No deliberate cover-up of Haditha incident by Marine officers: LA Times Jaime Jansen at 8:02 AM ET
[JURIST] An investigation into the death of 24 Iraqi civilians [JURIST report] last November in Haditha focusing on whether senior military personnel covered up the deaths reportedly found several failures to follow up by Marine commanders, but no deliberate cover up of the deaths. The report by Army Maj. Gen. Eldon Bargewell [Wikipedia profile], charged with leading the investigation, states that senior military officers missed several "red flags" that should have alerted them to inaccuracies in the original account of the civilian deaths. Bargewell also questioned why officers in the area did not conduct an immediate investigation into the deaths, saying that "virtually no inquiry at any level of command was conducted into the circumstances surrounding the deaths." A preliminary Bargewell report [JURIST report] found that a Marine squad leader falsely told superiors that 15 Iraqis had been killed by the bomb that killed one of the Marines, and that the team of Marines who collected the bodies later should have realized and reported that the Iraqis were killed by gunshots, not by a bomb.
The Bargewell report has not been made public yet, and only pieces of the report have been read to the Los Angeles Times through anonymous military officials. A separate probe by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) is investigating whether Marines on the ground killed unarmed civilians without provocation. Expected to conclude later this summer, the Pentagon's preliminary investigation in February and March found evidence that the killings were not provoked [JURIST report]. The Marine commander of the platoon implicated in the Haditha deaths has said that his unit followed the rules of engagement [JURIST report] and did not purposefully attack civilians. Julian Barnes and Tony Perry of the Los Angeles Times have more.
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