Cleared Haditha Marine given immunity to testify against Wuterich

posted at 3:14 pm on March 29, 2008 by Allahpundit

I knew something was up. Wuterich’s always been the focus: He led the assault on the houses and was charged with 13 counts of murder before they dialed it down to voluntary manslaughter. Another Marine, Sanick De La Cruz, got the same deal last year that Tatum’s getting now, presumably so that he can tell the court about Wuterich allegedly shooting five Iraqi men in cold blood and then pissing on one of their corpses.

They need one conviction out of this mess to avoid a complete fiasco, so they’re going for broke.

Lance Cpl. Stephen B. Tatum, who has admitted shooting civilians inside their homes as part of a pursuit of insurgents, was cleared and granted immunity to testify in further hearings related to the investigation. The move leaves only Staff Sgt. Frank D. Wuterich to face charges in connection with the shootings on Nov. 19, 2005…

Officials close to the Haditha case said they think prosecutors dismissed the charges in order to pursue Wuterich aggressively at trial. The cases against three of the Marines accused of shooting civilians have fallen apart, and Wuterich remains the only one left for prosecutors to target for accountability. Wuterich led the Marine squad and allegedly told his troops, as they approached a group of civilian homes that day, to shoot first and ask questions later.

Jack Zimmermann, a civilian lawyer who represents Tatum, said yesterday that his client will testify if called as a witness but emphasized that no deal was struck in exchange for his testimony. Tatum’s statements to investigators place Wuterich in the homes and indicate that Wuterich was shooting at civilians, and that Tatum followed suit. Wuterich’s lawyers have disputed that account.

Here again is the relevant excerpt from the inspecting officer’s report on Tatum; note the second sentence. A critical question at Wuterich’s upcoming court-martial: How reasonable was his judgment that the house was hostile?

haditha3.jpg

Update: To reiterate a point made in the blockquote, Tatum didn’t agree to any deal with prosecutors to testify against Wuterich. Prosecutors immunized him of their own accord so that he couldn’t claim his right against self-incrimination when they called him to testify. Commenters are objecting that my headline is misleading without that clarification, so there you go. Duly clarified.

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the whole Haditha thing makes me really REALLY mad at our government.

Drunk Report on March 29, 2008 at 3:19 PM

Jack Zimmermann, a civilian lawyer who represents Tatum, said yesterday that his client will testify if called as a witness but emphasized that no deal was struck in exchange for his testimony

Misleading headline…

Romeo13 on March 29, 2008 at 3:23 PM

“The dismissal of Tatum’s charges is yet another indication that there was a rush to judgment concerning the events of that day,” Zaid said. “I don’t know if we’re ever going to see or truly know exactly what happened, but I can say that there’s an argument to be made that the prosecution of these young Marines has caused more damage to our country’s reputation than the event itself.”

Spirit of 1776 on March 29, 2008 at 3:25 PM

Wow… this story pisses me off…

An Unnamed “Official close to the case” makes a smarmy accusation…

The Lawyer for the defendent goes on RECORD saying there is no deal…

And yet, the headline is that he was cleared so he could flip.

I raise the bull$hit flag.

Romeo13 on March 29, 2008 at 3:28 PM

Hey, sounds like this is just like civilian courts. The most important thing of all is that the prosecutor not be embarrassed and pick up some career enhancing points if possible. Isn’t that what plea bargains are all about?

a capella on March 29, 2008 at 3:28 PM

This has had a political stench since the beginning.

a capella on March 29, 2008 at 3:31 PM

Misleading headline…

It’s not misleading. I didn’t say he made a deal.

Allahpundit on March 29, 2008 at 3:32 PM

the whole Haditha thing makes me really REALLY mad at our government.

Drunk Report on March 29, 2008 at 3:19 PM

Agreed. And all these temper tantrums against Murtha are like kicking the dog when the boss mistreats you at work.

In this case, the “boss” is President Bush (not Murtha). The Haditha railroading and a number of other unnecessary and/or over-zealous courts martial against soldiers and Marines have been conducted throughout the duration of the current war with no opposition (thus, APPROVAL) from the White House.

In my view, there is something wrong with President Bush’s character for permitting this to go on. (Ignorance is no excuse, either.)

