Thursday, December 21, 2006

I was hoping this would not happen

Marines to be charged with murder

A Marine Corps squad leader was charged Thursday with murdering 12 people and ordering Marines under his command to murder six other people during an incident that left 24 civilians dead in the Iraqi town of Haditha last year.

The squad leader was one of eight Marines charged in the biggest U.S. criminal case involving killings to arise from the war in Iraq. The others included four officers accused of failures in investigating and reporting the incident, the Marine Corps said.

The highest ranking defendant, Lt. Col. Jeffrey R. Chessani, was accused of failing to obey an order or regulation, encompassing dereliction of duty.

The squad leader, Staff Sgt. Frank D. Wuterich, 26, was charged with unpremeditated murder of 18 Iraqi civilians, including six people inside a house members of his squad cleared with deadly force. Wuterich also faces a charge of making a false official statement and a charge of soliciting another sergeant to make false official statements.

Sgt. Sanick P. Dela Cruz was accused of the unpremeditated murders of five people and making a false official statement with intent to deceive.

Lance Cpl. Justin Sharratt was accused of the unpremeditated murder of three Iraqis.

Lance Cpl. Stephen B. Tatum charged with the unpremeditated murders of two Iraqis, negligent homicide of four Iraqi civilians and a charge of assault upon two Iraqis.

In addition to Chessani, officers charged in connection with how the incident was investigated or reported included 1st Lt. Andrew A. Grayson, Capt. Lucas McConnell, and Capt. Randy W. Stone.

There has been some discussion lately of a change in the Rules of Engagement. I doubt that will happen and incidents like this are why.


vnjagvet said...

Is my memory failing me, or was it not last year's big story about this time that Congressman Murtha accused this group of "cold blooded, premeditated murder" in Haditha.

The charges are specificaly unpremeditated murder.

From my admittedly ancient experience, I am pretty sure if there were evidence of "cold blooded premeditated murder" that offense would have been charged.

Looks like Murtha was wrong. He should have kept his mouth shut.

terrye said...

Yes he should have.

vnjagvet said...


I am sorry, too. I am sorry that the evidence supported any charge whatsoever.

But I can understand that in war, as in other pursuits, people can be in the wrong place at the wrong time. The accused in this case as well as those civilians killed in the firefight were in the wrong place when this occurred.

There is enough evidence to take this to trial, especially in light of the publicity and the questionable after-action conduct.

This is exactly what the military justice system is designed to handle. These troops will be well represented. And the trial will be public and fair.

I am not sure under the circumstances, there can be any other disposition of this unfortunate incident.

At least it is apparently not a My Lai type incident.

These troopers and their officers deserve the presumption of innocence and a fair trial, and it looks like they are getting both.