Another Haditha Marine Cleared


The Investigating Officer of Haditha Marine LCpl Stephen Tatum is now recommending that no court martial be done on the Marine.

An investigating officer has recommended that a Marine Corps general drop all charges against a Marine accused of murdering civilians in Haditha, Iraq, finding again that the 2005 shootings were “tragedies” but that the Marine did not violate the laws of combat.

Lt. Col. Paul J. Ware wrote in a 29-page report that there is insufficient evidence to show that Lance Cpl. Stephen B. Tatum did anything other than follow Marine Corps rules when he killed women and children in two houses in a residential neighborhood in Iraq on Nov. 19, 2005. Ware found that Tatum followed orders to attack the houses and shot a group of civilians only because another Marine in the unit was already shooting at them.


“What occurred in house 1 and house 2 are tragedies,” Ware wrote. “The photographs of the victims are heart wrenching, and the desire to explain this tragedy as criminal act and not the result of training and fighting an enemy that hides among innocents is great. However, in the end, my opinion is that there is insufficient evidence for trial. LCpl Tatum shot and killed people in houses 1 and 2, but the reason he did so was because of his training and the circumstances he was placed in, not to exact revenge and commit murder.”

Jack B. Zimmerman, a civilian attorney for Tatum, said he is pleased with the report and will await Mattis’s ruling before commenting further. Should Mattis dismiss the charges, it would leave pending murder charges in the case against one enlisted Marine, Staff Sgt. Frank D. Wuterich.

You can read the IO’s report here in PDF format.  Some interesting passages:

In most homicide cases, a killing can be presumed to be unlawful absent evidence to the contrary. That is not the same as placing a burden of raising an affirmative defense upon the accused but recognition that in our society, killing another is not normally legal or authorized. There are two obvious exceptions to which the presumption of a killing is not lawful, law enforcement and military combat operation. Marines engaged in combat are expected to kill. This legal authority to kill, however, is certainly not absolute. Our Marine Corps makes great efforts to ensure Marines are educated and trained on the limits of authority to kill under the rules of engagement.

In a homicide case arising from actions by a Marine within a combat environment, the government may not rest on the normal presumption that killing is wrong and therefore burdened with proving that the killing was in violation of the rules of engagement. The ambiguity that arises in this case is not what the rules of engagement require, but how those rules are applied for criminal liability. Is the requirement to identify hostile act and intent based on subjective or objective criteria? If it is subjective, does that belief have to be honest and reasonable or just honest? If it is an objective test, is that based on the experience of a basic trained Marine or a combat veteran? Government witnesses indicated that the test was subjective. My opinion is that the test should be a subjective, honest and reasonable belief so that Marines in combat that are acting in good faith have the protections of the rules of engagement if they honestly perceive hostile acts or intent and make a decision to use deadly force that in hindsight, with time to reflect, others might consider such a decision to be a mistake.


The government counsel argued that positive identification of occupants of the room was required under the rules of engagement. Such a theory, requiring positive identification before engaging targets in a room that you hear an AK-47 racking within a home that is declared hostile, would appear to be a rewrite of the rules of engagement and is clearly contrary to the training and experiences of the witnesses that testified. The government did not present even one witness that testified that positive identification under such circumstances is required before employing deadly force.

Using the government’s theory that positive identification was required within the room of house 1 when LCpl Tatum heard a noise he and his fellow Marines believed was an AK-47 racking, they would be authorized to throw a grenade into the room, but when entering the room they would be required to distinguish between enemy and innocents within the room. Such a result seems counter intuitive.


Such restraint might be good practice for law enforcement or special operations forces conducting hostage rescue operations, but not in combat. In combat Marines are trained to neutralize the enemy with overwhelming force. If we adopt the theory of liability espoused by the government, we in tum are placing innocents in grave danger as they will become truly effective shields against our Marines engaging the enemy.

