Sunday, February 24, 2008

Pendleton 8 Documentary coming soon....(BUMPED AND UPDATED)

The following is long, but should be read by every American concerned with the fair and Constitutional treatment of our men in uniform:

From an inside source that has spent months and months investigating the facts of the case:
My friends, this is the documentary I was telling you about. It is still on the cutting room floor. This is the story of the 7 Marines and 1 Corpsman who were accused of murder of a single man where his identity was always in question along with so-called witness statements. It also includes falsified information from NCIS that they tried to use against these Marines.

video part 2

What I have below is a compilation of mine to try to make a timeline of events and consequences according to private interviews with the members of the Pendleton 8 and their families.

On April 26, 2006, in Hamdania, Iraq, at about 0230 ( local ), Sgt Hutchins was on patrol with his Marines to find an insurgent named GOWAD, a person who was on a terrorist watch list and was held previously 3 times.

Sgt Hutchins and his squad received an intelligence briefing to apprehend or kill a known terrorist, GOWAD in this nightime operation.

Their intelligence briefing was given by his senior officer, Lt Phan, who had the pertinent information of this intelligence on a flash drive for his computer.

These guys were ordered on a mission by their Lt, found an insurgent, engaged him, and within a day had a 'family' member claim their parent was missing.

At the scene, when the Marines were processing the body for travel to the body dump, NO ONE in the adjacent house at the scene identified the body or had any clue who it was.

After someone claiming to be family came forward, the claims of the man being dragged from the house kicking and screaming came out from the same people who claimed on the scene they didn't know who it was.

As they approached the known location of GOWAD, the only person they observed initially was an elderly woman outside of house of AWAD, the cousin of an Iraqi named GOWAD.

When the patrol arrived at AWAD'S house, they observed AWAD standing aside the street near a hole. AWAD then turned and fired upon the Marines.

AWAD turned and ran inside the nearest house, owned by GOWAD. The Marines followed and did a combat entry into the house to catch the person who just shot at them.

AWAD turned and fired and the Marines returned fire and killed AWAD. All members of the squad fired upon this man. Sgt Hutchins performed the 'dead check', firing his weapon 3 times into the insurgent to ensure he was dead. Trent Thomas fired 7 to 10 times into the torso of AWAD.

The dead body of AWAD was brought to the Iraqi police station after Sgt Hutchins called back to his headquarters to inform them of the engagement.
The Iraqi police did not venture outside at this time of the day due to the dangers they would encounter.

Sgt Hutchins returned to his base camp and filled out his after action report was submitted to his officers.

Sgt Hutchins was later relieved of his normal duties for the night only to be woken up and brought to Col Looney.

The Iraqi police had received a report of a murder and filed a complaint to the American authorities that AWAD was murdered by these Marines.

Marine representatives and Iraqi police returned to the location of the short firefight and observed the body of AWAD inside the hole he was near.

The body was duct taped at the hands and feet and had bullet wounds in the head and torso.

Sgt Hutchins was interviewed by NCIS. He referred to his after action report to detail his side of the story.

The Iraqi police claimed they received a complaint from the family of AWAD that he was murdered.

After the Marines arrived in the United States, the body of the dead Iraqi identified as AWAD was exhumed and found to have been tampered with or had body parts missing, including it's head. The body was then given a full autopsy in the United States.

Physical descriptions of AWAD did not agree, especially how he was identified and what the autopsy showed.

The family claimed that AWAD was a grandfather with 10 decendants and that he was a police officer under Saddam Hussien and a Baath party member. He is alleged to have injuries from 3 unrelated sources, all which contradict each other, to include a rod in his leg from breaking it falling out of a tree as a child, an injury from the Iran/Iraq war, and injuries received as a police officer in the line of duty.

This is the greatest case of the unbroken chain of evidence, there is no way they knew who they had at that point from body descriptions, no forensic evidence that was saved, no ballistic evidence taken, and viola; the family members who once came forward to 'identify' the body had disappeared, also.

Yet, the body did not have the rod in its leg as the family insisted, nor did the body style match, or the hair pattern on the body, Nor could they match a head because when they shipped the body back home, it had no head.

In short, the body did not match the description given by the family which was paid $25,000; $2,500.00 per family member, nor was the defense allowed to use video from the UAV's overhead in their defense although the prosecution was allowed to claim the UAV's showed then hiding the man before killing him.

