According to witnesses these are the words used by LtCol Chessani when he was first informed about the 24 civilians killed at Haditha. LtCol Chessani did, however, make an earlier statement to NCIS, wherein he stated “I could have done a better job preparing the Marines for this deployment as it relates to R.O.E. training.” The investigating officer, Colonel Conlin, who has been somewhat critical of LtCol Chessani, stated that many other battalion commanders would have joined their troops in the battle area during such an engagement. LtCol Chessani did not join his Marines. LtCol Chessani is in the picture on the right, Col Conlin is on the left.
It is remarkable that the investigating officer would not be a judge advocate (a military lawyer, all of whom are required to be certified civilian lawyers as well) as is the usual case in an Article 32 investigation. While there is no requirement that the investigating officer be a judge advocate, in the overwhelming majority of Marine Corps cases the investigating officer is a judge advocate. Col Conlin, in contrast, is an infantry officer by MOS (“Military Occupational Specialty”). Perhaps obviously, there’s an argument to be made that an infantry officer might be better suited to adjudge the combat-related actions of a battalion commander in a case such as this.
AO and yojoe will keep you up to date.