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Thread: Photos Indicate Civilians Slain "Execution Style"

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2005

    Photos Indicate Civilians Slain "Execution Style"

    Photos Indicate Civilians Slain Execution-Style
    An official involved in an investigation of Camp Pendleton Marines' actions in an Iraqi town cites `a total breakdown in morality.'

    (Gold9472: If you thought Abu Ghraib caused a stir...)

    By Tony Perry and Julian E. Barnes, Times Staff Writers
    May 27, 2006

    WASHINGTON — Photographs taken by a Marine intelligence team have convinced investigators that a Marine unit killed as many as 24 unarmed Iraqis, some of them "execution-style," in the insurgent stronghold of Haditha after a roadside bomb killed an American in November, officials close to the investigation said Friday.

    The pictures are said to show wounds to the upper bodies of the victims, who included several women and six children. Some were shot in the head and some in the back, congressional and defense officials said.

    One government official said the pictures showed that infantry Marines from Camp Pendleton "suffered a total breakdown in morality and leadership, with tragic results."

    The case may be the most serious incident of alleged war crimes in Iraq by U.S. troops. Marine officers have long been worried that Iraq's deadly insurgency could prompt such a reaction by combat teams.

    An investigation by an Army general into the Nov. 19 incident is to be delivered soon to the top operational commander in Iraq. A separate criminal investigation is also underway and could lead to charges ranging from dereliction of duty to murder.

    Both investigations are centered on a dozen Marines from the 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division. The battalion was on its third deployment to Iraq when the killings occurred.

    Most of the fatal shots appear to have been fired by only a few of the Marines, possibly a four-man "fire team" led by a sergeant, said officials with knowledge of the investigation, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

    The same sergeant is suspected of filing a false report downplaying the number of Iraqis killed, saying they were killed by an insurgent's bomb and that Marines entered the Iraqis' homes in search of gunmen firing at them. All aspects of his account are contradicted by pictures, statements by Marines to investigators and an inspection of the houses involved, officials said.

    Other Marines may face criminal charges for failing to stop the killings or for failing to make accurate reports.

    Of the dead Iraqis, 19 were in three to four houses that Marines stormed, officials said. Five others were killed near a vehicle.

    The intelligence team took the pictures shortly after the shooting stopped. Such teams are typically assigned to collect information on insurgents after firefights or other military engagements.

    Investigators and top officers of the Camp Pendleton-based 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, which oversees Marine infantry, aviation and support units in Iraq, have viewed the pictures.

    The incident began when a roadside bomb attached to a large propane canister exploded as Marines passed through Haditha, a town on the Euphrates River. Lance Cpl. Miguel Terrazas, who was driving a Humvee, was killed and two other Marines were wounded.

    Marines quickly determined that the bomb was a "line-of-sight" explosive that would have required someone to detonate it. Marines and Iraqi forces searched houses and other structures in the narrow, dusty streets. Jets dropped 500-pound bombs and a drone aircraft circled overhead.

    Time magazine, in a report published in March, quoted witnesses, including a 9-year-old girl, Eman Waleed, who said that she saw Marines kill her grandparents and that other adults in the house died shielding her and her 8-year-old brother, Abdul Rahman.

    An elder in Haditha later went to Marine officials at the battalion's headquarters to complain of wanton killings.

    The Marines involved in the incident initially reported that they had become embroiled in a firefight with insurgents after the explosion. However, evidence that later emerged contradicted that version.

    "There wasn't a gunfight, there were no pockmarked walls," a congressional aide said.

    "The wounds indicated execution-style" shootings, said a Defense Department official who had been briefed on the contents of the photos.

    The Marine Corps backed off its initial explanation, and the investigations were launched after Time published its account.

    Some lawmakers are asking the Marine Corps why an investigation wasn't launched earlier if the intelligence team's pictures contradicted the squad's account. The pictures from the intelligence team would probably have been given to the battalion intelligence officer, and they should have raised questions immediately, one congressional aide said.

    The intelligence teams typically comprise Marine Corps reservists, often police officers or other law enforcement officials in civilian life who travel with active-duty battalions or regiments.

    Such questions were put to Marine Commandant Gen. Michael Hagee during a series of individual briefings over the last week. One focus of the administrative investigation by Army Maj. Gen. Eldon Bargewell is to find out how high up the Marine Corps chain of command the misreporting went.

