Friday, May 04, 2007

The Honor Of The Marines Is At Stake

I have been having a discussion with Allen about the Haditha case.

Allen directs me to something he said at the Belmont Club. Let me quote a bit.

Indeed, from the polling, the United States military is the single, sole, and only institutional or professional entity in which the American public vests its unwavering confidence.

Therefore, the vociferous argument made by you and others, claiming that the Haditha Marines are being “set-up” or “sacrificed” by the military for political purposes, undermines confidence in the single institution in which the public places its trust.

The outrageous claims made by you and others, based on hearsay, innuendo, and blog and media opinion pieces, are NOT helping the Haditha Marines or (more importantly) the United States.
To which I replied:
The trust in the military is earned.

It is earned by the military correcting errors.

To think that the military does not respond to political pressure is to live in a fantasy world. If we can have a Nifong in North Carolina we can have one in the Marines.

Your argument reminds me of the Dreyfuss case where it was often argued that guilt or innocence was irrelevant. The honor of the army was at stake.

I don't buy it.
BTW this is a blog. I deal in hearsay and innuendo. Plus the occasional fact when I can find it. I have sources I link to. You can come to your own conclusions. Sometimes I'm right. Sometimes my connection with reality is tennuous at best. This is entertainment. If you actually learn something useful it is a side benefit. However, it looks to me like the prosecution of the Haditha Marines (as far as it has gone) is a political hit job to quiet the opposition (Time Magazine, John Murtha, et. al.). I thought that when the story first hit the blogs. I'm more convinced now.

John Murtha is no Marine. He forgot the Marine motto. Semper Fidelis.


allen said...

m simon,

Thank you for the opportunity to speak of Haditha.

It may prove true that Murtha, or Warner, or Hagel (or some number of cowards unnamed) generated enough pressure to cause the Commandant or the Theatre commander to bring or order charges brought.

It may prove true that the criminal investigation was botched or unprofessional. For instance, it is my understanding that no autopsies were performed.

Despite a potential host of complaints of greater or lesser merit, charges have been made and, barring pardon, the cases will proceed to Article 32 Investigations. In short, we are where we are.

A word on Article 32 Investigation, if I may. Contrary to what you may have heard or read, this sort of investigation or "hearing", if you please, is NOT like a grand jury.
Among other things, the accused is represented by counsel; the accused my exercise discovery; the accused may call and examine witnesses; and the hearing is public. In short, the Article 32 Investigation offers an accused member rights unheard of in the civilian justice system.

Many bloggers presuppose recommendations of Courts-Martial from the hearing officers overseeing the Article 32 Investigations. Such presumption is unwarranted in the face of history and may say more about the character of the critics than the military officers tasked with handling the matter. Hearing officers can and do routinely recommend the dismissal of charges. Thus, unless we accept the proposition that the hearing officers in this instance are hopelessly corrupt, the opportunity for recommended dismissal is a reality. Indeed, the attorneys representing Captain Stone reportedly believe that a recommendation for dismissal may be the outcome of his Article 32 Investigation.

Following the Article 32 Investigation, the hearing officer will provide to the originating command a meticulously detailed report. The hearing officer will conclude his work by making non-binding recommendations, running the gamut of systemic possibilities. With recommendation in hand, the originating command will make a decision as to what course of action it will be pursue, if any.

Keeping in mind that during the public Article 32 Investigation discovery will occur, all material evidence held by the government will become the matter of public record. Barring extraordinary circumstance, the government will be thereby circumscribed. It is at this point that INFORMED criticism and complaint can be registered. At the moment in the absence of that public record and the sworn testimony of witnesses, it is simply impossible to make reasonable judgments as to the quality of the government’s case.

There is no reason be believe the Haditha Marines will be “railroaded” to the gallows, unless you are one of those who believe the system so hopelessly corrupt that this is the predestined outcome. If such systemic corruption is the case, then, the United States is in far greater need of salvation than Iraq and our energies should be so directed.

M. Simon said...

My attitude is that if it weren't for Time Magazine's enemy report and John Mutha's consorting with the enemy the case never would have been opened.

What ever happens, these men's military careers are over. Which saddens me.

I'm not so much worried about the process as I am about the propaganda value to the enemy. These guys will be forever in that enemy/leftist press the "Haditha murderers".