Murtha cares little, it seems, to the "protections of the rules of engagement."  He cares little for the men who were fighting and dying over there because if he did you could damn well bet he wouldn’t  go half cocked and call them murderers.  He wanted to score political points.  Thats it in a nutshell.  Just like Scott Beauchamp and TNR wished to show that Iraq is bad because they force our soldiers into becoming bloodthirsty robots we have Murtha wanting to show the same thing, on the backs of our Marines:

Think we’ll hear an apology from the EX-Marine? 

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I would say I am waiting for Murtha to apologise for his insanity and stupidity, or better yet resign in disgrace, but that would take honor and Murtha has none.

That is why he is an EX-Marine and not a FORMER Marine, just as TNR’s PV-1 fiction writer will hopefully soon be an EX-Army Soldier.

So you believe murdering in cold blood is ok? Is that what Jesus tought you? Your attempt to make this a non-issue is absolutetly disgusting. Our society is crumbling around our feet and you seem to want that. Just how loney and desperate are you? Can’t you get some type of life to enjoy? You cannot spend your hours looking for Bush bashers to yell at. You must get out into the world more often. Murtha is a hero and a patriot, bush is an imbecile. Why would choose to worship an imbecile?

The only imbecile in this room appears to be you Stratrat. They did not murder in cold blood, they defended themselves against an enemy that was attacking them as they held civilians as shields. Murtha is a POS coward who will never be thought of as a Marine again. He has dishonored my Marine Corps and for that he deserves all the hatred leveled at him.

Stratrat you pipe smoking POS why don’t get off your knees and stop servicing that shit bird Murtha. Rules of engagement learn them, or do you believe we should go to war and only shoot bad guys in the arms to disable them like they do in the A Team?
Shit bird Murtha judged these fine Marines before the facts of the case were known, and then tried to strong arm the CMC into convictions with the threat of withholding money from a normally financially strapped Corps.
And if Bush is an Imbecile then every Democommie that ran against him are even bigger ones, who’s the bigger imbecile the one that wins the Presidency or the one who might get lucky enough to sniff the seat after some nice Texas BBQ farts.
HUA so far you need to install a sun roof in your stomach so you can see the sky again.

Lighten up on Mad Jack. He was never the sharpest knife in the drawer and now that he is senile and under the control of a group of Anti-Americans (maybe members of CAIR) his family should show some responsibility for his condition and put him away. Then you have the documented fact that he has shoveled millions of taxpayer dollars of to his family and they don’t want to give up the gravy train.

I predict Murtha will use the same defense as those professors in the Duke Lacrosse case. “We know SOMETHING happened so it has to be the worst thing in order to support our opinion of the troops.” He will never admit to being wrong.

These people have to get what they feel and believe to have happened into the public, regardless of what really happened.

Actually, I just returned from Iraq. I get out in the world quite often and have seen FAR more than I think you ever will.

This is NOT a non-issue. A sitting congressman passed judgment on innocent Marines in a public forum. He slandered them and his very rich “anti-war” (no, the are PRO-war, just not on the side of the USA) have used him to forward their sick agenda of surrender to the islamofascists.

Jesus? Is this some slap at the “Christian right” that the left fears? Talk about creating boogymen. I actually do not go to church. I doubt I am what your feared “Evil Chistian Theocons(tm)” would call “Christian right”. Though I would rather be that than a mind numbed, double speaking, totalitarian socialist which is all the left seems to produce.

You want something to fear? How about a socialist dictatorship too blind to see the threat of global Jihad from Islam and is more concerned with “fairness doctrines” and silencing conservatives than defending Western Civilization? THAT has a far better chance of taking root in America than some “Christian right” theocracy.

Also HOW DARE YOU call Marines who followed the law of war and the ROE people who were “murdering in cold blood”! These men, who were hunting REAL murderers, have been cleared and found to have been acting within the rules of engagement. Yet, like Murtha, you still call them murderers.

But why bother? All I am doing is arguing with one of Lenin’s “useful idiots”.

Wow Curt! Where do you find these loons like StartTart?

You would think that given the news that these Marines are being cleared of charges, the last thing some loony whose spent the last couple of years screaming about our troops as murderers would want to do is come here, defend Murtha and draw even MORE attention to the huge whopping lies they’ve swallowed about our troops which can only serve our enemies.

