Haditha: Marines’ lawyers outraged by leak of NCIS report

posted at 10:36 pm on January 6, 2007 by Allahpundit

Someone slipped WaPo the Navy inspector’s file, which led to this blockbuster dropping earlier today. And now:

An N.C.I.S. spokesman declined to comment on the report, which it has not officially released, and said the agency was troubled by the leak of it to The Post. “N.C.I.S. strives to ensure the integrity of every investigation and finds the idea that someone might leak any of its investigative products to be deeply troubling,” the spokesman said.

Several lawyers representing the accused marines expressed anger at the Defense Department, which they blamed for allowing the report to be given surreptitiously to a newspaper and, they said, potentially damaging their clients’ cases.

“The defense lawyers are extremely upset,” said Mark Zaid, a lawyer for Sergeant Wuterich, the squad leader who is charged with killing at least a dozen Iraqis. “The release of the entire evidentiary set is unethical and appears to have been done by certain Pentagon officials with the intent to harm the defendant’s defense.”

How bad does it look for the defense? According to WaPo, this bad:

Marines who rushed to help told investigators they took enemy rifle fire from several locations on the north and south sides of the road. Navy Hospitalman Brian D. Whitt said he could see bullet impacts near his feet and noticed men with rifles disappearing from atop a house to the north. Some of the fire appeared to be coming from behind the white taxi.

The Marines concurred that they were under fire from all sides, indicating that the incident was part of a complex insurgent attack that lasted much of the day.

One Marine and two Iraqi soldiers told investigators that the men who had been in the taxi were standing in a line outside it, some with their hands in the air, when Wuterich began to fire on them.

Wuterich said the men got out of the car, and he shot them because he considered them a threat. But Dela Cruz said the men were standing in a line when they started to fall.

“As I crossed the median I saw one of the Iraqi civilians, who was standing in the center of the line, drop to the ground,” Dela Cruz told investigators. “Immediately afterwards another Iraqi standing by him raised his hands to his head. I then heard other small arms fire and looked to my left and saw Sgt. Wuterich kneeling on one knee and shooting his M16 in the direction of the Iraqi civilians.”

Dela Cruz told investigators that he pumped bullets into the bodies of the Iraqi men after they were on the ground and later urinated on one of them.

The Times reported months ago that the incident with the five Iraqis in the taxi, not the house clearings, was the diciest that day. According to yet another leaker, a “senior defense official” who spoke tonight to the AP, one of the victims might have been kneeling when Wuterich allegedly shot him. The same source says investigators found nothing to support the Marines’ claim that the men were running away at the time, and that in fact “all five Iraqis were shot within arm’s length of each other and no more than 18 feet from the white taxi they were ordered to exit…”

But is any of it true? Back to the Times:

One person who has read the N.C.I.S. report and who is sympathetic to the marines’ account of events said that its thousands of pages provides evidence for both prosecution and defense teams, and that drawing conclusions from it about the guilt of any of the accused marines is difficult.

“For every statement that said X happened, there’s another statement that said Y happened,” this person said, speaking only after being granted anonymity, because he was not authorized to discuss the report.

WaPo acknowledges that the report is a “sometimes conflicting chronicle” and quotes an Iraqi soldier who says the Marines’ house clearing operation was justified because “the entire convoy was taking fire.” But according to the same Iraqi soldier:

Sgt. Asad Amer Mashoot … watched in horror as the four students and the taxi driver fell. “They didn’t even try to run away,” he said. “We were afraid from Marines and we saw them behaving like crazy. They were yelling and screaming.”

Stay tuned for more leaks and innuendoes, as DoD does its level best to make this look every inch the political show trial the Marines’ defenders suspected it would be.

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Forgive my ignorance but is “beyond a shadow of a doubt” required in a military court for conviction?

.

GT on January 6, 2007 at 10:41 PM

Why in the hell is someone at the Times questioning actions taken by our Military? I can not believe a squad went on a rappage!!!!!!!!!!! All these “leaks” in any matter of National Security concerns me!! These men are innocent of any wrong doing!! No media should be allowed in war zones!!