For those who think the President cannot stop such procedures: Think again. A phone call from the White House to the SecDef can make things change — and FAST.

More damning is the fact that DoD has apparently put more investigators on this Haditha case than it ever has on any other military investigation in history.

What is worse: The entire Haditha investigation grew out the article by an anti-war Time reporter who was NOT on hand for the original Haditha incident, but who came by some six months later and based his story on sources who were friendly to this country’s enemies.

The Haditha show trial should never have gotten off the ground.

The problem is the elephant in the room that no one ever seems to acknowledge in this forum: Lack of leadership and lack of character at the top: The VERY top — the White House top.

The pathetic Murtha is but a sideshow.

sanantonian on March 29, 2008 at 3:37 PM

The problem is the elephant in the room that no one ever seems to acknowledge in this forum: Lack of leadership and lack of character at the top: The VERY top — the White House top.

The pathetic Murtha is but a sideshow.

sanantonian on March 29, 2008 at 3:37 PM

I think most HA posters recognize the selective application of law enforcement in the present administration. It has been glaringly apparent as regards illegal immigration. This is no different.

a capella on March 29, 2008 at 3:46 PM

The pathetic Murtha is but a sideshow.

sanantonian on March 29, 2008 at 3:37 PM

You are right, of course. There are several aspects that relate to this administration where their reasonings have sincerely puzzled me. But on the “bright side” we can all look forward to Mattera ambushing the President, as appears to be his wont. Under the guise of the ‘Right to petition the government’ naturally.

Spirit of 1776 on March 29, 2008 at 4:03 PM

Please don’t forget about LTC Chessani the Battalion Commander. Last I heard he was still charged for not being omnicient and giving his soldier the benefit of the doubt in a clearly grey area.

BadBrad on March 29, 2008 at 4:05 PM

If no deal has been made after all of this, it leads me to believe that most of our soldiers continue to have each other’s back, on and off the battlefield.

THE CHOSEN ONE on March 29, 2008 at 4:07 PM

Another Marine, Sanick De La Cruz, got the same deal last year that Tatum’s getting now, presumably so that he can tell the court about Wuterich allegedly shooting five Iraqi men in cold blood and then pissing on one of their corpses.

posted at 3:14 pm on March 29, 2008 by Allahpundit

There is no reason to think anything like that is going to happen.

The only viable charge the prosecutors ever had here had to do with filing innacurate reports. And after the circus of errors this case has turned into, it’s hard to see how they can continue to pursue even that with a straight face.

logis on March 29, 2008 at 4:14 PM

What has our military come to. This crap did’nt work in Vietnam and it will not work in any war. When you receive fire, you return fire with extreme prejudice; If you don’t, you end up with more dead soldiers.

Johan Klaus on March 29, 2008 at 4:15 PM

This is war! These guys and gals are not policeman.

Johan Klaus on March 29, 2008 at 4:17 PM

Jack Zimmermann, a civilian lawyer who represents Tatum, said yesterday that his client will testify if called as a witness but emphasized that no deal was struck in exchange for his testimony.

Cleared Haditha Marine given immunity to testify against Wuterich

given immunity to testify against Wuterich
no deal was struck in exchange for his testimony.

Oh no AP, your headline is just dandy, they square with the facts, in a AP kind of way.

WoosterOh on March 29, 2008 at 4:17 PM

Policemen.

Johan Klaus on March 29, 2008 at 4:18 PM

It’s not misleading. I didn’t say he made a deal.

Allahpundit on March 29, 2008 at 3:32 PM

You said, via the headline, that Tatum was “given immunity to testify against Wuterich” which makes zero sense given the sources you quote. In the ordinary use of the phrase “given immunity to testify” in criminal law, a person signs a formal deal with the government securing a immunity from prosecution based on the testimony he promises to give at a future trial. These deals are always done explicitly and the government must know exactly what the testifier has to say. The leverage the government has is that if he doesn’t testify to what he told the government he knows, the government can turn around and prosecute him for some related crime. Dropping the charges before securing a deal is nonsensical.

