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John Murtha: “Marines Killed In Cold Blood”

From the Army Times:

Murtha: Marines may have killed Haditha civilians in cold blood

By Christian Lowe
Times staff writer

Rep. John Murtha, an influential Pennsylvania lawmaker and outspoken critic of the war in Iraq, said today Marines had “killed innocent civilians in cold blood” after allegedly responding to a roadside bomb ambush that killed a Marine during a patrol in Haditha, Iraq, Nov. 19.

The incident is still under investigation by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and Multi-National Forces Iraq.

The Marine Corps originally claimed that a convoy from the Camp Pendleton, Calif.-based Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines, hit a roadside bomb that killed Lance Cpl. Miguel Terrazas, 20, of El Paso, Texas, and the ensuing firefight killed 15 Iraqi civilians — casualties the Corps at first claimed were killed in the bomb blast — including seven women and three children.

A March 27 Time magazine report published claims by an Iraqi civil rights group that the Marines barged into houses near the bomb strike, throwing grenades and shooting civilians as they cowered in fear. The report prompted calls for a Pentagon probe.

“It’s much worse than was reported in Time magazine,” Murtha, a Democrat, former Marine colonel and Vietnam war veteran, told reporters on Capitol Hill.

“There was no firefight. There was no [bomb] that killed those innocent people,” Murtha explained, adding there were “about twice as many” Iraqis killed than Time had reported.

No official investigation report has been released by the Pentagon and a spokesman for Murtha was unable to add to the congressman’s remarks.

“I do not know where Rep. Murtha is obtaining is information,” said Lt. Col. Sean Gibson, a spokesman for Marine Corps Forces Central Command in Tampa, Fla. “Thoroughness will drive the investigation.”

Three Marine officers from the battalion that is under investigation, including battalion commander Lt. Col. Jeffrey Chessani, were relieved April 7 for “lack of confidence in their leadership abilities stemming from their performance during a recent deployment to Iraq.” Officials would not tie those firings to the Haditha investigation, however. The two other Marines who were relieved, Capts. Luke McConnell and James Kimber, were company commanders within the battalion.

Murtha said combat stress prompted the Marines’ alleged rampage.

“It’s a very serious incident, unfortunately. It shows the tremendous pressure that these guys are under every day when they’re out in combat,” he said. “One man was killed with an [improvised explosive device] and after that they actually went into the houses and killed women and children.”

Time magazine spent 10 weeks interviewing local residents affected by the incident and, in January, shared these accounts with military officials in Baghdad. The accounts directly conflicted with the Corps’ initial stance that the civilian casualties were the result of the insurgent attack.

Officials with Multi-National Corps-Iraq launched an investigation Feb. 14 after Time brought the allegations to their attention. Army Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli, commander of MNC-I, directed further review March 9 after he was presented with initial findings of the investigation.

Chiarelli then handed the findings to Marine Maj. Gen. Richard Zilmer, the new military commander for western Iraq.

Lt. Col. Bryan Salas, in a March 23 e-mail response to questions, said Zilmer directed the Naval Criminal Investigative Service to look into the allegations.

The Nov. 19 incident came one year after another high-profile incident that enflamed tensions between U.S. forces and Iraqis.

On Nov. 13, 2004, a corporal with 3/1 was videotaped shooting what appeared to be a wounded insurgent inside a mosque in Fallujah, Iraq, during the major U.S. operation to retake the city from insurgents.

Like the Haditha incident, the Fallujah shooting sparked outcries from human-rights groups regarding actions by U.S. forces against Iraqis.

A video provided to Reuters by Hamourabi Human rights group shows covered bodies, which Hamourabi says, are of a family of 15 shot dead in their home in Haditha, in western Anbar province, Iraq March 21, 2006.

"Porky Pig" ratchets up his aid to our enemies.

Murtha (probably rightly) figures as long as he keeps this up nobody will dare go after him for him and his brother’s defense kickback scams.

He’d rather betray his country some more than go to jail, I guess.

This article was posted by Steve on Wednesday, May 17th, 2006. Comments are currently closed.

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