Pushback: Marine Capt. James Kimber says he's being scapegoated

He was relieved of command after the Haditha incident. The only problem? He says he wasn’t even in the city when it happened.

And that’s not all:

Kimber said he heard nothing about a civilian massacre during city council meetings and talks with local leaders.

“It would have been huge, there would have been no question it would have filtered down to us,” he said. “We reported no significant atmospheric change as a result of that day.”

Here’s an AP report from yesterday noting that Kimber and the other two officers whose names have been mentioned in the press aren’t part of the probe. According to his lawyer, he was relieved of command for reasons having nothing whatsoever to do with the incident:

Kimber, 33, who was nominated for a Bronze Star for valor in Haditha, was relieved of command last month because his subordinates in the battalion’s India Company used profanity and criticized the performance of Iraqi security services during an interview with Britain’s Sky News TV, according to Hackett.

But then how did he get mixed up in the Haditha story? I ran his name through Time magazine’s search engine and came back with this piece from April. It quotes an Associated Press story; I googled around for it and found it here. Read it. The reporter makes it sound like the Marine spokesman connected Kimber and the other officers to the Haditha investigation — but she never actually quotes him to that effect. In fact, here’s what he said: “There was no one justification for the move. In fact many considerations factored into the decision to relieve the commanders… It stems from their performance during the entire deployment.”

So why did she report that Kimber was sacked due in part to the alleged massacre? Did the spokesman tell her that, or did she just extrapolate it from his remark about there being many considerations? And if the latter, why didn’t the spokesman call her up immediately and correct the record?

Kimber himself seems to think it’s the Marine leadership that hung him out to dry by relieving him of command when the media came sniffing around about Haditha. Stay tuned.

Update: Unrelated to Haditha but demanding of mention: seven Marines and one Navy corpsman reportedly will face murder charges over the shooting of an Iraqi man in April.

Update: Sweetness & Light notes some interesting coincidences involving one of the Iraqi reporters covering the alleged massacre.