Newsmax: Haditha investigators doctored drone video to incriminate Marines; Update: Investigating officer’s report added

posted at 12:38 pm on September 6, 2007 by Allahpundit

We were overdue for a new bombshell from Phil Brennan. Read this for background. He’s got an intelligence source on the inside who’s been saying since last year that the drone video taken that day supports the Marines’ belief that there were jihadis in the area such that their assault on the locals’ homes was really an act of self-defense under fire. Problem: the drone video’s now been released to CNN and it doesn’t show any jihadis. Solution: the video was doctored.

Had the entire video been shown it would have revealed that the Marines knew exactly “who was inside” – insurgents were clearly shown entering the target buildings before the structures were bombed. If CNN had been able “to review the whole video, they would see that we did indeed have a definitive idea of who was inside,’” an intelligence officer told NewsMax.

The insurgents’ car parked outside the buildings “was packed to the gills with weapons, and we had just witnessed them complete an ambush on our ambulance,” the officer said. “We saw them enter the house, clapping each other on the back and congratulating themselves.”…

“This 8 to 10 hours, viewed in its entirety, shows men in black, with weapons, fleeing the neighborhood of houses 1, 2, 3 and 4 [the area where the civilians and eight of the insurgents were killed]. It follows their route as they meet up with other insurgents throughout the city. It clearly demonstrates the magnitude of the insurgents’ organization, skill, and timing in attacking Marines.”

The video, he recalled, “shows them parking, exiting the vehicle, and entering the housing complex. It shows Marines assaulting the building, insurgents fleeing out the back of the building, and Marines falling back from the assault as the insurgents defend the house.”

Funny thing: Frank Wuterich, who’s being court-martialed at this very moment for 13 counts of murder, never mentioned any of this when he finally spoke out about the incident on “60 Minutes” earlier this year. In fact, the only enemy action Wuterich claimed he was aware of after the IED went off was two or three shots which he heard coming from the south. Whether that was insurgent fire or Marines firing in another part of the city is unclear; it’s been widely reported that there was a lot of activity in the city that day. The reason they assaulted the first house was because it too lay to the south and Wuterich assumed that the fire must be coming from them — even though he admitted to Scott Pelley that he didn’t see any muzzle flashes or other indication of trouble inside the building. That was a key problem for another Marine officer interviewed by 60 Minutes for the segment, who said there are occasions when it’s appropriate to blind-fire into a structure if you know for a fact that there are some enemy combatants in there. How can you know, he was asked. “[A]lmost always, you have to see them,” he replied.

The interesting question will come if Newsmax is right and the tape does prove that jihadis were in the area but the Marines didn’t know about them. Whether the killings were negligent or not should turn, in theory, on the Marines’ mental state: if they went in aiming to neutralize the whole site without a strong belief that there were enemies behind the door, then from the standpoint of criminal law it shouldn’t matter if there were, in fact, enemies in the vicinity. Which is another way of saying, when is it okay to shoot first and ask questions later? The Corps is weighing that question as we speak.

Update: Thanks to Bryan for forwarding me a copy of the investigating officer’s report recommending all charges be dropped against Lance Cpl. Stephen Tatum for his role in the incident. Here are the key passages regarding the assault on the first house. The key exculpatory factor: the sound of an AK-47 being racked as they approach the building. No weapon was ever found, as far as I know, although doubtless Newsmax would say it’s because the jihadis inside fled out the back door before the Marines broke through. Needless to say, this strongly contradicts the opinion given on 60 Minutes that visual identification is necessary.

haditha1.jpg

haditha2.jpg

haditha3.jpg

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Which is another way of saying, when is it okay to shoot first and ask questions later?

When the lives of our troops are on the line.

amerpundit on September 6, 2007 at 12:43 PM

Yes, and that’s the question. Were they on the line?

Allahpundit on September 6, 2007 at 12:43 PM

It really gets down to the 6 prisoners who were said to have attempted to run away. The thought is that the were planning an IED explosion using their car. Considering an IED just went off and we have had numberous car bombs that is more the important mindset than if shooting was going off in the area

William Amos on September 6, 2007 at 12:47 PM

Yes, and that’s the question. Were they on the line?

