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Haditha Marines: Presumed guilty, 7 found innocent. SSgt Frank Wuterich’s trial begins today. Update! Four charges already dismissed

4 January 2012 One Comment

Photo credit: Max S. Gerber

There once was a time in America when a person was presumed innocent until they were proven guilty. That basic presumption of law derived from the Latin legal principle that ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat – the burden of the proof lies upon him who affirms, not he who denies, was denied to eight US Marines in what became known as “Haditha,” the highest-profile atrocity prosecution of US servicemen out of the Iraq war.

SSgt Frank D. Wuterich is the last Haditha Marine out of the eight who was charged in connection with the alleged massacre of Iraq civilians in the town of Haditha in 2005. His war-crimes trial begins today at Camp Pendleton in California. Ssgt. Wuterich has pleaded not guilty to nine counts of manslaughter, assault and related offenses in Haditha.

In his words: “My Marines responded to the threats they faced in the manner that we all had been trained. I will bear the memory of the events of that day forever, and will always mourn the unfortunate deaths of the innocent Iraqis who were killed during our response to the attack.”

A little history here is necessary. Recall it was Tim McGirk of Time magazine who broke the initial story of the alleged war crimes entitled: Collateral Damage or Civilian Massacre in Haditha?

Before one criminal charge was filed against the Marines, the press and several elected U.S. government officials, including the deceased Congressman John P. Murtha, seized the story and condemned, maligned and declared the Haditha Marines guilty of cold-blooded murder.

Michelle Malkin has an excellent rundown here.

But they were wrong. Thus far, seven of the Haditha Marines: Sergeant Sanick Dela Cruz, Lance Cpl. Stephen Tatum, Lance Corporal Justin Sharratt, Capt. Lucas McConnell, Capt. Randy Stone, Lt. Andrew Grayson and Lt. Col. Jeffrey Chessani have been exonerated.

But there is more to this story. Now, the Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus has decided to name a new APD (Transport Dock Ship) the USS John P. Murtha — after Congressman John Murtha, who refused to apologize to the Marines he maligned.

Watch: Jason Mattera of the Young America’s Foundation confronting Rep. Murtha (D-PA) for accusing the Haditha Marines of murder “in cold blood.”

With permission from retired Navy SEALs Capt. Larry Bailey, who along with Founder of the Band of Mothers Beverly Perlson, brought Secretary Mabus’ decision to my attention, I am posting a piece he wrote about the matter and his efforts to stop it.


A nation’s character can be said to be represented by its heroes. In this country, we honor such heroes as George Washington, Ronald Reagan, Abraham Lincoln, and Michael Murphy by naming our Navy’s vessels after them.

Now Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus has announced that a new Navy ship, LPD-26, will be named the USS John P. Murtha.

What will future generations say about honoring such a blight on American politics, a man once identified as the most corrupt member of Congress?

And why would Secretary Mabus want to shame the Marines who will be supported by and riding on the LPD-26? And what US Navy person would want to serve on a ship with such a dishonorable name?

I have to confess that I am prejudiced against this unbelievable insult to our fighting men and women. In 2006 I organized an effort to defeat Murtha in his re-election campaign, an effort that ended in failure but which opened the eyes of a lot of people to the self-promotion and corruption that exemplified the life and career of John Murtha.

Yes, we lost the battle in 2006, but shame on me if we cannot reverse this reprehensible act of cynicism before LPD-26 is commissioned.

What I have in mind is to launch a grassroots effort to bring such pressure to bear on Secretary Mabus as to convince him to re-think his action. Part of this effort is the creation of a website to spread the word and to coordinate the efforts of the thousands of Americans who will work to reverse this abomination of naval tradition.

I’m going to open an account at USAA Bank to handle such finances as we may need. The account will be named “Sink Murtha.” I am asking for some seed money to pay a talented webmaster/artist to set up and operate this site. I’ve already paid her to design a great logo to represent our effort.

Would you trust me enough to send me a check for whatever you can afford? In the future, we will set up PayPal and credit card accounts, but for right now I need a couple thousand dollars to kick things off.

Let me say that I will not take a nickel for doing what I feel so strongly must be done. Our ONLY expense will be for actual operating costs; I promise you that.

Any funds in excess of mission requirements will be donated to Gathering of Eagles, a 501(c)(4) organization that provides support to our troops and veterans.

Many thanks for considering this request. I hate to make it, but SOMEBODY needs to try to reverse the naming of a great Navy ship after a greedy Congressman who was literally hours from being indicted for bribery in the ABSCAM scandal.

Help me! Mail your checks (made out to “Sink Murtha”) to me at:

Larry Bailey
103 Pamlico Place
Chocowinity, NC 27817

Many thanks!

Larry Bailey

Get the latest updates on SSgt Frank D. Wuterich’s trial from his attorney Neal Puckett here.
Update! Follow the case on Twitter here or at Defend our Marines. As of yesterday “Wuterich’s Defense Gets 4 Charges Dismissed on First Day of Court!”

Another update:
Tim Sumner of the 9/11 Families for a Safe & Strong America does the heavy lifting on reporting Week One of Sgt. Wuterich’s trial. Read it all. Riveting.