Day By Day

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Haditha Report

The WaPo reports:

U.S. Marines gunned down five unarmed Iraqis who stumbled onto the scene of a 2005 roadside bombing in Haditha, Iraq, according to eyewitness accounts that are part of a lengthy investigative report obtained by The Washington Post.

Staff Sgt. Frank D. Wuterich, the squad's leader, shot the men one by one after Marines ordered them out of a white taxi in the moments following the explosion, which killed one Marine and injured two others, witnesses told investigators. Another Marine fired rounds into their bodies as they lay on the ground.


The shootings were the first in a series of violent reactions by Marines on the morning of Nov. 19, 2005 that left 24 civilians -- many of them women and children -- dead, in what some human rights groups and Iraqis have called a massacre by U.S. troops.

The report, which relied on hundreds of interviews with Marines, Iraqi soldiers and civilian survivors conducted months after the incident, presents a fragmented and sometimes conflicting chronicle of the violence that day. But taken together, the accounts provide evidence that as the Marines came under attack, they responded in ways that are difficult to reconcile with their rules of engagement.

That's a bit of understatement.

The whole report runs to thousands of pages. The WaPo story is here.

The report shows, if not a cover-up, a remarkable lack of curiosity on the part of marine officers and investigators to find out just what happened in Haditha. Fortunately reporters pushed the issue and the resulting investigation exposed the massacre. Four marines have already been charged with murder and face life sentences. The Company and Battalion commanders both face charges. No higher officers have been charged.

Is this acceptable? I would think not.

UPDATE: Here's the NYT story on the report.

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