We all remember the controversial images that went viral early last year; a group of Marines in Afghanistan were seen urinating on dead Taliban soldiers. Legal proceedings followed and two marines were scheduled for courts-martial. As the investigation unfolded, Capt. James Clement was also charged, with dereliction of duty for not supervising those involved.
Charges against Clement have been dropped and it appears that one of the reasons why may be the uncovering of an attempt to railroad Clement at the behest of a Marine General – James Amos.
The Marine Corps has suddenly dropped criminal charges against an officer in the infamous Taliban urination video case, heading off what promised to be an embarrassing pre-trial hearing for the commandant on Wednesday.
Defense attorneys for Capt. James V. Clement had won a judge’s order, over objections from Marine prosecutors, for two staff attorneys to testify in open court about how senior commanders had interfered in the case to get a guilty verdict.
The lawyers also were seeking to question Gen. James Amos, the commandant, and wanted access to his private emails.
But the criminal case ended Friday when Lt. Gen. Kenneth J. Glueck, who heads Marine Corps Combat Development Command in Quantico, Va., and was overseeing the prosecution, filed a brief court paper withdrawing the charges.
The Marine Corps Times reported on the courageous actions of another Marine – Maj. James Weirick:
Clement’s defense team had been preparing for a court-martial scheduled in November, and maintained that he did nothing wrong that day. They expected to hear testimony on Sept. 11 at Camp Lejeune, N.C., from Col. Jesse Gruter and Maj. James Weirick, two Marine staff judge advocates who have raised repeated concerns about unlawful command influence by senior officials at Marine Corps headquarters in all of the urination cases.
Weirick filed an explosive inspector general complaint in March that accused Commandant Gen. Jim Amos, or others acting on his behalf, of deliberating and unlawfully seeking to exert influence on the cases of Clement and the seven other Marines who faced disciplinary action following the investigation. Weirick, acting as a whistle-blower, also alleged that senior Marine officials sought to cover up their involvement in the cases.
In short, Weirick did something that’s refreshingly rare these days; he didn’t play ball and did what was right.
As is usually the case when men stand up to bullies, bullies back down. That appears to be what happened in this case. Again, via the MCT:
Clement’s civilian lawyer, John Dowd, said their defense team had proven Clement did nothing wrong, and expressed frustration the Corps was dropping the charges in favor of administrative proceedings.
“The charges never should have been brought in the first place, and we clearly demonstrated that. We’ll demonstrate that again in the Board of Inquiry,” Dowd said. “This is sore losing. This is not classy, and it doesn’t stand with the excellence the Marine Corps is known for.”
Earlier this year, the Military Times reported on two Gold Star Mothers who expressed support for the Marines in the urination video. The short article is a must-read:
Two Gold Star Mothers who lost sons in separate IED attacks are coming out in support of the scout snipers who urinated on the corpses of insurgents whom they believed were responsible for killing their friends.
Carolyn Jones Hibberd and Sherry Bradley had sons assigned to 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines, during the unit’s 2011 deployment to Afghanistan. On April 27, Cpl. Adam Jones was killed after stepping on an improvised explosive device. About five weeks later, Sgt. Mark Bradleyspotted what appeared to be an insurgent burying an IED. When he moved in to investigate, another explosion was triggered and he suffered severe lower-body injuries from an IED. He died June 16 at Bethesda Naval Medical Center in Maryland.
With their fellow Marines still on their minds, a team of scout snipers with 3/2 set out to conduct a counterinsurgency operation on July 27. Four of them, including Staff Sgts. Edward Deptola and Joseph Chamblin and Sgt. Robert Richards, filmed themselves urinating on the corpses of three enemy fighters they killed that day.
Let’s go back to the Washington Times article:
Capt. Clement’s defense counsel obtained a sworn statement from Lt. Gen. Thomas D. Waldhauser, who had been overseeing all urination cases as the convening authority. He told of a one-on-one meeting in 2012 with Gen. Amos in which the commandant said he wanted Marine defendants “crushed” via courts-martial.
Here’s an idea. How about the U.S. Military leaders let our men “crush” our enemies?