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The latest on the last Haditha Marine Trial: Ssgt Frank Wuterich… Update: All Haditha Marines exonerated of war crimes and “cold-blooded murder”

19 January 2012 No Comment


Photo credit: Max S. Gerber

Update:

Excerpt of SSgt Frank Wuterich’s statement at his sentencing hearing at Camp Pendleton, CA:

“I responded to what I perceived as a threat and my intention was to eliminate that threat in order to keep the rest of my Marines alive. So when I told my team to shoot first and ask questions later, the intent wasn’t that they would shoot civilians, it was that they would not hesitate in the face of the enemy. Many of the Marines who were there that day, along with everyone who has stood by me and supported me, may be disappointed that I pled guilty. It might suggest that I believe we behaved badly or dishonorably.

“The truth is, I don’t believe anyone in my squad, nor any member of Kilo Co, 3/1, behaved in any way that was dishonorable or contrary to the highest ideals that we all live by as Marines. But even with the best intentions, sometimes combat actions can cause tragic results. I sit here today to take responsibility for whatever measures my words or direction contributed to the tragedy that resulted in the deaths in Haditha in 2005. In no way should my acceptance of responsibility ever be considered an indictment of the Marines or the commanders in 3/1. The truth is, I never fired my weapon at any women or children that day.”

Read more here.

Update: The most disgraceful political witch hunt that used the court of public opinion to try to destroy innocent Marines, undermine the war effort, and give aid and comfort to America’s enemies is finally over. All the Haditha Marines who were wrongly accused of “cold-blooded murder” and war crimes have been exonerated. Thank God.

Plea reached in Wuterich case, ending Haditha war crimes trial

Marine Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich agreed to plead guilty Monday to one count of negligent dereliction of duty, ending his trial on manslaughter and related charges for his role in the deaths of 24 Iraqi civilians in 2005.

“This was his decision and his decision alone,” Neal Puckett, Wuterich’s lead defense attorney, told the North County Times. “Staff Sergeant Wuterich believed this was the right and honorable thing to do.”

Negligent dereliction of duty is a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum of 90 days in custody and a reduction or forfeiture of pay. Sentencing is scheduled for Tuesday.

Thank you Sergeant Sanick Dela Cruz, Lance Cpl. Stephen Tatum, Lance Corporal Justin Sharratt, Capt. Lucas McConnell, Capt. Randy Stone, Lt. Andrew Grayson, Lt. Col. Jeffrey Chessani and Ssgt Frank Wuterich for your service. May LCpl Migel “T.J.” Terrazas finally be able to rest in peace.

Read it all here.

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Tim Sumner of the 9/11 Families for a Safe & Strong America does the heavy lifting on reporting Sgt. Frank Wuterich’s trial and succinctly sums up the travesty of this case.

“President Barack Obama, former President George W. Bush, and literally hundreds of U.S. military officers would be facing prosecution if the Marine Corps’ ROE applied to them; they have ordered airstrikes upon houses without first personally identifying that everyone within them had “hostile intent” or had committed “hostile acts.” While at the ambush site, Kallop received reports from Wuterich and other Marines of enemy fire coming from house #1. Salinas had marked it as a target with M203 grenades. It was then clear to Kallop, Wuterich, and Salinas the enemy was using the house for military purposes and eliminating the threat posed to their Marines was necessary self-defense.”

The so-called “Haditha massacre” shows how politics infected the Iraq war, and the rule of law at the expense of innocent Marines.

Read Week One.
Read Week Two.

Also read the latest from SSgt Wuterich’s attorney, Neal Puckett.

The day began with the ear-splitting explosion of a command-detonated Improvised Explosive Device (IED) under a Marine Corps HWMMV on a resupply mission, killing one Marine and seriously wounding two others. The explosion was followed by the appearance of a car full of military-aged Iraqi males who scattered when commanded to get down on the ground to be searched and had to be engaged with rifle fire by a Corporal in SSgt Wuterich’s squad.

Immediately after, the squad was taken under fire by a sniper hiding behind an Iraqi home in the residential neighborhood where the IED was detonated. A quick reaction force arrived with SSgt Wuterich’s platoon commander, who ordered SSgt Wuterich and his Marines to clear the houses in the vicinity of the sniper. The Marines cleared one house and saw someone dart toward an adjacent house. The Marines cleared that house as well.

SSgt Wuterich’s Marines cleared the houses strictly in accordance with their pre-deployment training and in strict compliance with the Rules of Engagement for Operation Iraqi Freedom at the time. Yet a tragically flawed criminal investigation initiated by NCIS several months after all physical evidence was gone concluded that several Marines should face criminal charges. All but one, SSgt Wuterich, had their charges dismissed for lack of evidence of criminal wrongdoing.

It has become apparent to his attorneys at The Law Firm of Puckett and Faraj, PC, Neal A. Puckett and Haytham Faraj, the Marine Corps simply cannot bring itself to see the truth that Marines in contact with the enemy are required to be tough, aggressive and lethal. If the enemy chooses to launch its attack (the first of several in Haditha that morning), square in the middle of a residential neighborhood, then we believe that they anticipated and perhaps manipulated the Marines into the inevitability that civilians could be injured or killed in the defense of the Marines who survived the initial IED explosion and sniper fire.

Read it all.

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