    Military officials say they believe the delay in beginning the investigation was a result of the squad's initial efforts to cover up what happened. Military and congressional sources said there was no indication that the members of the intelligence team did anything improper or delayed reporting their findings.

    "They are the guys that probably provided the conclusive, demonstrative evidence that what happened wasn't as others had described," a congressional staffer said.

    The Marine Corps apologized to the families of several of those killed and made payments to compensate them for their losses. The families have denied permission to have the bodies exhumed for investigation.

    Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.), a retired Marine colonel, said there was clearly an attempt to cover up the incident by those involved. But he said he did not think the Marine command was slow in investigating.

    "There is no question that the Marines involved, those doing the shooting, they were busy in lying about it and covering it up — there is no question about it," Kline said. "But I am confident, as soon as the command learned there might be some truth to this, they started to pursue it vigorously. I don't have any reason now to think there was any foot dragging."

    As Marines moved across the desert into Iraq on March 19, 2003, each Marine received a signed statement from then-Maj. Gen. James N. Mattis, commanding general of the 1st Marine Division, exhorting his troops to fight vigorously but to treat noncombatants with "decency … chivalry and soldierly compassion."

    "Engage your brain before you engage your weapon," he said.

    As detailed in Bing West's book "The March Up: Taking Baghdad With the 1st Marine Division," Brig. Gen. John Kelly, assistant division commander, was concerned about instances of seemingly random firing by Marines, most of them untested in combat. Kelly is now the Marine Corps' congressional liaison and has helped Hagee deliver briefings to legislators on the investigations into the Nov. 19 incident.

    Hagee left for Iraq on Thursday to sternly remind Marines that harming noncombatants violates Marine policy and numerous laws governing warfare. He plans to give the same message to troops at Camp Pendleton and other Marine bases when he returns.

    Haditha has been a particularly difficult area for the Marines. Officers have said they lack enough troops to do an adequate job of developing intelligence and then confronting insurgents.

    A documentary shown this week on the A&E Network detailed the frustrations of a company of Marine reservists who had 23 members killed and 36 wounded during a deployment last year in Haditha.

    One Marine sergeant, in an interview after his unit had returned to Columbus, Ohio, remembered a raid in which he burst into a home and came close to killing two women and a teenage boy out of rage for the deaths of fellow Marines.

    Sgt. Guy Zierk, interviewed in the documentary, "Combat Diary: The Marines of Lima Company," said he knew at that point that he had been in Iraq too long.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Murtha: New scandal worse than Abu Ghraib

    By DOUGLASS K. DANIEL, Associated Press Writer Sun May 28, 10:57 AM ET

    WASHINGTON - The fallout from the killing of as many as two dozen Iraqi civilians by Marines could undermine U.S. efforts in Iraq more than the Abu Ghraib prison scandal did, a lawmaker who is a prominent war critic said Sunday.

    The shootings last November at Haditha, a city in the Anbar province of western Iraq that has been plagued by insurgents, were covered up, said Rep. John Murtha (news, bio, voting record), D-Pa.

    "Who covered it up, why did they cover it up, why did they wait so long?" Murtha said on "This Week" on ABC. "We don't know how far it goes. It goes right up the chain of command."

    A bomb rocked a military convoy on Nov. 19, killing a Marine. Marines then shot and killed unarmed civilians in a taxi at the scene and went into two homes and shot other people, according to Murtha, who has been briefed by officials.

    Murtha said high-level reports he received indicated that no one fired upon the Marines or that there was any military action against the U.S. forces after the initial explosion. Yet the deaths were not seriously investigated until March because an early probe was stifled within days of the incident, he said.

    "I will not excuse murder, and this is what happened," Murtha said. "This investigation should have been over two or three weeks afterward and it should have been made public and people should have been held responsible for it."

    Lt. Col. Scott Fazekas, a Marine Corps spokesman, told The Associated Press that the investigation was ongoing and he would have no comment.

    Murtha, a former Marine and a prominent critic of Bush administration policies in Iraq, repeated his view that the war in Iraq cannot be won militarily and needs political solutions, which he said were damaged by such incidents involving the U.S.

    "This is the kind of war you have to win the hearts and minds of the people," he said. "And we're set back every time something like this happens. This is worse than Abu Ghraib."

