LCpl Tatum testified that he did not “know that there was women and children in that house until later . . . otherwise, I would have physically stopped everyone in that room from shooting.” This testimony came during his unsworn statement during an Article 32 investigation in his actions in Haditha, Iraq. The prosecution has maintained that the Marines killed civilians in retaliation for an explosion that killed a fellow Marine. The Marines maintain that they were following the rules of engagement while in pursuit of their attackers.
LCpl Tatum explained that the visibility was very poor during the battle, making it very difficult to identify targets, as anything more than that, targets. He explained that only later did he learn that the targets were women and children. He entered the first house after his squad leader told him the house was “hostile” and continued to the second house because he heard the sound of an AK-47 being made ready to fire.
LtCol Ware expressed some of the same skepticism and reluctance to second guess decisions made by the Marines that he expressed during the Article 32 investigation of LCpl Sharratt, wherein he recommended no charges.This came during testimony from a government witness explaining the briefs the Marines received about the rules of engagement. LtCol Ware stated, “What I’m hearing is a lot of 20-20 hindsight.”
The investigating officer, LtCol Ware, must make his way throughapproximately 200 pieces of evidence in reaching his recommendation,which will be forwarded to LtGen Mattis for a final decision Given the extensive testimony and volume of exhibits, LtCol Ware will likely take up to two weeks to complete his report.
Haditha defendants and current status of their charges:
- LtCol Jeffery R. Chessani – Art 32 completed, recommended charges for dereliction of duty.
- Capt Randy W. Stone – Art 32 completed, recommend no criminal charges, but did recommend non-criminal disciplinary action.
- LCpl Justin Sharratt – Art. 32 completed, recommend no criminal charges.
- 1stLt Andrew A. Grayson – Awaiting Art. 32 investigation.
- Capt Lucas M. McConnell – Awaiting Art. 32 investigation.
- SSgt Frank D. Wuterich – Awaiting Art. 32 investigation, scheduled for Aug 2007
Note: LtGen Mattis has yet to make a final determination on charges for any of the Art. 32 investigations that have been forwarded to him.