Haditha: Newsmax's Marine eyewitness fisks leaked NCIS report

As told to author Phil Brennan by “a veteran Marine intelligence officer, who was present [during the Haditha incident] and monitored the day-long action from its onset,” in a piece that makes you think everything you know about the case is wrong. Memory refresher: who wrote the last big Newsmax report about Haditha, in June 2006? Phil Brennan. The point of that piece, which was sourced to “[m]ilitary officials familiar with the incident”? That everything you know about the case is wrong. I’d bet a kidney the two sources are the same guy.

His sharpest points are about the rules of engagement, to wit:

The state of mind of the Marines was totally ignored by the NCIS, although it played the key role in what happened that day.

That state of mind can be clearly understood when it is known that just one week a earlier, these Marines were briefed by an intelligence officer on how a Force Reconnaissance unit had entered a hospital bedroom tentatively, and the insurgents were lying in bed with AK-47s hidden under the blankets.

“Seven Recon Marines were killed that day because they didn’t go in hard enough, and didn’t lead with grenades,” our source said. “Sgt. Wuterich and his Marines were doing exactly what they had been briefed to do, what their company commander had trained them to do, and what they had been authorized to do by every echelon of command in Al Anbar Province.”…

Our source said he learned that the NCIS was even unaware of the horrendous incident in the Haditha hospital, the details of which had to have burned themselves deep into the consciousness of Sgt. Wuterich and his men. He told NewsMax.com he couldn’t wait until Marine intelligence officers bring into the courtroom actual photographs of the enemy’s sandbagged positions in patients’ rooms, or the line drawings of how the enemy killed those recon Marines while lying in bed with AK-47s under the covers.

He notes that the general ROE card cited by WaPo in its report about the NCIS dossier is inapposite to the Haditha mission, which would have used more specific (and aggressive) rules. On the other hand, he dismisses an Iraqi soldier who saw what happened and who accused the Marines of “behaving like crazy” as, essentially, a pants-wetter:

NCIS “is swallowing the visceral reaction of this Iraqi, hook, line and sinker,” the Marine intelligence officer charged, adding that “the typical Iraqi soldier’s reaction to a Marine squad in the attack is horror. The Iraqis are timid and deathly afraid of confrontation, and an Iraqi ride-along, witnessing Marines defending their position with all the accompanying yelling to each other, at the enemy, and the chaos in general is probably going to be shocked. This is a well known phenomenon in any engagement. To cherry-pick this Iraqi soldier’s reaction to imply rage or out of control actions by Marines is disingenuous and deceptive.”

The problem with that argument is that the very same Iraqi soldier told investigators that the house-clearing operations were justified. If he’s so timid and deathly afraid of confrontation, why would he back them up in that case but not in the case of the taxi incident?

The story ends provocatively:

Marines familiar with the case told NewsMax that the government knows it cannot sustain murder charges in the case of the civilians in the two houses and having understood that, later focused on the taxi incident where the only so-called evidence are photos of the dead passengers and confusing testimony coerced from some of those present.

Among the testimony is that of a Marine who allegedly admitted to having pissed on one of the corpses of the men from the taxi.

Comments are turned off. I encourage you to use the time to read the whole thing since it’s a preview, at the very least, of what you’ll be hearing from the defense once the trials get going.