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Charges were dropped against LCpl. Stephen Tatum on Friday, leaving Lt. Col. Jeffrey Chessani, Sgt. Frank Wuterich and Cpl. Andrew Grayson as the remaining three Marines who haven’t had their cases resolved. Eventually, John Murtha will be exposed as a corrupt man who used the Haditha Marines in his attempt to become the House Majority Leader.

What We Know As Fact

We know that John Murtha accused the Haditha Marines of “killing innocent civilians in cold blood” before the investigation on Haditha had been completed.

We know that Rep. Murtha’s story has changed several times. When reporters initially asked him about his sourcing on May 18, 2006, Rep. Murtha said this:

“All the information I get, it comes from the commanders, it comes from people who know what they’re talking about.”

That didn’t last long. On May 30, 2006, he made this contradictory statement:

The Commandant of the Marine Corps was in my office just last week, so you know, I know there was a cover-up someplace.

He later offered another statement. This time, the spokesman for Marine Corps Commandant Michael Hagee had to correct Rep. Murtha:

He had told The Philadelphia Inquirer that Gen. Michael Hagee had given him the information on which he based his charge that Marines killed innocent civilians. But a spokesman for the Marine Corps said Hagee briefed Murtha on May 24 about Haditha.

Let’s highlight that conflict between rep. Murtha and the Marine Corps spokesman because it highlights extremely important information.

If Gen. Hagee did indeed brief Rep. Murtha on May 24, 2006, that means that Rep. Murtha couldn’t make these accusations based on irrefutable facts; at least he couldn’t do that on May 17, 2006.

That brings us to our first ‘counts’ against Rep. Murtha: Violating the Haditha Marines’ constitutional protection of (a) being presumed innocent until provent guilty beyond a reasonable doubt and (b) violating their due process rights.

Another accusation Rep. Murtha made was that the officers in charge of the 3/1 Marines covered up their findings of what happened on November 19, 2005 in the city of Haditha. That’s absurd because we know that Captain Jeffrey Dinsmore put together a comprehensive PowerPoint presentation, which was sent up the chain of command. That isn’t speculation; that’s his sworn testimony. The fact that the people further up the chain of command said that there isn’t anything to investigate says it all.

Rep. Murtha told ABCNews’ Charlie Gibson that he knew there was a cover-up “someplace.” As I’ve said before, if you think something is true but can’t prove it, then you should say that “I believe that there is a coverup someplace.” You don’t say that you know there’s a coverup.

That’s the second count in the indictment. Rep. Murtha made false accusations against the Haditha Marines. What’s worse is that he made those accusations without verifiable proof of wrongdoing. Knowingly filing false charges against someone is a crime.

The third count in the indictment is possibly the weightiest of charges. Murtha’s connections within the Pentagon are deep. He’s built a mini-empire by acting as a ‘recruiter’ for companies in the military industrial complex. When they want a new hardware, Rep. Murtha gets it for them. As a result, they paid particularly close attention when Rep. Murtha made an accusation against the Haditha Marines.

With his clout, Rep. Murtha did everything except play the role of judge, jury and executioner. In civilian court, he would’ve been accused of poisoning the jury pool, which is another violation of the Haditha Marines’ due process rights.

Speculation

I can only speculate that Rep. Murtha also knew about the “shadow body” within the Pentagon established to monitor the proceedings against the Haditha Marines. In the aftermath of the Abu Ghraib and Pat Tillman investigations, it’s perfectly reasonable to think that there was a strong political component to these investigations. Here’s what Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Law Center, said on that matter:

“The hysteria and media firestorm over Abu Ghraib and the Pat Tillman investigations led to fear of a similar media reaction to the Haditha incident, causing the military’s civilian bosses to set up this shadow oversight body,” said Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Law Center.

“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,” Thompson said.

If there was a political component to these investigations, then it’s equally reasonable to think that John Murtha’s fingerprints are all over that portion of the witch hunt.

Based on the known facts alone, Rep. Murtha would have a fight if he found himself in a court of law.

That’s why it’s time to turn up the heat on the House Democratic leadership to open a thorough ethics investigation into the role John Murtha played in the smearing of the American heroes we know as the Haditha Marines.

It should insult everyone’s sensibilities when people’s constitutional protections are ignored. That should go double when the people whose rights were violated are military heroes.

In the end, that’s the most damning indictment against Rep. Murtha of them all.

