Military's 2nd-in-Command in Iraq Reviewing Haditha Killings Report

U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli, the second-ranking commander in Iraq, on Friday received and was reviewing the investigative report related to allegations that U.S. Marines were involved in an alleged massacre and cover-up in Haditha last November, the military said.

No details were released and the military said Chiarelli would not speak or comment on the report.

Chiarelli received the report Friday morning and was "currently reviewing the investigative report from Maj. Gen. Eldon A. Bargewell" related to the Nov. 19 incident, Lt. Col. Michelle Martin-Hing, Multi-National Corps-Iraq spokesperson, said in an announcement.

She added that the Naval Criminal Investigative Service was examining "potential criminal offenses arising from the incident."

Bargewell, for his part, examined official reporting "and communications flow surrounding the operations, type of training the forces received prior to and after their arrival in theater, and command climate within the unit," Martin-Hing said.

The Haditha case centers on allegations that a small number of Marines from the 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment murdered 24 Iraqi civilians — included unarmed women and children — on Nov. 19 after a roadside bomb in the town killed one of their fellow Marines

According to Martin-Hing, Chiarelli "must now take action on the specific findings and recommendations of the investigating officer," and had a number of options.

They include approving the findings as a whole, substituting or adding "his own findings based on the evidence available in the report," or he could send it back to the investigating officer with more questions or requests for additional information.

"Additionally, he may make recommendations that require action by a higher headquarters," Martin-Hing said.

She added that Chiarelli had "no time limit for taking action, but he will thoroughly review the voluminous report, as quickly as possible."

Chiarelli would "conduct no media interviews on this topic prior to completing his review, and will take no action and make no public statement that could interfere with the ongoing criminal investigation or undermine the military justice process," Martin-Hing said.