Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Officers Not Targeted in Haditha Probe

The whitewashing of Haditha has begun:
Pentagon investigations into the shooting deaths of Iraqi civilians are focused on about a dozen enlisted Marines and do not target their commanding officers, the lawyer for one of the officers said Tuesday.
The investigations of up to two dozen killings and whether Marines covered them up are focused on the troops who were in a four-vehicle convoy hit by a roadside bomb last Nov. 19 in the western Iraqi city of Haditha, attorney Paul Hackett said.

The highest-ranking Marine targeted by the investigations is a staff sergeant who led the convoy, said Hackett, a Marine reservist and Iraqi war veteran who last year narrowly lost a special election for a U.S. House seat in Ohio.

The troops are from Kilo Company, part of Camp Pendleton's 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment. Hackett represents Capt. James Kimber, one of three battalion officers relieved of command last month.

"My purpose is to separate his name from the alleged war crimes that took place," Hackett said. "He's not under investigation for anything related to what has played out in the press."

Kimber, who was nominated for a Bronze Star for valor in Haditha, was relieved of command because his subordinates used profanity, removed sunglasses and criticized the performance of Iraqi security services during an interview with Britain's Sky News TV, according to Hackett.

The Pentagon has named two others who were relieved of command: Lt. Col. Jeffrey Chessani, the battalion's commander, and Capt. Lucas McConnell, who commanded Kilo Company. Hackett does not represent either man but said neither was present for the shootings and he believes neither man is a target of the investigations.

No investigation into the cover-up and who ordered it.

Aberrant or Endemic?:
It may be tempting for U.S. forces to disassociate themselves from the massacre—to depict the men of Kilo Company as overzealous renegades; to designate scapegoats and prosecute them mercilessly. But when Briones and others were sent into Haditha they photographed and tagged each body, before dumping them unceremoniously, and without explanation, in front of an Iraqi hospital. A record of the incident was made, and, it would appear, covered up. Moreover, when the New York Times visited Camp Pendleton, CA, where Kilo Company is based, they were reminded that above all Marines are subject to the chain of command. “You just can't go clearing houses without the permission of higher-ups,” one said.

Like the torture, rapes and killings at Abu Ghraib (and that continue in CIA secret prisons around the world), the crime is in the disclosure. And only the lowliest and fewest of those involved suffer the consequences.
Iraq's prime minister says the alleged killings of civilians by U.S. Marines in Haditha in November were not justified.

In London, Nouri Al-Maliki told the BBC that international troops in Iraq need to be more careful.

That's a pretty tepid reaction from the leader of a "free sovereign nation" who the U.S. claims is "not occupied." I don't think the "puppet" Al-Maliki has much of a future as leader of the Iraq people.

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