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02-17-08, 09:44 AM #1
PBS program to spotlight Haditha killings
Sun February 17, 2008
By Jay F. Marks
An Edmond Marine will go to trial next month on charges stemming from the death of 24 Iraqi civilians in 2005, but television viewers won't have to wait
that long to learn more about the incident.
PBS' "Frontline” will explore what happened in the village of Haditha on Nov. 19, 2005, after a Marine was killed in an explosion caused by a roadside bomb. The show, titled "Rules of Engagement,” airs at 8 p.m. Tuesday.
Lance Cpl. Stephen B. Tatum, an Edmond native, is one of eight Marines to face charges in the biggest U.S. criminal case involving civilian deaths in the ongoing war in Iraq. Charges have been dismissed against four of them.
Tatum's attorney contends he did what he was trained to do.
Tatum, 26, originally was charged with murder and negligent homicide for his role in the killings, which occurred during a bloody door-to-door sweep after the explosion.
A Marine general reduced the charges in October, but he still faces court martial on charges of involuntary manslaughter, reckless endangerment and aggravated assault. His trial is set for March 28 at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton in California.
Tatum also has been ordered to testify against his squad leader, who faces the most serious charges in the case.
Lawyers for Tatum said they received notice that their client is to appear at next month's court-martial of Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich, who faces nine counts of voluntary manslaughter, aggravated assault, reckless endangerment and obstruction of justice.
The "Frontline” episode airing this week promises to reveal the untold story of what happened in Haditha, according to a news release.
It includes interviews with Lance Cpl. Justin Sharratt, one of the Marines originally charged in the case, and an intelligence officer who watched the events unfold, as well as perspective from Iraqi civilians who survived the incident.
David Allender, who runs DefendOurMarines.org, said he expects the show to offer a new perspective on the killings, which have been portrayed as a massacre by blood-thirsty Marines.
Contributing: The Associated Press
02-18-08, 08:02 AM #2
February 17, 2008
PBS To Air Haditha documentary
This Tuesday, February 19 at 9:00 pm ET, PBS' Frontline will air a one hour show on what has come to be known as "The Haditha Massacre". The show is entitled "Rules Of Engagement".
Bruce Keslar of The Democracy Project, has been given an advance copy and transcript, and offers an encouraging preview. Keslar gives the show a B- while also acknowledging that an A would have been impossible due to time constraints alone. Defend Our Marines, which site has diligently followed and publicized everything it could obtain on Haditha is also encouraged, and DOM's David Allender posts an interview with the show's producer, Arun Rath.
Rath: "At the most basic level, I hope [the audience will] come away with a better understanding of what happened in Haditha that day. More importantly, I'm hoping that people will come away with a deeper appreciation of the extraordinarily difficult job our Marines and soldiers are undertaking in Iraq, in terms of trying to follow the Rules of Engagement in a situation where insurgents intentionally blend in with civilians."
02-20-08, 04:54 PM #3
Frontline’s Haditha: “Rules of Engagement”
Airing on PBS Tuesday, Feb. 19. Check your local listings and make a note. Preview trailers here.
I just finished watching a review copy. If you want to know the basics on this political football, see principal participants and witnesses interviewed — Marines, Haditha survivors, reporters and lawyers — and see extensive private and military video footage and stills of 3rd Platoon, Kilo Company, 3/1 Marines in Haditha before, during and after the Nov. 19, 2005 incident, you’ll want to watch this.
Like most Frontline treatments, it is well-documented and painstakingly fair. To the extent it can be in the space of an hour, it is the story of the unit and the military, media and political history of the incident. The high points of the investigation, prosecution and defense are woven through.
Not everything is there. It starts but does not complete the job of describing what a rallying cry Haditha became for the anti-war movement, which used the incident to smear combat troops in Iraq and the Bush administration, but like much of the press, seems to have suddenly lost interest. Call me petty, but while Murtha’s massacre charges are cited for what they are, as political agenda-pushing that caused a press firestorm, I’m disappointed that the delightful video is missing, of Murtha being buttonholed to apologize after murder charges were dropped. Nonetheless, Frontline deserves credit for, in reserved fashion, showing how full of crap and quick to condemn Murtha and his fellow travellers are.
Also absent is much discussion of al Qaeda’s role, beyond the fact that Haditha was a transit route from Syria to Fallujah and Baghdad, al Qaeda was interested in reinfiltrating Haditha and that’s what they were doing that day. Marines are quoted early on dismissing massacre claims as al Qaeda-inspired propaganda. Defense attorney Gary Meyers is interviewed at length, but the documentary does not address this material citing Meyers and an intel report — which as near as I can tell never got much mainstream attention – claiming al Qaeda purposefully set out to engineer a propaganda event that day. How al Qaeda intends Marines to react is not necessarily relevant to how they do react, but is somewhat more relevant given the media and anti-war camp’s willingness to see ill intent on the part of Marines.
Iraqi accounts in the documentary are limited to specific incident accounts, and some human rights advocates’ perceptions. Again, not much from the Iraqi side on what was actually happening that day in Haditha, where someone had planted several large bombs and was shooting at the Marines as they moved in on houses they perceived as hostile. Reconstruction of combat events is limited, in that perceived sources of hostile fire, intensity of fire, and movement of principal participants are mentioned but the graphic portrayal of the flow of the fight is two dimensional, and doesn’t go much beyond aftermath stills and satellite images in which buildings and vehicles are highlighted. Iraqi witnesses emerge briefly to describe acts of execution and are dispensed with quickly, being largely discredited by defense and Naval Criminal Investigative Services forensic expert claims that what they describe is not supported by the evidence. The fact that a number of people who claim to be eyewitnesses are apparently lying isn’t scrutinized.
Many of the omissions raised above may be the result of having only an hour to explain a complex event and the difficulty of getting at trial evidence or Iraqi witnesses, and despite those limitations, “Rules of Engagement” remains a worthwhile and balanced look at the situation. But the omissions contribute to a pervading impression that Marine actions happened in a vacuum of their own creating. That is compounded by the film’s intro, portraying Haditha as a peaceful resort town where people happily swam in the Euphrates before the Americans invaded. It’s an unfortunate echo of Moore’s kite-flying paradise, but seeing as Haditha is in predominantly Sunni Anbar, maybe that’s what it was. The filmmakers neglect to add that had al Qaeda stayed out, the people of Haditha might still be happily swimming today.
To continue reading
02-20-08, 04:56 PM #4
February 20, 2008
Haditha Marines Vindicated
Like a lot of you I watched the PBS Frontline documentary on the Haditha "massacre". It was absolutely incredible. Like Uncle Jimbo at Blackfive, the documentary convinced me that the Marines accused of "massacring" innocent civilians are innocent.
There's no doubt that Haditha was a tragic loss of innocent life, but it was no massacre. Mark this one up to the fog of war combined with unclear rules of engagement. And you know who came off as the biggest jackass of them all? Jack Murtha.
What's so disgusting about the way the MSM reported the incident is that the Muslim world is thoroughly convinced that the original framing of the story as out-of-control Marines callously murdering the closest Arabs they could find, including women and children, in revenge for their fallen comrade has stuck. Regardless of the facts, that is how the world will remember Haditha.
And Congressman Jack Murtha, by lending his support to that inaccurate version of events, gave the Haditha "massacre" story added legitimacy.
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