Skip to comments.Trial of SSgt. Wuterich: "If I'm Receiving Fire, I've Got to Assume the House is Hostile"
Posted on 01/17/2012 8:44:20 PM PST by RedRover
Camp Pendleton, Calif. Retired U.S. Marine Corps Sergeant Major Edward T. Sax landed several heavy blows on the governments battered and bruised case against Haditha defendant SSgt Frank D. Wuterich Tuesday afternoon.
Wuterich was a great Marine, he told the eight member panel of officers and senior non-commissioned officers intently watching the exchange between Sax and defense attorney Haytham Faraj.
Sax, considered by both the officers and man of the Thundering Third to be a Marines Marine, told the panel of officers and senior non-commissioned officers that Wuterichs decimated squad did it right when they blasted through two civilian houses where 14 Iraqi civilians died after being ambushed at Haditha more than six years ago.
Initially, chief prosecutor Maj. Nicholas Gannon compelled Sax to explain the vast differences between the vicious, no-holds barred month long battle at Fallujah in 2004 and the situation in Haditha almost a year later.
What we did at Fallujah was something we never did again. There they are go kill them, he said. Haditha was not Fallujah. Those conversations got emphasized before we got sent to regain control of Haditha. This was not going to be Fallujah. We are not pounding them down with artillery.
If I havent received fire I am not going to use hand grenades. Wed clear in a little different way. Taking fire from a structure in part dictates how you are going to clear that structure.
If I thought I received fire I am now going to use hand grenades, Sax told Maj. Gannon, who then asked him what was the correct procedure for clearing a house where civilians might be hiding after receiving fire.
Im going to frag the room before I go in it. It was taught right at MOUT training. If Im receiving fire, Ive got to assume the house is hostile if I send Marines in there they are going to get shot.
Later in his testimony, Sax got down to cases when talking about what happened on November 19, 2005 when one Kilo, 3/1 Marine was killed and two more seriously wounded by a remotely detonated roadside bomb that signaled the attack on a stunned squad of riflemen trying to take cover on a hard surfaced road that didnt offer any.
On November 19, Haditha was more like Fallujah? Faraj asked during his cross-examination.
Yes, I think it was, Sax replied.
Sax said Haditha was considered hostile when 3/1 was sent there to wrest control of the region from the Al Qaeda-led insurgency following the thrashing the insurgents had given to a reserve battalion of Marines during its deployment. The difference was the insurgents were smaller in number and far less aggressive being non-kinetic in Marine Corps jargon.
Haditha was considered hostile because of what happened to 3/25. I think it was Lima, 3/25 couldnt even leave the wire it had taken so many casualties from the same town, Sax said.
Sax was the Sergeant Major of 3/1 Marines at both Fallujah in November of 2004 and Haditha in 2005. He has a reputation among veterans of the Thundering Third for showing up in the heat of battle to lend a hand where he thought his Marines needed a little morale boosting. During the remorseless Battle of Fallujah Operation Al Fajar/Phantom Fury he was known to unlimber his M-16 and let loose with a few bursts whenever he got the opportunity, said many of the Marines who served there with him.
The colorful career infantryman brought a ray of sunshine into the courtroom after a morning of forensic testimony by two experts that explained what all the holes, tears and evacuated skulls in the dead civilians mean in the cold, hard light of science. The forensic pathologists used their testimony to explain how photographic forensic interpretation isnt the best way to determine how, when and why the men, woman and children killed that day had died. Essentially, they agreed, the Marines had been very thorough when they swept through two smoke-darkened houses in a vicious counter-attack that lasted seconds rather than minutes.
Saxs testimony is central to the defense theory of innocence since the alleged massacre of 24 Iraqis was claimed by Time magazine reporter Tim McGirk in March 2006.
Sax offered several analogies to explain how and why Wuterich and his men acted the way they did when they assaulted two houses in the dawn of November 19, 2005. In his opinion Marines always return fire and counter attack when being shot at. Marines are trained to attack with all the force they can muster, he explained. They were taught to behave that way while in training. Like the others who testified before him, Sax barely gave lip service to the concept of restraint.
