Haditha: Wuterich charged with 13 counts of murder

posted at 3:22 pm on December 21, 2006 by Allahpundit

Time reported on September 17th that the charges could come “as early as next week.” They were a little off. Then they reported yesterday that the suspects won’t be held in pre-trial confinement, which they took as a sign that the charges wouldn’t be that severe.

They were a little off again.

Staff Sgt. Frank D. Wuterich was charged with 12 counts of murdering individuals and one count of murdering six people by ordering Marines under his charge to “shoot first and ask questions later” when they entered a house, according to charging sheets released by defense attorney Neal Puckett.

Wuterich, of Meriden, Conn., was also charged with soliciting a corporal to make false statements and making another staff sergeant make a false official statement.

As many as eight Marines in all may be charged in the case.

I’m guessing this probably isn’t good news for Wuterich’s defamation suit against Murtha.

They’re not alleging premeditated murder so the maximum penalty is life. Charges are also expected against the four Marines Wuterich commanded in the house-clearing operation that day — Lance Corporals Stephen Tatum and Justin Sharratt and Corporals Sanick Dela Cruz and Hector Salinas — as well as two officers, Capt. Lucas McConnell and Lt. Col. Jeffrey Chessani, neither of whom were there that day. The wife of one of the staff sergeants told Newsweek in June that discipline broke down after Chessani took over the battalion last year and some of the men took to using drugs. Others denied it.

I linked this brief NPR audio last month but I’m linking it again because it did a nice job of explaining the issues in the case. Newsmax claimed in June that evidence from radio communications and a Predator drone spycam would absolve the suspects of wrongdoing, but the Times reported a few days earlier that the photographs of the bodies and testimony of other Marines present pointed towards their guilt.

No word yet on a date for the court-martial. Will Wuterich plead out? Both sides have an incentive to do so but the pressure on the Corps to make an example of them will be intense, as will the pressure on Wuterich to challenge the rules of engagement the Marines had to fight under that day.

Exit question: did they hold the charges until Christmas intentionally, because they knew people won’t be paying as much attention?

Update: Eight Marines in all have been charged.

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tomk59 was very clear and concise (Bravo Zulu tomk59). Unfortunately the political BS continues. Let’s clear away the BS with some simple questions:

Do we want U.S. forces knowingly and intentionally killing innocent civilians?

Do we want to excuse the behavior of those that DO knowingly and intentionally kill innocent civilians?

Do we want the command structure to cover up crimes of this nature?

Do we want to demonize our troops with hysterical accusations for political purposes?

Would we rather have a fair Courts-Martial or a ‘Salem Witch Trial’?

Do we want justice for the victims?

Do we want justice for the accused?

I think the answers are all very simple. The UCMJ works. Keep politics and emotion out of this case and let justice be done.

irishsquid on December 22, 2006 at 10:22 AM

Irishsquid,

Are you a SEAL? Are you in a rating that involves getting shot at?

There’s always politics involved nowadays. The Marine brass is worried about pleasing the media, because the media has gotten ahold of it. In WWII, this never would have been a problem. Guess what, we knowingly burned alive 100,000 Japanese civilians in WWII. We won. They lost. The war is now over.

PRCalDude on December 22, 2006 at 1:21 PM

irishsquid,

I will take up your challenge, in return I expect you to answer my questions.

Do we want U.S. forces knowingly and intentionally killing innocent civilians?

First off, you are using loaded questions.

Second, these can’t be innocent civilians, for they allowed an ambush to occur in their neighborhood. At best they are unarmed combatants.

Next, we have historical examples that show that the US is more than willing to “knowingly and intentionally” kill “innocent civilians”. Historical example is Dresden, countless other Germany cities and 37 Japanese cities including Tokyo, Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Do we want to excuse the behavior of those that DO knowingly and intentionally kill innocent civilians?

Again, see point one. How can someone be innocent and allow known illegal combatants to set up an ambush (IED) without warning our forces?

Do we want the command structure to cover up crimes of this nature?

More like not give a damn. We shouldn’t care or if we do allow it to be a slap on the wrist. Examples of our command structure not caring were the Spaatz, Harris, Doolittle etc.

I assure you that ever WWII general would be in jail today for the orders that they gave.

Let’s not forget that a memo from Admiral Halsey went out in WWII stating that there was to be considered no Japanese non-combatants.

Do we want to demonize our troops with hysterical accusations for political purposes?

Uh, you don’t think that this already is? Let’s not forget that after the media broke the story two soldiers had their heads cut off and Al Qaeda claimed it was US atrocities.

