Thursday, June 19, 2008

From Prosecution to Persecution?

At what price, saving face?

The Murtha-inspired, media trumped so-called "Haditha Massacre" has had its share of casualties long after the event had transpired. Eight Marines, whose only crime was to follow Rules of Engagement (ROE) and to execute their mission of weeding out terrorist elements in the town of Haditha, have had their reputations and their honor dragged through the mud, not to mention having had the "honor" of treatment that would make Guantanamo detainees look like they're being put up at the Waldorf Astoria in comparison.

On Tuesday, Military Judge Colonel Steven Folsom, USMC made the right decision when he saw through the undue command influence and dismissed all charges against Lt. Col. Jeffrey Chessani without prejudice.

Said Richard Thompson, resident and Chief Counsel of the Thomas More Law Center, who has been defending Chessani,

“This case has turned into the persecution of one of the Marine’s finest combat commanders. LtCol Chessani devoted his life to the Corps and his Nation. He served three tours of duty in Iraq, away from his wife and children in defense of us all. In their attempt ‘to get’ Chessani, prosecutors granted immunity to seventeen Marines, including one they had charged with murder. Still they failed. Sadly, in the process they have destroyed the career of an outstanding officer. Enough is enough.”

WND just had a story published today that Chessani rightfully planned to sue Congressman John Murtha over his slanderous pronouncement of the Haditha Marines guilt of murder in cold blood. I wouldn't be surprised at all if there is more "undue influence" coming from Murtha to pressure prosecutors to make an example out of Chessani. Murtha, after all, is in charge of defense appropriations in the House and is certainly in a position to exert such influence. Given Murtha's long history of what was, in my opinion, influence peddling in the form of a legion of earmarks and defense contracts, there is in my opinion nothing too low for the King of Pork to resort to save his sorry fat backside from the consequences of his actions.

The military powers that be, along with the politicians that be, know that the Haditha prosecutions will be considered by historians as one of the largest travesties of justice in military history; a time when the interests of politicians and military leaders were put far ahead of the interests of justice itself. Their pitiful attempts to continue to prop up a false set of charges against one of the great military leaders in the Corps as a means of salvaging face serves neither the honor of the military nor the interests of justice.

It is nothing less than reprehensible.

Lots more on the background of this case here, here and here.

Read more on Murtha's role in this travesty here, here, and here.

Haditha Marine prepares to sue Murtha over smear

From WND:

With most of the eight Marines charged in the Haditha, Iraq, incident now exonerated, the highest-ranking officer among the accused is considering a lawsuit against Democratic Rep. John Murtha, who fueled the case by declaring the men cold-blooded killers.

In an interview with nationally syndicated radio talk host Michael Savage, the lead attorney for Lt. Col. Jeffrey Chessani said he and his client will look into suing Murtha and the Time magazine reporter, Tim McGuirk, who first published the accusations by Iraqi insurgents.

But the attorney, Brian Rooney, said nothing will happen immediately because he wants Chessani, described as a devout Christian and the father of six homeschooled children, completely "out of the woods" legally before any action is taken. The government, through Lt. Col. S.M. Sullivan, today filed a notice that it would appeal the case to the next judicial level.

As WND reported, a military judge at Camp Pendleton in California yesterday dismissed charges that Chessani failed to properly investigate the Nov. 19, 2005 incident in which 24 Iraqi men, women and children were killed.

Rooney, an attorney for the Thomas More Law Center who served a tour of duty in Iraq himself, is urging citizens to tell their representatives in Congress and military officials that they want the case to come to an end.

"At some point you have to have somebody in the chain of command, whether it's civilian or military, saying enough is enough," said Rooney, who served with Chessani in the second battle of Fallujah.

[. . .]

Rooney acknowledged to Savage it's difficult to sue a sitting congressman, but he believes it can be done.

"If he leaves his realm of speaking from the congressman's point of view … then he can be sued for libel and defamation," Rooney said.

The Time magazine story, according to Rooney, was planted by an insurgent propaganda agent. Publishing of the story was soon followed by a May 17, 2006, news conference by Murtha. The congressman announced he had been told by the highest levels of the Marine Corps there was no firefight and Marines "killed innocent civilians in cold blood."

"All the information I get, it comes from the commanders, it comes from people who know what they're talking about," Murtha told reporters at the time.

