Washington DC – Today, U.S. Representative Duncan Hunter responded to a report from the Center for Investigative Reporting, questioning whether Marine Corps General James Mattis committed war crimes in Fallujah, Iraq in April 2004. Hunter was a Marine Corps Artillery Officer with 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines in Fallujah at the time.
Hunter’s statement follows:
“This was war and Mattis was a warfighting General. For anyone bothered by that fact, get over it.
“America is finally receiving a Secretary of Defense who not only understands war, but who also won on the battlefield. Fallujah was the last free-fire zone for artillery for the entire Iraq war. And Fallujah was the largest urban battle since Vietnam. That’s a wartime job. And Mattis did it with distinction.
“America needed Mattis then and America needs Mattis now, as Secretary of Defense.
“In fact, I can clearly recall as a Marine Corps Artillery Officer in Fallujah in 2004 that the rules of engagement allowed for targeting anyone out during curfew. Did we utterly decimate? Yes. We—as Marines—were a force to be feared. And we won.
“Mattis wasn’t a general during a policing action. He was a warfighter General. That’s a big difference from what we’ve been doing over the last ten years and what Mattis was tasked to do. His job was not to advocate for social change in the military—a top priority of the Obama Administration. His duty was to destroy the enemy, to protect America’s interests and protect American lives.
“Just to question whether Mattis committed war crimes in Iraq is absurd. This was real war. Mattis’ job was to kill America’s enemies and bring home America’s sons and daughters.
“No better friend, no worse enemy than a U.S. Marine.”