Would we rather have a fair Courts-Martial or a ‘Salem Witch Trial’?

Again, you are assuming that we should have either. Rather, the military should scold them and send them home. After all, this is war. This isn’t police actions against criminals.

Do we want justice for the victims?

Justice? Victims? Loaded words.

First you have to answer if those who knowingly allow an ambush to be set are allowed to ever have the victim status label. The fact is that they gave up their non-combatant status the minute they turned a blind eye to the terrorist setting up an IED/Ambush.

Since they are not victims, we then need to answer what justice they deserved. Since they refused to warn the US Marines, the just response would have been the execution of every one. I have historical precedence for it.

In WWII, on the Run to the Elbe, they would call the village ahead and tell them that if there was any resistance encountered that the men of the village would be executed.

Guess, what? Civilians came out and pointed out where the ambushes were.

Do we want justice for the accused?

How do guys, who had those “victims” allow an ambush to be set up, get justice for their comrade?

Now it is your turn to answer my questions:

1. How is it that the US accepted fire bombing 37 Japanese Cities full of citizens, yet we are up in arms about 24 people who knowingly allowed an IED/ambush to be set up? Make sure you address the fact that the Japanese justification was that even growing rice was aiding the Japanese military machine and compare it to 24 people who allowed the terrorists to set up an IED/Ambush without warning the US.

2. How is is that the US accepted that we would execute mayors and citizens of villages that put up a fight on the run to the Elbe?

3. Why in Operation Iceberg it was acceptable to shoot women? Make sure to address the official US command memos that declared all Japanese were combatants.

Tim Burton on December 22, 2006 at 1:43 PM

Guess what, we knowingly burned alive 100,000 Japanese civilians in WWII. We won. They lost. The war is now over.

Try 2 million.

Tim Burton on December 22, 2006 at 1:47 PM

Guess what, we knowingly burned alive 100,000 Japanese civilians in WWII. We won. They lost. The war is now over.

Try 2 million.

Tim Burton on December 22, 2006 at 1:47 PM

In today’s political climate, Curtis Lemay and every airman that flew a mission against Japan would be courts-martialed after pre-emptive conviction by the media and tainting of the case by various congressmen. And the moral high-grounders posting above would readily approve.

thirteen28 on December 22, 2006 at 2:07 PM

And the moral high-grounders posting above would readily approve.

Here’s to happily occupying the low ground.

PRCalDude on December 22, 2006 at 2:16 PM

Here’s to happily occupying the low ground.

PRCalDude on December 22, 2006 at 2:16 PM

Abso-f**king-lutely.

Wonder if any of the moral highgrounders will answer any of Tim’s questions posted above. I know which way I’m betting.

thirteen28 on December 22, 2006 at 2:27 PM

In today’s political climate, Curtis Lemay and every airman that flew a mission against Japan would be courts-martialed after pre-emptive conviction by the media and tainting of the case by various congressmen. And the moral high-grounders posting above would readily approve.

Extremely true.

A study of ethics reveals that war is not a moral evil (it can be, but isn’t always), but that doesn’t mean it isn’t an atrocity in itself.

To stop the atrocity you use any means to stop the killing, usually by increasing your killing. The sooner the war is ended by victory, the sooner the killing can stop.

For example, Terrorists know we are concerned about civilian losses, so they hide behind civilians, so if we really cared about civilians, we would be willing to shoot to kill the terrorists no matter what. This would enable two things. First, it would stop the terrorists from using civilians later on. Second it would allow them to understand that nothing will stand in the way of us killing them.

Tim Burton on December 22, 2006 at 3:50 PM

Here’s to happily occupying the low ground.

PRCalDude on December 22, 2006 at 2:16 PM

Ironically, they are claiming the “moral high ground”…

Tim Burton on December 22, 2006 at 3:53 PM

I can’t help but wonder how many US soldiers lost their lives because “innocent civilians” indirectly aided terrorists in setting up an ambush/IED and not warning US soldiers of the impending attack.

I guess it is more moral to lose US lives than it is to kill women and children who support terrorists.

Tim Burton on December 22, 2006 at 4:01 PM

Tim and PRCalDude

Please re-read my post. I believe you are reading more into it than you should. I make no presumptions about guilt or innocence nor do I refer to any specfic events in regard to Haditha or any other military action. They are simple questions which any level-headed group of people should be able to reach a unanimous decision on.

Do we want U.S. forces knowingly and intentionally killing innocent civilians?

No, of course not. I’m not accusing them of it either.

Do we want to excuse the behavior of those that DO knowingly and intentionally kill innocent civilians?