ChrisIansNana on January 6, 2007 at 10:53 PM

Forgive my ignorance but is “beyond a shadow of a doubt” required in a military court for conviction?

I’m afraid not. A general courts martial may establish it’s own parameters of judgement, but it is based primarily on the preponderance of evidence. A murder case may get a long list of additional strictures, a war-time murder case with immense external attention is likely to get more. But in the end, the panel (jury) decides guilt or innocence, and there are no appeals.

Freelancer on January 6, 2007 at 11:04 PM

First off…who is Dela Cruz?????????

Second, there are sometimes atrocities in war. If this did happen the U.S. Military will punish those responsible. That’s the difference between our military and the rest of the world. Of course, when UN Peacekeepers commit atrocities they’re patted on the back and heralded as the answer to problems in the middle east. Of course the only problem the UN sees in the middle east is Israel so go figure.

DeathtotheSwiss on January 6, 2007 at 11:05 PM

This leak is just one more link in the chain of events–starting with that sh*tbag Murtha shooting off his mouth and declaring them guilty in the press–that pretty much guarantees these poor Marines will never get a fair trial. It’s disgraceful, and they deserve better–nobody deserves a fair hearing more than the doorkickers who put their lives on the line for all of us every day. And the exact same people who cry their eyes out for convicted murderers like Tookie or Mumia Al-Jamal have already convicted these Marines in the court of public opinion before a trial even starts. It’s a f*cking travesty.

ReubenJCogburn on January 6, 2007 at 11:10 PM

If these guys had studied harder, they wouldn’t be in this position.

ha, ha.
We, as a nation, are sending the message that volunteering to serve your country…
to risk your life…
to give up the comforts of living in the wealthiest society in the history of the planet…

is a sucker’s play.

billy on January 6, 2007 at 11:31 PM

If these were minorities who had shot a cop the ACLU would be all over the press to get them to drop all charges.

Gwillie on January 6, 2007 at 11:34 PM

Stay tuned for more leaks and innuendoes, as DoD does its level best to make this look every inch the political show trial the Marines’ defenders suspected it would be.

AllahPundit

I’m not sure I buy that the Marine Corps will let this turn into a show trial. My bet is that the leaker is a DOD bureaucrat and not a military person. The officers on the court martial will be Marines. Marines have something more than a modicum of honesty, integrity, and honor when it comes to cashiering those who have been fighting for their lives in a combat zone.

The telling and most enlightening portion of your post is this:

One person who has read the N.C.I.S. report and who is sympathetic to the marines’ account of events said that its thousands of pages provides evidence for both prosecution and defense teams, and that drawing conclusions from it about the guilt of any of the accused marines is difficult.

“For every statement that said X happened, there’s another statement that said Y happened,” this person said, speaking only after being granted anonymity, because he was not authorized to discuss the report.

Therefore, although I think Congressmen will try to make political hay over this, I doubt the Marine Corps will, and I don’t think DOD will either. Neither is looking to prove that our Marines are bloodthirsty renegades. And that is not likely how the trial outcomes will show up. I smell a thorough investigation and a reasonable doubt acquittal ahead, at least if the Times info is correct about there being plenty for both sides. Let’s avoid any rush to judgment of either our Marines, of DOD, or of the United States Marine Corps.

Subsunk

Subsunk on January 6, 2007 at 11:36 PM

Thanks Freelancer.

This is a heartbreaker for me. My father was a Marine so I have a bit of a soft heart for these guys.

If he’s guilty, he deserves what he gets for dishonoring the Corps. However, I just don’t see him getting much of a fair trial. It looks to me his career in the Marines is over with no matter how it turns out.

.