You got to know your Marines. They are like your brothers; in combat they are your brothers. When a corporal makes his men clean the toilets with their tooth brushes and feel good about it that is leadership. he said. Part of leadership is inspiring your men to do things they dont want to do.
Sax was particularly vocal about the treatment 3rd Platoon Kilos Marines endured while being questioned by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. Several Marines testified they were held in a dungeon like room at the bottom of Haditha Dam where insurgent suspects were usually interrogated. They testified they had been questioned up to 16 hours straight without even being allowed to urinate.
NCIS was interrogating your Marines, in one case one Marine had to hold his pee until he signed his statement, Faraj declared.
Sax said that when he heard what was happening to his Marines he went to the NCIS special agents and told them, If one of my Marines had to urinate they were to take their penis out and pee on the table, he said.
One Marine said he signed his statement just so he could pee? Faraj asked.
Yes, sir, Sax replied.
Faraj then inquired in what other ways what happened at Fallujah was different than the events at Haditha.
At Fallujah we double fragged [threw two fragmentation grenades] every room."
It may be simpler than that. Marine Corps JAG Officers, like Marine Corps riflemen follow orders. The decision to prosecute Sgt. Wuterich is so unjustified by the evidence that it clearly is the result of a command decision.
. Hopefully some of the pee would have landed in the briefcases of the NCIS lawyers.
I’m totally tied up at work but got a message that we made the Drudge Report. Does anyone have time to check it out??? Would love to know for sure. (It’d be great to get a screenshot, if we’re there.)
I said on another thread that the government has only released charges without specifications for the court martial. I put the charge sheet HERE with the original specifications.
Of course that's mixing the legal version of apples and oranges but it's the best we can do right now.
If the specifications on dereliction hold, then the issue becomes PID and “shoot first”.
PID on the white car is moot given the security briefing about white cars and that particular white car showing up in conjuction with the remote detonation of an IED. And there’s the testimony about a cut-out in the white car sometimes used for cameras.
PID on any other person given they were taking fire is only based, as you pointed out yesterday, on a reasonable belief they were a threat. If someone stands out in a firefight, then he’s either a shooter, a spotter, or situationally challenged.
Didn’t find anything, Red.
For the better part of 6 years I’ve had nothing but disdain and contempt for the United States Marine Corps. The fact that the Corps would allow this politically motivated persecution of our young Marines is despicable and reprehensible, to put it mildly.
Three Marine Corps Commandants have had the opportunity, have been derelict in their duty to end these Haditha persecutions. These are not the leaders of “Chesty” Puller constitution. This is not the Corps of Iwo Jima, Tarawa, the Choisan Reservoir. These supposed Generals have forgotten the meaning of “Semper Fidelis”.
When all seems forgotten....when all feels lost. Young men with character do arise to the fight. Sgt. Salinas, Lt. Kallop and MstrSgt Sax give me reason for hope. These men risked their tomorrows to keep us safe. Men like these make me proud to be an American. Brothers by different mothers.
I understand SSgt Wuterich’s court martial is far from over. More Marines will be called. When they take the stand and tell the truth, ‘the truth shall set us free’.
God Bless Our Haditha Marines
I see nothing on Drudge..and it’s a messy place to visit. DOM is so nice and tidy!
Hiya, Lily. Last couple of days we’ve had dustings but this morning we got up to an inch plus, which ain’t much. I’m sure you have more from what I’ve seen on the weather reports.
This former Marine would follow either of these two Marines to, and through, the very gates of Hell.
This was a war. If it had been Seattle cops doing what these Marines did, this incident wouldn’t even be presented to a grand jury.
Drudge archives everything. If your message person can come up with a few keywords I should be able to find it.
And God bless their families, that they realize their sons suffered for the service and deserve all the more respect and admiration for what they endured.
All the best, my friend,