No, of course not. If a crime was committed, they should be prosecuted.

Do we want the command structure to cover up crimes of this nature?

No, of course not. If a crime was committed they should be prosecuted.

Do we want to demonize our troops with hysterical accusations for political purposes?

The crimes of few (if there was indeed a crime committed, should not be an indictment on ALL servicemen and women or an indictment on the war.

Would we rather have a fair Courts-Martial or a ‘Salem Witch Trial’?

The accused Marines deserve a fair trial in a Courts-Martial, free from the influence of the media, the public, or the Pentagon.

Do we want justice for the victims?

If they are indeed the victims of a crime, they deserve justice the same as a murder victim anywhere in the world.

Do we want justice for the accused?

Anything less, regardless of guilt or innocence, is a crime in and of itself. It is also a slap in the face to everyone serving or having served our country in uniform.

Now for your questions which I am more than happy to address.

1. How is it that the US accepted fire bombing 37 Japanese Cities full of citizens, yet we are up in arms about 24 people who knowingly allowed an IED/ambush to be set up? Make sure you address the fact that the Japanese justification was that even growing rice was aiding the Japanese military machine and compare it to 24 people who allowed the terrorists to set up an IED/Ambush without warning the US.

Japanese civilians were never the intended targets of the firebomb raids. Break their will? Yes. Incinerate them? No. Remember that my first two questions included the word “intentionally”. After the U.S. had gained virtually complete air superiority over Japan and did not face a threat from Japanese air defenses, these raids were often preceeded by U.S.warnings to the civilian population. The deaths of those civilians was a tragic chapter in U.S. history but were never intentional. Also remember it was the U.S. that chose more dangerous daylight percision bombing missions over Germany partly to avoid civilian casualties.

2. How is is that the US accepted that we would execute mayors and citizens of villages that put up a fight on the run to the Elbe?

Are you talking about members of the civilian population actively engaging us in combat? By their act of belligerency, they are no longer protected by the rules of war and since they are not uniformed members of the opposing armed forces, are not entitled to protection granted to prisoners of war. This is why the Haditha Marines will be tried. The Courts-Martial will determine if there actions were warranted or justified.

3. Why in Operation Iceberg it was acceptable to shoot women? Make sure to address the official US command memos that declared all Japanese were combatants.

Would you like to use this as a legal precedence? I’m sure some people would like to use the Dred Scott decision as a legal precedence but I don’t think it would work out very well for them. Just because it happened doesn’t make it right. U.S. forces committed unspeakable atrocities against the civilian population during the Philippine Insurrection. I wouldn’t want to base my conduct of the war in Iraq from that conflict either.

PRCalDude

No, I was not a SEAL and no my rating doesn’t normally “get shot at”. I’d like to add however that I didn’t choose my rating based on whether I’d “get shot at” or not. I doubt the dead crew members of the USS Cole took it into consideration either. The fact that I’m not Audie Murphy shouldn’t discredit my point. The “You weren’t there you’ve got no right to…” argument is ridiculous. I wasn’t at Sand Creek, Samar, or My Lai either. Would you like to justify those actions?

My point is that I’d like the ‘war against terror’ to be conducted with extreme prejudice and violence against our enemies and the utmost respect and care for the innocent.

Yes, that is an overly simplistic and unrealistic goal, but it is a goal we should strive for regardless. I can’t see why anyone would want to debate me about that point.

I want a fair trial for these Marines and I hope they are found innocent. I hate the fact that women, and particularly children, were killed. I hope it was an accident and was unavoidable. If it was murder, I will not excuse their behavior and hope they get a far stiffer punishment than the hand-slappings handed down after My Lai.

One of the few things I’ll agree with “progressives” about is killing children won’t end the war. It will only push the ‘fence-sitters’ into the ranks of the Jihadists.

Though I feel a little myself, it’s not my intent to flame anyone.

irishsquid on December 22, 2006 at 4:14 PM

Though I feel a little myself, it’s not my intent to flame anyone.

Doh! That should have read: “Though I feel a little singed myself, it’s not my intent to flame anyone.”

irishsquid on December 22, 2006 at 4:21 PM

Japanese civilians were never the intended targets of the firebomb raids. Break their will? Yes. Incinerate them? No.

Wrong…WrongWrong

It was to kill them, that was the sole purpose of it. Otherwise, there would have been no memo telling US forces that all Japanese were combatants and valid targets. Even the author of Sea of Thunder spoke about it and how it shocked him at how willing we were to DESTROY the enemy (all of them) and have victory.

Also, McNamara comments about it being a numbers game in his interview in Fog of War and how they didn’t care about the deaths it was for victory.

