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Two Takes From First Day Of Haditha Hearings

Which paper do you read?

First, from the San Diego North County Times:

Officer testifies Marines did nothing wrong at Haditha

By MARK WALKER — Staff Writer

CAMP PENDLETON —- A platoon commander in Haditha who ordered Marines to “clear” four houses he believed insurgents were using as a base of attack testified Tuesday that the assault was entirely within the rules of engagement.

The testimony from Marine Lt. William Kallop came as the first case in the prosecution of seven Camp Pendleton Marines charged with criminal wrongdoing in the notorious incident in which two dozen Iraqi civilians were killed got under way in a base courtroom.

Kallop was called as a witness for Capt. Randy W. Stone, who is charged with dereliction of duty for not fully investigating the incident that generated a worldwide condemnation when it came to light.

Stone’s’ attorney Charles Gittins asked Kallop what the Marines did wrong that day.

“Nothing,” Kallop said, adding he did not believe the incident required anything more than a standard “after-action” review by commanders.

Scheduled to head back to Iraq on Wednesday and granted immunity for his testimony, Kallop said he conducted a brief inspection of the homes following the assault and said it appeared that about 15 Iraqis had been killed.

He said he directed Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich and his men to attack the houses after a Marine reported seeing a suspected insurgent near one and believing the small arms fire was being directed from inside the residences. The action followed a roadside bombing that killed a lance corporal and injured another Marine.

“I essentially told them to try and bust them out —- find the (bomb) triggerman, find the insurgents,” Kallop testified.

Wuterich later told him the men used grenades to clear rooms and then followed up with small arms fire.
When it was all over, no weapons were found inside the homes and none of the slain were later determined to be insurgents. The men did find passports and other material in one home that they believed were left behind by attackers.

Kallop said the troops were surprised when they didn’t find any insurgent bodies or weapons. He also testified that Cpl. Hector Salinas told him he was certain he had heard AK-47 gunfire coming from one of the homes.

“Cpl. Salinas looked just as shocked as I was,” Kallop said of what they saw in the homes following the assault. Several women and children died in the attack…

Then this, from those paragons of objective journalism at Reuters:

U.S. officer ordered Haditha move after Marine died

By Marty Graham


The first officer to arrive after a U.S. Marine was killed in Haditha, Iraq, testified on Tuesday that he ordered Marines to clear two houses in a response that ended up killing many civilians.

Appearing before a military tribunal, 1st. Lt. William Kallop, who has immunity from prosecution, testified he was trying to evacuate two wounded and one dead Marine when the rescuers and survivors came under gunfire attack in 2005.

Sgt. Frank Wuterich, one of three Marines now facing murder charges for what local Iraqis have called a revenge killing of 24 people, went into the houses on his orders, Kallop said.

“I pointed to a group of building and said ‘Flush them out, try to find the trigger man,”‘ Kallop testified, speaking in a matter-of-fact tone.

Minutes later, after Wuterich’s squad finished, Kallop walked through the two houses, where the majority of the 24 victims died, either from grenades or gunfire.

“I thought ‘Hey, what the crap, why aren’t there any bad guys, any insurgents here?”‘ Kallop said. “I thought that was within the rules of engagement because the squad leader was about to kick in a door and walk into a machine gun nest.”

Kallop testified at a pretrial hearing in Camp Pendleton for Capt. Randy Stone, who faces three charges related to failing to report and investigate properly an alleged violation of the law of war…Gee, could Reuters have found a more loaded word to use in their headline than “move”?

Couldn’t Reuters have picked a better word for their headline than “move”?

It makes the Marines’ actions seem both coldbloodedly calculated and deeply sinister.

Of course they wouldn’t want to imply that.

(Thanks to RedRover for the heads up.)

This article was posted by Steve on Tuesday, May 8th, 2007. Comments are currently closed.

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