    The U.S. effort to win over Iraqis and others in the Arab world by fostering a democratic government was severely damaged when it was revealed that U.S. military personnel had abused and humiliated people held at Abu Ghraib, a prison outside of Baghdad.

    The incident at Haditha has sparked two investigations — one into the deadly encounter itself and another into whether it was the subject of a cover-up.

    The second, noncriminal investigation is examining whether Marines sought to cover up what actually occurred that day and, in doing so, lied about having killed civilians without justification. The Marine Corps had initially attributed 15 civilian deaths to the car bombing and a firefight with insurgents, eight of whom the Marines reported had been killed.

    A defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly, told The Associated Press on Friday that evidence gathered so far strongly indicated that the Haditha killings were unjustified.

    Early this year, a videotape of the aftermath of the incident, showing the bodies of women and children, was obtained by Time magazine and Arab television stations. The military then undertook another investigation.

    Sen. John Warner (news, bio, voting record), the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he would hold hearings on the killings but cautioned against reaching conclusions until the military concluded its investigation.

    "There is this serious question, however, of what happened and when it happened and what was the immediate reaction of the senior officers in the Marine Corps when they began to gain knowledge of it," Warner said.

    The Naval Criminal Investigative Service investigation into the shootings is not expected to be completed earlier than in June. Whether violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, including murder, would be pursued would be determined by a senior Marine commander in Iraq.

    The NCIS also is conducting a criminal investigation into another incident, the death of an Iraqi civilian on April 26, involving Marines in Hamandiyah, west of Baghdad.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    "Marine officers have long been worried that Iraq's deadly insurgency could prompt such a reaction by combat teams."

    Invading Iraq pre-emptively, feeding the soldiers bullshit, MAY ALSO be the cause.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    What was Arkin saying about using and abusing 9/11?
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  5. #5
    Eckolaker Guest
    One thing I will never do is try to put myself in a soldiers position, or begin to analize why certain events take place during war.

    Regardless of what they were told, regardless of what we know. You cannot begin to imagine what those guys must be going through over there.

    They may have commited un-thinkable acts...but can you blame them? I know I couldn't.

  6. #6
    beltman713 Guest
    I read other reports that said the Marines also took cell phone pics of their victims before and/or after they executed them.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Even in war, there is a difference between right and wrong. You don't unlearn that. Murder is wrong.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Marines' Families Discuss Iraq Incident

    May 29, 7:49 PM (ET)

    HANFORD, Calif. (AP) - Two Marines were severely traumatized when told to photograph the corpses of men, women and children after members of their unit allegedly killed as many as two dozen unarmed Iraqi civilians, their families said Monday.

    Lance Cpl. Andrew Wright, 20, and Lance Cpl. Roel Ryan Briones, 21, both members of the Marine unit based at Camp Pendleton, photographed the scene in the western Iraqi city of Haditha with personal cameras they happened to be carrying the day of the attack.

    Briones later had his camera confiscated by Navy investigators, his mother said, while Wright's parents said their son was cooperating with the Navy investigation, but declined to comment further.

    "It was horrific. It was a terrible scene," Briones' mother, Susie, said in a tearful interview Monday with The Associated Press at her home in California's San Joaquin Valley.

    She called the incident a "massacre" and said the military had done little to help her son, who goes by his middle name, deal with his post-traumatic stress disorder.

    "I know Ryan is going through some major trauma right now," said Susie Briones, 40, an academic adviser at a community college. "It was very traumatic for all of the soldiers involved with this thing."

    The details of what happened Nov. 19 are still murky. What is known is that a bomb rocked a military convoy and left one Marine dead. Marines then shot and killed unarmed civilians in a taxi at the scene and went into two homes and shot other people, according to Rep. John Murtha, a Pennsylvania Democrat and decorated war veteran who has been briefed by military officials.

    The incident at Haditha has sparked two investigations - one into the deadly encounter itself and another into whether it was the subject of a cover-up. The Marine Corps had initially attributed 15 civilian deaths to the car bombing and a firefight with insurgents, eight of whom the Marines reported had been killed.

    Lance Cpl. Briones told his mother he saw the bodies of 23 dead Iraqis.

    Susie Briones got a panicked call that day from her son, who said he did not see the shootings but was told by his supervisors to go into the houses and remove the bodies. He brought along a digital camera that his mother had given him before he left for Iraq.

    One of the bodies was a little girl who had been shot in the head, Susie Briones said.