Remember that my first two questions included the word “intentionally”.

1. Remember I told you it was a loaded word.
2. I already have pointed out that the there was numerous example of US forces specifically targetting civilians, including Tokyo which LeMay openly said his decision to work with WP as the primary was to kill everyone in the city. He even openly said that if the US lost the war, he would be tried for war crimes, he knew he was intentionally killing citizens and “civilians”.

You also have the bombing of Dresden and having US fighter pilots strafing civilian refugees running for the West and the British were even more violent in their strafing runs. One pilot said (paraphrased), “I wanted every German citizen to know not to make my children fight another war that they started.”

Remember that my first two questions included the word “intentionally”. After the U.S. had gained virtually complete air superiority over Japan and did not face a threat from Japanese air defenses, these raids were often preceeded by U.S.warnings to the civilian population.

1. Some did, but it was more of a call to surrender, but Tokyo didn’t. The only ones that specifically said the days that they would be attacked were Hiroshima, Nagasaki and the other 2 cities that were listed to be hit with the atomic bomb.
2. The US never had enough air superiority to fly in the region uncontested. While they did not always send up fighters, they did have huge amounts of AAA always at work. It is also a disservice to our B-29 pilots who were regularly lost to claim we did. Also, to accept that the US had air superiority you have to address why the Japanese had over 10,000 planes on the home island after the war. If you don’t believe me look up Operation Downfall.
3. So by your point if the US told Iraqis that after an ambush, they would be liable to attacks for violating neutrality and allowing attacks to be set up in their neighborhoods without warning US troops?

The deaths of those civilians was a tragic chapter in U.S. history but were never intentional.

That is a great claim, too bad LeMay and British General “Bomber” Harris disagreed with you. Harris, when pointed out that he was violating the Geneva Convention, he stated that in areas that the GC are violated by Germany makes it null and void for the British too. He said that targeting London’s citizens makes it valid to target German citizens.

Also remember it was the U.S. that chose more dangerous daylight percision bombing missions over Germany partly to avoid civilian casualties.

Precision? The US even acknowledged that we would be lucky if we put 30% of the bombs within a half mile of the target on the average day. It wasn’t a decision to limit civilian casualties, it was a decision to get a better efficiency out of the raids. The Brits were running a less than 5% efficiency. Before you say that I’m making your point, you need to remember that the raids on Berlin and Dresden specifically were to level the cities. You also have to address why we would hit Monte Casino with bombers which had monks and ZERO Germans holed up inside on the whim that an Arty spotter or two were there directing artillery on US positions.

Are you talking about members of the civilian population actively engaging us in combat?

No, I am sorry to have not explained myself better. What occurred was that US troops would have someone call the mayor in the next village and speak to him. They would ask them, “Are there military units there?” If they said, “No.” The US told them that the Mayor (the guy on the phone) would be held personally liable if they were attacked and that he too would be executed for any attacks US troops received there.

If they said, “Yes.” then he was told to get them to surrender or to point them out. Otherwise he would be executed as punishment for any deaths incurred.

There was also times where SS units were changing into civilian clothes, attacking and then retreating into the civilian population. US forced decided the best way to deal with this was to grab anyone in the area and execute them. There was no concern of if they truly were or weren’t involved. The reasoning was that they were no longer non-combatants, for the fact that they allowed soldiers to attack from their neighborhood. This makes my point that the Marines should not be tried. Historical precedence is on my side. The problem with the trial is going to exclude any testimony like that. This is because the idea of a secularize law that the letter of the law means more than justice. The real issue is that these “civilians” received what was just for harboring terrorists and allowing them to set up an ambush that killed a US Marine.

By their act of belligerency, they are no longer protected by the rules of war and since they are not uniformed members of the opposing armed forces, are not entitled to protection granted to prisoners of war.

See this is the point we hinge on. I believe that any time an ambush occurs where the civilian population turns a blind eye to it or allows terrorists to meld into the population automatically turns everyone into a combatant. You want a war where we verify everyone is a combatant (legal or illegal) before we fire. I want a war that goes for victory first (and that may mean more “civilian” deaths) and worry about who they are killing second (Such as standing orders which deny firing at a house with women and children in it even though they are receiving fire from that house, it is one of the RoEs, because my buddy has complained about it.). The best way to stop the atrocity of war is to end war, since surrender is not a viable option, total war is the only other option. Anything else leads to defeat.

Would you like to use this as a legal precedence?

Yes, because in WWII we fought an enemy that absolved himself of the rules of war. Today we are fighting the same type of enemy.

