[JURIST] US Rep. John Murtha (D-PA), a former US Marine now senior Democrat on the House Defense Appropriations subcommittee, said [recorded video] Sunday on ABC's This Week that Marine killings of up to 24 Iraqi civilians in Haditha [JURIST report] in November after a comrade was killed by a roadside bomb [DOD casualty report] had been committed "in cold blood", that the initial military investigation into them had been stifled, that officers up the military chain of command knew what happened and had covered up, and that the incident could do even more damage to US efforts than the Abu Ghraib prison scandal [JURIST news archive]. Murtha, who has received high-level military briefings on the evidence, said "I will not excuse murder, and this is what happened...This investigation should have been over two or three weeks afterward and it should have been made public and people should have been held responsible for it." On the same program Sunday Senator John Warner, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he would hold hearings into the episode so long as those did not interfere with a new military inquiry [JURIST report] by the Naval Criminal Investigation Service [official website] which is expected to be completed within 30 days.
Marine Commandant General Michael W. Hagee [official profile] said Wednesday that the Marines involved in the incident will face charges [JURIST report], and on Thursday he took the unusual step of flying out to Iraq to stress to his troops the importance of avoiding war crimes [USMC release]. ABC News has more. TIME magazine has additional coverage.