On Christmas eve 2006, Freepers (notably jazusamo, pinkpanther111, and lilycicero) took time to help organize support for all eight of the Haditha Marines and their families. We gathered all information possible about the accused (including laudatory articles about Dela Cruz), and reached out to their lawyers with offers of help. By working together, we discovered that Sgt Dela Cruz was represented pro bono by attorney, Daniel Marino. There was no need to solicit support for Dela Cruz because he had free representation.
When charges were dropped against Sgt Dela Cruz on April 2, 2007, there was uproar in the media and online that Dela Cruz had turned traitor. Defend Our Marines and Free Republic was the onlysources to congratulate and defend Sergeant Dela Cruz (click here for the thread on Free Republic).On both websites, we launched our “scorecard” that has since made its way all over the Internet.
A good deal has happened since then.
On May 9, 2007, Sgt Dela Cruzmade headlines around the world when he testified that he desecrated a corpse in Haditha by urinating on it. This put the prosecution’s star witness in the strange position of being the only Marine to admit to a criminal act of vengeance in Haditha.
Admission of this disgusting act may have been intended to make all the Haditha Marines look deranged. If so, it backfired. Dela Cruz also admitted that it was a solo act and no one else knew what he had done. This act will haunt him for the rest of his life and he alone is responsible for it.
At LCpl Tatum’s hearing on July 17, Dela Cruz testified he’d been horrified when Tatum allegedly said Iraq needed a good Old Testament-style smiting. Dela Cruz later attributed similar statements to SSgt Wuterich.
Then, on September 1, Dela Cruz took the stand as the chief witness against SSgt Wuterich. Defend Our Marines contributing editor, Nat Helms, was there and his headline sums it up: Prosecution’s star witness in Haditha case crumbles on the stand
Originally, Dela Cruz had faced life in prison for the murder of five Iraqis at a white taxi (SSgt Wuterich was also charged with killing the same five men). At SSgt Wuterich’s hearing, we learned details of the shooting (see illustrations at right). Forensics suggested that it was Dela Cruz, not SSgt Wuterich, who may well have fired the fatal shots.
Dela Cruz has done a lot of talking about Haditha outside the courtroom as well. He was a source for Leftwing director Nick Broomfield’s film, Battle for Haditha (Broomfield will not confirm this) and for Leftwing vet Jason Washburn, a leader of Iraq Vets Against the War.
It was within a story about Washburn’s antiwar hysterics that I wrote, “Dela Cruz is one of the sleaziest characters to emerge from the Haditha prosecution.” (yes, I was the “one writer” that Chicago magazine mentioned.).
Actually, what I wrote was this. “Dela Cruz is one of the sleaziest characters to emerge from the Haditha prosecution. And I say that reluctantly. I wanted to believe the best of Dela Cruz and gave him every benefit of the doubt” (The original post on Free Republic is below and at the link.)
Dela Cruz tells Chicago magazine that he needs to talk about Haditha. Maybe he would have been better off as a defendant. He might come to some closure over his deplorable actions. As hard as the prosecutions have been for the accused, six at least have been fully exonerated and can move on with their lives. Dela Cruz will have to spend the rest of his life justifying his actions to himself and to others.
The main role for Dela Cruz is yet to come. He will be a key witness against SSgt Wuterich at this court martial–whenever the prosecution finally allows SSgt Wuterich to have his day in court. Chicagois wrong when it says that supporters have reason to be pleased because only SSgt Wuterich still faces charges. We won’t be pleased (if that’s even possible) until the entire truth about Haditha is as well known as the distorted view served up to a gullible public by the media and Congressman Murtha. And I firmly trust that the truth will exonerate SSgt Wuterich.
Defend Our Marines and my friends on Free Republic (a fraction of the whole community) were right to defend Sgt Dela Cruz until the facts were known. And we’re right now to say that he is simply not to be believed.
Defend Our Marines