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Bush didn't know about probe

WASHINGTON -- It took nearly a month for President Bush to be told that the military was investigating reports that Marines killed unarmed civilians in Iraq, the White House said yesterday.

Earlier this week, Bush aides said the president was briefed ``soon after" the opening of the probe.

A Time magazine reporter first asked US military officials on Feb. 10 about the circumstances surrounding the alleged massacre on Nov. 19, in which 24 people in Haditha, an insurgent stronghold in western Iraq, were killed after a bomb attack on a military convoy in which a Marine died. On Feb. 14, Lieutenant General Peter Chiarelli, commander of Multinational Corps Iraq, ordered an investigation into the case, Tony Snow, the White House press secretary, said yesterday.

But, Snow said, Bush was not informed about the investigation until March 11, when he was briefed by Stephen Hadley, the national security adviser.

Bush pledged yesterday that the Pentagon would ``get to the bottom of this" and that the results of the inquiry would be made public.

``The world will see the full and complete investigation," he said after meeting with his Cabinet at the White House.

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