Here, Tatum’s lawyers are claiming openly that no such deal was made and the government officials are saying anonymously only that the charges were dropped “in order to pursue Wuterich aggressively at trial.” That could mean anything, including the desire simply to free up resources to focus on Wuterich, and could have nothing to do with securing Tatum’s testimony.

There are two reasons why I think this issue is important. First, the Hot Air headline implies the dismissal is in indication that Tatum has damaging information he could provide against Wuterich, leading a reader to conclude that government’s case for war crimes is better than it in fact is.

Second, the headline gives the impression that Tatum agreed to testify against a fellow Marine in order to save his own skin. In a lot of circles, Tatum would not be regarded well for that action, especially if Wuterich is exonerated. Instead, Tatum made no such deal, and has no part in keeping the cogs moving in this prosecutorial juggernaut.

Nessuno on March 29, 2008 at 4:19 PM

My recollection of history is a bit foggy here. When were the trials for American soldiers killing “innocent” civilians during WWII?

For example, Nagasaki, Hiroshima, Dresden, etc…

/s

BowHuntingTexas on March 29, 2008 at 4:22 PM

Here, Tatum’s lawyers are claiming openly that no such deal was made

Indeed they are and I included that in the blockquote excerpt for the world to read. I’ll add an update emphasizing the point, since I guess I’m responsible now for people not reading the actual post.

Allahpundit on March 29, 2008 at 4:26 PM

Agreed. And all these temper tantrums against Murtha are like kicking the dog when the boss mistreats you at work.

Not that it isn’t fun.. kicking Murtha, I mean.. not the dog..

but I agree that this is a sham of a trial.. someone will be railroaded so the prosecution won’t have to eat crow.. because the prosecution couldn’t handle the truth…

one hope is that all the soldiers will stick to one story if it comes to that..

sorry about squeezing that in..

DaveC on March 29, 2008 at 4:32 PM

I’ll add an update emphasizing the point, since I guess I’m responsible now for people not reading the actual post.

Would you or would you not criticize the NY Times for making a headline that was contradicted by its own article?

Nessuno on March 29, 2008 at 4:33 PM

Indeed they are and I included that in the blockquote excerpt for the world to read. I’ll add an update emphasizing the point, since I guess I’m responsible now for people not reading the actual post.

Allahpundit on March 29, 2008 at 4:26 PM

Sorry, but “Given immunity” is not anywhere in the story. Its a very different thing than having the charges dropped, and Immunity is NOWHERE in the story, just in the headline.

Romeo13 on March 29, 2008 at 4:34 PM

Would you [Allahpundit] or would you not criticize the NY Times for making a headline that was contradicted by its own article?
Nessuno on March 29, 2008 at 4:33 PM

Allah was trying to paraphrase The Washington Post. Anyone who does that will always look like an idiot, there’s no way around that. But don’t blame him; Allah reflected precisely the impression the Washington Post writer intended to create.

I suppose a more accurate way to do that would be to word each blog entry in terms of “look what the idiot liberal media is doing now,” but that’s not the format Allah uses. And it might seem a bit repetative after a while.

Give Allah the benefit of the doubt; like he said: read the article and respond to that.

logis on March 29, 2008 at 4:42 PM

the whole Haditha thing makes me really REALLY mad at our government.

Drunk Report on March 29, 2008 at 3:19 PM

Mad at our governmaent? How about being mad at one crazy senior marine who defied reason and honor?

It’s not the government’s mistake, unless of course you are saying the whole war was a mistake.

AprilOrit on March 29, 2008 at 4:42 PM

Hmmm… after rereading the origional story, the reporter says he was granted immunity, but gives no specifics.

Immunity is a legal agreement… I’m sure his lawyer would know about it if he was immunized.

I think the reporter just plain has no idea what he is talking about. Theres no mention anywhere else in the story of an immunity agreement, just the mention that he will testify… which he would have done ANYWAY… as both sides seem to want him to testify.

To put it plainly, if there is no agreement, there is no immunity, even though this reporter seems to think so. Even the “source” he quotes does not talk about immunity.

Romeo13 on March 29, 2008 at 4:52 PM

BowHuntingTexas on March 29, 2008 at 4:22 PM

WilLfull violations of ROE are punishable under the UCMJ.

Squid Shark on March 29, 2008 at 5:06 PM

Dammit, this is war.