Allahpundit on September 6, 2007 at 12:43 PM

Were they or were they not being shot at?

doriangrey on September 6, 2007 at 12:48 PM

Well that would depend on if the Marines felt threatened, IMO. If I raise a gun at a cop, and he shoots me, was it murder on his part? If they felt they were in imminent danger of being injured or killed, I think shooting would be justified.

amerpundit on September 6, 2007 at 12:49 PM

And, you know, this is probably a question the Marines should’ve debated before this happened. After it happens isn’t a time to decide what the rules are.

amerpundit on September 6, 2007 at 12:50 PM

Again it isnt just the shooting. The threat was another possible IED attack in their minds

IEDs have been trigger from inside of houses. ANd one had just gone off and was thought to have been one of the houses in the area

William Amos on September 6, 2007 at 12:51 PM

Allah, do you have a reason to doubt Phil Brennan’s inside source?
Or is this (implied) misconduct just too good to be true?

PattyAnn on September 6, 2007 at 12:51 PM

Oh and the whole notion that CNN might have doctored the video so as to support their ideological position on the war, well obviously preposterous. /snark

doriangrey on September 6, 2007 at 12:52 PM

If it were my son or daughter in that situation, I would say shoot first ask questions later. No, wait, I believe I DID say that to my son when he was going to Iraq! “These insurgents to NOT use the same rules of enguagement, protect yourself and your buddies Shoot first and ask questions later”

ChrisIansNana on September 6, 2007 at 12:56 PM

The Marine intelligence officer who monitored the Scan Eagle’s video transmissions throughout the day told NewsMax that there was continuous video feed from the Scan Eagle for 8 to 10 hours. Yet barely an hour of it was provided to the Marines’ defense teams by the prosecution or the Naval Criminal Investigation Service.

Sounds like NewsMax has a credible source who clearly recalls what was on the unedited video. But the story does not establish what became of the unedited video. Troubling.

RushBaby on September 6, 2007 at 12:56 PM

“The government has spared no expense seeking to find wrongdoing on the part of our hard-fighting Marines. They should spend like resources investigating … allegations of investigatory misconduct.”

They better.

Zetterson on September 6, 2007 at 12:58 PM

I don’t think CNN altered the video, however. CNN presented the story almost as evidence that it didn’t happen:

The Scan Eagle arrived about 30 minutes after the initial bomb attack on the Marines and does not show the the civilians being killed.

The video appears to show that, throughout that day, Marines engaged in fierce firefights and called in air strikes to level buildings — often with no definitive idea of who was inside.

That could buttress defense arguments that Marines clearing buildings on the ground with guns and grenades were just following rules of engagement.

At least that’s how I took it.

amerpundit on September 6, 2007 at 12:58 PM

Oh and the whole notion that CNN might have doctored the video so as to support their ideological position on the war, well obviously preposterous. /snark

doriangrey on September 6, 2007 at 12:52 PM

The article implicates the Naval Criminal Investigation Service, not CNN

JiangxiDad on September 6, 2007 at 12:59 PM

to = do I guess I should use the preview button. duh!

ChrisIansNana on September 6, 2007 at 12:59 PM

Yes, and that’s the question. Were they on the line?

Allahpundit on September 6, 2007 at 12:43 PM

Were they or were they not being shot at?

doriangrey on September 6, 2007 at 12:48 PM

It’s also okay, in my book, to shoot to kill the enemy even if not immediately threatened.

If there were enemy their, then striking them with massive firepower is a valid military solution.

Maybe not the best one. But certainly one.

Christoph on September 6, 2007 at 1:00 PM

Ever feel the hot breath of a near miss or maybe hear the high pitch whizz made by the chunk of lead that hits the guy that saved your life the day before?

Try that day after day and see if your attitude about muzzle flashes, safe houses and ROE changes a teeny tiny little bit.

In my opinion the standard to which we hold our soldiers is higher than ever before and they suffer for our ninny self righteous abhorrence of the incredible hell they go through.

Speakup on September 6, 2007 at 1:02 PM

And another jarring question: Why wasn’t the Marine intelligence officer who monitored the Scan Eagle’s video transmissions throughout the day available to the defense – instead of turning up at this late date as an anonymous whistleblower?

RushBaby on September 6, 2007 at 1:04 PM

Wars have to be horrible, or they never end. Wars must include civilian deaths, or they will never end. By necessity war zones must be hell on earth.
.
These marines should never have been put on trial. Rather, they should be given medals for being brave enough to be there, serving, in the first place.

AZCON on September 6, 2007 at 1:04 PM

Brennan’s source had better be careful, or he will be sent in for mandatory preventative care.

pedestrian on September 6, 2007 at 1:05 PM

These marines should never have been put on trial. Rather, they should be given medals for being brave enough to be there, serving, in the first place.

AZCON on September 6, 2007 at 1:04 PM

AMEN!!

