Theodore's World: When Does It Ever End?

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April 01, 2008

When Does It Ever End?

Will Marine Show Trials End?


By: Nathaniel R. Helms

The tarnished image of the Marine Corps continues to darken as more trials, more acquittals and more scandals corrode the brightly burnished steel that armors America’s premier fighting force.

Defense attorneys and beleaguered Marines say their cherished Corps’ surprise decision Friday to dismiss criminal charges against a Marine infantryman accused of mass murder at Haditha, Iraq, is just another billboard announcing the troubles plaguing Marine Corps morale today. Loyalty up and down the ranks, the bedrock on which the 232-year old fighting force was built, is under attack.

“First the Corps takes their innocence and then the enemy tries to take their life, and then when they finally come home the government tries to take their freedom,” said James Culp, a military defense lawyer in Austin, Texas, who worked on the Haditha case for more than a year. “When does it ever end?”

It is an honest question.

The growing list of places in Iraq associated with allegations of Marine Corps misconduct continues to spread across the map like a malignant weed.

This reporter has spoken with dozens of seasoned Marines and soldiers who claim they would rather take a bullet than shoot the wrong person during mortal combat and possibly spend their life in jail. Hyperbole perhaps, but Marines are trained to make the other guy, the bad ones, take the bullet.

The situation of Lance Cpl. Stephen Tatum explains the morass the Marine Corps faces.

On Friday he was unexpectedly exonerated of all criminal charges leveled against him for serving at Haditha. The laundry list of charges that ranged from murder to bad judgment were dismissed by Lt. Gen Samuel Helland, the convening authority at Camp Pendleton and final arbiter in his case.

Without explanation Helland dismissed the criminal charges against Tatum just hours before he was to face a general court-martial. Tatum, of Edmond, Okla., is the third enlisted Marine from 3rd Platoon, Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines originally charged with murder in the 30-month-old Haditha investigation that has been completely cleared of alleged misdeeds.

Cleared But Charged Anyway

In the run-up to the Tatum court martial proceeding, there was clear evidence that military's case was based on a tissues of hearsay, face-saving and political expediency.

For example, in the case of another Marine also facing court martial, the military prosecutors tried to block the testimony of the intelligence officer, Lt. Jeff Dinsmore, who monitored the Haditha action via radio transmissions and overhead video surveillance drone. His testimony and the video evidence shows that the Marines did not lie when they said the received hostile file from insurgents occupying civilian buildings.

When the Marines cleared the building using standard military procedures, both the insurgents and civilians were dead.

The Dinsmore evidence and testimony proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that claims by Time magazine and Congressman Jack Murtha, that a platoon of Marines went on a rampage in My Lai fashion after one of their fellow Marines, was killed was an out and out fantasy.

But efforts to prevent Dinsmore from testifying demonstrated the military want a Soviet-style show trial of a hero Marine. Fortunately, the presiding military judged ruled Dinsmore could testify. The prosecution "case" against Tatum began to crumble.

Though preliminary Article 32 hearings had cleared the Marines of most of the allegations, the military has been intent in making an example of them.

Nevertheless, two officers and the enlisted Marines were all charged with slaying civilians at Haditha and sent to court martial.

The military's floundering case has come to symbolize the Pentagon’s tenacious efforts to turn warriors into policemen. Pointing out that our combat troops are engaged in a war zone makes many of their alleged misdeeds understandable.

But the Pentagon follows the administration line: American troops are simply helpers to the Iraqi civil government. American troops are not an occupying force. American troops are welcomed as liberators by the Iraqis. And so the spin-story spins and spins.

Fueled by specious media claims and driven by rapacious politicians more concerned with face time than preserving precious freedoms, the Marine Corps brass willingly served them up for prosecution rather than admit it was handed a mission it was never trained to perform and never intended to take, so the unfolding of the Haditha case has revealed.

Waiting on the wings of the malevolent stage where the Haditha investigation is still playing out, the Fallujah murder cases are being prepared to take over top billing. In that unrelated case three enlisted Marine infantrymen from the same platoon that Tatum served in have been charged with murdering four Iraqi prisoners of war more than three years ago.

PLEASE go here for complete article

another snipet from the article:

“Marines are not policeman,” a senior Marine Corps officer said Friday night. He has served multiple tours in Iraq that show in his eyes.
“We are warriors. Occupation duty is the Army’s responsibility. The Marine Corps is our country’s blunt force instrument and we are destroying it – eating our young. Pray we still have Marines in the next war. Sometimes I am not so sure.”

