Marine Describes Haditha Shootings
CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. (AP) - A Marine charged with murdering two girls and killing several other Iraqis gave orders to shoot into a room full of children and young women before apparently doing the job himself, a squad member testified Tuesday.
``He was very serious, sir,'' Lance Cpl. Humberto Manuel Mendoza said when a military prosecutor asked whether Lance Cpl. Stephen Tatum might have been joking.
`I told (Tatum) there's just womens and kids in the room,'' Mendoza said. ``He replied, 'Well, shoot them.'''
Tatum then went into the room himself, followed by noise that sounded like M-16 gunfire, Mendoza said.
Mendoza said he returned to the house later as part of a body retrieval team and saw that the woman and children were killed. All had multiple wounds that could have been caused by M-16 fire, he said.
According to a report by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service dated May 17, 2006, Tatum told investigators that he shot women and children because ``women and kids can hurt you, too.'' He said he felt bad about the incident but added, ``I stand fast in my decisions that day, as I reacted to the threats that I perceived at that time.''
Imagine this mindset:
Earlier Tuesday, Sgt. Sanick P. Dela Cruz testified that after the deaths Tatum said he disapproved of how the United States was waging war and wished troops had more leeway to shoot.
Tatum poked fun at a squadmate who asked permission before shooting and said he thought war should be fought the way it was in Scripture, ``where you just go in the city and kill every living thing,'' Dela Cruz said.
Shades of My Lai.
The atrocities never end.