ChrisIansNana on September 6, 2007 at 1:07 PM

I thought doctored pictures and videos were ok now. The MSM have made them the journalistic norm; wasn’t the military following guidlines set by the MSM if they did doctor the videos?

right2bright on September 6, 2007 at 1:08 PM

It really gets down to the 6 prisoners who were said to have attempted to run away.

There’s also the family that was killed when one of the Marines cleared a room using a hand grenade. At least one Marine testified that he already cleared the building in question without firing a shot, then someone went in after him and rolled a grenade into one of the rooms.

BohicaTwentyTwo on September 6, 2007 at 1:10 PM

I doubt the marines in question intentionally killed the civilians. I doubt even more strongly that the marines would bother to have a civilian kneel before killing him/her.

Insurgents, on the other hand, are far more likely to engage in this kind of behavior, being cowards and all. Has that angle been pursued at all, to anyone’s knowledge?

Leonidas Hoplite on September 6, 2007 at 1:12 PM

Ever feel the hot breath of a near miss or maybe hear the high pitch whizz made by the chunk of lead that hits..

Speakup on September 6, 2007 at 1:02 PM

Up to that point I can say yes. Never been in military combat so beyond being caught in a few gang turf wars with hot lead flying in every direction no. As a result my personal feeling mirror those expressed in your last sentence.

In my opinion the standard to which we hold our soldiers is higher than ever before and they suffer for our ninny self righteous abhorrence of the incredible hell they go through.

Once the hot lead starts flying all bets and ROE need to be extremely flexible or they are all off.

doriangrey on September 6, 2007 at 1:15 PM

How many of the people deciding how the mind works in a close quarter firefights have been in one?

Pretty sickening when Americans go out their way to lie about the quality of Marines while ignoring the shear evil and brutality these Americans have to face everyday.

Hening on September 6, 2007 at 1:18 PM

When the lives of our troops are on the line.

amerpundit on September 6, 2007 at 12:43 PM

Or to have sufficient and reasonable belief that there lives were on the line. Considering the totality of the circumstances that have been revealed, I’d say it seems like they did.

thirteen28 on September 6, 2007 at 1:21 PM

I thought doctored pictures and videos were ok now.

Me too. I mean, we had to doctor the video in order to provide conclusive evidence of what we already know to be true.

Fake, but accurate.

saint kansas on September 6, 2007 at 1:26 PM

How many of the people deciding how the mind works in a close quarter firefights have been in one?

Pretty sickening when Americans go out their way to lie about the quality of Marines while ignoring the shear evil and brutality these Americans have to face everyday.

Hening on September 6, 2007 at 1:18 PM

Well I certainly know how my mind was working when a bunch of crazy imbeciles were shooting my neighborhood up. Laying on the floor while bullets are breaking your windows and slamming into your walls is a pretty fucked up feeling. Not having a weapon to fire back with or having some stupid ROE that prevents you from properly defending yourself is even worse.

doriangrey on September 6, 2007 at 1:27 PM

These marines should never have been put on trial. Rather, they should be given medals for being brave enough to be there, serving, in the first place.

AZCON on September 6, 2007 at 1:04 PM
AMEN!!

ChrisIansNana on September 6, 2007 at 1:07 PM

I will second that AMEN!
.
The fact that some Americans are even questioning our Brave Troops throughout this WAR, is IMHO, directly due to the way the left wing media cover this WAR. What will it take for the media to become Americans again? A Democrat President?

abinitioadinfinitum on September 6, 2007 at 1:28 PM

What will it take for the media to become Americans again? A Democrat President?

abinitioadinfinitum on September 6, 2007 at 1:28 PM

I’m thinking a couple dozen treason and sedition convictions.

doriangrey on September 6, 2007 at 1:35 PM

Hoo-yah, doriangray!

Alright, I’m off to work, fellow conservatives and Allahpundit.

In case I don’t see you, good afternoon, good evening, and good night!

Christoph on September 6, 2007 at 1:37 PM

(and AP, it was a joke…)

Christoph on September 6, 2007 at 1:38 PM

Hoo-yah, doriangray!

In case I don’t see you, good afternoon, good evening, and good night!

Christoph on September 6, 2007 at 1:37 PM

I guess I will just have to sit back drink a few beers and reflect on some thing or other……Until then…..

doriangrey on September 6, 2007 at 1:43 PM

Allahpundit,
I was just listening to Rush and he played what Sen.
Schumer said on the house or senate floor. It was on C-Span. He did one of the best anti-military speech’s
of his career. We owe the safety of Iraq to the
warlords. Not the U.S Military.
The scum ham has gotten a bit thicker in the Dem party.