UPDATE: Welcome Instapundit readers. I’ve been chronicling Mr. Murtha’s accusations and ‘revisions’ since he first made the accusations against the Haditha Marines on May 17, 2006. Follow this link if you want a timeline of Murtha’s ‘revisions’. Also check out Murtha Must Go for more outstanding chronicling of Murtha’s shifting story. You’ll want to check out this post. This one, too.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

25 Responses to “The Indictment Against John Murtha”

  • Wild Thing says:

    Thank you for this, I pray Murtha will be punished for what he has done. I have been watching this whole thing from the very beginning and keeping track of what has been happening.

  • I have linked to this important post of yours.

    We must keep the heat on Murtha, he must pay for ruining so many lives, and should be made an example to others of his ilk.

  • Skyler says:

    As a Marine who is potentially stained by the actions of these men, I am appalled that their situation is being trotted out again to attack Murtha.

    A man as despicable as he is should be attacked for the horrible things he has done, but this isn’t one of them.

    Innocents in Haditha were killed, for no reason, violating common sense and the rules of engagement. Commanders were likely derelict in reporting and investigating what happened.

    I was in Haditha with the battalion prior to LtCol Chessani’s and I can tell you that everyone knew that this behavior would not be tolerated. I would suggest that LtCol Chessani’s Marines knew it too, or should have.

    3/1, led by Chessani, potentially set back the war effort in Al Anbar from their bungling or intentional killing of these Iraqis and then not taking action immediately to atone for the errors.

    I’m tired of these Marines being shielded by people who have no idea what they’re talking about.

    If politics end up getting Wuterich exonerated (based on Wuterich’s own public statements through his lawyers), I will be ashamed. I don’t like my Marine Corps being associated with the likes of him.

    It’s all just fodder for future bad anti-American movies. Murtha’s role in the affair is inconsequential and irrelevent. His big, irresponsible mouth is just the tiniest part of why he is a menace.

  • Gary Gross says:

    I’m tired of these Marines being shielded by people who have no idea what they’re talking about.

    With all due respect, Skyler, I’m not someone who has “no idea what I’m talking about.” I’ve talked firsthand with LCpl. Sharratt’s father. I’ve put together a timeline so tight that the JAG prosecutors don’t even bother arguing against it. I’ve posted key portions of sworn testimony given by then Capt. Jeffrey Dinsmore, who testified about the day-long firefight. I’ve even noted at times that his testimony is backed up by UAV video & audio tapes monitoring the gunfight.

    I’ve posted about the white car that arrived on the scene immediately after the IED explosion that took Terrazas’ life. I’ve written about how the S2 intel officer briefed the 3/1 Marines about the key role that a white car would play before they went out on patrol.

    Next time, Skyler, don’t accuse me of not knowing what I’m talking about. I’ve got access to enough proof to bury Murtha & the JAG prosecutors with.

  • Skyler says:

    3/1’s S-2 officer is a good man, I like him and respect him.

    But you don’t know what you’re talking about. Primarily, you keep referring to Murtha violating Constitutional rights, but you don’t seem to realize that Murtha is a member of Congress, not a prosecutor or a member of the court. He is not obliged to follow rules for the courts. He is free to accuse anyone of any crime, that’s part of his job. It’s called free speech, and it especially applies to congressmen. If he’s reckless about it, that’s another issue. We already know that he is about as scummy as politician as one can be (see, that’s my first amendment right coming into play). But we will likely find that in the end he was right about the crime that was committed even if he was unwise to say so. Then what will you say? Will you apologize to Murtha (lordy, I hope not) or will you just say “oops?”

    And then what credibility will you have for criticizing him in the future?

    Notice that Tatum’s charges being dropped were accompanied by the following statement:

    “Charges against Lance Cpl. Stephen B. Tatum for his alleged involvement in the death of Iraqi civilians in Haditha, Iraq on November 19, 2005, were dismissed today. This was done in order to continue to pursue the truth seeking process into the Haditha incident.”

    In other words, he’s turning evidence to further nail LtCol Chessani and SSgt Wuterich. It’s not saying that Tatum is blameless, it’s saying they’re not going to prosecute a very junior Marine so that they can use him to prosecute the more senior Marines who deserve the blame if there is any.

    Yeah, so you still think you know what you’re talking about?

    Col Collins is a friend of mine from long ago. I haven’t talked to him in almost 20 years but he is among the most impressive men I’ve met in my life. I’m sure what he comes up with will be just.

  • Gary Gross says:

    But we will likely find that in the end he was right about the crime that was committed even if he was unwise to say so. Then what will you say?