But then, YOU would think. And that’s a skill set that is clearly lacking in the moonbats who’ve lately graced your comment section and provide continuing proof that the left is intellectually and morally bankrupt.

To a hammer, everything is a nail and, clearly, to Murtha, everything is My Lai. It would be merely pathetic if he weren’t an elected official with a national forum and political power.

Ball peen hammers to be used on all “useful idiots” until further notice. The only reason they’re still alive is because the live amongst the people we are more then glad to protect. If they left and started their own country it would be population 0 in weeks. They wouldn’t stand up for themselves and I’d be damned if I’d protect a commie/socialist infiltrated group of lemmings like them. Unfortunately there are times when the wolves cull the flock of the dumb sheep who stray from the protection of the sheepdog.

The real insanity and stupidity in this thread seems to be the belief that training people to kill on command then sending them into civilian areas shouldn’t result in “tragedies” like Haditha.
The concept that American soldiers are somehow all super-patriotic and only doing their duty, are not corruptible or capable of firing in anger, is the really ridiculous thread.

The real insanity and stupidity in your comment is the fact that you obviously know nothing of the battle in Haditha but instead make blanket assumptions based on your DummiesU degree. Soldiers are human too, but this case was not a case of human fallibility. Instead it was a case of lefties such as yourself vilifying these soldiers for doing what they were trained to do. Fight back against an enemy that attacked them. It’s sad the enemy used civilians as shields but the blame for their deaths rest with the terrorists…not the Marines.

Fuckin A man!!!

So the possibility that some soldiers “lost it” and started firing on innocent civilians is impossible because these guys were doing what they were trained to do?

We can discount any eyewitness statements made by Iraquis because they can’t be trusted, right?

Before you make a bigger fool of yourself please go read the pdf I linked to and tell me which “eyewitnesses” are believable. The courts didn’t find any of them believable. Also, witnesses see whats going on in their general area. They do not know what precipitated their attack nor did they know that when Marines are attacked from a house they are to clear each room with grenades and then physically clear it.

They are not cops. Their rules of engagement are to destroy the enemy when attacked. They did that.

From the Investigating Officer:

LCpl Tatum shot and killed people in houses 1 and 2, but the reason he did so was because of his training and the circumstances he was placed in, not to exact revenge and commit murder.”

You obviously know very little about this case judging by your sweeping judgements. Click the category on my sidebar on the Haditha Marines and learn instead of listening to your lefty friends who want our soldiers to be babykillers so bad they can taste it. All so your kind can yell “My Lai!”, “the war is bad”, “Bush is evil”….blah blah blah.

Finally, the courts have deemed almost all of these Marines as innocent of these charges. There are only two left.

Still no apology from Murtha or your kind.

When following directions from Cheney about how to invade Iraq, obviously the expectation was of an easy campaign. Bush even announced the success of the war (a little early). The whole thing is a total mess and the morale of coalition forces is not exactly upbeat.
No surprises that the stress on these guys (who are following orders, remember) results in stuff like Haditha. Mind you, I get all this from watching the TV, so I guess I don’t have the insights that you obviously do.
Believing that the military is open, honest and impartial when judging its personnel is also a bit of a stretch (for me anyway, maybe I AM a lefty, bugger…)

I knew you were tin-hat lefty. Have fun with that.

Maybe you could have fun by going over there and showing everyone what a REAL American can do?

Curt, I do believe the POS is calling you a chickenhawk? The last line of defense for the fever swampers.

Close. The word I was thinking of calling him starts the same way, but has a slightly different ending.
Doesn’t POS mean Positively Overbearing Sonofabitch?

Stop me if you’ve heard this before…

Haditha Marine Cleared
Lance Cpl. Stephen B. Tatum is the third Haditha Marine cleared so far.
“What occurred in house 1 and house 2 are tragedies,” Lt. Col. Paul J. Ware wrote. “The photographs of the victims are heart wrenching, and the desir…