Skip to comments.New revelations!: The Case Against the Haditha Defendants is Coming Unglued
Posted on 07/25/2007 6:09:15 PM PDT by RedRover
The prosecutions criminal case against LCpl Stephen Tatum and six other Marines in various stages of judicial process took another nose dive today. Charges that Chessani and his officers failed to adequately investigate or report the circumstances of the ambush at Haditha to higher headquarters were blasted apart by confirmation that a U.S. Air Force RQ-1 Predator was on station above Haditha for more than five hours on November 19, 2005.
Both Chessani and higher headquarters at least at both regiment and division level were watching it do its thing on big screens, an officer revealed. The Predators amazing capabilities provide opportunity for anyone in the National Command Authority to watch the fight in real time if they wanted to.
We had Scan Eagle from about 0830 until 1700. Predator joined in from about 1030-1400 or so. Scan Eagle was used to maintain continuous PID [Positive Identification] on human targets as they fled from neighborhood to neighborhood. We used Predator's IR [Infra Red] camera to identify them within the palm grove (hotspots) where they were attempting to hide and to get the bombs on target. Both were used to guide helos and fixed wing air support on to the targets, the officer explained.
At least one type of sophisticated UAV was over the battlefield all morning. In addition to 3/1s organic Dragon Eye and ScanEagle following bands of insurgents move from hiding place to hiding place, theater commanders in Baghdad diverted an orbiting RQ-1 Predator medium altitude, high endurance UAV to watch as well. The super-secret aircraft is launched from Balad Air Base in Iraq and controlled by remote operators at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, the Air Force says. The Predator is operated by the Air Force for the Central Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency, and other highly classified intelligence authorities. It allows senior commanders at the Pentagon to see what is happening in real time as well as field commanders in Iraq.
An officer who was there said so many people were watching the fight go down that a faraway Public Affairs Officer wrote 3/1 to suggest it was time to maximize the coalition coverage of this, pointing out to the locals that insurgents don't care about their children."
Chessani is charged with violating his orders for failing to inform higher headquarters of the situation at Haditha. On November 19 every Marine Corps senior headquarters in Iraq and the United States could watch events in Haditha go down in real time and living color thanks to Predator.
In the words of one expert, They can run but they cant hide [from Predator].
Another blow fell when a spokesman for United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement said that if Naval Criminal Investigative Service special agents threatened Venezuelan native LCpl Humberto Mendoza with deportation if he didnt cooperate they were at odds with current US law. Jack Zimmermann, the Texas attorney representing Lance Cpl. Stephen Tatum suggested NCIS used the ploy to gain Mendozas testimony during his examination of the 23-year-old Marine.
A spokesman for ICE in Washington, D.C. said that NCIS could only make such a threat if Mendoza was already convicted of a serious crime. Current immigration law mandates violators must be convicted of a crime providing for at least one year in jail or more before it will initiate deportation proceedings, according to Pat Reilly, the Public Affairs Officer for ICE. She noted two exceptions to the law;
1.) If Mendoza lied about his citizenship status and fraudulently enlisted in the Marine Corps;
2.) If Mendoza had already been convicted of two or more crimes.
A spokesman for the Camp Pendleton Media Center said Mendozas citizenship status was a question for the Public Affairs Officer for the 1st Marine Division. As of this report the 1st MarDiv PAO has not returned phone calls. Presumably, however, given Mendozas unfettered testimony earlier this week he remains in good standing in the Marine Corps. Otherwise the prosecution would have to reveal his tarnished status to the defense.
On December 18, 2005, three days before three Marines from his squad were charged with murder Mendoza was granted immunity from prosecution in return for his cooperation. Despite previous testimony to the contrary Mendoza went from being part of a combat stack of Marines attacking a hostile objective to a lone Marine apparently wandering around in a smoke-filled house grenades had just been thrown into, he testified.