Murtha's assertions, however, conflicted with results from the military's own investigations. An initial probe by Army Col. G.A. Watt found no indications coalition forces "intentionally targeted, engaged and killed noncombatants." Later, Army Maj. Gen. Aldon Bargewell found no cover-up.

I hope he sues Murtha and wins everything that Murtha has or ever will have. I hope that every dime that Murtha ever makes has to go directly to the Marines he slandered. I hope Murtha winds up living on the street, wearing rags and eating out of garbage cans.

I want this not because Murtha disagrees with me about the war in Iraq but because of what he did to destroy the lives of innocent men who were risking their lives in the service of their country. Murtha lied about the case to the press which influenced the attitude of the press and public against the Marines. This caused the men and their families unnecessary extra pain and distress and provided the enemy with propaganda material to aid in their recruitment efforts and to strengthen their resolve to continue fighting.

Murtha knew this and did not care. He demonstrated depraved indifference both to the lives of the "Haditha Marines" and to the lives of American military personnel still in the combat theater.

Murtha did this not because he actually believed in the Marine's guilt but because he saw some short term political advantage in it. This makes him at best a sociopath and at worst satanically evil and I hope this winds up utterly destroying him.

Cross posted at Hillbilly White Trash.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Murtha Lied; Marines Were Tried (And Acquitted)

Ben Johnson looks back upon Rep. Murtha's role in shameful way our Marines were treated in "the Haditha incident":

On May 17, 2006, John Murtha, he of the unassailable “war hero”/“patriot” mythos, assailed his fellow Marines in Haditha as murderers “in cold blood.” The super-patriot made this indictment, in front of an international audience, before an investigation had concluded. His spurious charges seem to have done those eight men charged little legal damage – but they have caused incalculable harm to the United States armed forces still in the field.

At Camp Pendleton yesterday, military judge Col. Steven Folsom dismissed all charges against Lt. Col. Jeffrey R. Chessani, the highest-ranking officer accused in the Haditha massacre-of-justice. The ruling makes him the seventh of eight accused in the Haditha skirmish to have charges dismissed. In Chessani’s case, his charges were dropped without prejudice – meaning they could be filed again later, but CentCom could not be part of the process, as there had been fear the judge had an inappropriately close relationship with one of the investigators. Chessani had been accused of violating a lawful order and dereliction of duty in reporting the incident.

The antiwar Left morphed reporting errors into a “cover-up,” much as it deformed a self-defense operation against terrorists hiding amidst Iraq’s civilian population as an imperial assault on 24 blameless Iraqi civilians cowering “as if in prayer.”

Lt. Col. Chessani can now be reunited with his six young children.“We hope it’s over,” said his attorney Brian Rooney.” We believe it should be over.” Rooney added, “We’ve had to go through a two-year process to prove what we knew from the beginning.”

Rooney referred to the report of the military’s internal investigation, issued in March 2006, two months before Murtha denounced his own military before the world. (Watch Murtha slander our troops.) The report concluded, “there is no evidence that the Marines intentionally set out to target, engage, and kill non-combatants.”

Every trial to date has proven the report truthful and Murtha a calumnious liar:

  • In April 2007, the government offered immunity to Sgt. Sanick P. Dela Cruz in exchange for his testimony. He promptly changed his story five times.
  • In August 2007, Lt. Gen. James Mattis pronounced 22-year-old Lance Cpl. Justin Sharratt absolutely “innocent” of all wrongdoing.
  • At the same time, Lt. Gen. Mattis waved charges of dereliction of duty against Capt. Randall Stone, saying Stone’s actions did not “rise to the level of criminal behavior.”
  • One month later, prosecutors granted immunity to Capt. Lucas McConnell, who was not at the scene, in exchange for his testimony.
  • In April 2008, the government dismissed all charges against 26-year-old Lance Cpl. Stephen Tatum “with prejudice.” Although an eyewitness testified Tatum acted with malice aforethought, Tatum passed his lie detector test, while his accuser failed his. His adversary, a native of Venezuela, also happened to be “trying to get his application for U.S. citizenship released by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, which is holding up his papers.” Tatum nearly broke down on the stand last July, telling the judge: “I am not comfortable with the fact that I might have shot a child…That is a burden I will have to bear.”
  • Two weeks ago, a jury found Lt. Andrew Grayson “not guilty” of multiple counts of making false official statements and one count of attempting to deceive.

