NewsMax has been one of the leading defenders of the Marines accused in the Haditha massacre, to the point that it has started a legal defense fund for them. But it has undermined that defense by making a false claim about the case.
A Sept. 5 article by Phil Brennan alleged that a video shot from an unmanned aerial vehicle "was heavily edited by government investigators." Brennan claimed that the video "was a small, carefully edited part of what the Scan Eagle transmitted during its daylong surveillance flight over the battle scene on Nov. 19, 2005. And shockingly, the approximately one hour of edited footage was the only Scan Eagle footage provided to the Marines’ defense teams by the prosecution." Brennan further claimed that prosecutors engaged in "deliberate editing of the video to show the defendants in the worst possible light." Brennan attributed these claims to an anonymous "Marine intelligence expert."
Well, scratch that. From an Oct. 5 correction:
In a September 5th story “Haditha Video Doctored by Investigators” by Phil Brennan, NewsMax.Com reported that a video taped from a Scan Eagle unmanned aerial vehicle that purported to show the action that took place in Haditha when 24 Iraqi civilians and insurgents were killed was heavily edited by government investigators and the entire video withheld from the defense.
We further alleged that what we termed “The deliberate editing of the video to show the defendants in the worst possible light,” as a Marine intelligence expert told Newsmax.
These allegations are incorrect and NewsMax regrets having reported them.
In a letter to NewsMax., Marine Lt. Col, Sean Gibson wrote that "all of the footage of Scan Eagle surveillance of the area that day was provided to all defense counsel teams involved.”
We believe the video did indeed show that the Marines had encountered insurgents and had taken appropriate action. We believe the video evidence was important in helping exonerate several of the Marines present from charges they engaged in misconduct during the incident.
We've previously noted that NewsMax is normally reluctant to issue corrections for its errors and has corrected articles without informing readers they have been changed. Hopefully, this is a sign that it will admit responsiblity for its mistakes, as news organizations are supposed to do.
This is especially important since a significant portion of Brennan's reporting on Haditha is anonymously sourced. One has to wonder what other claims Brennan has reported don't hold up to factual scrutiny.