is the second officer and fourth Marine of the seven
infantrymen from 3/1 charged with crimes who have been exonerated by
Mattis, the commanding general of U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Central
Command and the Consolidated Disposition Authority for cases related
to the Haditha incident. The command is headquartered at Camp
Justin L Sharratt, an enlisted Marine rifleman charged with multiple
counts of murder and Capt. Randy Stone, a legal officer charged with
dereliction of duty, have already been cleared of any wrong doing. A
second Marine rifleman, LCpl Stephen Tatum, also charged with multiple
counts of murder and assault, is still waiting to discover whether he
will be charged with any offenses. Three other Marines, including the
battalion commander and a squad leader charged with 17 counts of
murder, are still awaiting their fates.
Rooney, a former Marine legal officer and civilian attorney
representing former battalion commander Lt. Col. Jeffrey Chessani,
said he was “happy” to hear the news. Chessani is the highest ranking
Marine to be charge d with a crime in the matter. Three of Chessani’s
superiors – including the division commanding general - were issued
letters of censure by the Secretary of the Navy upon Mattis’
like every other Marine who has been exonerated, the way Capt.
McConnell acted on November 19 was in accordance with his duties and
responsibilities. Being granted immunity and ordered to cooperate is
good news as well for Lt. Col Chessani. Capt. McConnell can only help
by testifying that how Lt Col Chessani acted was completely proper and
in accordance with his duties. Capt McConnell is a fine Marine officer
who can now hopefully get on with his career,” Rooney said.
McConnell was the commander of Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion,
1st Marines when a squad of 12 Marines he commanded was
involved in an ambush and firefight at Haditha on November 19, 2005
that left 24 Iraqis and one Marine dead and two others wounded. Before
the day was over nine more Kilo company Marines would be wounded in
the insurgent’s city-wide complex attack.
McConnell was relieved of his command in April 2006 for "failure to
investigate," according to Kevin B. McDermott, McConnell’s civilian
lawyer. Despite reporting the high number of civilian deaths to the
3rd Battalion executive officer that afternoon he was charged with the
crime, McDermott said.
Tustin, Californiaattorney also represents Jose L. Nazario; a Kilo Company
enlisted Marine charged two counts of voluntary manslaughter in U.S.
District Court for an unrelated incident at Fallujah, Iraq in November
On December 21, 2006 McConnell was charged with dereliction of duty for
allegedly failing to ensure the incident was reported accurately to
higher headquarters and for failing to ensure the incident was
immediately investigated, the Marine Corps said.
Annapolis graduate’s charges followed an inflammatory and highly
inaccurate report in Time magazine that fueled a media frenzy of
yellow journalism. In a matter of days highly respected journals all
over the world were claiming Kilo’s Marines had committed crimes as
heinous as the infamous “My Lai Massacre” of the Vietnam War.
time politicians led by Pennsylvania Congressman John Murtha (D- Pa)
finished trumpeting the Marines’ alleged “war crimes” in receptive
newspapers and magazines eight Marines were charged with massacring 24
innocent civilians and then covering it up. Despite strong evidence to
the contrary the cases went forward anyway.
To date neither Time magazine or Tim McGirk, the reporter who wrote
the specious story, has either corrected or retracted any part of
Nathaniel R. Helms
Defend Our Marines 18