At present, charges remain only against Staff Sgt. Frank D. Wuterich, those for lesser charges than “murder,” premeditated or otherwise. Wuterich has sued Jack Murtha for defamation , but the damage done to his reputation and that of his squad is overshadowed by the cloud Murtha placed over the entire United States armed forces, for partisan political gain.

Even the infamously left-leaning Reuters (which refuses to call the 9/11 hijackers “terrorists”) noted, “The reports brought international condemnation on U.S. troops in Iraq and famously inspired Rep. John Murtha, a Democrat from Pennsylvania and critic of the war, to charge that the Marines had killed the civilians ‘in cold blood.’” The damage of Murtha’s single news conference alone can hardly be overestimated. Al-Jazeera beamed the Johnstown Democrat’s lurid tales throughout the Muslim world.

However, the lie did not end with that infamous announcement. The Left quickly hooked onto the alleged slaughter as a convenient bludgeon against the president – although in practice they swung mostly at our troops. A headline at The DailyKos trumpeted, “Iraqi Massacre: It’s Not Just Haditha.” Über-leftist Robert Fisk similarly asked,Could Haditha be just the tip of the mass grave?

As David Horowitz and I explain in our new book, Party of Defeat, this is but the tip of the Left’s lies about American soldiers in harm’s way. Unlike every other conflict in American history, with the exception of the Civil War, our troops have had to enter combat as the same politicians who voted to send them into battle divided the nation, poisoned their name around the world, and subverted their own morale.

The last may be the most overlooked part of the Haditha atrocity. (I speak here of Murtha’s persecution of the innocent.) The ability of U.S. soldiers to prosecute a war and defend themselves (and us) against the terrorist enemy is the cruelest casualty of the Party of Defeat’s war against our troops. Chessani’s lawyer Brian Rooney observed, “You need to trust what your battlefield commanders are telling you and give them the benefit of the doubt.” McConnell’s defense lawyer, Kevin McDermott, stated last year: “You don't want the lance corporal, the 19-year-old kid with the M-16, thinking twice about pulling the trigger for fear that he’ll end up being investigated if in fact he reasonably believes there are insurgents involved with the attack upon him.”

American soldiers have lost their lives because of witch-hunts like those of Murtha against the Haditha innocents. In Party of Defeat, David and I recount the story of Navy SEAL Marc Luttrell. Luttrell led his fellow SEALS on a covert mission in Afghanistan when they were sure a group of local goat-herders had spotted them and were about to report them to al-Qaeda warlords. The group considered shooting the spies but desisted, knowing the fire they would come under for “murdering” innocent Afghan civilians – some teenaged, to boot. Al-Qaeda terrorists rained fire upon them within an hour, killing 19 American soldiers. Luttrell reflected he and his men remained “tortured, shot, blown up, my best buddies all dead, and all because we were afraid of the liberals back home, afraid to do what was necessary to save our own lives.” (Emphasis added.)

Chief among those liberals who cost Luttrell’s friends their lives was one Rep. John Murtha, D-PA, the Speaker of the House’s first choice for House Majority Leader. Murtha is best known for:

As wrote in an editorial last December, “It’s (Past) Time for Murtha to Resign.” Sadly, as David Horowitz and I found in researching our book, his absence will leave behind a den of radicals eager to take up where he left off.

It is long past time for Murtha to resign, however that assumes that he has some sense of honor and possess enough of conscience to actually feel shame at what he has done. Two propositions which I strongly doubt.

The situation with Murtha is very much like that with disgraced Druham County prosecutor Mike Nifong except that there is legal machinery in place to remove corrupt DA's like Nifong, and even bring criminal charges against them, where Murtha will have to wait for the voters to give him his comeuppance - and there is no guarantee of that. After all, what Murtha is has been obvious for a long time yet he keeps getting reelected by a constituency which seems to care more about the pork Murtha can bring home to the district than the stain to their own honor which having him as their face in Washington causes.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Lessons Behind the Headlines

While we're rejoicing the charges being dropped against Lt. Col. Jeffrey Chessani, there's a bigger message that Col. Steven Folsom delivered with his ruling. Here's the message that we shouldn't overlook:

Folsom's ruling dismissed the charges without prejudice, which means prosecutors could restart the case, but the judge said the Marine Forces Central Command could not be involved if that happens.

Col. Folsom's ruling means that Centcom can't be involved if this investigation is ever revived. I'm skeptical that this investigation will be revived. The military's prosecutors have been embarrassed in each of the 7 cases that've been resolved thus far. Six of the cases have had the charges dropped; the other soldier was acquitted.

