Withheld Evidence May Cripple Case Against Haditha Marines

Convincing evidence that corroborates NewsMax.com's accounts of the Haditha insurgent ambush has compelled the prosecution to take extraordinary steps to bolster their crumbling case.

The stunning announcement that all charges are being dropped against Sgt. Sanick P. Dela Cruz, formerly accused of murder in the Haditha incident where 24 Iraqis were killed during an insurgent ambush against the Marines, is indication that the prosecutors have a very weak case against all the defendants, lawyers for the some of the accused say.

In a nutshell, the case exploded when an intelligence officer dropped a bombshell on prosecutors during a pre-hearing interview when he revealed the existence of exculpatory evidence that appears to have been obtained by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) and withheld from the prosecutors.

This officer, described by senior Marine Corps superiors as one of the best and most dedicated intelligence officers in the entire Marine Corps, was in possession of evidence which provided a minute-by-minute narrative of the entire day's action - material which he had amassed while monitoring the day's action in his capacity as the battalion's intelligence officer. That material, he says, was also in the hands of the NCIS.

Much of that evidence remains classified, but it includes videos of the entire day's action, including airstrikes against insurgent safe houses. Also included was all of the radio traffic describing the ongoing action between the men on the ground and battalion headquarters, and proof that the Marines were aware that the insurgents conducting the ambush of the Kilo Company troops were videotaping the action - the same video that after editing ended up in the hands of a gullible anti-war correspondent for Time magazine.

When asked by the prosecution team to give his copies of the evidence to the prosecution, he told NewsMax.com that he was reluctant to do so, fearing it would again be suppressed or misused, but later relented when ordered by his commanding general to do so.

Confronted by the massive mounds of evidence that Marine Corps sources tell NewsMax proves conclusively that the cases against the Haditha Marines are baseless, the prosecutors were forced to postpone the Article 31 against Lt. Col. Chessani and two of the enlisted men in an attempt to regroup.

NewsMax, however, can reveal that the facts of what happened early that November morning clearly show that the incident was part of a planned ambush by insurgent forces, that the civilians tragically killed in the were used as human shields by the insurgents, and that despite claims by Rep. John Murtha, there was indeed an ongoing firefight between the Marines and the enemy.

In short, what the intelligence officer provided, was a fully backed up account that puts the listener at the scene of the action and takes him though the entire day's action. All of this information was made available to senior officers up the command ladder including the Battalion commander Lt. Col. Chessani.

It was so complete it eliminated any need for further investigation.

In the past few days, as an apparent part of the prosecution's damage control effort, some Pentagon officials leaked the once classified 130-page report, by Maj. Gen. Eldon A. Bargewell of the Army, to the New York Times and The Washington Post. That report, however, failed to conclude that any officers covered up evidence or committed a crime - the basis of the charges against Lt. Col. Chessani and the other officers charged.

In previous attempt to stir up animosity to the defendants, some people in the Pentagon leaked information allegedly compiled by the NCIS to the Washington Post.

As NewsMax demonstrated, that information was false.

A shocking example of the sort of slanderous material being leaked to the media was this story broadcast by WKRN in Nashville, Tenn., which reported that military prosecutors said marines went on "a killing rampage in November 2005 in Haditha, Iraq, after their Humvee was destroyed by a roadside bomb killing one marine and injuring two others."

According to the WKRN report, "The surviving marines went on a killing spree shooting two dozen Iraqi civilians including unarmed men in the street and men, women, and children in their homes."

They went on to quote one Gen. Jack Keane, rescribed as an ABC News consultant, who said that "at that point, there was a fundamental . . . breakdown in the chain of command. They became more like a gang than a military unit. The order and the discipline fundamentally broke down and they were seeking revenge."

The Pentagon report, WKRN admitted, "did not find specific evidence of a cover-up but concludes that nobody was interested in investigating the allegations."

The facts show that these reports are blatantly false, and typical of the shamefully distorted media coverage of the Haditha killings.

J.R. Defends the Haditha Marines:
Talk Show America 4/27/2007

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