In One Village, Video Tells A Story

haditha massacre/lara logan
Hammurabi Human Rights Group
At first, U.S. Marines said 15 civilians and 8 suspected insurgents who died in the village of Haditha, Iraq, last November were killed by a roadside bomb.

Later, a video turned up – not of the incident, but of the village the next day - including the villagers talking about what happened.

CBS News chief foreign correspondent Lara Logan reports the video sparked three investigations, one of which has already disproved the initial report about the bomb being to blame for the deaths of the civilians and suspected insurgents.

U.S. Marines are accused by survivors in the village of having gone on a rampage after seeing one of their own blown up by a roadside bomb.

"This is my father, this is my father," one young boy cries out, in Arabic, on the video. "God will punish them."

After studying the video — filmed by a local journalism student the day after the incident — the military says it has no reason to believe it is not genuine, although it says it doesn't tell the whole story of what took place that day when the Marines were ambushed and spent five hours hunting down their attackers.

The Marines claimed these people were killed by a roadside bomb — both in their initial reports and when approached by journalists from Time Magazine who had seen the video.

"The Marines' first reaction," says Time Magazine journalist Aparism Ghosh, "was quite hostile. They accused us of buying into enemy propaganda. They denied that these people had been killed by Marines, They claimed that they had been killed by an IED — improvised explosive device."

Time then took the video to the U.S. military in Baghdad and an investigation was launched that concluded the fifteen civilians were in fact killed by the Marines. Two further investigations are now underway to determine if the Marines acted outside their rules of engagement.

The U.S. military confirmed to CBS News that it has paid compensation to the families of those killed in this incident — and compensation is only paid when the dead are not enemy combatants.

In a statement, military officials said: "What is important now is that we focus on doing the right thing by critically examining the facts and taking appropriate action."

The Marine unit involved is not able to speak publicly because of the ongoing investigations but it is continuing with its mission in the Haditha area.
By Lara Logan