Just as importantly, these cases have gotten alot of scrutiny on the blogosphere. That scrutiny will only increase if the investigation is reinstated. That isn't what the brass in NCIS and JAG want at this point. In fact, that's the last thing they want right now.

Here's what Col. Folsom said after dropping the charges:

"Unlawful command influence is the mortal enemy of military justice," said Col. Steven Folsom, quoting previous case law. "In order to restore the public confidence, we need to take it back. We need to turn the clock back."

Here's what led to Col. Folsom's ruling:

The judge's conclusion then was based on evidence two generals who controlled Chessani's case were influenced by Marine lawyer Col. John Ewers, one of the investigators assigned to the case. Ewers was allowed to attend at least 25 closed-session meetings in which Chessani's case was discussed.

This is despicable behavior. This shouldn't be tolerated. This time, it wasn't because the people at TMLC didn't roll over and play dead. They pushed back hard. They fought the corruption.

At a minimum, this should result in significant reforms in the military's investigative procedures. Col. Ewers' behavior warrants public hearings, too. This shouldn't be swept under the rug. I'm betting that this isn't the only time an investigator has sat in on closed-session meetings. I wouldn't be surprised if it's fairly commonplace.

One thing that I'm wondering is what type of political pressure was put on investigators by elected politicians. When Rep. Murtha made his baseless accusations, was that a signal to NCIS and JAG? If Rep. Murtha hadn't made these accusations, would these Marines have been charged? It's doubtful since this was reported up the chain of command. Capt. Jeffrey Dinsmore put a PowerPoint presentation together.

As I said in this post, people up the chain of command determined that no further investigation was warranted:

As previously reported by NewsMax, the battalion S2 officer made a full and complete report based on his monitoring of the day’s events and the intelligence he and others had amassed then and previous days. As we wrote at the time, the PowerPoint after-action report he sent up the command ladder proved to all the higher officers that the incident warranted no further investigation. None!

It told the full story, was supported by photographic evidence, logs of all the day’s radio transmissions, and included an almost minute-by-minute narrative of the day’s events.

This isn't public knowledge to many people but it's the type of thing that should've been reported months ago by the Washington Post, NBC and the NY Times. Had they done their jobs, Rep. Murtha wouldn't have been able to continue spreading his lies about these American heroes.

There's been too much reprehensible behavior on the investigators' behalf to ignore. It's time for Congress to step forward and get rid of the corruption inside the military's investigative arm.

Anything less is unacceptable.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

With no place for the cockroach to run...

As expected, charges against Lt. Col. Jeffrey Chessani have been dropped in the Haditha case, leaving only one marine with pending charges, Sgt. Frank Wuterich.

This has been a kangaroo court from the get-go, predicated on a story from Time Magazine whose source was an insurgent. Representative John Murtha (D., Pa-12), seeing a chance to get himself in the spotlight so as to fulfill his ambitions to be appointed House Majority Leader, latched on to the story like a monkey with a hand in a cookie jar, and bloviated on national TV, saying he had his information from "the highest level." This of course, was untrue, since Murtha went on Charlie Gibson before he was given any official military briefing on the matter, and came out and virtually convicted Haditha marines of cold blooded murder:

There was no coverup. There was no "massacre." Everything Murtha said in the Gibson interview was proven to be a complete set of falsehoods.

The day is coming when Murtha will no longer be able to redeploy himself to the nearest elevator.

The day is coming when Congressman John P. Murtha will have to answer for his reckless accusations made in the name of his own sorry political gain, that destroyed the lives of 8 Marines, who were fighting for their very lives in Haditha, and had to continue fighting for their lives upon their stateside return.

John Murtha's days of being the political boss of PA-12, the House Appropriations Committee on Defense, and other positions of largesse and prestige are numbered.

John Murtha has utilized the excuse that "the investigation is ongoing" as a means for cover from his having to answer for his actions.

I hold John Murtha personally responsible for laying a dubious cover of deceit under which the Democrat party was able to engage its anti-war, anti-troop, and anti-American pogrom, under which our enemies in Iraq and elsewhere became emboldened to carry on the fight much longer than they otherwise would have; in the process, killing more and more of our American and allied women and men than would have otherwise been the case.

Yes, it is my opinion that John Murtha has blood on his hands, and needs to answer for his misdeeds.

