Cleared: Charges dropped against Haditha Marine Stephen Tatum

Unless I’m mistaken, this leaves Frank Wuterich the only non-officer still facing charges, and even in his case they’ve abandoned any hope of getting a murder conviction. Question for the lawyers: Is there any significance to the Marines saying the case was dismissed “in order to continue to pursue the truth seeking process into the Haditha incident”? That sounds vaguely like an immunity deal, possibly to secure his testimony against Wuterich, but that makes no sense in the context of the charges being dropped since it leaves the prosecution with no leverage.

Here’s the key passage from the inspecting officer’s recommendation of dismissal. In a nutshell: If a Marine hears a machine gun being racked behind a door, he’s not obliged to stand in front of it before deciding if it’s a threat or not. Which is to say, it all comes back to the rules of engagement. Exit question: If the charges against Wuterich end up being dismissed too, is it time to revisit a House censure for Murtha?

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