I love how a bunch of pansy lawyers can understand what is going through the minds of our warriors in situations where they can be killed and make such idiotic judgements.

This is war.

People are killed.

Sometimes civilians. Unfortunately.

Unless they turned around, slashed the bodies and danced in the blood and guts, they did their duty and should never have been brought up on anything.

Mommynator on March 29, 2008 at 5:11 PM

Mommynator on March 29, 2008 at 5:11 PM

There is a difference between accidental civilian death and willfull execution and rape, which is what is at question here.

Squid Shark on March 29, 2008 at 5:15 PM

I think most people will interpret the headline as there being a deal struck. At best it’s unclear.

Yeah, it’s what the source article said, but that doesn’t make it clear – implicit in “given immunity to testify” is a deal being struck.

Explicit? No. Implicit? Yes.

Merovign on March 29, 2008 at 5:16 PM

I love how a bunch of pansy lawyers can understand what is going through the minds of our warriors in situations where they can be killed and make such idiotic judgements.

Some of those “pansy lawyers” are combat vets too. Many members of the JAG corp are vets of the line service as well. In fact, most chosen to do ROE cases like this one are line vets.

Squid Shark on March 29, 2008 at 5:17 PM

Merovign on March 29, 2008 at 5:16 PM

I am sure something went wrong and they want to nail the main player.

Squid Shark on March 29, 2008 at 5:18 PM

Mommynator on March 29, 2008 at 5:11 PM

There is a difference between accidental civilian death and willfull execution and rape, which is what is at question here.

Squid Shark on March 29, 2008 at 5:15 PM

Huh? Get your facts straight: There are NO charges of rape in this case. There was another incident at the same location (Haditha) involving four Soldiers that did involve rape and murder — and those guys have been put away.

sanantonian on March 29, 2008 at 5:28 PM

AprilOrit on March 29, 2008 at 4:42 PM

An you know this how?

Johan Klaus on March 29, 2008 at 5:29 PM

sanantonian on March 29, 2008 at 5:28 PM

Ok then please enlighten me as to what the hell is this all about

Squid Shark on March 29, 2008 at 5:30 PM

Squid: It does look like they’re trying to salvage the circus they’ve created by getting at least one conviction, no matter what it takes.

Johan: AprilOrit takes the “Murtha” view that guilt is to be assumed and a trial is a formality.

This isn’t a new thing.

Merovign on March 29, 2008 at 5:32 PM

Some of those “pansy lawyers” are combat vets too. Many members of the JAG corp are vets of the line service as well. In fact, most chosen to do ROE cases like this one are line vets.

Squid Shark on March 29, 2008 at 5:17 PM

Really? then things have certainly changed from when I was in, but then I’ve been retired for about 10 years.

The two ROE JAG investigations I was involved in (1983, 1991), the JAG officers were not Line Officers, they were lawyers who were staff… none of em knew which end of a gun the bullet came out of.

Romeo13 on March 29, 2008 at 5:33 PM

Ok then please enlighten me as to what the hell is this all about

Squid Shark on March 29, 2008 at 5:30 PM

Its about civilian casulties that happened during a house cleaning… and whether it was justified under the ROE.

Jack Murtha called them “murderers” which led to this circus.

Romeo13 on March 29, 2008 at 5:35 PM

Ok then please enlighten me as to what the hell is this all about

Squid Shark on March 29, 2008 at 5:30 PM

Read AP’s links at the top and go where they send you. It doesn’t involve rape. More like ROE issues.

a capella on March 29, 2008 at 5:40 PM

Romeo13 on March 29, 2008 at 5:33 PM

That is my experience also.

Johan Klaus on March 29, 2008 at 5:41 PM

In my view, there is something wrong with President Bush’s character

You don’t say. He considers conservatives racist because they believe in national sovereignty.

aengus on March 29, 2008 at 6:00 PM

This is a particularly damning piece on how high up the involvement in the Haditha case went (Rumsfeld).

Note: The Thomas More Law Center is defending LtCol Chessani.

Here is another piece on the process that led to the dropping of charges against of one of the accused Haditha Marines:
Haditha Investigator Urges Dropping of Marine’s Case

sanantonian on March 29, 2008 at 6:08 PM

Merovign on March 29, 2008 at 5:16 PM

I am sure something went wrong and they want to nail the main player.