I’m sure some people would like to use the Dred Scott decision as a legal precedence but I don’t think it would work out very well for them.

WoW! Talk about a poor analogy. One is civilian law, the other is actions in combat.

But if you want to bring up Civil War history, we can freely do that, I’ll even do one better and actually refer to actions in the war and US orders.

Lincoln approved of Col. Hollowell use of CSA POWs as human shields at Charleston.

You have Col. Albert Sigel writing to complain about a Lt. Kerr for ignoring his orders to, “bring in NO prisoners.”

You have Sherman ordering the shelling of anyone located on the river (specifcally Bledsoe’s Landing) after one of his gun boats were destroyed.

Sherman also wrote Grant (who was at Vicksberg) on August 4, 1863: “You and I and every commander must go through the war justly chargeable with crimes at which we blush.”

This was in response to his orders to destroy everything, including the turning of blind eyes to the execution of politicians, old people who may have financially supported the war and males who were of age serving or not. He even turned a blind eye to the systematic rape of women (both white and black) by US soldiers.

Sec. of War Stanton also knew, because Union Judge wrote him about it. He complained that a Captain Truman executed a number of men who were not at arms and when Hall convinced the military to charge him with murder, he was found guilty and by “unknown” order was right back committing more atrocities. Stanton turned a blind eye to it.

You then have Republican Senator from Kansas James Lane, who had people under his command raping, killing and looting. McClellan wanted him to get a court-martial. Someone pulled strings and he was given a higher rank. McClellan even wrote Lincoln about it and referenced no only his concerns and outrage but also General Halleck’s concern and outrage.

Lincoln read the letter, turned it over, and wrote (and I quote), “An excellent letter, though I am sorry General Halleck is no unfavorably impressed with General Lane.”

We gave this same guy a HUGE monument for doing worse to US Citizens!!!!

If it is legally acceptable for us to do this to our own people who just didn’t want “Northern Tyranny”, then how much more legally acceptable should it be for US Marines to kill unarmed combatants who allowed an ambush/IED to be set up by terrorists without warning them. There is no neutrality, those “civilians” absolved themselves of neutrality the minute they allowed terrorists to operate in their area.

Just because it happened doesn’t make it right. U.S. forces committed unspeakable atrocities against the civilian population during the Philippine Insurrection. I wouldn’t want to base my conduct of the war in Iraq from that conflict either.

I’m sorry, but you have yet to make the case that these actions were immoral.

You can’t use Scripture to justify it, because if you claim that Christ said, “Love your enemy.” you need to address the fact he was talking about personal enemies not military ones. You can reject that position, but you then have to address the morality that God gave for Israel in combat. There was two, and while the first was total destruction, the second was that which every male was killed. Duet 20.

If you claim that Morality has changed, well by logic you have just said that there is no morality. Either morality is rational, and therefore unchangeable or it is changeable and then you have the trouble justifying that your morality is right. Sure, you can appeal to emotion, but you can’t appeal to truth as your standard of morality.

Also, Natural Law doesn’t apply to this, because it was actions in war, and a just war is not considered moral evil, but a natural evil, therefore they should not be tried with murder for committing a natural evil.

In fact, it is immoral to support actions that prolong war, for you are extending the duration of the fight. Since the attempt of war is to destroy a specific moral evil, you are supporting moral evil. By tying the hands of our soldiers and demanding a “morality” that is unjustifiable you are tying the hands of our soldiers from defeating moral evil.

My point is that I’d like the ‘war against terror’ to be conducted with extreme prejudice and violence against our enemies and the utmost respect and care for the innocent.

Again, you have to prove they were innocent, just because someone doesn’t have a gun, doesn’t make them innocent. They can NOT be non-combatants, because they allowed an ambush/IED to be set up with their compliance (verbal or otherwise).

Tim Burton on December 23, 2006 at 3:26 PM

There is no neutrality, those “civilians” absolved themselves of neutrality the minute they allowed terrorists to operate in their area.
Okay you win. You’re right. If they were innocent, they would have told the terrorists not to plant those IED’s. Jihadists are reasonable people and I’m sure they would have listened and respected their input. Heck, reprisals happen sometimes. No use worrying about it. Anyway, muslims don’t kill fellow muslims. Those children got what they deserved.

We should lower ourselves to the level of the Jihadists. We shouldn’t tie our hands with concerns about gunning down children. Heck, there’s precedence for it. “Nits make lice” as Colonel Chivington would say. Who knows? Maybe a few more My Lai’s could have saved Vietnam.

irishsquid on December 24, 2006 at 1:49 PM

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