In his post-immunity version of events, Mendoza didnt shoot anyone except a couple of fellows who must have deserved it. When he discovered innocent civilians huddled in a room behind a closed door he backed away, shutting the door behind him. Despite the early morning gloom stipulated by both sides, he could see the darkened, smoke-filled chamber was full of terrified women and children. Tatum did all the killing, he said.
Zimmermann subsequently suggested during his examination of Mendoza that the NCIS told Mendoza his citizenship was at stake if he didnt cooperate. If they did it was a hollow threat. It would particularly be true if the NCIS special agents knew Mendoza was neither convicted of a crime or in violation of any citizenship statutes, one Missouri county prosecutor said. In most jurisdictions the court would call that type of behavior coercion, she said.
At Haditha, Mendoza was fighting alongside Tatum, Sharratt, Sgt. Francis Wolf, the late Miguel T.J. Terrazas, and Joe Haman, all who paid so dearly at Fallujah the year before. Marines who know the fighting caliber of these fighting Marines find it simply incredulous that a rookie Marine rifleman who had just shot two men in a firefight would even be capable to shutting down the way Mendoza claims he was able to.
Someday the truth will be available for everybody to see for themselves. The continuous video should be 8-10 hours, and includes the entire fight, one Marine said.
finishes with the insurgent holding a child in order to avoid getting bombed again, he added, before we swarmed in to capture him.
Nat Helms is now confirming what he first reported here. There was a Predator in the sky above Haditha that morning, and the scale of the battle was known up and down the chain of command.
We'll also stay on this story about LCpl Mendoza. I'd hate to think that NCIS did something at odds with US law, wouldn't you? This should get very interesting so stay tuned!
I'd like to place 20 down on #2 please.
For more about the LCpl Humberto Mendoza testimony at the LCpl Tatum hearing, see this thread.
Can murtha be prosecuted for making false alllegations?
Funny how a story can change when you think you'll be deported back to the land of Hugo Chavez!
Lock Murtha in a cell and make him watch it over and over again...
Another good piece by Nat Helms.
I believe we’ll hear a lot more about LCpl Mendoza should any of these Marines go to court-martial and he testifies for the prosecution but we’ll hear it from defense attorneys.
All of this makes me sick. It is hard enough, in the fog of battle and house to house fighting to distinguish civilian from combatant especially when the combatants shied themselves behind women and children.
If NCIS, or any other government agency, is somehow cooking the facts for the sake of politics, I say we are in deep shit.
I think I would be in jail today if we have video cameras and picture cell phones in Nam.
The PC war appears is impossible.
There hasn't been any indication yet that the IO, LtCol Paul Ware, took Mendoza's testimony seriously. The recommendation in the LCpl Sharratt hearing took three weeks from the close of the hearing. We may not know until mid-August just what LtCol Ware thinks about all this. He did not go easy on NCIS and the prosecution in the Sharratt case and doubt he will here either.
BTW, for people trying to follow what happened in the LCpl Tatum case, here's a handy diagram...
There have been cases of congressmen being sued. Sen. Proxmire, most famously.
An interesting wrinkle in the Murtha case is that he made all those false allegations from his campaign headquarters in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. That's part of the argument that Murtha was acting outside his role as a congressman.
I would think that it'd be clear enough that no elected representative has the right to falsely accuse citizens of being cold-blooded murderers. But President Bush's DOJ apparently thinks otherwise.
Why so long for this to come out?
I don’t want to go down the tinfoil hat road, but WTF?
Seems we now have confirmation that they were anything but "grainy images" and gave him and the rest of his chain of command a far better tactical vision than could be had by radio riding around from hot-spot to hot-spot. And if everyone up to and including Mathis could have monitored real-time, and I'm sure watched replays -- WHY THE HELL ARE THESE MEN ON TRIAL? Winter and Walker both deserve to walk the plank.
Regardless of what happens, and regardless of which version of the story is true, it’s a shame that Mendoza turned out to be a weasel. “Semper fidelis” obviously has no meaning for that scumbag. A real ‘stand up guy’, that Mendoza.