06-21-06, 07:58 AM
US braced for Haditha effect <br />
By John Simpson <br />
BBC News, World affairs editor <br />
What happened in Haditha may just possibly change the future of the war in Iraq. <br />
The lawyer for one of the...
06-21-06, 11:39 AM
June 21, 2006
Investigation: Commanders failed to check Hadithah accounts
LOS ANGELES — An investigation into the killing of 24 Iraqis by Marines concludes that senior military personnel in Iraq did not follow up on potential inaccuracies in early accounts of the incident, according to a report published Wednesday.
Military officials have said Marines killed the civilians in Hadithah on Nov. 19 after a roadside bomb rocked a military convoy, killing one Marine. The Marine Corps had initially attributed the civilian deaths to the bomb and crossfire during a battle between the Americans and insurgents.
A report by Army Maj. Gen. Eldon Bargewell says problems with initial accounts submitted by Marines involved in the incident should have been apparent to commanders in the area, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Bargewell questions why senior military officers in western Iraq did not conduct a thorough investigation into the incident. A portion of his report’s executive summary was read to the Times by a Defense Department official who requested anonymity because the report had not been released publicly.
“Virtually no inquiry at any level of command was conducted into the circumstances surrounding the deaths,” Bargewell wrote, according to the Times. “There were, however, a number of red flags and opportunities to do so.”
For example, the 2nd Marine Division comptroller, who was responsible for making compensatory payments to the families of the dead civilians, told the division’s judge advocate’s office, which functions as its legal counsel, that he thought the incident “might require further reporting.”
The advocate’s office did not act on the comptroller’s request, according to the Times.
The Marines have begun to overhaul how they investigate civilian deaths and to discipline officers who supervised the squad involved in the Hadithah incident.