Marines on Trial for Haditha Murders Massacre for a Fallen Comrade?
Part 6: Uncovering the Truth
Coincidentally, McGirk also received a video that an Iraqi from Haditha that had been shot on the day of the massacre and the day after. The video included shots of the crime scenes and the dead, interviews and scenes from the morgue. McGirk made some inquiries and began researching the story from Baghdad because journalists were barred from traveling to Haditha. Other journalists picked up the story and it soon became unstoppable.
Haditha became a symbol in the United States. Those who were pro-Bush insisted that the charges were all false. Those opposed to Bush and the war saw Haditha as the Iraqi equivalent of the infamous My Lai massacre during the Vietnam War. The Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) launched an investigation into the incident. On March 16, 2006, three NCIS agents, heavily guarded, traveled to Haditha. Charges were filed on Dec. 21, 2006.
Camp Pendleton is north of San Diego along Interstate 5. The camp is a fenced-in military city, all of its entrances guarded. Recruits are cut to shape on its hilly grounds, which also include supermarkets, a mountain bike trail and a court building. The reporters sit in a building next door and can watch the trial of the Marines, which includes murder charges, on monitors. Laptops are allowed but recording devices are not.
Lieutenant Kallop was sworn in as a witness on a Tuesday afternoon in May 2007. Charges could also have been filed against Kallop, but he is presumably more important as a witness. He has brown hair and a soft face.
The prosecutor is a major.
"Lieutenant Kallop, a combat patrol was sent out when you arrived. Why?"
"We were looking for insurgents, Sir, who could have been hiding, possibly behind the houses or in the houses."
"Were any suspects taken into custody?"
"When you entered the houses later on, after the combat patrol, what did you see there?"
"I saw bodies in the houses, Sir."
"I don't know, Sir."
"Were there women and children?"
"Were you shocked?"
"It was a surprising view, Sir."
"You were not alone. Private First Class Salinas was with you. What did you say to him?"
"I think I said: 'What the crap happened here?'"
"Were those your words?"
"No, Sir, I believe I said, verbatim: 'What the fuck happened here?'"
"Was anyone still alive?"
"We found a boy, Sir, about 10 years old, who was still alive."
"He was underneath or next to his mother, Sir. He was injured, in the back, I believe. It's hard to say. There was smoke everywhere and blood all over the place, Sir."
"Did you try to remove the boy from the house so that he could be given medical treatment?"
"He didn't want to, Sir. He jumped up and screamed. He ran away from us. He ra-ran from one corner of the room to the next. So we left him there. It was his decision."
"Did you, as an officer, ask Sergeant Wuterich what had happened in the house?"
"Didn't you ask him: Sergeant, if there are so many bodies here, where are the weapons? Where are the people you detained?"
"Did you ask him why children had been killed?"
"That's a lot of questions that weren't asked, don't you think?"
"I wasn't interested in the details, Sir."