Nine years ago this week a squad from Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, was returning from a routine re-supply mission on the outskirts of Haditha in western Iraq when it was attacked with an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) that killed one Marine and wounded two others. It was the beginning of a day-long killing spree that ended with twenty-four Iraqi civilians dead: nine men (including four brothers); four women; six children between the ages of three and 14; four students at a technical school being driven to classes, plus their driver—all killed either in their homes or gunned down on the roadside.
Thanks to the passage of time and clever manipulation by the US Marine Corps, the incident and the legal proceedings that followed have virtually disappeared from the public's memory. Forgotten or never fully recognized is the fact that that the Haditha proceedings turned the military justice system inside out, making a mockery of any naively held concepts of consistency with the spirit of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), transparency, accountability, and prosecutorial competence.A natural question might be a what if the U.S. was a signatory to the Rome Statute. I wouldn't take the "clever manipulation" comment too literally. I would be more inclined to apply Hanlon's Razor. The case of United States v. Wuterich became the number one military justice issue of 2008, as reflected in Dwight "ML" Sullivan's post here on CAAFLog. SSgt Wuterich ultimately received an administrative discharge characterized as General Under Honorable Conditions (GDuHC), as reported here. When a person is administratively discharged they can receive an Honorable (HD), or a GDuHC, or an Other Than Honorable Conditions Discharge (OTH). A non-HD can result in a loss of some or all veterans benefits and potential difficulty in post-service employment searches. There has also been a long running prosecution in United States v. Hutchins, relating to misconduct in Hamdania.
Read on for Haditha Redux.