But Fallujah may end up being nothing more than another Haditha where soldiers acted in combat in ways we might find totally unacceptable of they were members of the Los Angeles Police Department.

Two years, thousands of man hours and millions of dollars later nobody charged in the alleged Haditha massacre has been convicted of anything.

In the interim morale plummeted, the Marine Corps rewrote the manual on how it fights, and the Pentagon wants shorter leashes on its frontline troops.

Wild Thing's comment........

Good article about what has been going on.

When this kind of thing gets started like it has I wonder what it will take for it to finally stop. I know part of it I think would be a true Conservative for President aka Commander in Chief. But since that is not happening in this next election then it has to come from the top military I would think saying enough is enough.

Being strong about it and more or less laying down the law as to something like " we are trained to do what we do, we are not the police, this is war against an enemy with no country, and no uniform.

Maybe if several of the top brass would say " put me on trial, the responsibility starts at the top, we are a brotherhood and you don't go after one of my men and not think it effects all of us. We go to places you only see in a nightmare, see things you cannot imagine, have an enemy that is not satisfied with only killing us they take great pleasure in chopping us up into pieces, literally pulling our guts out and other horrors that would turn your stomach and you think we are going to ask for permission to take out someone that is bent on killing us? Someone that is connected to the enemy's camp and will run off and tell them where we are located? Your sitting around in Georgetown or in your offices in D.C. trying to figure out a way to pull amnesty over on true Americans that are concerned about securing borders, and you want to tell us how to fight a war and win while you are perched mentally on every shoulder of every soldier risking all? You better think again Sir/Madam because without us there never has been peace and without us you would not even have a country. " ....just an idea of what one or heck all of them could say. If the Brass on their uniforms had included balls in the britches.

....Thank you Mark for sending this to me.

Posted by Wild Thing at April 1, 2008 02:48 AM


These trials will NEVER end. The media loves them so on they go.
I don't know how many remember the trial of Dr. Samuel Mudd, a civilian doctor, who set the broken leg of John Wilkes Booth, not realizing who he was at the time. The military tribunal found him guilty of collaboration and sent him to Devil's Island, which ruined his health and his practice. He was, of course, not a collaborator and the military refuses--flat out refuses--to overturn his conviction, even though they had no right in trying him since he was not a military person. All his family wants is to have his name cleared--no money, nothing else. Just erase it from the records.
The media loves these trials, so they will continue until the end of time or the media, whichever comes first.
Sick, isn't it?

Posted by: Lynn at April 1, 2008 05:26 AM

My previous comment about flag officers and President Bush in the sniper post apply here as well. Yes, prosecution for alleged war crimes should start at the top.

Posted by: TomR at April 1, 2008 08:44 AM

Well said, Wild Thing.

Posted by: Wollf at April 1, 2008 12:51 PM

I think a lot of this started during the budget cuts of 1948, the year Truman tried to ban the Marine Corps. He said they had a propaganda machine second only to Stalin. There was such an outcry from Congressmen and Senators and civilians that Truman had to back off. But he managed to downsize the Corps to such a point that when Korea came in 1950 it came back to haunt him big time. It was at this time the Marines started returning part of their allocated budget back to the Government, in a effort to say, 'you see, we can survive with not so much money and still perform a vital function.'

MacArthur wasn't a fan of the Marines either, He had a non-official order that any Marine caught with an American Flag would be Court Martialled, they got enough press on Iwo Jima. No body was ever court martialled but Mac was extremely jealous of the Marine Corps.

The downsizing was so drastic, when MacArthur wanted to make an end run around Pusan and land at Inchon, the Marines were calling up former Marines from the Second World War. It took three months to put together the First Marine Provisional Brigade to make the landing on Inchon.

In 1956, the Ribbon Creek incident didn't help matters either. Even General Puller was called to testafy on behave of the Marine Corps and the Senior Drill Instructor.

Since then the Marines have been under a micoscope of scrutiny. And the Marines tried not to make any waves to piss off somebody in the pentagon.

It was so bad, our equipment was World War 2 issue and we didn't get new radios until 1966,(Probably because the Prick- 10's couldn't talk to anybody on our side) when the Army had been issued the New PRC-25's in the early 60's we still had the PRC-8, 9 and 10's (8-Armor, 9-Artillery, and PRC-10 for the Infantry) 35 pound piece of junk, 2 miles or line of site, plus a fibreglass backboard.

