Four US paratroopers charged with murdering three detainees in Iraq smiled before shooting them, a military court has heard from a fellow soldier.Meanwhile, another of our heroes demonstrated that he's just as good at reaching for a lawyer as he is at reaching for the M-16:
Private First Class Bradley Mason told the hearing at a US base near the Iraqi city of Tikrit that one of the accused threatened to kill him if he talked.
He also said soldiers had been ordered to "kill all the male insurgents" in the operation on 9 May of this year.
The incident is among a string of murder allegations against US troops.
US investigators are currently looking at the deaths of 24 Iraqis in Haditha last November, and seven US marines and a navy sailor have been charged over the death of a disabled Iraqi man this April in Hamdaniya.
Under US military law, a pre-trial hearing is being held at Contingency Operating Base Speicher to decide whether the charges against the four men warrant a court martial.
Sergeant Raymond Girouard, Private First Class Corey Clagett and Specialists William Hunsaker and Juston Graber - all of the 101st Airborne Division - have been charged with premeditated murder and other offences.
Some of them have also been accused of obstructing justice by allegedly threatening to kill Pfc Mason.
Pte Mason told the hearing he was present when three men were captured in a house during a search operation at a suspected militant base near the Thar Thar Canal.
Guns and ammunition were found in the house.
Sgt Girouard, Pte Mason said, told him that Pfc Clagett and Spc Hunsaker were going to kill the prisoners.
"They just smiled," said Pte Mason. "I told him [Sgt Girouard] that I am not down with it. It's murder."
Pte Mason said he then heard shots ringing out.
The accused say the detainees were killed trying to escape.
Weeks later, when Pte Mason was preparing to testify about the day's events, Sgt Girouard allegedly accosted him, saying: 'If you say anything, I'll kill you."
A Marine staff sergeant linked to the killings of civilians in Haditha, Iraq, is suing anti-war Congressman John Murtha for libel, his attorneys announced Wednesday.Presumably the "threats" included the women and the toddlers.
Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich accuses the Pennsylvania Democrat of spreading "false and malicious lies" about him and other Marines on media outlets, accusing them of intentionally killing 24 civilians and then covering the matter up, according to court documents.
A court document quotes Murtha, an ex-Marine, as saying on CNN May 19: "There was an IED attack, it killed one Marine, and then they overreacted and killed a number of civilians without anybody firing at them."
But Wuterich said that after his colleague's death, he and other Marines searched for insurgents in nearby homes and killed people they believed were threats.
Keep in mind that military veterans frequently gets jobs back home as cops. Keep that in mind any time you get pulled over in the next few decades. Be sure and do exactly whatever the nice officer tells you ... and hope you're lucky, too.