US Marine: I was ordered to erase photos of Haditha massacre

This is a video of British ITV on the Haditha massacre in Iraq.

From the Los Angeles Times in the USA:

Marine says he erased photos of Haditha victims

By Tony Perry, Times Staff Writer

June 8, 2007

I expected Haditha to be another Fallouja.
— Lt. Mark Towers, Battalion adjutant

CAMP PENDLETON — A staff sergeant testified Thursday that he was ordered to destroy grisly pictures of women and children killed by Marines so that the images would not be part of a statement being prepared for an investigative officer and a magazine reporter.

The testimony by Staff Sgt. Justin Laughner, taken under a grant of immunity, is the first evidence suggesting that any Marine officer may have engaged in a coverup in the deaths of 24 Iraqi civilians in 2005.

Other testimony has suggested that officers made only a superficial review before deciding that the deaths were combat-related and thus no war crimes investigation was required.

At the Article 32 inquiry, similar to a preliminary hearing, for a former battalion commander, Laughner testified hat he felt the order to destroy the pictures, which he said was given by Lt. Andrew Grayson, amounted to obstruction of justice but that he complied and later lied when asked whether any pictures had been taken.

Remember the hysteria among Rightist bloggers in the USA when some media alongside their stories about the Haditha masacre had photos not of that massacre?

Well, it turns out it was not that easy for those media to get photos that were of that massacre …

Haditha update September 2007: here; and here.

US General Peter Pace sacked: here.

Civil liberties in Britain during the Iraq war, The Guardian, and Craig Murray: here.

9 thoughts on “US Marine: I was ordered to erase photos of Haditha massacre

  1. 30/08/2007 09:17
    Marine faces Iraq massacre charges

    A US marine accused of leading troops that allegedly massacred 24 civilians in Haditha will appear today for proceedings to determine if he should face court martial.

    Sgt Frank Wuterich faces what is known as an Article 32 hearing in connection with the squad’s fatal shootings of men, women and children on November 19th, 2005. Prosecutors say the killings were retaliation for the death of a fellow marine in a roadside bombing

    The Haditha killings were among a series of apparent abuses by US soldiers in Iraqi towns and at the Abu Ghraib prison that caused outrage in Iraq and internationally.

    The argument is quite simple, that the marines that day were reacting to a hostile and dynamic environment and that their conduct, although it led to tragic results, was completely lawful
    Sgt Wuterich’s attorney, Mark Zaid

    Lawyers for Sgt Wuterich, one of eight marines originally charged in the Haditha case, were expected to argue in the hearing at Camp Pendleton, north of San Diego, that the civilians died during a chaotic house-to-house battle in and around the western Iraqi town.

    “The argument is quite simple, that the narines that day were reacting to a hostile and dynamic environment and that their conduct, although it led to tragic results, was completely lawful,” his attorney, Mark Zaid said.

    “The civilians who died were collateral damage as part of a combat operation where insurgents would intentionally place civilians into harm’s way.”

    Military authorities earlier this month dismissed charges against two of the marines, citing battle conditions against a “shadowy” insurgent enemy.

    Murder charges were dismissed in April against Sgt Sanick Dela Cruz in exchange for his testimony and he was expected to be one of the first witnesses to testify against Sgt Wuterich. Four other Marines have still to be dealt with.

    Sgt Dela Cruz testified in May he watched Sgt Wuterich shoot five Iraqi men whose hands were up near a car as they tried to surrender.

    Sgt Dela Cruz admitted urinating on one of the corpses, saying he did so because his comrade had been ripped apart by the roadside bomb.


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