"Dedicated to exposing the lies and impeachable offenses of George W. Bush"


US troops accused of Haditha cover-up
Guardian (UK)
David Fickling and agencies
August 18, 2006

US marines involved in the alleged massacre in the Iraqi town of Haditha last November may have destroyed or covered up evidence relating to the killing of 24 people.

A report in the New York Times this morning claimed that the marine unit's logbook was missing pages from the day of the killings and that videotape taken by an unmanned drone aircraft was withheld from investigators until senior officials intervened.

The paper reported that the defence department report had not been publicly released, and said that officials who believed the information deserved a public airing had leaked details of its findings.

A criminal investigation into the incidents was only ordered in March this year after Time magazine went public with details of the alleged massacre, reportedly carried out by US troops enraged at the death of a comrade in a roadside bombing.

Initial military reports of the incident in the insurgent-held town claimed that 15 civilians were killed in the initial roadside bombing and eight insurgents were shot dead in the ensuing firefight.

But prosecutors and Iraqi human rights groups say that the marine group went on a revenge rampage through the streets of Haditha after the death of their colleague, invading homes and shooting 24 people, including women and children.

Videotape shot by an Iraqi journalism student within hours of the incident showed shrouded bodies lined up in bullet-riddled buildings, and death certificates suggested that many of the dead had been killed execution-style with point-blank shots to the back of the head.

Part of the video showed a child called Safa Younis telling of how she survived by hiding next to the bodies of her mother and siblings and pretending to be dead.

"The Americans knocked at the door. My father went to open it. They shot him dead from behind the door, and then they shot him again after they opened the door," she said.

The New York Times reported today that 10 women and children were among the dead, as well as an old man in a wheelchair.

According to the unreleased report, the logbook which was meant to detail all activities by the marine unit was missing all its pages for the day of the killings. The leader of the marine squad being investigated over the incidents was on duty in the building where the log book was being kept shortly after the November 19 killings.

The report also allegedly contradicted claims that at least one of the shot Iraqis had been brandishing an AK-47 machine gun. No such weapon was recovered at the scene or turned in to headquarters, according to the newspaper.

The incident was one of several that emerged recently in which US troops reportedly killed Iraqi civilians in cold-blooded attacks.

Iraqi investigators are still looking into claims that US troops killed 11 Iraqi civilians and blew up their house in the town of Ishaqi just a week after the alleged Haditha cover-up was exposed in the media. US military investigators have concluded that troops did not act improperly in the incident.

In June reports emerged claiming that US troops had raped and murdered a 14-year-old girl and murdered three members of her family in the village of Mahmudiya, an incident that is alleged to have happened just days after the reports of the supposed Haditha cover-up.

In the same month the US military announced charges against several US soldiers accused of kidnapping and executing an Iraqi in the town of Hamdaniya before attempting to make the death look like an accident brought about as he tried to plant a bomb.

Original Text