Haditha Update: LCpl Tatum’s Article 32 Day 3

As the investigation into LCpl Tatum’s actions at Haditha continued, agents of NCIS were called as witnesses. NCIS Special Agent Matthew Marshall testified about his interrogation of LCpl Tatum, stating that LCpl Tatum was remorseful when he explained that he had identified targets as women and children. At that point LCpl Tatum asked for a lawyer. But Marshall, decided to let him “cool down” then continued the interview after LCpl Tatum agreed to continue the interview without a lawyer.

On cross-examination Marshall acknowledged that LCpl Tatum requested the word “unknowing” be added to the following sentence in his written statement: “I learned that I had engaged women and children during the clearing” of the houses at Haditha.

Quite a different sentence if “unknowing” is omitted. If only we had a recording of this interview, many of the questions might be answered. But alas we have no recording. Because, as Mr. Buice explains, NCIS does not record interrogations or interviews for the following reason: Naval Criminal Investigative Service practices are wholly consistent with legal and constitutional requirements and conform to federal law” and “no other federal law enforcement agency regularly taped interviews.” That does not sound like a reason.

A reason might be “recording interviews is prohibitively costly and logistically burdensome” or “NCIS does not want its interrogation techniques being recorded and analyzed by would-be criminals.” The reasons given by Mr. Buice are tantamount to:

  • my friends (on the federal level, because states do) don’t do it and it’s not illegal.

Given the stakes of this case, LCpl Tatum’s life, the debates over the legitimacy of our current war, and the standing of the United States in the world community, it would be nice to have a tape. That avoids entropies such as “I did murder them” or “I did not murder them.”


P.S. Today we should hear about the AK-47 shells casings found at homes, and an explanation from Special Agent Marshall about why NCIS lost the suitcase containing Jordanian passports and AK-47 rifles that were seized at the homes.


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Filed under Haditha, Iraq, Law, Military Justice

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