Skip to comments.Bombshell Cripples Case Against Haditha Marines
Posted on 04/24/2007 5:55:21 PM PDT by RedRover
There has been an astonishing development in the case against soldiers accused of murder in Haditha, Iraq.
All charges are being dropped against Sgt. Sanick P. Dela Cruz in the Haditha incident where 24 Iraqi's were killed during an insurgant ambush against the Marines.
The development is a strong indication that the prosecutors have a very weak case against all the defendants, lawyers for the some of the accused say.
Convincing evidence that corroborates NewsMax.com's accounts of the Haditha insurgent ambush has compelled the prosecution to take extraordinary steps to bolster their crumbling case.
"Dela Cruz provided several sworn statements to the government," Mark Zaid said. Zaid is one of the attorneys representing defendant Sgt. Frank Wuterich adding that as part of its obligations the government turned over statements to Wuterich's defense team.
"Unless there's something new that he is suddenly going to come forward with, it's not entirely clear that it's damaging to my client at all," Mark Zaid, one of the attorney's representing Sgt. defendant Frank Wuterich, told NewsMax.com
"Those statements were available for the government to use, and we found that there are numerous conflicting statements within his own statements."
The announcement of the deal with Dela Cruz is further evidence that the cases against the Kilo Company Marines and several of their superior officers are in deep trouble. It comes on the heels of postponements of Article 32 hearings slated for Lt. Col. Jeffrey Chessani, the battalion commander and two of the enlisted men charged with murdering civilians in Haditha on Nov. 19, 2005.
Although the prosecutors said they needed more time to prepare their cases, there is much more to the story than that NewsMax.com has learned, and it paints a shocking picture of a prosecution that should never have been pursued.
In a nutshell, the case exploded when an intelligence officer dropped a bombshell on prosecutors during a pre-hearing interview when he revealed the existence of exculpatory evidence that appears to have been obtained by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) and withheld from the prosecutors.
This officer, described by senior Marine Corps superiors as one of the best and most dedicated intelligence officers in the entire Marine Corps, was in possession of evidence which provided a minute-by-minute narrative of the entire day's action material which he had amassed while monitoring the day's action in his capacity as the battalion's intelligence officer. That material, he says, was also in the hands of the NCIS.
Much of that evidence remains classified, but it includes videos of the entire day's action, including airstrikes against insurgent safe houses. Also included was all of the radio traffic describing the ongoing action between the men on the ground and battalion headquarters, and proof that the Marines were aware that the insurgents conducting the ambush of the Kilo Company troops were videotaping the action the same video that after editing ended up in the hands of a gullible anti-war correspondent for Time magazine.
When asked by the prosecution team to give his copies of the evidence to the prosecution, he told NewsMax.com that he was reluctant to do so, fearing it would again be suppressed or misused, but later relented when ordered by his commanding general to do so.
Confronted by the massive mounds of evidence that Marine Corps sources tell NewsMax proves conclusively that the cases against the Haditha Marines are baseless, the prosecutors were forced to postpone the Article 32 against Lt. Col. Chessani and two of the enlisted men in an attempt to regroup.
By granting immunity to the officer on the scene of the house-clearing effort, the prosecution, lawyers say, has further weakened its case.
Because the intelligence officer was slated to return to Iraq for another tour of duty, arrangements were made prior to his departure to videotape his testimony for use in the hearings which would take place after his departure.
Those familiar with his testimony, which included masses of classified material, insist that the narratives of the day's events disclosed by NewsMax.com in a long series of stories about Haditha were accurate presentations of the true facts and a total repudiation of all the slanderous material leaked by the Pentagon to the media.
Thanks to this officer's testimony, the defense team was able to present over one hundred classified exhibits, including video.
Lawyers for some of the accused told NewsMax that the officer's eight hour-long deposition will be made available to the defense in all the cases for use at the various Article 32 hearings which begin with Lt. Col. Chessani in May. Because most of it remains classified, it will be reviewed in private by the hearing officers and not revealed in the open hearings.
NewsMax, however, can reveal that the facts of what happened early that November morning clearly show that the incident was part of a planned ambush by insurgent forces, that the civilians tragically killed in the were used as human shields by the insurgents, and that despite claims by Rep. John Murtha, there was indeed an ongoing firefight between the Marines and the enemy.
In short, what the intelligence officer provided, was a fully backed up account that puts the listener at the scene of the action and takes him though the entire day's action. All of this information was made available to senior officers up the command ladder including the Battalion commander Lt. Col. Chessani.
It was so complete it eliminated any need for further investigation.
Robert Muise, the Thomas More Law Center attorney who questioned the officer, told NewsMax in a statement, "The intelligence officer is a crucial witness in this case. During his testimony, he effectively described the enemy situation prior to, during, and after the November 19 terrorist attack, providing the necessary context for the decisions that were made as a result. His testimony shows the complexity of the attack this day, the callousness of the terrorists toward the local civilians, whom they use to their advantage, and the error of viewing this incident in a vacuum.
