Still on the program... longest time I have stayed with something like this.
Also -- just archiving this thing below in case their is any righteous indignation left in humanity:
Thu 3 Aug 2006
An Iraqi opens the door of his house to US marines during a search after a suicide bombing. The forces' presence continues to spur activity by insurgents, with demonstrations yesterday calling for terrorism to be crushed. Picture: Jaime Razori/ Getty Images
Case builds against 'massacre' marines
ROBERT BURNS IN WASHINGTON AND VIJAY JOSHI IN BAGHDAD
Criminal investigators complete initial inquiries as naval prosecutors review findings and consider whether to recommend charges against officers over deaths
EVIDENCE collected on the deaths of 24 Iraqis in the western town of Haditha supports accusations that US marines killed civilians, including unarmed women and children, a US defence department official said yesterday.
Agents of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service have completed their initial work on the incident last November, but may be asked to probe further as marine and navy prosecutors review the evidence and determine whether to recommend criminal charges, according to two Pentagon officials who discussed the matter on condition of anonymity.
The decision on whether to press criminal charges ultimately will be made by the commander of the accused marines' parent unit, the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force.
The case, which has been characterised in political terms as being similar to the infamous My Lai massacre during the Vietnam War, is one of several involving alleged unjustified killings of Iraqi civilians that have emerged this year, damaging the American military's reputation for humane treatment of civilians and triggering calls by some Iraqi leaders to end the arrangement under which US troops are immune from prosecution by Iraqi authorities.
The marines, of Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines, initially reported after the 19 November, 2005 killings at Haditha that 15 Iraqi civilians had been killed by a makeshift roadside bomb and in crossfire between marines and insurgent attackers. Based on accounts from survivors and human rights groups, Time magazine first reported in March that the killings were deliberate acts by the marines immediately following the death of one their comrades, Lance Corporal Miguel Terrazas, in a roadside bombing.
A criminal investigation was then ordered by the top marine commander in Iraq, Major General Richard Zilmer.
A parallel investigation is examining whether officers in the marines' chain of command tried to cover up the events.
The investigation, which has not been made public, faults some officers for failing to pursue obvious discrepancies in the initial reports about what happened in Haditha and for not launching an early investigation.
Public attention on the Haditha case grew after John Murtha, a senior Congressman and a former marine himself, asserted publicly on 17 May that he had learned from marine corps officials that innocent Iraqis had been killed "in cold blood".
Lawyers for Staff Sergeant Frank Wuterich, one of the marines under investigation, argue in a lawsuit filed yesterday in federal court that Mr Murtha has falsely accused Sgt Wuterich of murder and war crimes.
Meanwhile, in Iraq yesterday, the president, Jalal Talabani, said that local forces will take over the country's general security coalition troops by December.
"We are highly optimistic we will terminate terrorism in this year," Mr Talabani said. He dismissed the recent surge by extremists as "the last arrows in their pockets".
The US-led multinational forces - responsible for 17 of Iraq's 18 provinces - are playing "a supportive" role, Mr Talabani said.
"The Iraqi forces will take over security in all Iraqi provinces by the end of this year gradually, and with God's will, we will take the lead," he said.
Iraqi leaders have said previously that their goal is to be fully in control of the country's security by the end of this year , but Mr Talabani's statement is the most specific on the subject.
In slight contradiction to Mr Talabani, Sir Jock Stirrup, Britain's Chief of Defence Staff, speaking after the death Corporal Matthew Cornish in a mortar attack on the British army base in Basra on Tuesday, yesterday said UK forces were likely to hand over control of the southern Iraqi city of Basra to local security forces early next year.
"We are now on a good path to hand over provincial control of Basra some time in the first part of next year," he said. "But these are difficult issues we are grappling with and I can't forecast what will happen over the next several months."
Violence continued to convulse Iraq yesterday. In one incident, two hidden bombs exploded on a football field, killing nine youths, as two mortars landed while another football game was under way, killing three children, police said.
The young men killed by the home-made bombs in Amil district of western Baghdad were aged between 15 and 25, said Maitham Abdul Razzaq, a police lieutenant .
About an hour earlier, two mortar shells hit Abu Dshir residential area in Baghdad, one landing on a football pitch and killing three children aged under 15, said police captain Firas Queti. The other mortar landed on a house, injuring a couple and their child.
Thousands of Shiite civilians marched through Baghdad yesterday in a show of force to demand an end to the sectarian strife. Young men in uniforms and headbands, members of what are known as the popular committees, chanted as a speaker urged them to crush Saddam Hussein loyalists leading a Sunni insurgency against the Shiite-led government.
"Stamp on terrorism," he said.
The crowd included members of the Badr Organisation, one of the armed Shi'ite groups that Sunni Arabs accuse of running militia death squads, a charge they deny.
"We have to benefit from this wide popular base, and the state and Iraqi people should form these popular regional committees from the best of our young men to face terrorism," Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, one of Iraq's most powerful Shiite leaders, told the crowd. "They will defend people of districts; Sunnis, Shi'ites, Arabs, Kurds and Turkmen. They do not differentiate between anybody. They will provide support for the official security apparatus."
The prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, whose reconciliation plan has failed to reduce sectarian bloodshed, has promised to disband the militias many fear will push the country into civil war.
"The first enemy is the Baathist Saddam loyalists and their henchmen, the Islamic extremists," said Mr Hakim.
Officially, the event was held to mark the third anniversary of the death of Mr Hakim's brother, Ayatollah Mohammed Baqer al-Hakim, in a bombing in the city of Najaf.
But the speeches also covered some of the most explosive issues in Iraq, such as federalism, which is opposed by Sunnis who fear it will leave them deprived of oil in resource-poor central Iraq.
"We believe that implementation of a federal system in Iraq will achieve justice and rebuild Iraq and guarantee the unity of the Iraqi people and land," said Mr Hakim.