As the founding editor of this blog, I call on Congress to investigate John Murtha on exactly what he "knew" and when he "knew it" before coming out with his Haditha accusations and declarations of and implications of guilt. I call on Congress to investigate John Murtha of ethics violations and criminal charges in denying the Haditha Marines their Constitutionally-guaranteed right to the presumption of innocence, and to censure and strip Murtha of any committee assignments, and in turn demand his resignation from Congress.

My dear readers, as is evident by Murtha's long history of corruption, and now his foray into slander of innocents for political gain, it is more apparent than ever that now is the time that MURTHA MUST GO!!

BREAKING NEWS: **Chessani Charges Dropped**

Just a few minutes ago, this report crossed the wires:

A military judge has dismissed charges against a Marine officer accused of failing to investigate the killings of 24 Iraqis.

Col. Steven Folsom dismissed charges Tuesday against Lt. Col. Jeffrey Chessani after defense attorneys raised concerns that a four-star general overseeing the prosecution was improperly influenced by an investigator probing the November 2005 shootings by a Marine squad in Haditha.

The charges were dismissed without prejudice, meaning they can be refiled, but Folsom excluded Marine Forces Central Command from future involvement.

Chessani was the highest-ranking officer implicated in the case.

Here's what WND is reporting:

A judge in the U.S. military court system today tossed out the charges against a Marine officer whose soldiers were caught in a bloody firefight with insurgents in 2005 in Haditha, Iraq.

The decision from Col. Steven Folsom came in the case against Lt. Col. Jeffrey Chessani after defense lawyers from the Thomas More Law Center raised the specter of unlawful command influence by confirming an "investigator" in the case also met dozens of times with commanders deciding the course of the prosecution.

Folsom's ruling dismissed the charges without prejudice, which means prosecutors could restart the case, but the judge said the Marine Forces Central Command could not be involved if that happens, according to the Associated Press.

Later in their article, WND says this:

Folsom's ruling followed up on his earlier decision, on which WND reported, in which he confirmed there was evidence of unlawful command influence, which is considered the "mortal enemy" of justice within the military judicial structure.

The judge's conclusion then was based on evidence two generals who controlled Chessani's case were influenced by Marine lawyer Col. John Ewers, one of the investigators assigned to the case. Ewers was allowed to attend at least 25 closed-session meetings in which Chessani's case was discussed.

That means 7 of the 8 Marines unjustly accused by Rep. John Murtha have been acquitted or had their charges dropped. The only case still pending is that of SSgt. Frank Wuterich.

I don't think those will be pending much longer because the politicians, especially Rep. Murtha, will want that ruling made in late September when people will be paying alot more attention to these types of events.

It's my opinion that people would be outraged if it was proved that politicians and corrupt generals trumped up charges against true American heroes for a shortterm political gain. That's precisely what Rep. Murtha did.

What isn't opinion is that military brass exerted inappropriate pressure during the investigative stage of this process. Today's ruling makes that a finding of fact.

What's appalling to me is that Congress has turned a blind eye towards Rep. Murtha's egregious misconduct. Democrats have marched in lockstep against starting an ethics complaint against Rep. Murtha. This shouldn't be a partisan issue because Rep. Murtha violated some of the most sacred principles of the American judicial system. I'd hoped that defending the Constitution hadn't become a partisan issue. Obviously, that's what happened.

When Rep. Murtha went on national TV and said that the Haditha Marines had "killed innocent civilians in cold blood", he stripped these men of the presumption of innocence, which is the cornerstone of their due process rights. What's most repulsive is that he did this before being briefed on the investigation at that point.

It's time for Congress to do something to right this wrong. It's time for them to officially chastize Rep. Murtha for his unethical and appalling actions in this case. It's time for them to say that the Constitution's protections aren't a partisan issue.

If they don't swiftly move in that direction, then voters should fire those 'representatives' who put partisan politics ahead of the Constitution.

UPDATE: Richard Thompson, president of the Thomas More Law Center is quoted in this WND article as saying:

"We are grateful for the judge's ruling today. He truly was the 'last sentinel' to guard against unlawful command influence," said Richard Thompson, president of the law center. "Tragically, our own government eliminated one of its most effective combat commanders. The insurgents are laughing in their caves."
Here's TMLC's article on Chessani's victory:

Military Judge Colonel Steven Folsom, USMC, this morning dismissed all charges against Lt Colonel Jeffrey Chessani on the grounds of unlawful command influence. He blistered the prosecution’s case in an opinion he read from the bench that lasted an hour. The ruling was without prejudice. Colonel Folsom gave prosecutors 72 hours in which to notify him whether they would appeal.