GT on January 6, 2007 at 11:38 PM

I’m so sick and tired of how the media is always trying to undermine our military. War is hell. People die. Sometimes innocent people get caught in the middle. Stop busting the chops of my brothers in arms for doing their effen jobs. These soldiers were engaged with an enemy that looks, acts and for that matter is the local population. Had I been there, who is to say whether or not I would have done the same thing, whatever that was? This is no clear case by any means. Things look different in the heat of battle than they do in hindsight by the light of day. Given the choice about whom to believe, I’ll give the benefeit of the doubt to our guys who were there than some armchair lawyer or reporter who has never known what it feels like to react to a IED that was set off by someone in the immediate vicinity. Anybody could be the insurgent. How hard it must be to suppress the self preservation instinct to waste everybody in sight. These guys are freakin soldiers not cops. As far as rules of engagement go, in a situation where my convoy is in the process of being blown up, I’m taking fire from multiple directions and split second decisions have to be made, my only rule is to survive by any means necessary. These guys may have been overwhelmed by combat which may give them the appearance of acting inhumanely and even unprofessional but it would be wrong to call them criminals. Pull them out of combat positions if you have doubts but don’t prosecute them. If there are any criminals to be had in this case, I would look to the MSM that commits treason every chance they get.

Guardian on January 6, 2007 at 11:40 PM

Stay tuned for more leaks and innuendoes, as DoD does its level best to make this look every inch the political show trial the Marines’ defenders suspected it would be.

I am trying to think of a scenario better designed to undermine our support for the policy on Iraq than the DoD prosecuting our own Marines for killing this scum.

I can’t.

Jaibones on January 6, 2007 at 11:43 PM

So we have leaks and then leaks to disparage/discredit the leaks..oh great..where is the “FAIR TRIAL” aspect in this? Not to mention “innocent until PROVEN guilty”?

Let us not forget one VERY IMPORTANT THING……….THIS IS WAR. PERIOD.

You shoot at our guys and if you are cowardly enough to shoot using human shields..TOO BAD FOR THEM AND FOR YOU.

THIS IS WAR. And in a WAR during the heat of battle and the confusion that arises, sometimes bad things happen. DEAL WITH IT.

And let our Military people conduct a WAR the way it should be done…RUTHLESSLY. The ONLY thing the ENEMY understands is POWER…USE IT...we have the MOST POWER.

Strong Horse..Weak Horse..it is high time we stopped trying to find a middle ground

labwrs on January 6, 2007 at 11:46 PM

I think these guys are getting Nifonged and it’s the same kind of people with the same kind of impulses who are behind it.

Perchant on January 6, 2007 at 11:56 PM

My lord, I have had WWII vets tell me about things they did to Japs, SS soldiers and mayors/party officials….

Cut these guys some slack. They were in a war zone, where you can’t tell friend from foe. For all they know those 4 in the taxi used a cell phone to kill their buddy.

Send them home and thank them for their service.

The most amazing thing about this is that we gave a President a monument on the mall who executed innocent Indians in Minnesota to keep office he was about to lose and openly pushed for rapists and murderers in the military to take leadership roles. Don’t even get me started on Lincoln’s knowledge of Sherman’s raping and murdering march….

Tim Burton on January 7, 2007 at 12:05 AM

So, when do we start hanging generals out to dry?

spmat on January 7, 2007 at 12:06 AM

Oh wait, generals just get replaced.

spmat on January 7, 2007 at 12:07 AM

Your first duty in a war is to stay alive, protect your brothers in arms, and to win the battle at hand.

These guys did all three.

The out-of-uniform insurgents and terrorist-jihadist “fish” have used the “sea” of civilians to try to gain an advantage over our uniformed military forces, just as Mao recommended in his classic on guerrilla warfare. This endangers those very civilians, and sometimes they get caught in the deadly chaos.

That our soldiers and marines are being prosecuted for doing their damned best when thrown into this unconventional sh*t by a strategically indecisive government is a sick joke.

Demote any who failed to file an accurate report about this incident, and then get back to fighting to save our threatened Civilization from the militant Islamic Imperialist maniacs carbombing the gates.

profitsbeard on January 7, 2007 at 12:07 AM

Servicemembers are professionals trained to conduct themsevles in a chaotic situation that has no civilian counterpart.

