20 March 2008

Urgent Letter From Christopher Ruddy Publisher, Newsmax.com

Dear Reader:
Two Marines need your help . . . again.

Last year, I wrote to you about the plight of three American heroes, Lance Cpl. Stephen Tatum, Lance Cpl. Justin Sharratt, and Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich.

The three were under investigation for allegations that they committed atrocities in Haditha, Iraq, in November 2005.

When I first wrote to you about these courageous men, they were under Article 32 investigation - the military equivalent of a grand jury hearing.

The hysteria against these Marines was set off by a Time magazine reporter whose only sources were known insurgent propagandists, civilian supporters of al-Qaida, or civilians intimidated by al-Qaida thugs.

On the basis of the Time story alone, and despite the fact that Time was forced to retract parts of the initial story four times, the media across the world reported that the Kilo Company Marines had gone on a rampage.

The Time report claimed Marines had massacred 24 innocent civilians on Nov. 19, 2005, in retaliation for the death of one of their fellow Marines. The Marine was killed by a roadside bomb.

In response to the media charges and those echoed by Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., and a badly bungled investigation by the Naval Criminal Investigation Service (NCIS), the three heroes were falsely charged with multiple counts of murder.

When we alerted you to this grave injustice, Newsmax readers rose to the occasion. You donated more than $250,000 for the legal defense funds of these Marines.

And your help made a big difference.

At the end of the Article 32 hearings, the presiding military officer recommended strongly that all charges be dropped against the three Marines.

Sharratt was fully exonerated.

But suddenly the Pentagon ignored the findings of the military tribunal relating to Tatum and Wuterich and recommended that these Marines should face courts-martial.

Both are scheduled to go to court in March, with long jail sentences looming.

As you can imagine, the legal defense costs for these Marines have placed an enormous burden on them and their families, and have well exceeded even the $250,000 our readers have donated to their cause.

We have been informed that these Marines are in desperate need of financial resources to continue their legal struggle.

You can help these Marines - Click Here Now.

In a letter to Newsmax, John and Stephanie Tatum, the parents of Lance Cpl. Tatum, expressed their extreme frustration: The government "put on its best case including hearsay written statements from Iraqi civilians and others. The investigating officer Lt. Col. Paul Ware (a tough combat veteran and a felony level military judge) who reviewed all of the evidence against Stephen at the article 32 hearing recommended that all charges be DROPPED! He stated that the key government witnesses' testimony was not credible."

In the report on the Wuterich case, Ware wrote: "The evidence is contradictory, the forensic analysis is limited and almost all the witnesses have an obvious bias or prejudice."

Gen. James Mattis, the Marines' commanding general, agreed and dismissed all seven original allegations, including murder charges.

But the Pentagon is continuing to press charges, including manslaughter. As a result, both families face costly trials and the very real possibility their sons will be railroaded on the flimsiest of evidence.

"It is very disheartening and frustrating," Mrs. Tatum writes. "Stephen has not dishonored his country or the Marine uniform that he wears with great pride, dedication, and respect . . . We don't have enough money in our retirement account and equity in our home to come close to covering all these new trial expenses."

Truthfully, these Marine families should not have to pay for political show trials.

But the lengths to which the Pentagon is going to prosecute these Marines is shocking.
You can help these Marines - Click Here Now.

Military prosecutors even sought to keep Wuterich's attorneys from calling a key exonerating witness, Maj. Jeffrey Dinsmore.

One of the reasons the Article 32 hearings had cleared the Marines was the very compelling testimony of Dinsmore, an intelligence officer who had carefully monitored the engagement in Haditha.

Dinsmore kept a narrative complete with photos from an unmanned aerial vehicle, transcripts of radio transmissions from the scene of action, and reports from some of the participants all the way up the command ladder.

Dinsmore's reports proved conclusively that the actions of the Marines were proper and justified in clearing out areas with terrorists.

Nevertheless, a Pentagon prosecutor filed a motion to prevent Dinsmore from testifying. Fortunately, a military judge denied this motion, but the Pentagon's attempt shows how awful the treatment of these Marines has been.

Back to Haditha

We at Newsmax have reported the truth about this case for nearly two years with comprehensive coverage from our correspondent Phil Brennan. We believe a grave injustice has been committed against these hero Marines.

Here is some background on these courageous young men, Lance Cpl. Stephen Tatum and Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich.

In his first tour of duty in Iraq, Tatum fought fearlessly in the second battle of Fallujah, a small city in al Anbar province north of Baghdad in what is known as the Sunni Triangle.