The ruling was greeted with tears of joy from Chessani’s wife and several spectators in the courtroom.
It's good to hear that Col. Folsom heard the evidence of wrongdoing and ruled appropriately today. This is a shot across Rep. Murtha's bow, not to mention a shot across the investigators' bow, too.

Make no mistake about this ruling. Col. Ewers acted inapprorpriately in this case. That isn't opinion. That's a finding of fact.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

Monday, June 16, 2008

Another Haditha Marrine Cleared?

Based on this article, it appears that charges against Lt. Col. Jeffrey Chessani might get dropped on the grounds that there was undue command influence applied to his case. Here's what WND is reporting:

Officials with the law center today said Col. Steven Folson, the military judge assigned to the case, "informed counsel that the hearing in the Chessani case, originally scheduled for three days, June 16-18, has been changed to only one hour on Tuesday, June 17, 2008, at 9 a.m. PST.

"Col. Folsom indicated that the only business he will address is his ruling on the defense motion to dismiss Lt. Col. Jeffery Chessani's case because of unlawful command influence," the law center said.

Officially, Lt. Col. Chessani has been charged with dereliction of duty. The accusation made against him was that he didn't properly investigate the firefight at Haditha on Nov. 19, 2005. The fact that the hearing was changed from 3 days to 1 hour says everything. The defense has made lots of motions, which is why they initially scheduled 3 days to get through the hearing. Here's the part that is most telling:

Folsom only recently ruled that there was evidence in the Chessani case of unlawful command influence, which is considered the "mortal enemy" of justice within the military judicial structure.

The judge's conclusion was based on evidence two generals who controlled Chessani's case were influenced by Marine lawyer Col. John Ewers, one of the investigators assigned to the case. Ewers was allowed to attend at least 25 closed-session meetings in which Chessani's case was discussed.

If there is proof that Col. Ewers sat in "on 25 closed-session meetings", then the prosecution has a big problem.

The Thomas More Law Center said the officers involved in the firefight handled its aftermath according to military protocol.

"Even though Lt. Col. Chessani promptly reported the events of that day to his superiors, including the deaths of 15 noncombatant civilians caught in the battle, nobody in Lt. Col. Chessani’s chain of command believed there was any wrongdoing on behalf of the Marines," the law firm said.

The notion that Lt. Col. Chessani didn't do his duty is absurd. Here's what Newsmax reported in June, 2007:

As previously reported by NewsMax, the battalion S2 officer made a full and complete report based on his monitoring of the day's events and the intelligence he and others had amassed then and previous days. As we wrote at the time, the PowerPoint after-action report he sent up the command ladder proved to all the higher officers that the incident warranted no further investigation. None!

It told the full story, was supported by photographic evidence, logs of all the day's radio transmissions, and included an almost minute-by-minute narrative of the day's events.

The eight hours of testimony and cross examination offered by Capt. Jeffrey Dinsmore, the S2 officer, gave full details of the intelligence passed on to the officers and men of the 3rd Battalion 1St Marine Regiment including the Marines of Kilo Company. It buttressed previous briefings which alerted the Marines of insurgent tactics such as the killing of seven reconnaissance Marines who were ambushed by insurgents in hospital beds with AK-47s hidden under the bedcovers.

It's absurd that Col. Chessani could be charged with dereliction of duty when a detailed powerpoint presentation was prepared and forwarded up the chain of command.

The question I've longed to ask the investigators is this: How can Lt. Col. Chessani be derelict in his duties to investigate the firefight in Haditha when a detailed Powerpoint presentation was forwarded up the chain of command?

Let's remember that the charges weren't dropped against Lt. Col. Chessani after then-Capt. Dinsmore's testimony on the matter. In fact, Dinsmore's testimony was classified. It isn't a stretch to suggest that this was done in an attempt to hide this from Chessani's defense team.

According to Capt. Dinsmore's telephone testimony, given from his post in Iraq for the Article 32 hearing for Capt. Stone, intelligence showed that four of the men in the cab were among the eight identified insurgents killed that day.

The fact that then-Capt. Dinsmore gave this testimony shortly after the firefight says that prosecutors and investigators knew that they were dealing with detail-oriented officers who documented the firefight. That would suggest that they weren't derelict in reporting this up the chain of command.

