Rep. Jack Murtha may be in deep do do over his Haditha comments. A story in the Washington Times gives the details:
A criminal defense attorney for a Marine under investigation in the Haditha killings says he will call a senior Democratic congressman as a trial witness, if his client is charged, to find out who told the lawmaker that U.S. troops are guilty of cold-blooded murder.Unlawful Command Influence under the Uniform Code of Military Justice means poisoning the jury pool. It is a rule meant to prevent the hierarchical nature of the military from influencing the outcome of a military trial.
Attorney Neal A. Puckett told The Washington Times that Gen. Michael Hagee, the Marine commandant, briefed Rep. John P. Murtha, Pennsylvania Democrat, on the Nov. 19 killings of 24 Iraqis in the town north of Baghdad. Mr. Murtha later told reporters that the Marines were guilty of killing the civilians in "cold blood." Mr. Murtha said he based his statement on Marine commanders, whom he did not identify.
Mr. Puckett said such public comments from a congressman via senior Marines amount to "unlawful command influence." He said potential Marine jurors could be biased by the knowledge that their commandant, the Corps' top officer, thinks the Haditha Marines are guilty.
"Congressman Murtha will be one of the first witnesses I call to the witness stand," Mr. Puckett said yesterday.
Not only that, it appears that veterans are rising up to defeat Murtha. He is being opposed by Diana Irey in the November elections. She is supported by Vets for Irey. This will get ugly.
Hat tip: Instapundit.
Update: 16 June '06 1618z
Sweetness & Light has a nice bit about how the lawyers are getting on the Haditha case.
Update: 16 June '06 1746z
I expound a bit on military justice at Sweetness & Light. Here is what I had to say:
Basically because the military is a strict hierarchy, the chain of command is supposed to stay out of all judicial matters not involving non-judicial punishment. And even those are subject to review. Once a command unduly puts its fingers on the scales of justice the prosecution is over. No matter which side the command put the pressure on. It is also a very big black mark on an officer’s career.Update: 18 June '06 0905z
The Squiggler has more on the anti-Murtha campaign. Curiouser & Curiouser focuses on the Irey campaign.
Update: 10 Sept '06 0704z
Irey for Congress www site.
Murtha, Jack Murtha, Pennsylvanian, Irey, Diana Irey, Veterans for Irey, Unlawful Command Influence, Haditha, Marines, US Marines, Lawyers, Military Law, UCMJ, Uniform Code of Military Justice, NJP, Non Judicial Punishment