The latest in the Haditha murder case:
An investigating officer recommended Thursday dismissing all charges against a Marine accused of murdering two girls in an assault that killed 24 civilians in the Iraqi town of Haditha.
Lance Cpl. Stephen B. Tatum, 26, is charged with unpremeditated murder of two girls and negligent homicide on suspicion that he unlawfully killed two men, a woman and a boy. He is also accused of assaulting another boy and a girl.
Investigating officer Lt. Col. Paul Ware said the evidence was too weak for a court-martial. Tatum shot and killed civilians, but “he did so because of his training and the circumstances he was placed in, not to exact revenge and commit murder,” Ware wrote.
“I believe (Lance Cpl.) Tatum’s real life experience and training on how to clear a room took over and his body instinctively began firing while his head tried to grasp at what and why he was firing,” Ware wrote. “By the time he could recognize that he was shooting at children, his body had already acted.
Ware's recommendation is nonbinding. Lt. Gen. James Mattis, the commanding general overseeing the case, has final say about whether Tatum will be court-martialed.
Considering the problems with the prosecution's star witness, Lance Cpl. Humberto Mendoza, this recommendation comes as no surprise:
Tatum easily passed a polygraph test administered to him earlier this year at the request of his attorneys, according to results submitted as evidence.
The polygraph examiner deemed that Tatum had answered truthfully when he said he did not know there were women and children in the room before he opened fire.
During cross-examination, Mendoza acknowledged that he had failed a polygraph test he took after he changed his version of the events.
What was that John Murtha said about our Marines at Haditha?
A Pentagon probe into the death of Iraqi civilians last November in the Iraqi city of Haditha will show that U.S. Marines "killed innocent civilians in cold blood," a U.S. lawmaker said Wednesday.
Michelle Malkin has posted Murtha's contact information, I'll post it here as well. Take a minute and give him a call.
Contact info for office of John Murtha:
800-289-2642 from Western PA
814-539-6229 — District
202-225-5709 — Washington