The Govt didn't know who was actually killed and had zero forensic evidence to support them, including a body that didn't match the description given by alleged family members.

The NCIS claimed that UAV's overhead showed the Marines hiding the man in the hole with their own bodies, lying on top of him so the UAV would not see him:

Question? How in the world did those Marines hear a UAV circling at 10,000 or even 5000 feet or even 1000 feet or lower and how did they know where the camera was pointed to know when to hide the man when it was near?

Question? Why did the NCIS present this UAV footage as evidence in only statement form, NOT show any video, and NOT release the UAV video to the defense so they could use any video in their own defense? If the video was so damning to the Marines, why not show it to prove all accounts of their story are false and refuse plea bargains and go for convictions?

You do NOT go from MURDER charges and plea bargain down to assault if you have evidence of MURDER!

Knowing the body did not match the description given by the family which was paid $25,000, $2,500.00 per family member; where is due process when you realize you don't have the body you thought you did but still insist that your men killed him?

The family claimed that AWAD was confronted by the Marines after failing to find GOWAD. The Marines were then said to have beaten AWAD, dragged him
around the small neighborhood to avoid being seen by the observation aircraft overhead after he was duct taped by his hands and feet and then placed in the hole near the house and shot to death. AWAD was supposed to have been forced to walk on his own according to accounts written by several Marines who took plea bargains and was dragged around while duct taped according to other accounts by these Marines. None of the accounts agreed.

The identity of the dead Iraqi is PARAMOUNT to their innocence or guilt.

The NCIS case is that they failed to find Gowad, broke into a house and pulled out Awad and killed him and faked the killing zone.

The identity of who Awad is and his physical description is an essential point here, along with whether they actually have AWAD's body at all..

Awad was supposed to have severe injuries from several different sources, none which agree: Iran/Iraq war, falling out of a tree, 25 years as an Iraqi Policeman in the Baath party

The autopsy showed NONE of those injuries. That means right from the get go the story about whom he was is phony, the so-called "family" lied, the NCIS lied or made a major error.

The entire origin of the murder charge was based on the family claiming that Awad was found in a hole, dead after being taken out in the middle of the night and killed.

People who lived in that house and adjacent homes DID NOT know who the person was. It was only 2 days later that a so-called 'family' member identified the body as Awad, and the story of who he was and his family relations began.

These same people who claimed to be family and agreed to testify against the Marines in trial all DISAPPEARED when the time came to testify.

If he is NOT family, and the autopsy proved the alleged family lied about injuries of who Awad is supposed to have, and he WASNT family, then the first part of the accusation is false and these MArines story should have been considered true.

You never heard the media report that families of civilians who are accidentally killed get approx $2.5K, but someone came forward and claimed to be family, gave descriptions of the man who was supposed to be murdered that never matched the body, and you only heard a short blurb on the Thomas Trial that they could no longer call the dead Iraqi AWAD because NCIS was forced to admit they NEVER had ANY forensic evidence on this person: no ballistics, no identification, no matching prints, no proven family ties, all so-called family member disappeared and refused to testify in the US.

Sgt Hutchins and his squad were then detained by NCIS in CONEX box type confinement areas with no rest, food, bathroom facilities or water for periods up to 18 hours a day during their interrogation by NCIS.

This continued for 2 weeks until all signed statements incriminating themselves in these accusations, except for Magincalda, who refused to give a statement to NCIS.

Sgt Hutchins was told that if he requested a lawyer or legal counsel his interrogation and treatment by NCIS would be more severe.

Most of the statements given by these Marines were to allow water and bathroom privileges. Only a few of the statements given agreed with the government's position.

All were later released to be flown home under their own recognisense, taking a commercial flight which had a 24 hour stopover in Baltimore. They had no security detail watching them.

They reported to Camp Pendleton for duty and were immediately arrested and taken to the brig in shackles on their hands and feet and placed in solitary.

During this time in the brig, NCIS continued their acts of sleep deprivation in their interrogation of these Marines, and also used solitary confinement and lack of contact with the outside world to include the failure to inform the families of these MArines that they were being held, in an effort to get these Marines to confess to the apparent crime against AWAD.