Not that they weren't available, the Army had them but we had the old stuff, don't make any waves. Even in Santo Damingo, we had the PRC-10 and this Army had all new stuff.

This Haditha deal I think goes back to this, Don't make any waves and if someone screws up we will pile on them so much they won't bother with us. You see they take care of their own problems.

From what I can see Murtha who started all this crap has an axe to grind against the Marine Corps, because he knows full well what the history is on this.

These Marines of k/3/1 are scapegoats and it must have really pissed off some people higher up when so many have had the charges dismissed.

When things go awry, the Marines are always the bastard half-brother. But this I think is the major problem, the Marine higher up's are trying to cover their behinds.

And you know what, I would do it all over again.

Semper Fi

Posted by: Mark at April 1, 2008 01:28 PM

The railroading of our border agents, the branding of our ARMY and Marines with murder for doing the job they themselves don't have the courage to do, the witchhunt at Duke University in the Lacrosse Player trial, the persecution of political foes, all miscarriages of justice. These are the things we have all read about and heard of during the cold war about Stalin's Soviet Union and Mao's China. It seems that we as a society have devolved into their lair under the rule of law as administered by the Socialist zealots in the judicial system and in Congress. Honorable my ass!!! There is no honor amongst them, not when our president will allow these scum to send honorable border agents to jail for doing their jobs, and for trying our Marines before a courts marshall for carrying out their missions under his orders.

Misconduct by the attorneys and perjury in any criminal trial should carry the same sentence as the charge in question. Are you paying attention Murtha!!!

Posted by: Jack at April 1, 2008 01:46 PM

Very well stated WT!!! But alas we are all singing to the choir. We all know, some first hand, what war is all about and what the consequences of war are. But when you look at how history is being taught in our schools and the fact that most of those that are witch-hunting jerks never felt the anxiety of being in battle ( I mean, like George Bush knows what it feels like to have a bullet pass within millimeters of his head?!?!?) or seeing their closest friend brutally killed in front of them, is it any surprise we end up with half baked morons? Those that are falsely accusing and conducting these witch-hunt trials all have some sick petty ax to grind.

Want to put heat where it should be rightly applied and possibly stop this crap? I would gladly support and help in any way possible a law suit against Murtha for wrongly accusing these soldiers and charge him with defamation of character at a minimum and possible treason during a time of war. He needs to be held accountable!!!!!!! And I'm not looking for some slime bag attorney wanting to make a buck on this. Let the other side and Murtha spend the money on attorney fees.

We, the People, have to stop letting their irresponsible actions slide. They need to be called to the carpet and tried like any other law breaker. I don't care if he is a my book he can cram his diplomatic immunity up his sorry excuse for an ass. When comments and actions cause our fighting men and women to second guess their orders and ROE which in turn places their lives in jeopardy, then there no longer is diplomatic immunity!!!!

Posted by: John at April 1, 2008 03:05 PM

Lynn wow thanks for telling about that. I never knew all of that before.

Posted by: Wild Thing at April 1, 2008 07:36 PM

Tom thank you. I just saw the other comment.

Posted by: Wild Thing at April 1, 2008 07:39 PM

Wollf thank you.

Posted by: Wild Thing at April 1, 2008 07:40 PM

Mark that gave me goosebumps reading what you wrote. Not sure exaclty why, it was just so real how it has been, things I never knew about.

I think you are right about all of it.

Posted by: Wild Thing at April 1, 2008 07:45 PM

Jack huge amen to all of that. We watch and see this happeneing to all the things you mentioned and when we have fought back in the little way we can like emails we are fluffed off.

Posted by: Wild Thing at April 1, 2008 07:47 PM

John I agree so much. I do know there are several sites about Murtha to boot him etc. Not sure if they have lawyers or even one lawyer working on it. I hope so, I will try to find out.

Posted by: Wild Thing at April 1, 2008 07:51 PM

When the Jane Fondas and Murthas die, they'll be met at Heaven's GATE by St. Peter and by US Marine
sentries...I don't think they'll be getting authorization to ENTER!!!

Posted by: darthcrUSAderworldtour07 at April 3, 2008 01:06 AM

Darth and I love that.

Posted by: Wild Thing at April 3, 2008 02:01 AM