[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/11/17/art.vert.canal.hatley.jpg caption="Former First Sgt. John Hatley." width=292 height=320]
Senior Investigative Producer
For months, we wanted to hear from John Hatley.
He's the former first sergeant who had the idea to take four Iraqi detainees to a Baghdad canal and, along with two other sergeants, kill them.
Special Investigations Unit Correspondent Abbie Boudreau and I traveled to Germany over the summer where we interviewed Hatley's wife, Kim, and his attorney David Court. We told them it was important to hear from Hatley since he never testified during his court martial. Our only request: He should tell us what he wants the public to know.
Hatley is now serving a 40-year prison sentence at Fort Leavenworth after being convicted of premeditated murder and conspiracy to commit premeditated murder.
After numerous requests, one day in September, a two-page single-spaced typed letter arrived in the mail at CNN.
Hatley began, "I've been contacted numerous times through third party sources that you have requested a statement from me. Obviously, I'm sure you understand my apprehensiveness in making a statement to the media, but there are some issues I would like to take this opportunity to address."
He wrote of the "frustration" with the Army detainee policy that allowed the enemy to be released two or three days later because there was not enough evidence to hold them.
"An additional insult is that the units that capture these individuals are the same ones responsible to pick them up and release them. We've repeatedly found ourselves fighting the same enemy again and again."
He writes that the detainee rules have "extensive flaws" that the enemy "consistently exploits these to facilitate their release."
While he does not specifically address what happened, he does state: "I assure you the military spared no expense in the prosecution of my soldiers and me. If they would have spent half the time, effort and money in prosecuting the enemy as they had in prosecuting us, I assure you we would have never found ourselves in our current situation."
Finally, he says he love and prays for soldiers oversees and wishes them a safe return. He writes: "Also, don't worry about us, we'll be fine. As they'll understand, this is probably the safest place we've been in the last 10 years."
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