That being said. War, and HOW our servicemembers are trained to operate, still has rules.

Collateral damage does exist in warfare and, if not excessive, is permissible. Executions, not so much.

Whether these men violated those rules remains to be seen, and they are entitled to a full and fair trial. If innocent, exonerate them fully. If guilty, slam them. Fully.

But enough of this “let’s mow everybody down” bullsh*t.

armylawyer on January 7, 2007 at 12:09 AM

Whether these men violated those rules remains to be seen, and they are entitled to a full and fair trial. If innocent, exonerate them fully. If guilty, slam them. Fully.

But enough of this “let’s mow everybody down” bullsh*t.

Well said. Some of you guys are amazing.

Allahpundit on January 7, 2007 at 12:17 AM

I have no problem with a trooper using any and all means to defend himself and his combat buddies.

I just pray they are given the tools to deal with any mistakes they might make in the fog of war. They all too often turn on themselves and have a hard time dealing with it.

I have a relative who was in the 101st and he came back really messed up because of what he seen over there. I would bear every burden , every nightmare, and every fear he feels if it meant he could get on with his life.

My humility in the face of their courage and sacrifice cannot be expressed by word or deed.

God bless everyone of you!

csdeven on January 7, 2007 at 12:19 AM

As one other reader noted in another thread, it is not a “leak”, it’s a FLOOD!

I will be reading Orson Scott Card’s novel Empire soon. I wonder just how prolific it will be……..

TwinkietheKid on January 7, 2007 at 12:48 AM

Freelancer wrote:

I’m afraid not. A general courts martial may establish it’s own parameters of judgement, but it is based primarily on the preponderance of evidence. A murder case may get a long list of additional strictures, a war-time murder case with immense external attention is likely to get more. But in the end, the panel (jury) decides guilt or innocence, and there are no appeals.

Where did you get that crap. None of that is true. Please stop spreading such lies around. Under the UCMJ there is the same “beyond a reasonable doubt” burden of proof as in civilian courts. Furthermore, in cases like this an appeal is AUTOMATIC and MANDATORY to the military review court and, like the civilian courts, new evidence or circumstance can be the basis for further appeals which can (and have) reached all the way to the Supreme Court. And what’s this about a murder case getting a long list of additional “strictures.” What the heck does that mean? There are charges and specifications in UCMJ cases which are equivalent to civilian courts.

Finally, the military court system provides benefits to the accused not found in civilian courts. For example, at article 32 hearings (the UCMJ equivalent of a grand jury), the accused can see evidence and cross-examine witnesses and therefore ultimately affect the art. 32 decision. Not so in a civilian grand jury. Furthermore, the Convening Authority (the officer with the authority to have the case tried that oversees the process (in this case it’s Lt Gen. Mattis)) can review the sentences and eliminate or lower them pretty much as he/she see’s fit. The CA cannot increase or add punishments however. This was put into place as a check and balance on the members jury system – a feature not found in civilian courts. So if there’s this immense pressure, as you claim, for the jury members to throw these guys under the bus, then the CA can correct that. CA action can also form the basis for further appeals.

In short, please do some research before typing completely bogus statements.

NPP on January 7, 2007 at 4:04 AM

The anit-war bed wetters (the leakers) have no honor.

Sounds to me that our Marines were engaged with the enemy and the fog of war set in. We will never win another war if we conduct it like this. War is war. People die. The only way to end the killing is to win the war, not question every single round fired.

For more than a year now I have been reading about the short comings of precision bombing as applied in net centric warfare. Please forgive me, but it may be time to take out neighborhoods not single buildings when the enemy is engaged in this type of action. A disincentive to harbor anti-government combatants must be presented to these neighborhood hot spots. It’s a ghastly idea, I know, but to win it must be done.

Zorro on January 7, 2007 at 7:25 AM

Adapting to tactics will never become obsoltete. It’s the primary function of successful warfare.

