View Full Version : Marines face 'day of pain' in killings probe

07-09-06, 06:41 AM
Marines face 'day of pain' in killings probe
From combined dispatches
July 9, 2006

BAGHDAD -- Commanders can expect a "day of pain" after the top U.S. general in Iraq reviews a report that finds they failed to act on complaints that their troops killed 24 civilians at Haditha, a U.S. military official said yesterday.

The report of an investigation into whether officers failed to investigate or even covered up for Marines accused by Iraqis of killing men, women and children in cold blood was passed to Gen. George Casey on Friday, the military said.

Disciplinary action now seems likely, officials told Reuters news agency, over failures by 2nd Marine Division officers in their command duty.

"The Marines will go through their day of pain," said a military official in Baghdad familiar with recommendations made by the ground forces commander, Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli.

Its findings should be made public soon, possibly in a week, as U.S. generals and diplomats strive to assure a skeptical Iraqi public -- and their new government -- that soldiers are being held accountable for a string of suspected abuses.

Those incidents include a rape-murder case in Mahmoudiya that has outraged the nation and fueled calls for the 127,000 U.S. troops to go home.

U.S. Maj. Mark Wright said U.S. authorities are aware that Islamic tradition has strict rules governing exhumation and could require religious leaders to become involved in the investigation.

"You want to be aware of these cultural issues while, at the same time, making sure that the accused receives proper justice," Maj. Wright, a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition, told the Associated Press.

Muslim tradition generally frowns on exhumations, considering them desecration of the remains. However, Ahmed Taha, the uncle of the dead teen, told AP Thursday that relatives were eager to cooperate with investigators and would allow them to exhume the body of the victim, Abeer Qassim Hamza. Her parents and sister were also slain.

Steven D. Green, a former U.S. soldier, was arrested last week in North Carolina and has pleaded not guilty to one count of rape and four counts of murder.

In the Haditha incident, Gen. Casey must decide on what disciplinary action to take. The key complaint against senior officers is a failure to question inconsistencies in their troops' accounts of the day. The report prepared by Maj. Gen. Eldon Bargewell identified failings in areas "from reporting, to training to command environment," the military official told Reuters.

There is little doubt that action is likely, he made clear, while stressing the report is entirely separate from the criminal murder probe under way into troops accused by Iraqis of shooting 24 persons on Nov. 19 after a bomb killed a Marine.

Haditha is in violent Anbar province, the heart of the Sunni insurgency in the west where three U.S. soldiers attached to the Marine command were killed in action yesterday.

07-09-06, 05:43 PM
U.S. Maj. Mark Wright said U.S. authorities are aware that Islamic tradition has strict rules governing exhumation and could require religious leaders to become involved in the investigation.

Fine, if they won't allow the exhumation, then the case is over due to lack of physical evidence. Try to accuse and try a civilian of rape without physical evidence and see how long you'll still have your job.

07-09-06, 07:11 PM
You're right that the Government's job is tougher without a body. But, you can prove a crime, even murder, with circumstantial evidence. <br />
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A conviction for murder can be sustained even though no...

Zulu 36
07-09-06, 07:37 PM
A lack of an exhumation should cause serious evidentiary damage to the prosecution case, certainly, but possibly not fatal damage. Of course, the defense will drive home the no exhumation fact, but instead stressing the loss of potential exculpatory evidence, thus preventing a fair trial on that basis.

We do not know all of the evidence the prosecution has. They aren't saying and anything from the defense attorneys could be true, or could be just smoke and mirrors. (What! Defense attorneys tell lies?! Say it ain't true, Chris!)

I see the report from the Army general as two things. First, a chance to take a shot at the Marines (although I think this was just a side benefit for him). Two, it is a whole lot of 20-20 hindsight. Woulda-coulda-shoulda.

Did the chain of command slack off on checking into things a little deeper? Maybe, but when you're up to your ass in alligators some seemingly petty details slip on the way toward draining the swamp.

Would checking deeper have changed anything if the bosses still felt the killings were regretful, but one of those sad defecation occurs kind of things? Who knows.

I am very concerned about any case of murder involving Marines and investigated by NCIS. I had a lot of dealings with them, and frankly I was underwhelmed by their criminal investigative skills in serious matters (with a couple of individual exceptions). I can very easily see them intimidating young, scared Marines into saying things that can be misinterptreted.

NIS (then) tried it once with me in Vietnam, except I was a kid from Detroit with parents who had both been Detroit cops, and I didn't scare that easily - NIS were rookies compared to the intimidation my father was capable of.

I flat walked out on them (left them yelling and screaming threats at me) and reported their tactics to my 1stSgt. He took me to the CO who went completely ballistic (this was the only time in nine months I ever heard him yell in anger). Turned out I was to be interviewed simply as a possible witness in some drug dealing and use, but instead they decided to treat me like I was leading the Bangkok Cartel. Happily for me, I was not into drugs in any form (except alcohol), so I had nothing to tell them anyway.

I had further dealings with NCIS later as an MP, and even later as a civilian police detective supervisor. I just can't get excited over them as top notch detectives. They get too excited over high profile cases and lose perspective. Gotta win-gotta win-gotta win.

For Future-USMC-Lt: I have investigated, tried, and won rape cases with very little physical evidence. It can be done, but a lot depends on what evidence you do have and the credibility of your witnesses. Your case has got to be clean, especially any "confessions." I guarantee any half-assed lawyer will work that confession over right down to every punctuation point. A really good lawyer will manage to get into the paper fibers too.