I must have been in a vaccuum yesterday because I did not know about Lance Cpl. Roel Ryan Briones' story about Haditha. I do have a couple of issues with his story.
First - why is he talking? If he is part of the investigation (he readily admits that he has been questioned twice about the incident), he should not be giving interviews to the media. Neither should his family.
Second - He was not a witness to the actual event. In the LA Times story, Briones stated that his "team of five men was called to respond to a roadside bomb explosion about 300 yards outside of Kilo company's firm Base Sparta, located at an abandoned school." This was approximately 7am. After assisting in the evacuation of two other injured Marines, Briones went back to the base. He and his team were called back to the scene of the explosion at approx 1730 the same day.
Then there is this story about Briones, courtesy of the Hanford Sentinel from April 5, 2006... (there is no available link because the story is archived and you have to pay to read it)
"Police said Briones stole a Ford pickup truck from the driveway of Michael Harris' house... and drove it a short distance before crashing into two houses... The truck lodged in the second house it hit. Briones climbed out the back window of the truck and ran down the street... Officers took Briones into custody after a short struggle, police reported. He was booked into Kings County Jail on suspicion of vehicle theft, hit and run, driving under the influence and resisting arrest."
According to a story in the Hanford Sentinel from the day before, the pickup "rammed through the front door of a house - scattering a playpen, children's toys and furniture inside the house... The second house hit sustained major damage with the cab of the truck entirely inside the home." Thank God no one in either home was hurt.
In the LA Times story, Briones' mother, who reports that her son is being treated for PTSD and alcholism, wrote a letter to local authorities seeking leniency in the criminal case. She wrote "My son saw what the Marines did, and he knew who did it before the Haditha investigations began." She also wrote "He saw the killings and knew who sent the word out to do the killings, he had to clean up the bodies of children who were sleeping in their beds and he saw his best friend die in front of his eyes." (actually he did not see the killings, was not privy to any commands at the scene and did not witness the car bomb explosion).
Understand this - I am NOT excusing this incident or the actions of the Marines IF the investigation proves their guilt. But this rush to judgment and the timing of this Marine's story just makes it hard to swallow. Add in the Murtha factor and the whole thing just STINKS.
Here's some more reports from around the blogosphere...
California Conservative - Whatever Happened to Due Process?
Red Hot Cuppa Politics - The Party The Marines Spoiled In Haditha ...
The Old Ranter - Murtha Redux
Murtha Must Go - Is Murtha the only voice worth listening to regarding Haditha?
Sweetness & Light - Former CNN Inbed Doesn’t Buy Haditha Allegations
And Rightly So... - CNN Reporter is Shocked
MacsMind - Haditha - If you want facts the MSM and Murtha are the last place to go
Blue Crab Boulevard has two posts up that include emails from their son in Iraq - definitely worth the read...
A Soldier’s View
Backlash And Endangering The Troops