But just remember not to fal in line with the bad news and get the same mindset of the surrenderists. We still have an over 50 to 1 Kills to Deaths Urban Ratio in Iraq.

That’s unheard of in any war.

Remember Khe Sahn.

And if you don’t… move to Paris.

Ringmaster on January 7, 2007 at 8:27 AM

Take the lawyers, the press, the leakers and strap them to the outsides of the humvees. That way they take the first hit.

dhimwit on January 7, 2007 at 8:33 AM

Wonder if this sort of thing will cause a technicality.

One Angry Christian on January 7, 2007 at 10:18 AM

Collateral damage does exist in warfare and, if not excessive, is permissible. Executions, not so much.

Whether these men violated those rules remains to be seen, and they are entitled to a full and fair trial. If innocent, exonerate them fully. If guilty, slam them. Fully.

But enough of this “let’s mow everybody down” bullsh*t.

armylawyer on January 7, 2007 at 12:09 AM

The voice of reason, and perhaps experience. Thank you for this, it was brave of you in this forum!

THeDRiFTeR on January 7, 2007 at 12:19 PM

Whatever happens, there is going to be a rude noisy crowd that is going to be convinced that they should have been sentenced to death and executed promptly. There will be no exoneration for the accused, whatever happens, even if it is deserved.

A fair trial and honest verdict is all they can hope for, and it is far more likely they will get those at the hands of a USMC courtmarital than in the press or a civilian court.

htom on January 7, 2007 at 1:02 PM

Unless AP removed the “let’s mow everybody down” posts, I am curious about what “armylawyer” is referring to in this forum.

Others pretty much already said what he (or she) did, and recommending only that we give them the “innocent until PROVEN guilty” benefit of the doubt (and not have them un-Constitutionally MURTA’d out of their U.S. rights) meanwhile.

And I am also wondering what “ThE DrIfTer” is singling out as “brave” in the post when the worst that could happen, in response, is something as electronically-ephemeral as being flamed on a harmless little computer screen. (None of which occurred in any case.)

profitsbeard on January 7, 2007 at 1:48 PM

Whether these men violated those rules remains to be seen, and they are entitled to a full and fair trial. If innocent, exonerate them fully. If guilty, slam them. Fully.

But enough of this “let’s mow everybody down” bullsh*t.

Well said. Some of you guys are amazing.

Hey, A-man. Those ‘students’ – didn’t the second one from the right just reach for his cellphone? Two of them with their hands in the air – were they just saying “Allahu Akbar”? How many kilos of IED fit into the trunk of a Baghdad taxi? That sound – is that bass notes from that passing Opel or is that my own pulse in my eardrums? The dude with the cell, we’re pointing rifles at him – who’s he calling, his freakin’ lawyer? The freakin’ Iraqi ACLU? Or is he calling his cousin – the one who’s three brothers all have RPKs? Those dudes in the houses we just cleared? Hey wait! Is that a cell or a Beretta Tomcat? Dude cannot shoot his way out of this. Must be a cell. Why won’t he drop it?. “Allahu Akbar.” Again? No martyrs today, these dudes are going down.

Was the internal dialog of one of the Marines just like that?
I dunno. Neither do you. Maybe.
Anyway, the aftermath of a squad of Marines in mow them all down mode in an urban setting would not look anything like the scene in Haditha. So shouldn’t you and armylawyer be contextualizing your positions and the positions of commenters here a little better?
People can try to throw an immunity blanket on the taxi incident and still be a long, long way from being on Team Mow ‘em All Down. Look out your window and really think about what a Berserker squad of modern infantry could do to your neighborhood in 60-120 minutes. Dude.

Stephen M on January 7, 2007 at 2:45 PM

Amen Stephen M.!

Guardian on January 7, 2007 at 3:56 PM

DriftedOutToSea thinks it’s brave to agree with the proprietor of this blog?

Weird.

Spiny Norman on January 7, 2007 at 5:34 PM

DriftedOutToSea thinks it’s brave to agree with the proprietor of this blog?