In effect the conduct of our troops is determined by enemy propaganda.

It would have been much more Semper Fi to say that the charges were based on enemy propaganda and as such the USMC was not about to give them any dignity.

Then the MC holds hearings (not legal proceedings) to air the truth.

As it is - the charges now have the color of law behind them. Stupid.

allen said...

m simon,

Thank you for your courteous reply.

It is my understanding that the original report did hold harmless the Marines, as well as all other participants. And there were other friendly participants engaged that day.

Whether a closed case was reopened for the reasons you state, I cannot know. Whatever else may be said, a general officer or general officers reopened the matter to further inquiry and signed off on the charges. IF political manipulation played a material role, then, this would certainly suggest an unhealthy relationship between influential Congressmen and the upper echelons of the military. This may be another reason to pay more attention to the recently published comments of LTC Yingling.

To be perfectly clear, I make no claim to understanding the motives of the various initiating players. As to the motives of those men and women who MAY come to Court-Martial empanelment, they will NOT be neutral, and have no need to be. The government will have to prove its case BEYOND reasonable doubt. Moreover, the government must prove a priori that it has a case to make, through the Article 32 Investigation process.

As I have earlier said, the American public has great confidence in its military. Unfortunately, that public has demonstratively precious little confidence in any other facet of its governance. This is why I have and continue to insist that no conflation of motive and process be permitted to erode this confidence. It will be upon the foundation of public confidence that the US military will rebuild itself, as it most certainly must. IF it can be proved that a flag officer or flag officers have abused authority and perverted the course of justice, then, by all means let the critics crucify him or them. But in their anger, let not the critics inadvertently, by implication of attachment, crucify a Marine Corps that has so nobly served them.

One could have hoped for events to transpire otherwise, but as Lee is purported to have quipped, “You play the hand you are dealt.” And, what we have at the moment is process. Is that fair? No. Will careers and reputations suffer? I would like to believe for the innocent that all will be well, but I am not foolish enough to ignore another, darker prospect. Is that fair? No. Will the enemies of the United States, foreign and/or domestic draw strength from this monstrosity? Most certainly, yes. Is that fair?...In the end, all we and the Haditha Marines will have is a just process. That will have to suffice.

M. Simon said...

One of the defence lawyers thinks there was Unlawful Command Influence. I put that up in June of '006.

It is link rich.

Let me quote a bit:

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.

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."

And yes. For now all we have is due process. And the truth may yet out. It is no excuse for corruption in the Corps. I expect it from our Congress critters.

allen said...

m simon,

Thanks again for your time and for the labor you put into producing your blogs. While we may occasionally have to agree to disagree, I respect you and do not question your sincerity. If I have offended, know that it was not for gratuitous satisfaction or self-serving ends, and I do beg pardon.

The Marine Corps is a human invention; therefore, there is corruption IN the Corps. That is far from the corruption OF the Corps. By use of a single preposition, you have defined the situation perfectly. Would that this could be conveyed far and wide. Both the Haditha Marines and the Corps deserve nothing less.

As I wrote earlier, my personal sympathies are entirely with the Marines. May they walk free and eventually resume "normal" lives. Moreover, for those wrongfully accused, may there be "just" compensation - and I do not mean a paltry VA stipend. And if there has been the malice others claim, may those responsible come to the end deserved. You may be sure, there are tens of thousands of old devils like me watching - No better friend, no worse foe.

Semper Fidelis, and

Again, thanks.

M. Simon said...


As an old Navy man to a Marine (I assume) I'm still grateful for the job the Marines did in helping John Paul Jones defeat the Serapis.

I totally agree that the Corps is not corrupt and if this comes out as I expect the Corps will enforce its proud traditions.

However, I must say that the Corps is not doing well in the information wars. The whole Haditha thing has been badly handled.

When reports like this come out the Corps should come out and say at the beginning that the evidence is contradictory and they will investigate to find the true facts. No rushes to judgement. No rushes to start legal proceedings of any kind.

The intel guy who did not run his contrary report immediately up the chain of command was derilict in his duty (to the wider war - not just the war on the ground in his local area - sometimes you have to risk an intel organization to win bigger battles).

In the long run as these stories are debunked people will be disinclined to believe any atrocity stories about our troops. Which would be too far in the other direction.