Operation Iron Triangle was a military operation in the Iraq War. The operation was led by Michael D. Steele in 2006. The operation targeted a suspected al-Qaeda in Iraq training facility southwest of the city of Samarra near the Muthana Chemical Complex south of Lake Thar Thar.
In the first few hours of the operation, Private First Class Corey R. Clagett and Specialist William B. Hunsaker executed three unarmed Iraqi detainees. The soldiers claimed that they were acting on the orders of their squad leader, Staff Sergeant Raymond Girouard (who was the leader on the ground at the time) as well as
Colonel Michael Steele. (who was the Brigade Commanding Officer). Steele denied giving such an order, and was formally reprimanded but not charged. Clagget later testified that they had cut the Iraqis loose and let them run before shooting them, to make the incident look like an escape attempt. Specialist Juston R. Graber was also subsequently involved by carrying out a "mercy killing". Graber made an arrangement with the government to plead guilty to a reduced charge of aggravated assault. A team of civilian and military lawyers defended Clagett, Hunsaker, and Girouard in Article 32 proceedings (military equivalent to a grand jury) in Tikrit, Iraq and Courts Martial proceedings in Fort Campbell, KY. Graber was defended by two military lawyers in the same proceedings, but was considered to be separate from the other three soldiers. After eight months of legal battles, defendant Graber agreed to testify against Hunsaker and the other defendants. Facing mandatory life sentences, Hunsaker and Clagett entered plea deals that reduced their maximum sentence to 18 years, making them eligible for parole after 5½ years. According to his lawyers, Graber was "to be convicted of aggravated assault and to receive a nine-month prison sentence in exchange for his testifying against three other members of his squad."