[JURIST] Gen. Michael Hagee [official profile], commandant of the US Marine Corps, has said he will not resign amid investigations into whether Marines killed Iraqi civilians in unprovoked attacks, adding that he is responsible for the training of his troops and will ensure those involved are held accountable if the allegations are true. In a Pentagon briefing [transcript; recorded video] on Wednesday, Hagee said:
While Marines are proud of our high standards, they also know that if they violate these tenets, they will be held accountable. Without accountability, standards would be nothing more than goals. Where compliance with our standards is in question, we use well-established processes to determine as accurately and expeditiously as possible what happened and why. But make no mistake; a Marine who has been found to have violated our standards will be held accountable. It is an important part of who we are, and all Marines expect it. High standards and accountability define Marines.
The US military and Iraqi officials [JURIST report] are conducting parallel probes into the deaths of 24 civilians [JURIST report] last November in Haditha, where the US military initially reported that 15 civilians had been killed in an insurgent bombing. A preliminary US investigation [JURIST report] suggested the victims had been shot and had not provoked the Marines.
In a separate investigation, defense lawyers have said they expect charges against seven Marines and a Navy corpsman [JURIST report] for murder and conspiracy in the death of an Iraqi in Hamandiya [JURIST report] in April. The Marines allegedly dragged the unarmed man out of his home, shot him, and placed a rifle and shovel near his body to make him look like an insurgent burying a bomb. Reuters has more.
Meanwhile, Gen. George W. Casey Jr. [official profile], commander of Multi-National Force – Iraq, has sent a letter [text] to all US servicemembers under his command reminding them that their conduct must be in accordance with the law and the military's professional values of "loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage." Casey wrote:
Discipline, accountability, and adherence to legal principles governing armed conflict are fundamental to every professional military organization. They underscore the primacy of law and exemplify ethical conduct in operations, both of which are central to our campaign against insurgents and terrorists in Iraq. Rules of engagement are concise guidance on lawful and proportionate use of force during all operations. These rules ensure that our forces can accomplish their assigned mission while safeguarding noncombatants, and while exercising the inherent right of self-defense.
The American Forces Press Service has more.