Texyank on September 6, 2007 at 1:49 PM

Allahpundit,
I was just listening to Rush and he played what Sen.
Schumer said on the house or senate floor. It was on C-Span. He did one of the best anti-military speech’s
of his career. We owe the safety of Iraq to the
warlords. Not the U.S Military.
The scum has gotten a bit thicker in the Dem party.

Texyank on September 6, 2007 at 1:49 PM

http://washingtontimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070906/NATION/109060064/1001

Texyank on September 6, 2007 at 1:52 PM

Hoo-yah,

Christoph on September 6, 2007 at 1:37 PM

For some dang reason that Hoo-yah keeps reminding me of character played by Al Pacino (Lieutenant Colonel Frank Slade)in the movie “Scent of a woman”.

doriangrey on September 6, 2007 at 1:53 PM

For some dang reason that Hoo-yah keeps reminding me of character played by Al Pacino (Lieutenant Colonel Frank Slade)in the movie “Scent of a woman”.

Heh. Yeah.

Thanks for the link, Texyank.

Spirit of 1776 on September 6, 2007 at 2:06 PM

Next thing you know they will be required to go in, get signed affidavits from the ‘insurgants’ that they are, in fact, terrorist and would like nothing better then to kill you, your family, and entire way of life, by any means possible, then leave and come back and knock on the door gently before entering the room……

CrazyFool on September 6, 2007 at 2:08 PM

I HATE this Monday morning quarterbacking that has become a part of what the military has to deal with. No wonder it’s becoming more and more difficult to win battles. While I don’t want anyone going off half cocked…I say if there is any evidence, no matter how small, that the soldiers felt they were doing the right thing then move on, move on quickly and get to the next battle. We don’t need to turn our fighting force into a season of Law and Order:Haditha.

b4itsover on September 6, 2007 at 2:20 PM

I thought there were ways to tell if a video was doctored or parts of it were deleted. If this is the case, why wasn’t this checked by someone whose job it is to do this? And, I also heard the Schumer piece—I was truly disgusted. But, on the plus side, it will probably lose the Dems every military vote there is out there plus all their families. The anti-war people keep on beating their dead horse, I guess it gives them something to do.

jeanie on September 6, 2007 at 2:20 PM

IED placed in front of someones house that blows up soldiers without any attempt by the residents to warn the soldiers makes those residents at the least complicit at best the actual IED placers.

frreal on September 6, 2007 at 2:28 PM

Is the investigating officer’s report recommending all charges be dropped against Lance Cpl. Stephen Tatum available somewhere? I keep seeing images of the text but I don’t see links…can’t find it anywhere. Should be public domain but I guess I don’t know where to look.

Pilgrim on September 6, 2007 at 2:55 PM

Yes, and that’s the question. Were they on the line?
Allahpundit on September 6, 2007 at 12:43 PM

I’d argue that their lives are always on the line. But that is not PC, so I agree that they were in imminent danger and were clear to protect themselves.

csdeven on September 6, 2007 at 2:59 PM

Folks, we are watching in this Haditha case what happens when warriors follow through on sound military doctrine. Courts Martial, ugly press, and idiot congressman frothing at the mouth.

Go get “Lone Survivor” and read about what happens when “sound military doctrine” is set aside in favor of keeping their butts out of civilian jails.

A good book review here and some blood boiling material here.

Pilgrim on September 6, 2007 at 3:03 PM

abinitioadinfinitum on September 6, 2007 at 1:28 PM

I give it a third!

csdeven on September 6, 2007 at 3:05 PM

IED placed in front of someones house that blows up soldiers without any attempt by the residents to warn the soldiers makes those residents at the least complicit at best the actual IED placers.

There is no rule of war that requires civilians to notify soldiers of an occupying power that they may come under attack.

I understand this may pi$$ off the soldiers, but it’s true. And if they’re equally complicity, do we kill them?

Christoph on September 6, 2007 at 3:07 PM

csdeven on September 6, 2007 at 3:05 PM

I pray your kid never has to endure this kind of cr@p…Oh and extend to him my humble gratitude for his service…

doriangrey on September 6, 2007 at 3:12 PM

The military has waged this war with more precision and humanity, and less collateral damage than any war in history. The entire mission is geared towards protecting the civilian population, to the point that the ROE has become so comlpex and restrictive that it endangers lives. But the soldiers and marines follow it, because they understand the importance of the mission and they believe in it.

The military is a big organization, and sometimes a rotten fish slips through the net. But the fact that some of our politicians see to crapping on our servicemen and women as often as they can is truly digusting.

