The massacre at Haditha, Iraq, has been called the worst alleged atrocity by U.S. forces in the Iraq war. Three marines are charged with murder, but ABC News has confirmed that a still unreleased report casts blame far up the chain of command.
The report accuses marine commanders of ignoring "obvious" evidence of "serious misconduct" in the deaths of two dozen Iraqi civilians in 2005.
In the scathing 104-page report, Maj. Gen. Eldon Bargewell concludes that commanders behaved as though, "Iraqi civilian lives are not as important as U.S. lives, their deaths are just the cost of doing business, and that the marines need to get 'the job done' no matter what it takes."
Retired Gen. Jack Keane told ABC News that's a message that dehumanizes Iraqi civilians.
"That's very dangerous in combat," he said.
The killings occurred Nov. 19, 2005, after a roadside bomb killed one marine and injured two others. Military prosecutors say the surviving marines went on a rampage, executing five unarmed men on the street then raiding nearby houses, shooting men, women and small children, some still in their beds.
Bargewell faults 2nd Marine Division commander Maj. Gen. Richard Huck for dismissing the reports of a massacre as insurgent propaganda.
The military did not begin a thorough investigation until months later, when news organizations obtained photos of the aftermath.
Seven marines have been granted immunity to testify in the case.