Due to the lack of contact from these Marines while being held, the families tried calling the base to find out about their sons, only to not be placed in touch with them.

Sgt Hutchins was finally able to contact his family after 30 days in the brig. The families have never received any formal communication from any Marine Corps source or the Red Cross concerning their sons. At this point, phone calls were made and the families contacted civilian lawyers.

While held in the brig, a Col Navarre (sp?) entered the solitary confinement area and tried to coerce these Marines into making statements against their case without any legal counsel present. Col Navarre tried to get these Marines to admit their guilt and advised them to plead guilty in order to save themselves from severe punishment under court martial. The Col. claimed he was present on a health and safety inspection.

It must be recalled that while held in solitary, these MArines were told they would not be allowed civilian attornies as a natural course of action and that if their families arranged for attornies for them that they would be treated more harshly.

These Marines were held in shackles in their cells for 30 days in solitary confinement, and afterward released into separate cells on separate floors of the brig.

While being held in these separate cells, they were lied to by investigators to get them to confess to these crimes or incriminate others by telling them that others were already cooperating with the prosecution.

The phone system in the brig was not adequate for regular phone calls. All phone calls must be made as a collect call, costing over $800 a month in phone bills for the Hutchins family.

As time continued, the Marins and Corpsman involved started to take plea bargains to get themselves out of jail.

Remember, they all faced murder charges at the start.

HM3 Bacos, the Corpsman took the first plea bargain and was released from the brig and then stationed in Miramar, California. Bacos was said to have been pressured by his wife and the prosecutor. It is unknown if he had an exemplary record or a questionable one.

Jodka took the plea deal under pressure from his family and prosecutors. It allowed for a General Under Honorable discharge from the Marine Corps. Remember, Jodka was originally charged with murder, how do you go from a murder charge to a plea bargain that allows a general under honorable discharge?

Shumate took a plea bargain and received a general discharge.

Jackson took a plea bargain and received a general discharge.

Rob Pennington took a plea bargain and received a suspended 8 year sentence and a dishonorable discharge.

Magincalda's plea agreement he almost took was going to have him in shackles
touring Marine bases telling people how evil he was while wearing shackles to the 'audience', but he refused, and thankfully he is out of the brig now.

While in the brig, Sgt Hutchins was allowed to marry. His escort to the chapel where the ceremony was to be held was kept under watch with snipers in case he tried to escape. During the ceremony, he was kept in shackles and hand cuffs.

The following points must be addressed concerning this case:

The statements they held against Hutchins were coerced under duress and 2 of his fellow Marines testified to just that in their trial.

Evidence that they were following orders was destroyed and Lt Phan testified to that. Why did Lt Phan testify an order existed? Where is due process when their Lt testifies that he issued the orders? When the Corps releases the copy of the order that Lt Phan had and that several members of that squad testified to under oath after they were released from the brig, then I will believe the Corps.

While all this is going on, the orders issued by Lt Phan were on a thumb drive. This thumb drive was handed over to NCIS. It since disappeared. These orders were the proof that they were on a snatch and grab mission with permission to kill or capture a known terrorist. This evidence disappeared, evidence that would exonerate these Marines, yet NO ONE was written up for this loss of key evidence.

Due to the classified nature of the orders, the command would NOT re release a copy of the orders given to Lt Phan! ( This all was part of testimony given in the
court martials ) At the trial of Sgt Hutchins, the former JAG lawyer for Hutchins refused to press questions of Lt Phan and let him off the stand with no detailed questions on the thumb drive.

The isolation of these Marines, the coerced statements made under duress violated their rights to avoid self incrimination.

In addition, each of them had a former JAG atty working for them after the 1st month of confinement in Pendleton. EACH atty suggested they PLEA bargain, not one said they would fight to the end for their innocence. One family was strung along for almost a full year, holding charities to raise money for their legal defense of their son, to be told one day or two before the Art 32 hearing that if the lawyer didn't get a 6 figure sum, he would be unable to continue the case and that the Marine must plea out.

At the trial of Sgt Larry Hutchins, the following statements were made by other Marines in the case:2 of the Marines previously who had taken plea bargains in the Hamdania Case, (pendleton 8), testified yesterday, under oath, that they were coerced into making false statements under penalty of life in prison.

