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Military Law

Haditha Actions Due to Training, Report Says

Posted Aug 24, 2007 1:42 PM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Charges should be dropped against a Marine accused of murdering civilians in Haditha, Iraq, according to an investigating officer.

The officer’s report concluded that Lance Cpl. Stephen B. Tatum was following orders to attack civilian homes and fired his gun only because another Marine was already shooting, the Washington Post reports.

The shootings followed a bomb blast that killed a Marine and injured two others. “The desire to explain this tragedy as a criminal act and not the result of training and fighting an enemy that hides among innocents is great,” the report said. “Tatum shot and killed people in houses 1 and 2, but the reason he did so was because of his training and the circumstances he was placed in, not to exact revenge and commit murder."

If charges are dismissed against Tatum, only Staff Sgt. Frank D. Wuterich will continue to face charges in the case.

Charges were earlier dropped against a Marine lawyer accused of failing to conduct an aggressive investigation of the case, ABAJournal.com noted in an earlier post.

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