Please note that Marine Reserve Lt. Jonathan Morgenstein, who provided the obligatory spin for the WaPo was aptly described by Clarice Feldman in a comment at Just One Minute:
Guess the reporter ran out of space to tell the reader that Morgenstein was a civil affairs officer for a few months in Ramadi and since then has been employed at the U.S. Institute for Peace.Lt. Morgenstein, meet Col. Murtha, you two have common interests.
From Sgt. Wuterich's account (as told by his attorney):
Wuterich told Puckett that no one was emotionally rattled by Terrazas's death because everyone had a job to do, and everyone was concerned about further casualties. As Wuterich began briefing the platoon leader, Puckett said, AK-47 shots rang out from residences on the south side of the road, and the Marines ducked.Haditha's hospitality to insurgents carried a price. Opening the door to an insurgent carrying arms wasn't a good idea and closing a door to the Marines was a worse one.
A corporal with the unit leaned over to Wuterich and said he saw the shots coming from a specific house, and after a discussion with the platoon leader, they decided to clear the house, according to Wuterich's account.
"There's a threat, and they went to eliminate the threat," Puckett said.
A four-man team of Marines, including Wuterich, kicked in the door and found a series of empty rooms, noticing quickly that there was one room with a closed door and people rustling behind it, Puckett said. They then kicked in that door, tossed a fragmentation grenade into the room, and one Marine fired a series of "clearing rounds" through the dust and smoke, killing several people, Puckett said.
The Marine who fired the rounds -- Puckett said it was not Wuterich -- had experience clearing numerous houses on a deployment in Fallujah, where Marines had aggressive rules of engagement.
Although it was almost immediately apparent to the Marines that the people dead in the room were men, women and children -- most likely civilians -- they also noticed a back door ajar and believed that insurgents had slipped through to a house nearby, Puckett said. The Marines stealthily moved to the second house, kicking in the door, killing one man inside and then using a frag grenade and more gunfire to clear another room full of people, he said.
UPDATE: Greyhawk at Mudville Gazette is following this very closely and should be read in conjunction with the Clarice Feldman article that David Thomson cited.
UPDATE: Michael Yon weighs in with the best overview piece that I have seen to date.