BadgerHawk on September 6, 2007 at 5:12 PM

In my opinion the standard to which we hold our soldiers is higher than ever before and they suffer for our ninny self righteous abhorrence of the incredible hell they go through.

Speakup on September 6, 2007 at 1:02 PM

Yep. Fighting a morally acceptable war against a barbaric enemy not constrained by our strict ROE has got to be the hardest job on the planet. Hands down.

God bless our Troops. They’re making things work dispite the ROE, and they’re some of the most honorable individuals ever to walk this planet. Statesman Warriors. Grossly and sadly under-appreciated in their time.

techno_barbarian on September 6, 2007 at 5:56 PM

Yes, and that’s the question. Were they on the line?

Allahpundit on September 6, 2007 at 12:43 PM

Sorry Allah, for once I have to disagree with you. I’m not sure that you are fully qualified to evaluate that from behind your computer monitor. You are doing what this 2 time Iraq vet hates most about the liberal anti-war/CYA brass. You are questioning the actions made in the heat of combat… when the decisions made will determine not only your own survival, but those of the Soldiers you are charged with leading. You are questioning those decisions from the complete safety of your desk and with the luxury of months of 20/20 hindight.

How many times have we been burned by videos that only show part of the story and lack what lead to the end result (hello, Rodney King)? If they say they heard an AK-47, I believe them. Only those who are stupid or liberal, or both, would ask someone in combat to put their or their soldiers lives in more danger by holding back just in case that wasn’t really an RPG coming at you… maybe it was a kid with a really big bottle rocket? Where do we draw the line? How many steps do we have to have to allow our men to defend themselves? Gosh, not like we are at war or anything? The ROE in Iraq is better than say my deployment to Kosovo… but it is still full of stupid steps made by lawyers who sit behind desks.

Ever clear a room? You should learn. It is stressful in training, but nothing like the real thing…

BadBrad on September 6, 2007 at 8:35 PM

It really pisses me off every time I hear some jackass trying to apply law-enforcement standards to war. Bad things happen in war. That’s why it’s called war.

If ‘civilians’ don’t want to get killed by our troops, they shouldn’t harbor terrorists. Damn near everyone in Iraq is armed, and it’s not like AQI has tanks or bombers, so the “We had no choice” defense is a bunch of BS.

He’s got an AK, you’ve got an AK. How can he force you to do anything, especially something that can get your entire family killed? Look at what happened in Anbar when the locals got sick of the jihadists. Kicked their asses clean out of the province.

Combatant or non-combatant, the enemy is the enemy. We didn’t try Curtis LeMay for war crimes, and at Haditha, the collateral damage wasn’t even intentional.

/rant

ticticboom on September 6, 2007 at 8:35 PM

csdeven on September 6, 2007 at 3:05 PM
I pray your kid never has to endure this kind of cr@p…Oh and extend to him my humble gratitude for his service…
doriangrey on September 6, 2007 at 3:12 PM

Yeah, us too. He was home this weekend for his sisters wedding and the night before he left, we had a real serious emotional talk about the ROE’s. The reports are true. ROE’s state that when an IED goes off, EVERYONE running is considered a threat. EVERYONE. This shook him up pretty good and even though he will perform his duty as ordered, he is concerned for his standing with God if he kills an innocent because of these orders. It was real emotional, and I wished I could take his place, because I would kill those bastards with extreme prejudice! Any son-of-a-8itch that refuses to point out the bad guys in their own towns and allows our troops to walk into ambushes when they are trying to help them has no right to my sympathy.

But he’s 19 and has to work this out on his own. He understands that they live in a culture of death and the mere attempt to save ones own life is considered an affront to Allah. I told him to shed no tears, protect himself and his buddies at all times and leave it up to God to decide who is innocent.

I have and will tell him of everyone’s unfailing support. It’s very much appreciated.

Peace and cheers.

csdeven on September 6, 2007 at 8:58 PM

It’s a war zone.

Vehicle and soldier blown up.

Houses have been known to be booby-trapped, exploding and killing almost an entire squad as they entered one.

In war, people die.

Unless these soldiers drove out to a peaceful area and randomly started killing people, this entire inquiry is absurd.

It’s a war zone.

People, even civilians, die.

I agree with AZCON.

Commendations, not condemnations.

They get sent into an illegal enemy combatant sectarian hellhole, and they’re supposed to be tip-toeing around like NGO social workers?

It’s their job to come out alive, and let the other s.o.b. die for his side.

They have my gratitude for their bravery.

profitsbeard on September 7, 2007 at 12:30 AM