Several U.S. Marines are under investigation for a mass killing in Iraq last November that left 23 civilians dead. The Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith spoke with Gen. George Casey, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, about the allegations. They also talked about when Americans can expect a reduction of U.S. troops from the region.
Asked about the killing of the innocent civilians, Gen. Casey said the matter remains under investigation. "And then it will continue to move through the appropriate legal process until justice is done," the general told Smith. "What I think is that the vast majority of the coalition forces are out here doing great things, helping the Iraqi people. I think you have seen that as you have been out and around in Iraq today, this is a very difficult environment, but our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, doing an absolutely magnificent job out there wrestling with the tough issues and helping the Iraqi people move forward, a step at a time, every day."
"If it comes to legality that this, in fact, did happen and these charges are, in fact, filed against these Marines, is this not a black eye at least equivalent to Abu Ghraib?" Smith asked.
"I wouldn't want it categorize it with Abu Ghraib, and I think we have to wait and let the investigation take its course before we make any judgments on the relevance of it," Gen. Casey replied.
Speaking about U.S. troop levels in Iraq, Gen. Casey said there is a misconception that the drawdown hasn't started. He told Smith the process has already begun. "We delayed — we had two brigades right before Christmas that didn't come into Iraq. And my troop levels are under 130,000. I was about 160,000 at the time of the election, so we have already begun the process of a gradual reduction in coalition forces as Iraqi capabilities continue to grow."