Concerning LCpl Jodka, Pfc Jackson, they were commanded by NCIS to make the self incriminating statements as a part of their plea bargain, and they testified to this in the trial of Sgt Hutchins!

This is HUGE, it proves they were set up from the start

They testified that their orders were to capture or kill the insurgent, and when they did, the NCIS agent ORDERED them to write down the mans name, not even knowing who he was!

They testified that NCIS ignored the truth and hung them intentionally and that they took the plea bargains because they were facing life in prison

They started saying they were guilty when they were told to, as 19 year old LCpl's , that they would be facing life in prison despite the fact that the Govt didn't know who was actually killed and had zero forensic evidence to support them, including a body that didn't match the description given by alleged family members.

Nor was the defense allowed to use video from the UAV's overhead in their defense although the prosecution was allowed to claim the UAV's showed then hiding the man before killing him... the body did not match the description given by the family which was paid $25,000, $2,500.00 per family member

Why did all the Marines in their initial statements tell about the order to apprehend the known terrorist suspect?

Where is due process when you cannot confront your accuser?

Where is due process when you are considered guilty before you are considered innocent?

Where is due process when you realize you don't have the body you thought you did but still insist that your men killed him?

Where is due process when you hold Marines in CONEX boxes for 18 hours a day with no water or head calls or food until they sign confessions?

Where is due process when NCIS is forced to admit they falsified statements about Marines distributing leaflets concerning apprehending insurgents to
only later realize that LCpl's cannot have access to KINKOS in Iraq...but Battalion does, and then STILL uses it against the Marines?

Each Marine and Sailor was charged with MURDER at first and all except Hutchins were allowed to plea bargain, leading any intelligent person to believe that they were looking for a political scapegoat.

The failure of any single officer to ask the men to plead innocent if they were?

NOT ONE JAG lawyer ever went for an innocent plea because they all went for pleas, yet they tell their families they are innocent?

There is most certainly a legal order to kill an insurgent who shot at you

There is most certainly an order that releases you when your orders were to apprehend a known terrorist who was previously held on several occasions and who was suspected of exploding an IED the day before killing Marines and if he resisted the use of deadly force was authorized. This is a WAR, not a drug bust

There is most certainly legal protection when ordered to shoot back when someone tried to kill you

You have never heard that from the media because the NCIS destroyed the orders to do just that, to apprehend a known terrorist who was suspected in
the previous days IED explosion and when they went to the address, someone
was digging a hole and held up a weapon and shot at them.

The families could not comment publicly during the trials, and also, much
information could not be revealed during the trial because it would possibly be illegal to reveal things during the case.

So, what information that was cleared through the lawyers was released and made public when we could.

In short, my story is not complete, these Marines were denied the presumption
of innocence by their own country, denied access to evidence that would exonerate them, the testimony of people who disappeared when trial time came was given more weight than the testimony of the Marines, their statements were coerced and that has been confirmed by each Marine who has been released from the Brig in public statements, actual evidence submitted had to be thrown out yet the charges were re-applied as the murder of an unknown man; that in itself is criminal and against the rules of court martial as I posted, and it also makes all statements of the alleged family members inadmissible, the prosecutions timeline and claim that the alleged Iraqi was taken from his house was now inadmissible due to the lack of knowledge of just who was killed and BY who due to the broken chain of evidence of a body that came to the US missing it's head.
The one unanswered question yet to come out of this whole fiasco, is why? Why would our military go so far to crucify these soldiers, when the evidence so clearly proves no wrongdoing? In short, what was the payoff for the perps here (and I don't mean the Pendleton 8 when I use the term, perps)

When the Pendleton 8 finally do receive a modicum of justice, as is my hope, there will still be many more questions to answer, with many more fingers of accountability yet to be pointed.

****UPDATE**** 9:49pm, 2/24/08

A message from a higher-echelon friend of mine who has done two tours of Iraq and a tour of Afghanistan:

...let me get this straight. A LEA of the US government tortured US Marines until they confessed to a crime that they didn't commit nor could that same LEA of the US government even prove the crime occurred. Sounds to me like the US govt. is stroking a Baath big time at the expense of a few Marines. One could only wonder what the payoff is. There is a lot of missing information that we'll never know about this one. How some people can sleep with themselves I'll never know.

I'll update you with more reactions from other military friends as I obtain them.

Below is a video of the situation: