Moral Outrage
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US Marine who killed women and children gets 3 months

A Marine accused of killing unarmed Iraqi women and children pleaded guilty Monday to dereliction of duty in a deal that will mean a maximum of three months confinement and end the largest and longest-running criminal case against U.S. troops to emerge from the Iraq War.

Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich of Meriden, Conn., led the Marine squad in 2005 that killed 24 Iraqis in the town of Haditha after a roadside bomb exploded near a Marine convoy, killing one Marine and wounding two others.

It was a stunning and muted end to a case once described as the Iraq War’s version of the My Lai massacre in Vietnam.

The incident in Iraq is considered among the war’s defining moments, further tainting America’s reputation when it was already at a low point after the release of photos of prisoner abuse by U.S. soldiers at Abu Ghraib prison.

Eight Marines were charged with killing the Iraqis, with Wuterich facing the possibility of life behind bars. In the end, seven Marines were acquitted or had charges dropped, and Wuterich pleaded to the single, minor charge.

The killings still fuel anger in Iraq after becoming the primary reason behind demands that U.S. troops not be given immunity from their court system.

In case you missed it:
Ten-year-old Iman Walid witnessed the killing of seven members of her family in an attack by American marines last November.


One Response to “US Marine who killed women and children gets 3 months”

  1. Because of a plea deal with prosecutors, Staff Sgt. Frank G. Wuterich won’t serve any time in the brig! The military judge was obligated to abide by the plea arrangement between prosecutors and the defense.

    Wuterich, 31, of Meriden, Connecticut, originally faced 152 years in prison on nine counts of involuntary manslaughter, two counts of assault with a dangerous weapon and three counts of dereliction of duty in the November 19, 2005, killings. Charges were dropped against six of the other Marines charged in the case, and one was acquitted.

    In the sentencing, the military judge, Lt. Col. David Jones, cited how Wuterich ordered his troops to “shoot first, ask questions later.” Wuterich’s team stormed two nearby homes, blasting their way in with grenades and M-16 rifle fire. Among the dead was an elderly man in a wheelchair. When the 45-minute incident was over, 24 men, women and children were killed.

    “The truth is, I don’t believe anyone in my squad, nor any member of of Kilo Co, 3/1/ behaved in any way that was dishonorable or contrary to the highest ideals that we all live by as Marines,” Wuterich said.

    Khalid Salman, head of the Haditha local council, told CNN that “we have been following this case since 2006 and we were hoping that those soldiers, who killed 24 innocent people, will receive fair punishment. …But now we are convinced that the judicial system in America is unjust,” Salman said. “This is not the end, and we will continue pursuing those soldiers legally through the international courts.”

    Taleb al-Essawi, the political adviser to the governor of the Anbar province, told CNN that the local government is very disappointed with the court-martial decision. “I can’t believe that the court decided to drop all the charges except one charge, which is negligent dereliction of duty. This is a joke, because according to the Iraqi law, all those soldiers should be executed,” al-Essawi said.

    Mahmoud Othman, a Kurdish lawmaker, said the Marines “committed mass killings in Haditha” and the plea arrangement was “unjust.” “We ask the human rights organizations and (nongovernmental organizations) in America and all over the world to strongly condemn this verdict. Iraqi blood isn’t so cheap,” Othman said in his Facebook posting.

    Wuterich’s case signals the end of a handful of alleged war crimes cases that came to light during the height of the war in Iraq.

    The incident provoked the condemnation of Rep. John Murtha, D-Pennsylvania, who compared it to the 1968 massacre at My Lai, and President George W. Bush vowed then that if an investigation found Marines killed unarmed civilians, “there will be a punishment.”

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