Its been a long, LONG, time since the Haditha Marines were incarcerated at Camp Pendleton. The Haditha incident happened in 2005 and consisted of Marines ‘clearing’ houses in an area in which an IED had blown up an humvee and from which the Marines were under fire.
After the democrats took over Congress in 2006, then Congressman John Murtha seemingly used the Marines who became known as the Haditha Marines to further his own political ambitions. He said they killed ‘in cold blood’ even though the party they broke up in Haditha was anything but a day at the beach. The Marines were taken off the battlefield and incarcerated at Camp Pendleton pending their trials. Murder charges were dropped and eventually the seven of the eight Marines were cleared.
Unbelievably, Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich is still on trial for ordering the Marines in his command to clear the houses in Haditha, Iraq. And worse, the question that seems to be central in his court-martial trial is whether or not Marines should be required to risk their lives to identify whether or not people in a hostile building are enemy combatants. In other words, if they are taking fire from a house, should they have to identify who all the occupants of that house are before returning fire. Sound ridiculous? Of course it is.
The former Marine officer who gave Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich the order to “clear” an Iraqi house near the site of an explosion that had just killed a Marine testified Friday that he expected Wuterich and his squad to “kill or capture the enemy I thought was in that building.”
William Kallop, who was a lieutenant in 2005 and is now a stockbroker in New York, said he believed insurgents inside the house were firing on Marines and thus the house could be deemed “hostile.”
According to the rules of engagement, Wuterich and his Marines were justified in using any amount of firepower in assaulting a “hostile” structure without identifying whether the people inside were combatants, Kallop said.
Kallop’s testimony came at the court-martial of Wuterich on charges of manslaughter, assault and dereliction of duty in the killing of 24 Iraqis by Marines on Nov. 19, 2005, in the Euphrates River community of Haditha. Among the Iraqis killed were three women and seven children.
While Kallop, who was a platoon commander, was called as a prosecution witness, his testimony appears to support the defense contention that Wuterich followed both his orders and training in assaulting two houses after the explosion that killed Marine Cpl. Miguel Terrazas and injured two other Marines.
The jury comprises four officers and four senior enlisted personnel, all with combat experience in Iraq or Afghanistan or both, as well as experience in “clearing” houses.
A Marine lawyer, testifying after Kallop, gave a different interpretation of the rules of engagement. Maj. Kathryn Navin, who had lectured Marines before they deployed, said a house cannot be declared hostile unless the people inside are known to have “hostile intent” or have committed “hostile acts.”
But Kallop said that in training at Camp Pendleton and March Reserve Air Base, and at briefings delivered in Iraq, Marines were not told they needed to identify individual targets as threatening when assaulting a “hostile” structure.
He said that he ordered “Clear south” and Wuterich responded, “Roger that, Sir.” He did not tell Wuterich that the house was “hostile,” Kallop said.
But Wuterich, in gathering his squad for the assault, told one of the Marines that the house was hostile and that the Marines should shoot first and ask questions later, according to testimony from former Marine Stephen Tatum.
No insurgents or weapons were found in two houses “cleared” by Marines. Dozens of Jordanian passports and stacks of American hundred-dollar bills were found in another house, however, indicating the neighborhood may have been used by insurgents as a staging point for attacks, Marine intelligence officers testified at preliminary hearings.
Kallop testified that after the explosion that ripped apart a Humvee, Marines were under attack by “a few bursts of small-arms fire.” He said he ordered a Marine to fire a grenade at the house after seeing a “turkey-peeker,” military jargon for a military-age male sneaking a look at Marines in a suspicious manner.
Kallop said he expected Wuterich to lead the Marines in his squad “to conduct movement to contact and kill or capture the enemy I thought was in that building.”
Responding to a question from defense attorney Haytham Faraj, Kallop said Marines are not required to risk their lives by stopping to identify individual targets while assaulting a hostile structure.
Can you imagine the heyday Major Kathryn Navin would have had with the bomber’s of Berlin in World War II? Under those rules of engagement most of the Allied Soldiers and Marines would still be in prison.
You can only imagine the effect this sort of politically correct nonsense has on our fighting men and women. Or you can read about some of the affects it has had here.
Its time to put this to rest. Free Frank Wuterich and end this sad chapter in American history.