Squid Shark on March 29, 2008 at 5:18 PM

I think you are right, but not, perhaps, in the way you intended: Something did go wrong — Military prosecutors went after a group of Marines who did not deserve to be charged.

And, yes: I do believe they, as you suggest, want to nail the “main player” (even if he is not guilty) in order to save face. There are three men left: LtCol Chessani, a Lieutenant, and the senior NCO on the scene, Wuterich. Any of these three would likely suffice as a sacrificial lamb.

Again: In my book, this is a show trial.

sanantonian on March 29, 2008 at 6:19 PM

Squid Shark on March 29, 2008 at 5:18 PM

The only people that know if something went wrong are the soldiers involved.
If the ROE says that when you are attacked, that you cannot destroy the people that are attacking you, then whoever made up the ROE should be tried under the UCMJ. In every war civilians are killed and especially in a war where the enemy hides behind civilians. If the civilians are allowing the enemy to attack us from their homes, then they are fair game.

Johan Klaus on March 29, 2008 at 6:29 PM

Romeo13 on March 29, 2008 at 5:33 PM

I dont know about the Army but the Navy and the Marine Corps have made a big push in the last 15 years to populate the JAG corps with line types. And most lawyers in those sevices have been over in the sandbox these days.

Squid Shark on March 29, 2008 at 6:56 PM

They have to sacrifice somebody on the altar of PC and world opinion. To mollify the raging anti-military horde, Wuterich will be thrown out like so much meat.
It’s a small price to pay to ensure that our precious moral authority remains intact. The world must know we will spare no expense to flagellate ourselves should you attack our people… right, Mr. President?
Please tell me I’m wrong. Better yet, show me.

joewm315 on March 29, 2008 at 7:19 PM

AprilOrit on March 29, 2008 at 4:42 PM

Out of line with the mad Marine remarks. He has claimed innocence and is going to stand trial. We know what he’s accussed of, we know everyone but him has been exonerated with the exception of a co-defendent given immunity so he can’t plead the 5th. And now after this fiasco, this is the last man standing. If you believe in trends, the trend is so far, those Marines responded in accordance their training and the ROE in Iraq. It was just a tragedy that insurgents were hiding behind the Iraqi civilians.

I say we let the jury hear the evidence and let them decide as to guilt or innocence.

Hog Wild on March 29, 2008 at 8:05 PM

Just 1 more to go. Help defend Frank Wuterich as he defended us. Contribute to his legal defense fund.

make check payable to Newsmax and send to

Newsmax
Attn: Haditha Hero’s Fund
PO Box 20989
West Palm Beach FL 33416

https://www.newsmaxstore.com/contribute/haditha/

Dollayo on March 29, 2008 at 9:31 PM

Second-guessing your own military into impotence.

Dumb damned plan.

Be on our guys’ side until the war is won.

Then they can examine any reports of infractions.

The enemy will only use this infighting to weaken your resolve if you reveal these sordid messes in the middle of the battle.

No government was ever foolish enough to allow this kind of self-evisceration before.

(Or dumb enough to permit a war zone to be flooded with unrestricted, uploadable cameras/videos – a clear loss of security and a gross intelligence failure in the making.)

But we live in foolish times.

(As the quiet defunding of the sky marshalls led to 9/11.)

I hope the trial absolves the accused.

profitsbeard on March 29, 2008 at 9:47 PM

no opposition (thus, APPROVAL)

That is addle-brained mush.

You’re suggesting that the President of the United States should insert himself into an investigation or trial?! On what grounds and under what authority would he do that?

The comment threads here keep getting stupider and stupider every time registration is opened.

Allah, you should change “to” into “will” in the headline. Or at least insert a comma between “immunity” and “to”. It seems misleading otherwise.

The Apologist on March 29, 2008 at 9:49 PM

Squid Shark on March 29, 2008 at 6:56 PM

really? Proof? or a citiation from a third party?

Cause this is NOT what I hear from my boys…. the ones I led… and are still in the Sandbox…

Currently EVERY fire incident that has any casulties, freindly or enemy, has an ouside investigation by “outside” entitys… by legal types… not line officers.