It also suggests that the powers-that-be had predetermined that someone had to pay a price even though these Marines followed the ROE to a T. These Marines didn't "crack under pressure", as Rep. John Murtha accused. Quite the contrary. They followed their battle plan. They noted the white vehicle that Capt. Dinsmore briefed them about. Indeed, they killed the insurgents in that car. Of the 24 'civilian' fatalities, eight were identified as insurgents.

What's most reprehensible is the fact that the Agenda Media treated Rep. Murtha's version of events like they were words written on stone tablets and brought down from Sinai itself. There is one noteable exception to that: ABCNews' Charlie Gibson. Here's an exchange between Gibson and Rep. Murtha:

GIBSON: Jonathan just mentioned, there’s no charges yet filed against any of the Marines that were in this outfit, but Jonathan mentioned a moment ago, defense lawyers are already saying, well, there’s drone video and there is actual radio traffic to higher-ups that will give a different picture than you have been talking about of this incident. What do you know about that?

MURTHA: I can only tell you this, Charles. This is what the Marine Corps told me at the highest level. The Commandant of the Marine Corps was in my office just last week, so you know, I know there was a cover-up someplace. They knew about this a few days afterwards and there’s no question the chain of command tried to stifle the story. I can understand why, but that doesn’t excuse it. Something like this has to be brought out to the public, and the people have to be punished.

It's worth noting that Gen. Michael Hagee didn't brief Rep. Murtha until a week after Rep. Murtha made his accusations on national TV. That isn't speculation; the Marine Corps issued a statement correcting Rep. Murtha's account.

I'd call this persecution prosecution a house of cards if I thought it was strong enough to warrant that description.

Frankly, this has been a disgrace to the military because they attempted to railroad eight American heroes into the brig for purely political purposes. That will be apparent when the dust settles by this summer's end. That's when citizen journalists will hold the political class accountable for their actions.

That can't happen soon enough.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

Sunday, June 15, 2008

And then there were...none?

The list of marines exonerated from the Haditha incident continues to grow; and the space in which Jihad Jack Murtha can hide his big fat backside before being forced to make an apology grows slimmer and slimmer:

A military judge who has heard days of arguments over motions in the case against a Marine officer charged criminally after U.S. Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., publicly accused service members of being murderers abruptly has changed a hearing that had been scheduled for three days to one hour.

The confirmation comes from the Thomas More Law Center, which is defending Lt. Col Jeffrey Chessani.

It was just days earlier when WND reported that a military jury of seven officers had acquitted Marine 1st Lt. Andrew Grayson of all charges stemming from the same incident.

So, when's it gonna be, Jihad Jack? When are you going to take responsibility for playing judge, jury, and executioner to a group of Marines whose only crime it was to follow ROE and execute their mission?

When are you going to take back those words; words made recklessly to advance your own sorry political career; words that needlessly ruined the lives of valiant Marines defending our nation?

When, Jack Murtha? When?

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Andrew Grayson Acquitted!!!!

Another Haditha Marine was acquitted Wednesday when a 7 member panel cleared 1st Lt. Andrew Grayson. This is indeed a great day for justice. Here's what is reporting:

A military jury acquitted a Marine intelligence officer Wednesday of charges that he tried to help cover up the killings of 24 Iraqis.

Cheers erupted as the seven-officer panel cleared 1st Lt. Andrew Grayson, who was the first of three Marines to be tried in the biggest U.S. criminal case involving Iraqi deaths linked to the war. The verdict came just five hours after deliberations began. The judge, Maj. Brian E. Kasprzyk, admonished the noisy courtroom, saying: "There will be no more of that."

Grayson, who has always maintained he did nothing wrong, was not at the scene of the killings of men, women and children on Nov. 19, 2005, in Haditha. He was accused of telling a sergeant to delete photographs of the dead from a digital camera and laptop computer.

In May, 2006, John Murtha declared on national TV that eight Marines had "killed innocent civilians in cold blood." He said that they'd cracked because they'd been deployed too long. Now that another Haditha Marine has been acquitted or had all charges dropped, it's safe to say that Rep. Murtha lied for political gain. He said it in his quest to become House Majority Leader.

Congratulations to 1st. Lt. Grayson. I can only imagine the emotion he felt when the verdict was announced. the fact that it only took 5 hours of deliberations speaks for itself as to how straightforward this case was. This case didn't need deliberations. This case should've been dropped after Grayson's Article 32 hearing.