Weird.

Spiny Norman on January 7, 2007 at 5:34 PM

Sometimes yes, I do. See AllahPundits views on gay marriage for instance as well as this issue, and others. Views I share, btw. And AllahPundit and I hardly agree on everything. There’s a pretty rabid readership here sometimes.

THeDRiFTeR on January 7, 2007 at 5:47 PM

By the way Spiny Norman, I’ll think you’ll find that it was the proprietor of this blog that agreed with the poster, armylawyer.

THeDRiFTeR on January 7, 2007 at 5:57 PM

DriftedOutToSea thinks it’s brave to agree with the proprietor of this blog?

Sometimes yes, I do.

Brave, I tell you! Weathering the constant barrage of death threats, public persecutions, show trials and rank intimidation rampant on this board. Buck up soldiers, and never forget Dan Rather’s important message: “Courage…”

RD on January 7, 2007 at 6:24 PM

We’ll start winning this war when crap like this stops!
Our enemy, the takfiri or jihadists, if you will, along with their enablers in the MSM, especially the NYSlimes and the BrainWashedPost, are using their one of their oldest tactics to win the war–claiming a “massacre” was committed on “civilians” by soldiers of the Good Guys and halting combat, perhaps permanently thereby.
They did it to the Israels for almost 60 years and are still doing it in Gaza and the West Bank. They used it on the IDF in Beirut in the 70′s and 80′s and they used the tactic as recently as this past summer in the Israeli war against the Hezbos. And now they’re doing it to us.
Sometimes, in wartime, civilians get killed and sometimes, in wartime, a soldier or two goes over the top, but a whole squad?
No, I’m not buying it.
The sooner we stop letting the bad guys whine that our soldiers are committing “murder” and that they’re not resulting deaths from enemy action, the sooner we will see victory.
The Rules of Engagement are what is losing us this war and these “trials” for “murder” and “rape” are one of the symptoms of that sickness; in point of fact, the ROE were made even more PC and restrictive because of incidents like this very “massacre.”
I’m not saying “let’s mow everyone down” in the least, but 99.9% of our soldiers are good, ethical, trained men who need the freedom to use their judgement and discernment about when or if the use of deadly force in battle is necessary!

Jen the Neocon on January 7, 2007 at 6:30 PM

Looks like my comment respectfully taking issuing with the host and army lawyer has been censored?

Jen the Neocon on January 7, 2007 at 6:35 PM

How many of you on here ever saw actual combat ?Nnot that is matter’s to some of you but it sure does to me. I was in Nam, in Khe Sanh,Dong Ha, Quang Tri, at Di Do. Bullets and stuff flying at you is no picnic and you have split second descions to make period. Nobody knows what happened , but everyone has an opinion. These marines will ONLY get a fair hearing from a military court, not the press. I have a nephew that is actually working on yhis case. Do you think he does it from his arm chair and pc? No he goes to Iraq in the HOT ZONE not back at a hotel in the green zone and gets all the facts. Please give these guys a fr**kin break. Semper Fi

bones47 on January 7, 2007 at 8:31 PM

Whether these men violated those rules remains to be seen, and they are entitled to a full and fair trial. If innocent, exonerate them fully. If guilty, slam them. Fully.

But enough of this “let’s mow everybody down” bullsh*t.

armylawyer on January 7, 2007 at 12:09 AM

I completely agree, but as an American, I do wish we treated our troops with a little more dignity so as to give them the benefit of doubt, at least as gratitude for their service.

Esthier on January 8, 2007 at 8:28 AM

Looks like my comment respectfully taking issuing with the host and army lawyer has been censored?

Jen the Neocon on January 7, 2007 at 6:35 PM

How so?

Esthier on January 8, 2007 at 8:30 AM

I was a bit premature, Esthier…apparently, the webmaster had to think about it before he/she decided that it was OK.

Jen the Neocon on January 8, 2007 at 7:26 PM