Romeo13 on March 29, 2008 at 10:19 PM

Allah, you should change “to” into “will” in the headline. Or at least insert a comma between “immunity” and “to”. It seems misleading otherwise.
The Apologist on March 29, 2008 at 9:49 PM

Tatum clearly stated that he has no intention of testifying specifically against Wuterich.

The “immunity” against self-incrimination is a standard practice in cases such as this. The headline can’t be fixed with that word in it. It is as informative to this story as the word “asshole” would be. Technically that wouldn’t be a lie; I’m sure that Cpl. Tatum possesses one of those. But the ONLY reason to allude to that fact in the headline would be as an implied pejorative.

…And I’m afraid that swapping prepositions or adding a comma here or there couldn’t do anything to change that.

logis on March 29, 2008 at 10:46 PM

The “immunity” against self-incrimination is a standard practice in cases such as this.
logis on March 29, 2008 at 10:46 PM

Civilian law? Yes…. Military law, no…

I’ve been involved in a few cases in Military law, and NEVER did I see “immunity” granted. It may happen, but at a FAR less rate than it does in civilian law.

Romeo13 on March 30, 2008 at 12:20 AM

Romeo13 on March 29, 2008 at 10:19 PM

Well I was referring to the lawyers. Like myself, where I have been in the Navy for 9 years as a line officer, now I am getting ready to join the JAG Corps, those types.

However in the Navy, all prelim investigations are first conducted by an IO who is a line type. I am not sure about the Army.

Squid Shark on March 30, 2008 at 7:57 AM

President Bush is one of those types who would prefer to let things play themselves out properly. If someone’s accused of a crime, let them go to trial. If they’re innocent, they should be cleared. If they’re guilty, they should be convicted.

I agree with that in principle. Unfortunately, as we saw with Scooter Libby, sometimes that doesn’t bring justice after all.

I’m sure his sympathy is with the Marines, but he’s not about to step into the middle of an investigation, even for this. Besides, his ace in the hole is the power to pardon.

theregoestheneighborhood on March 30, 2008 at 11:07 AM

Here’s my response to the prosecutor’s attempt at eliminating self-incrimination motives in any later testimony, if this is indeed their strategy;

“Semper Fidelis”

Egfrow on March 30, 2008 at 1:26 PM

This is too ugly, intricate and disgusting for me to fully comment. The Border patrol agents can be added to this list.
We have to know something is rotten in our ‘gov’t’ when Dubya pardons criminals and lets men like these rot in jail. Presidente Jorge Boosh is not in charge, Big Bro is.

Christine on March 30, 2008 at 2:19 PM

There goes the neighborhood;funny, Bush had no problems jumping in on behalf of the illegal aliens who raped and murdered those two young girls in Texas- and on the say so of the world court.
He no longer gets the benefit of the doubt from me.

tomk59 on March 30, 2008 at 3:11 PM

The suggestion that any significant number of current JAG officers have combat experience is preposterous. During WWII, there were a large number of lawyers drafted who never served in a JAG capacity, but were line officers throughout the War and who were promptly mustered out at the end of the War. I can just see today’s young lawyer recruits refusing a commission as a Navy Lieutenant and a career in law, but instead opting for OCS and an eventual commission as an Ensign so that they could serve as a combat officer. This is so ridiculous a scenario as to defy comment. And, no, I am not interested in hearing about that one enlisted combat veteran in the Navy or Marines who left the service to obtain a law degree and then reentered the service as a JAG officer. Let’s keep the discussion on a realistic level!

John Adams on March 31, 2008 at 12:49 AM

Glad to hear he’s not a buddy f—er

srhoades on March 31, 2008 at 9:31 AM

I’m gonna love when that Marine with immunity goes on the stand and clears his partner.

We already know that someone tampered with the surveillance video to eliminate the film of terrorist shooting at these Marines then ducking into the homes to escape. I’m sorry if innocents were killed, but this is war and that sometimes happens. I do not believe that these Marines went into those homes planning to kill innocents, they went in chasing the b**tards that were trying to kill them.

And Murtha, you can kiss my @ss….you slug!!

Fuzzball on March 31, 2008 at 10:15 AM