It's time that the House to officially reprimand Rep. Murtha for his reprehensible behavior. That won't happen because Speaker Pelosi will protect ethically-challenged Democrats. She railed about the Republican culture of corruption but it's batantly obvious that she won't do anything when it comes to the corrupt members of her caucus.

Yesterday, Democracy Project had this to say about the Grayson case:

In brief, Lt. Grayson is alleged to have wrongfully ordered the destruction of photos of the Iraqi casualties at Haditha, lied to an investigating officer and obstructed the investigation, and improperly been separated from the service.

The charges were raised at his Article 32 hearing, and from the evidence presented most were surprised that Lt. Grayson was recommended to court martial at all. During the conclusion of the public Article 32 hearing last November, the inspecting officer said:

he has serious doubts over the validity of criminal charges filed against a Marine lieutenant in the aftermath of the slaying of 24 Iraqi civilians two
years ago.

The hearing officer, Col. Robert Stahlman, said that if 1st Lt. Andrew Grayson was guilty of dereliction of duty for not ordering an investigation into the slayings, numerous other members of the 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment command staff should have been similarly charged.

It speaks volumes that the hearing officer was surprised that a court-martial was even ordered for Lt. Grayson. The verdict indicates that Col. Stahlman's first impression was right.

It's disgusting that these Marines were wrongly accused. It's obvious that this was a corrupt prosecution that wouldn't have happened if not for Murtha's unfounded accusations. He's one of the most vile, despicable exuses for a human being I've ever seen, ranking only a few paces ahead of Judas Iscariot of thirty pieces of silver fame.

Once Sgt. Wuterich and Lt. Col. Jeffrey Cjhessani are acquitted, I will demand a full apology from Rep. Murtha. This blog's followers know that I called Murtha's office to get his statement after the charges against Justin Sharratt were dropped in july, 2007. Here's what Brit Hume said about my call on that day's Political Grapevine:

Pennsylvania Democratic Congressman John Murtha refused to comment today when asked by Gary Gross of the Let Freedom Ring blog for a reaction to Colonel Ware's recommendation. You'll recall that Murtha has said the Marines "overreacted" and "killed innocent civilians in cold blood." But today his office said he would not comment because the investigation is ongoing.

Rep. Murtha won't be able to hide behind that excuse much longer. When Col. Chessani and SSgt. Wuterich are acquitted, I'll place that call again. When I call again, I will demand that they fully apologize for Rep. Murtha's despicable accusations.

That day is coming soon.

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Cross-posted at LetFreedomRingBlog

Never Mind!!

Is that what John Murtha will say upon hearing this news?

LOS ANGELES (AFP) — A court martial has acquitted a US Marine for his role in the deaths of 24 civilians in Haditha in Iraq in 2005, the sixth man to be exonerated in the affair.

Lieutenant Andrew Grayson, 27, was declared "not guilty on all charges" by a jury, said a spokesman for the Camp Pendleton military base in southern California where the hearing started on May 28.

Grayson had been charged with making false statements and attempting to fraudulently separate from the Marine Corps. He was also charged with obstruction of justice, but the military judge dismissed this charge Tuesday.

I phoned Jack Murtha's office this morning promptly at 8am (EDT) to ask if there would be a forthcoming retraction or apology, but the staffer who answered the phone call appeared clueless about Haditha, much less whether Jihad Jack would issue an apology.

Today's news harkens back to the gasbag's pronouncement of guilt that fateful day of May, 2006, without any official briefing, all to advance his own sorry political career:

Notice when Murtha proclaimed, "I know there was a coverup someplace."

Notice that Murtha said, "The commandant didn't say it was murder, but what was it?"

(It was called following Rules of Engagement (ROE), Congressman).

Notice when Murtha said to Charlie Gibson, "Don't make excuses for the military!"

But also notice that when Murtha is called to task and is called to account, he always has excuses for himself:

Although a dunce, at least Emily Litella had the humility to admit she was wrong.

Murtha, it seems, needs a refresher course of what it means to be a Marine.

The list of Marines waiting to be exonerated in the Haditha case grows slimmer and slimmer.

Will Jihad Jack Murtha, a veteran Marine, have the honor to admit he was wrong, apologize, resign, and/or make reparations to the Marines whose lives were ruined as a result of his political ambitions run amok?

It would be advisable not to hold one's breath in anticipation of the answer to that question.