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New Evidence Undermines U.S. Iraq Claims

ByABC News
June 3, 2006, 5:43 PM

June 3, 2006 — -- New evidence may suggest cover-ups in two separate incidents at the center of a simmering scandal over Iraqi civilian deaths at the hands of American forces.

Iraqi anger is percolating over the incidents, and over an investigation that cleared U.S. forces in a third case.

New pictures offer the first independent evidence suggesting that Marines may have covered up what really happened in Haditha, Iraq, where 24 Iraqi civilians were killed in November. The pictures show a house pockmarked with bullet holes, despite the initial claim that a roadside bomb was responsible.

And a new witness has come forward. Iman Waleed Abdul Hameed, a 9-year-old girl, said Marines killed her father, mother, brother, two uncles and grandmother.

Local doctors said the dead included eight women and five children.

"Most of the dead," said Dr. Waleed Abdul Khaliq al Obaidi, in Arabic, "were shot in the head and chest."

The New York Times reported today that senior commanders learned the original Marine account was wrong two days after the incident last November -- but failed to act. The paper quoted an unnamed Marine general familiar with the investigation as saying, "It's impossible to believe they didn't know. You'd have to know this thing stunk."

Haditha is not the only incident the Pentagon is investigating.

In Al Hamdania, site of another alleged American atrocity in April, residents told ABC News today that a Marine sergeant lied on an official report about the death of a civilian, saying the man appeared to be planting a bomb. But several Marines have confessed to dragging the man from his house, shooting him and putting a shovel and weapon next to his body.

In both cases, investigators are focusing on whether higher-ups covered up the details.

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, the man at the top of the Pentagon's chain of command, was in Asia today, pursued by questions about the allegations.

"I've responded to that question repeatedly," Rumsfeld said, "and there is an investigation underway, and we'll see what the investigation produces."