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.
Cross posted at Hillbilly White Trash.