Haditha: NewsMax says new A/V corroborates Marine's account

According to military sources. WaPo mentioned the possibility of A/V back on May 29th; I blogged about in the last update to this post.

Why would the military leak evidence as important as this to a C-list partisan site like NewsMax? Why not take it straight to the Post?

Anyway. Big revelation #1:

Ample evidence proves that a firefight took place. For example, every second of the ensuing firefight was monitored by numerous people at company, battalion, and regimental HQs via radio communications.

Those transmissions appear to be the only hard evidence of what happened immediately after the IED went off, when most of the killing occurred. (The video drone didn’t get there until later.) The Marines’ lawyers insist they took fire from homes along the street, which is why they went in with guns blazing. The Times’s article about Haditha on June 17th quoted one soldier who was nearby at the time as questioning that. Obviously, the credibility of the rampage/retaliation “massacre” scenario depends heavily on whether the Marines involved were defending themselves from an attack or being … pro-active.

NewsMax goes on to put some meat on the bone, with big revelation #2 about video:

Within five minutes of the blast, Marines on the scene reported they were receiving small-arms fire. Within 30 minutes of the blast, and while the house-clearing was still under way, an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team en route to the site came under small-arms fire in a known insurgent tactic to ambush first responders.

At the same time, just 30 minutes after the house-clearing, an intelligence unit arrived to question the Marines involved in the house-clearing operation. NewsMax sources say the behavior of the Marines involved gave them no reason to believe anything but what they had been told.

At about the same time a UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) arrived over the blast area and from that moment on, for the entire day, the UAV transmitted views of the engagement to the company command site, battalion headquarters, the regimental HQ, and the division HQ. What the UAV captured was a view of Marines in their perimeter, as they went about doing house-clearing. It was then vectored to the surrounding area to catch any fleeing insurgents. It showed four insurgents fleeing the neighborhood, loading weapons into their car, and linking up with their partners (the ones that had conducted the ambush on the EOD team).

Knowing what we now know about Wuterich’s account, these fleeing insurgents were most likely the same ones who left through the back door of the house he was clearing.

There are photos of this, and they show the insurgents getting back into their car after loading the weapons The UAV then followed them south to their safe house. From that point forward, until about 6 p.m., the safe house was hit by bombs and an assault by a K Company squad. The UAV followed the insurgents who had been inside through town.

I’m unclear on the timeline for the house-clearing. They bomb went off, they went in and cleared some houses — which is when all the killings happened, according to Time’s original report and NewsMax itself — then they were questioned by military investigators, then they went back and cleared more houses. The drone was only there for that last part, it sounds like. As for the four guys caught on camera running away, it could be that they were the insurgents Wuterich claims he saw — but NewsMax goes to some length in introducing the piece to emphasize what a rat’s nest of jihadis Haditha was/is. Is it that unlikely that the four were terrorists who weren’t involved in the incident but got spooked by the Marines being so close by and decided to head for the hills? It says they were seen fleeing “the neighborhood,” not one of the houses the Marines were in. Unless I’m misunderstanding what’s meant by “neighborhood.”

Sounds like the radio recordings are the blockbuster here, not the video. Here’s hoping NewsMax is right about them.