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Did Haditha Photographer Have Own Motive?

Yet another accuser in the Haditha story turns out to have somewhat suspect motives. This time it’s Lance Cpl. Roel Briones, who claims to have been ordered to photograph the victims bodies.

The most recent story about Briones from the DNC’s Associated Press:

Lance Cpl. Roel Briones

Marine: Post-Traumatic Stress Drove Me To Commit Felonies

June 5, 2006

HANFORD, Calif. — A Marine who followed orders to photograph corpses after an alleged massacre by U.S. forces in the Iraqi town of Haditha is now facing some trouble of his own.

Lance Cpl. Roel Briones is accused of stealing a truck and crashing it into a house while on leave in April. He was charged Friday with felony auto theft, hit-and-run and drunken driving. His mother, Susie Briones, told the Fresno Bee that post-traumatic stress from the war drove him to commit the alleged acts.

His mother said his best friend was killed the day of the Haditha attack and he was still grieving when he was sent in to clean up the bodies of 23 Iraqi civilians last November.

The owner of the smashed home said Briones’ claim of post-traumatic stress disorder doesn’t leave him off the hook.

And from an earlier AP story:

Susie Briones holds a picture of her son Lance Cpl. Roel Ryan Briones, 21, on Monday, May 29, 2006 at her home in Hanford, Calif.

Mom: Stress Drove Marine to Commit Crimes

Jun 4th

HANFORD, Calif. (AP) – A Marine who followed orders to photograph corpses of Iraqis allegedly slain by members of his unit last fall claims post-traumatic stress drove him to commit felonies while on leave, his mother said.

Lance Cpl. Roel Ryan Briones, 21, is accused of stealing a truck and crashing it into a house in Hanford in April.

He was charged Friday with felony auto theft, hit-and-run and drunken driving, according to Kings County District Attorney Ronald Calhoun.

Briones’ mother, Susie, told The Fresno Bee this week that her son hit his breaking point during the April incident.

His best friend was killed Nov. 19, the day of the attack in the western Iraqi city of Haditha, and he was still grieving when he was sent in to clean up the bodies of the Iraqi civilians.

Susie Briones said her son told her he saw the bodies of 23 dead Iraqis that day. Twenty-four were slain.

U.S. authorities have launched two investigations _ one into the deadly encounter itself and another into whether it was the subject of a cover-up.

Ryan Briones is seeing a psychologist in San Diego to help deal with the stress, and military officials are aware of his deteriorating mental health, his mother said.

Calhoun said he was aware of Briones’ situation, adding that the Marine has agreed to be evaluated by a psychiatrist to determine whether he has post-traumatic stress and whether it played a role in the alleged crime.

Briones, who has returned to Camp Pendleton, is scheduled to appear in court June 19. The Fresno Bee said he could not be reached for comment Friday.

Others have noted many weird aspects to Corporal Briones’ previous statements about being ordered to photograph the Haditha victims, and his further claims about his camera being stolen.

It is highly questionable that the Marines would order a rank and file soldier to do such a thing. And to use his own (non-official) camera to document such an important, possibly criminal event.

It is also highly improbably that they would enlist someone who could himself face future charges in such an effort.

And, lastly, it is very unlikely that they would allow such valuable evidence as these photos to disappear.

This latest news, however, may very well shed light on Briones’ motives.

Apparently all of Briones’ statements to the media about being ordered to photograph the Haditha corpses were made after his drunken hit and run felony on April 3, 2006. (His first appearance in the press seems to be an interview with the Los Angeles Times on May 29, 2006.)

If Briones was so traumatized by what he saw in Haditha, why did he wait six months to tell anyone about it?

Isn’t it possible that once the Haditha story came out, Briones latched onto it as a way to beat these very serious charges? They include auto theft, drunk-driving, resisting arrest and leaving the scene of an accident. 

What better alibi than to claim post-traumatic stress disorder caused by what he had been forced to witness and photograph in Haditha?

With the media behind him, it is surely a ‘get out of jail free’ card.

In any case, isn’t it typical that the media either did not know or did not deem it newsworthy that Briones might have some other agenda is telling his tale?

Once again, they didn’t want any such details to cloud their morality play about murderous Marines on a "cold-blooded" rampage.


From the Fresno Bee:

Iraq vet charged in Hanford wreck

Marine accused of stealing truck, crashing into house; he blames stress from involvement in Haditha incident.

By Pablo Lopez / The Fresno Bee

Lance Cpl. Roel Ryan Briones, 21, is charged with auto theft, hit and run and drunken driving in connection with the April 3 crash of a pickup into a Hanford home. Briones also faces a felony charge of possession of marijuana for sale in 2003, Kings County District Attorney Ronald Calhoun said.

Craig Dalle, owner of the smashed home, said Friday that he isn’t buying Briones’ story of suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

"I’ve been in the military 16 years," said Dalle, a Navy lieutenant and pilot. "I was a rescue diver; I’ve recovered bodies. I’ve flown combat in Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan. I’ve seen atrocities, I’ve seen friends killed. … But I have yet to go get drunk, steal a car, demolish a house and blame it all on post-traumatic stress…"

Court records show that Briones was arrested in July 2003 and charged with felony possession of marijuana or hashish for sale and misdemeanor obstructing or resisting a police officer…

So Mr. Briones had a prior arrest two years before his alleged trauma at Haditha.


This article was posted by Steve on Tuesday, June 6th, 2006. Comments are currently closed.

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