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Mar 26

Written by: Diana West
Wednesday, March 26, 2008 7:00 PM 

Shameful, shocking revelations from the Thomas More Law Center (via American Thinker) about what more and more appears to be a miscarriage of justice.

New Revelations in Haditha Case - Sec. of Def. Rumsfeld Set up Shadow Body to Oversee Investigations
March 26, 2008

ANN ARBOR, MI – Revelations by top Marine Generals, that former Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, set up a shadow “body” composed of high-ranking administration officials to oversee the Haditha investigations, could prove to be the most damning evidence of the political motivations and influence over the ongoing prosecutions of Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Chessani, USMC [photo above], and other combat Marines involved.

Even after everything, I've always liked Rumsfeld--until now, if this is true.

Lawyers with the Thomas More Law Center, a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, which represents Marine LtCol Jeffrey Chessani, uncovered the existence of the extraordinarily unusual oversight body.

“The hysteria and media firestorm over Abu Gharib and the Pat Tillman investigations lead to fear of a similar media reaction to the Haditha incident, causing the military’s civilian bosses to set up this shadow oversight body.  This extraordinary action politicized the military justice system and was a clear signal to top generals that they were expected to hold individuals criminally responsible.  The investigation turned into a quest for a prosecution—not justice,” commented Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Law Center.

The media may be jackals, but I blame the military's civilian bosses and top generals.

The Marines are being prosecuted for their house-to-house battle to ferret out ambushing insurgents on November 19, 2005.  The insurgents fired upon the Marines while hiding amongst women and children.  The ensuing firefight resulted in the deaths of fifteen civilians – a result the insurgents wanted to happen.

Details of the battle and the civilian deaths were dutifully reported throughout the chain of command.  The chain of command, including the top generals, all concluded this was a tragic and unfortunate consequence of urban warfare, but the Marines were justified in their actions of defending themselves.

Months later, however, a known Al Qaeda propaganda operative instigated an inflammatory Time Magazine article written by reporter Tim McGirk—later proven to be false—calling the deaths of the civilians a “massacre.”  The military initiated at least three investigations as a result.

Proof that this entire investigation has been a politically motivated quest for a prosecution rather than justice is supported by several details of the investigations, including:

• An admission by the Director of the Naval Criminal Investigation Service (“NCIS”) that over 65 investigators were assigned to the case, which in his opinion was the largest investigative effort in Department’s history.
• Formation of “Legal Team Charlie” composed of military lawyers reassigned from other units and reserve officers activated for the purpose of prosecuting this case—all highly unusual. 
• The Secretary of Navy countermanded a determination by General James Mattis, USMC, that Colonel Stephen Davis, USMC, LtCol Chessani’s regimental commander, would receive a Non-Punitive Letter of Caution, which would not be part of his permanent record.  Gen Mattis’ decision was overridden by the Navy Secretary, who ordered a Letter of Censure, a more severe punishment, which effectively ended this fine Marine officer’s career.  As the consolidated convening authority in all the Haditha investigations, General Mattis’ decision, under normal circumstances, would be absolute and final.

“I am deeply troubled by the fact that the desire to appease the liberal anti-war press and politicians has led to the prosecution of innocent Marines for purely political purposes.  These prosecutions will become a scandal of historic proportions unless terminated by independently minded and virtuous military judges,” commented Thompson. 
 
An Undue Command Influence motion had already been filed on behalf of the combat Marines.  The Law Center intends to file its own Undue Command Influence motion on behalf of LtCol Chessani.  Further startling events will be revealed at that time.

Even though LtCol Chessani was not personally present at the scene of the ambush on November 19, 2005, the Marines responding were in his battalion: the Third Battalion, First Infantry Regiment – one of the most decorated battalions in our nation’s history, and the pride of the second Battle of Fallujah. Thus, LtCol Chessani is charged with “dereliction of duty” and “orders” violations.  Despite his 20 years of loyal service in defense of his country, he faces a maximum punishment of three years in prison, dismissal (an officer’s equivalent of a dishonorable discharge), and the loss of his retirement benefits.  Of course, his wife and 6 children ranging in ages from 3 months to 8 years old, made untold sacrifices as he left them to defend us on foreign shores as well.

The Thomas More Law Center defends and promotes the religious freedom of Christians, time-honored family values, and the sanctity of human life through litigation, education, and related activities.  It does not charge for its services.  The Law Center is supported by contributions from individuals, corporations and foundations, and is recognized by the IRS as a section 501(c)(3) organization.  You may reach the Thomas More Law Center at (734) 827-2001 or visit our website at www.thomasmore.org.

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