    "He had to carry that little girl's body," she said, "and her head was blown off and her brain splattered on his boots."

    Briones' best friend, Lance Cpl. Miguel "T.J." Terrazas, had been killed earlier that day by the roadside bomb. He was still grieving when he was sent in to clean up the bodies of the Iraqi civilians, his mother said.

    Ryan Briones told the Los Angeles Times that he'd been interrogated twice by Navy investigators while in Iraq. He turned over his digital camera but did not know what happened to it after that.

    "They wanted to know if the bodies had been moved or tampered with," said Briones, who has not been interviewed by Navy investigators since he returned from Iraq in April.

    Susie Briones said her son has been seeing a private psychiatrist and been treated for post-traumatic stress disorder since his return. She criticized his military care, saying all his military doctors did was give him sleeping pills and antidepressants.

    Wright also photographed the scene, according to his parents, Frederick and Patty Wright. They said their son was an innocent victim who was at the wrong place at the wrong time.

    "He is the Forrest Gump of the military. He ended up in the spotlight through no fault of his own," Frederick Wright told the AP in an interview at his home in Novato, about 20 miles north of San Francisco.

    Wright told his parents about the incident soon after it happened. He was distressed, and they reassured him the incident would be investigated and that it wasn't his fault.

    The Wrights said Naval Criminal Investigative Service had "all his information," but did not give further details. They declined to say whether he witnessed the killings or what he thought of the allegations against other members of his unit.

    He was under so much pressure because of the investigation that he had consulted with an attorney, they said.

    Wright and Briones are both recipients of the Purple Heart, given to soldiers wounded in battle.

    Wright was injured during an assault on Fallujah in January 2005. He voluntarily rejoined his unit at Camp Pendleton the next month.

    Briones was on his second tour of duty in Iraq. He received a Purple Heart during his first tour.

    On Monday, both Marines were back at Camp Pendleton, near Oceanside, where base officials said several members of Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division were being confined during the investigations.

    Lt. Lawton King, a Camp Pendleton spokesman, declined to comment Monday, but another Marine there reflected on the damage the reports have done.

    Nicholas Grey, a second lieutenant in the Marine Reserves based at Camp Pendleton, said the case will result in a loss of credibility for the Marines and increase Iraqi anger.

    "It will make it a lot harder for the Marines who want to go through the streets," he said.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  9. #9
    PhilosophyGenius Guest
    Marine at Haditha: 'I Can Still Smell the Blood'
    Military Investigates Alleged Killing of Civilian Iraqis by U.S. Troops


    May 29, 2006 — As military officials investigate the Haditha killings in Iraq, one of the Marines involved has spoken out about what he saw last year.

    Only hours after Iraqi civilians were killed, a second team of Marines was sent in to take the victims' bodies to a local morgue.

    Lance Corp. Ryan Briones was among the Marines sent in to recover the bodies, and he told the Los Angeles Times he is still haunted by what he saw, including a young girl who was shot in the head.

    "[The victims] ranged from little babies to adult males and females," Briones told the newspaper. "I can still smell the blood."

    Briones says he and another Marine were told to photograph the bodies. Military officials say those photos — which they say show people shot at close range in the head and chest — clearly contradict initial reports that the civilians were killed by a roadside bomb.

    'Something Broke Down Here'

    Officials familiar with the investigation say Sgt. Frank Wuterich was the top-ranked Marine to enter the houses where the civilians were killed, and is a focus of the investigation.

    In an interview with "Good Morning America" today, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said there are now two investigations into the killings that occurred last November.

    "One is to find out what happened. The other is to find out, why did it take us so long to find out what happened?" said Gen. Peter Pace.

    More than two months after the incident Time magazine asked the military to respond to allegations of the killings.

    The magazine says a Marine spokesman responded with an e-mail stating, "I cannot believe you're buying any of this. This falls into the same category of Al-Qaeda in Iraq propaganda."

    It was only after Time magazine showed a video in February to another military spokesman in Baghdad that an investigation was begun.

    "Something broke down here in the sense that no investigation was conducted immediately," said Gen. Jack Keane. "Therefore, people most likely in the chain of command who had knowledge and should have taken action appropriately did not and they will be under investigation for the failure to do that."

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    John Murtha Says The Pentagon Covered This Up - Video Inside

    Click Here
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

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