"The officer also showed how the insurgents used allegations of wrongdoing by Marines as propaganda to support their cause. In fact, another witness, who was the assistant intelligence officer during the attack and is now the current intelligence officer for the battalion, testified that since the Haditha incident received so much negative attention, terrorist propaganda alleging law of war violations against American servicemen in Iraq has 'ballooned.'"
Addressing this point, Richard Thompson, the president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Law Center said, "The government's politicized quest to find wrongdoing in this case will ultimately harm the war effort, and it has already resulted in an incredible expenditure of time, money, and scarce resources, which could be better used fighting the terrorists.
"Our job is to allow the facts of November 19, 2005 and beyond to be presented to the investigating officer rather than the scurrilous and unfounded accusations from anti-war politicians and media who rely on insurgent sources for their stories about our decent and hard fighting men in uniform."
In the past few days, as an apparent part of the prosecution's damage control effort, some Pentagon officials leaked the once classified 130-page report, by Maj. Gen. Eldon A. Bargewell of the Army, to the New York Times and The Washington Post. That report, however, failed to conclude that any officers covered up evidence or committed a crime the basis of the charges against Lt. Col. Chessani and the other officers charged.
In previous attempt to stir up animosity to the defendants, some people in the Pentagon leaked information allegedly compiled by the NCIS to the Washington Post.
As NewsMax demonstrated, that information was false.
Biased Media Weighs In
A shocking example of the sort of slanderous material being leaked to the media was this story broadcast by WKRN in Nashville, Tenn., which reported that military prosecutors said marines went on "a killing rampage in November 2005 in Haditha, Iraq, after their Humvee was destroyed by a roadside bomb killing one marine and injuring two others."
According to the WKRN report, "The surviving marines went on a killing spree shooting two dozen Iraqi civilians including unarmed men in the street and men, women, and children in their homes."
They went on to quote one Gen. Jack Keane, rescribed as an ABC News consultant, who said that "at that point, there was a fundamental . . . breakdown in the chain of command. They became more like a gang than a military unit. The order and the discipline fundamentally broke down and they were seeking revenge."
The Pentagon report, WKRN admitted, "did not find specific evidence of a cover-up but concludes that nobody was interested in investigating the allegations."
The facts show that these reports are blatantly false, and typical of the shamefully distorted media coverage of the Haditha killings.
On April 3, the prosecution granted immunity to talk to prosecutors to Lt. Max Frank, who arrived at the scene after the IED blast of the explosion. The grant was made as part of an order to "cooperate and truthfully answer all questions posed by investigators."
He has not been charged in the case.
According to Muise and Brian Rooney of the Thomas Moore Law Center both former Marine officers now representing Lt. Col. Chessani, Frank, who personally witnessed the scene of the attack shortly after the fighting and assisted with removing the civilian bodies from the insurgent-occupied homes, insisted that there was no evidence of "executions" and that he saw no evidence of misconduct.
Muise observed that Frank was testifying under a grant of immunity by the government, which he said added further credibility to his testimony.
Lt. Col. Shelburne, the military defense counsel for Chessani who questioned Kallop, noted, "This officer's testimony is significant. He was on the scene shortly after the attack. He saw the location of the bodies. He personally observed the damage caused by the attack. And yet, he saw nothing that caused him to suspect any wrongdoing on the part of the Marines. Moreover, this officer was given immunity by the government, so the only way he can get in trouble is if he testifies untruthfully."
Send those flaccid squids to the front line while the Devil Dogs laze around the club and watch !
Amen to good news.
I am happy to here this news! I believed from the begining that this was a setup and all involved with attempting to fabricate a case should be held accountable including the media. Just another way of tying our soldiers hands while in combat! Could you imagine this happening in the 40’s with Germany and Japan? Is this America anymore?
We must not forget John Murtha’s treachery in this case.
hark!!!! do I hear the Goober-Mints case getting FLUSHED down the toilet????
Thank God for the people fighting for these guys.
Keep praying that this thing gets resolved and ALL these guys are exonerated.
Another Fitzmas down the drain.
Has Murtha apologized yet?
Didn’t think so.
If this is true the NCIS has a lot of explaining to do as well as murtha in disclosing who leaked the phony information to him.
At the very least these Marines are entitled to an explanation from both the NCIS and the despicable murtha.
Thanks for the good, truthful report!
Something really stunk when I heard his charges were dropped ....
I like the good news..
Finally some good news, somewhere.
My heart just skipped several beats when I read this Red. I pray that this is all true and that we are on the way to an end of this political witchhunt. AND a beginning to a complete takedown of Murtha...
Exactly. That was the point of the piece "Congratulations, Sergeant Dela Cruz" linked above.
My only issue with this piece is that Sgt. Dela Cruz did not make a deal. As Brennan notes, his testimony is already available to all the lawyers involved. Dela Cruz is not changing his testimony. Zaid should take good news at face value.
Humpty Dumpty is right ... Wow this is a great article!
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