This battle, in November 2004, was one of the fiercest and bloodiest engagements in the long and proud history of the Marine Corps, and it earned Tatum the admiration and respect of his fellow Marines in the 3rd battalion, 1st Marine Regiment - the storied "Thundering Third."
Tatum was at the infamous "Hell House" fight at Fallujah immortalized in Nat Helms' book "My Men Are My Heroes: The Brad Kasal Story." In this vicious battle, wounded Marines fended off a fierce guerilla attack for almost 24 hours.

In the days before and after that bloody incident, Tatum fought in the terrifying street-by-street, house-by-house fight to cleanse Fallujah of the al-Qaida thugs terrorizing the city.
In his second tour of duty, this time in insurgent-controlled Haditha, Tatum's unit faced an enemy lurking in the shadows among the civilian population, on the lookout for a chance to ambush Marines or kill them with hidden IEDs (roadside bombs) or sniper fire.

On Nov. 19, 2005, an IED exploded under a Humvee, killing driver Lance Cpl. Miguel Terrazas and wounding two other members of Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion 1st Marines, Lance Cpls. James Crossan and Salvador Guzman.

The surviving Marines then came under fire from two houses near the site of the explosion.
Almost immediately, a white sedan came on the scene and Sgt. Frank Wuterich, mindful of an intelligence briefing that had warned of an impending ambush involving a white car, killed the occupants as they came out of the vehicle and refused to stop when ordered to do so.

A rapid response team arrived on the scene 15 minutes after the IED explosion and the officer in command ordered Wuterich and his men to clear the two houses.

In the course of what became a fierce door-to-door, full-day battle, 24 Iraqis were killed. At least eight insurgent terrorists were believed to be among them. But some civilians were clearly killed in the crossfire.

Despite the loss of civilian life, the military was satisfied that the Marines had acted properly because of Dinsmore's meticulous work in chronicling the engagement with video and radio reports.

Dinsmore's reports proved conclusively that the actions of the Marines were proper and justified.

Months later, in March of the next year, wild allegations began to surface that these Marines knowingly massacred innocent Iraqi civilians. Time magazine followed with its report.

Since then, these Marine heroes and their parents have been living a life of total hell.

You can help these Marines - Click Here Now.

Of course, the legal defense costs for these Marines have placed an enormous burden on them and their families.

One defense lawyer estimated that by the time the courts-martial are over, the Marines - defenders of freedom, who have limited incomes and resources - will have incurred legal expenses amounting to $500,000 each.

That's why we are asking our readers to help these brave young Marines with their legal defense costs. You can do so by Going Here Now.

We will be forever indebted to the heroic young men and women who serve to protect us in Iraq. They do not deserve to be tortured with criminal allegations and overwhelming financial burdens.

Heroic Americans

Let me tell you about these young men whose extraordinary heroism and exceptional service to their country have been rewarded with totally unjustified charges of murder.

Lance Cpl. Tatum hails from Oklahoma City, Okla. He graduated from the Putnam City public schools, playing sports in grade school followed by football in high school.

His parents say Stephen has always had a positive attitude, and was well liked by his teachers and friends.

Stephen, they told Newsmax, is a religious young man who enjoys going to church with family and friends. He always wanted to be a Marine and has served his country with great pride, honor, and dedication.

Staff Sgt. Wuterich was an honor student in Meriden, Conn., an active sportsman who played the trumpet in the school band, and performed with the drama club.

While still in his senior year of high school, Frank enlisted in the United States Marine Corps.
For the past eight years, he has been an outstanding leader with many decorations and commendations.

Ironically, before being charged with murder, he had been recommended for the Bronze Star for the very actions at Haditha that resulted in the charges.

Frank is married to Marisol, a nursing student. They have three children.

They Need Your Help

These courageous Marines need your help and they need it now. They've earned it and deserve it.

You can show your support for these great Americans by Going Here Now.

We are so strongly behind these Marines that Newsmax has made $15,000 in donations to help their legal defense funds.

To make a donation, send your gift to the Haditha Heroes Fund at Newsmax or Click Here Now, and we will divide your donations between these two funds equally.

Newsmax will send all donations - every penny - to the aid of the Marines. Newsmax will even pay all the credit card processing costs that will incur.

Help us show America's appreciation for these fine young Marines and their selfless service to our country - Click Here Now.

Thank you.
Sincerely,
Christopher Ruddy
Editor, Newsmax.com

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