    I’ve seen the exculpatory evidence that will exonerate the rest of these Marines.

    Furthermore, this isn’t about free speech. While I agree that he can say whatever he wants, that doesn’t mean that he can’t be sued for his malicious statements.

    I’d also argue that he isn’t immune from getting sued because the Speech & Debate Clause of the Constitution doesn’t extend to Sunday morning political talk shows.

    That’s why I won’t have to apologize to Murtha.

    Finally, your quoting the prosecution isn’t persuasive because LCpl. Tatum’s attorney issued his own press release confirming that he hadn’t cut a deal with the prosecution.

    The prosecution’s statement is simply PR to be sucked up by people who don’t have all the facts.

  • HughS says:

    “Rep. Murtha made false accusations against the Haditha Marines.”

    This may be a dumb question, but is it a crime to make false accusations?

    I’m certainly no fan of Murtha but would be interested in knowing if this offense is a civil matter or a criminal matter. If it’s a criminal offense then the Marines have something they can pursue that will bring justice and closure to the besmirching of their careers and name done by Murtha. If it’s a civil matter I’m much less encouraged the Marines charged will see justice done.

  • Gary Gross says:

    Hugh, I’m not an attorney but from what I’ve observed, SSgt. Wuterich & LCpl. Sharratt have filed civil lawsuits against Rep. Murtha.

    When I used the term indictment, I didn’t mean it in a literal sense. I meant it in the sense of “Here’s a rundown of the constitutional protections that John Murtha ignored & abused.”

    I apologize for not making that clearer from the outset.

  • Mark Valdick says:

    What continues to amaze me is that Rep. Murtha was so behind Rep.
    (?) Charlie Wilson in funding the Afghanis against the Soviets, and yet now, he’s done a total turn-around, and stabbed the military in the back. Former Marine? They need get his Globe and Anchor back…

  • HughS says:

    Gary
    Then we can hope that the Marine’s civil complaint will have the same result, however long it takes, as this suit against a sitting member of Congress:

    http://www.boston.com/news/nation/washington/articles/2007/12/03/court_backs_ruling_against_congressman/

    I remember this incident and hope the Marines find the resources and perserverance to follow through. Boehner stood firm on this and won. When it all started McDermott and his friends in the MSM thought nothing of it. But Boehner patiently pursued this to its final conclusion.

    Murtha deserves the same judgement…however long it takes.

  • Jaded says:

    Thank you for watching and keeping us up to date as Michelle Malkin is….My family has been watching this the whole time and we are waiting for the last three to have either the charges dropped or be found innocent of all charges….at that time Murtha the traitor ought to be sued by all the Marines he slandered and judged before their case ever came to court.

    God Bless the United States Military and God Bless you for watching their back.

  • Gary Gross says:

    Jaded, I wouldn’t be much of a citizen if I didn’t have these heroes backs in the media.

    I’ve had the privilege of ‘sharing a microphone’ with Darryl Sharratt, Justin’s father. What a salt of the earth kind of guy. I’m told that Justin has every bit of his dad’s integrity & honor.

    I’ll stand with those type of people any day of the week.

  • Steve J. says:

    We know that John Murtha accused the Haditha Marines of “killing innocent civilians in cold blood”

    And they did! That’s why they initially lied about the events.

  • Gary Gross says:

    Steve J said:

    We know that John Murtha accused the Haditha Marines of “killing innocent civilians in cold blood”

    And they did! That’s why they initially lied about the events.Actually, Steve J., we have video proof from a circling UAV and audio proof that they didn’t kill innocent civilians in cold blood. That’s why all murder charges have been dropped.

  • Skyler says:

    Where is this video? I hear people mention it all the time, but I’ve not seen anyone display it. How is a video supposed to offer such proof? If anything, it could be something a jury could decide as part of evidence, but I doubt it can be proof all by itself.

    Please explain this video and how it single-handedly proves innocence, or if this is already done, I would be obliged if you could share a link with me. I’m always open to whatever is the truth, I am just very sceptical that this can do what you claim.

  • Gary Gross says:

    Skyler said:

    Where is this video? I hear people mention it all the time, but I’ve not seen anyone display it. How is a video supposed to offer such proof? If anything, it could be something a jury could decide as part of evidence, but I doubt it can be proof all by itself.

    A) The Pentagon has the video.
    B) The video shows how the events of November 19, 2005 unfolded.
    C) Capt. Dinsmore used the video to compile a PowerPoint presentation, which was sent up the chain of command. That chain of command reviewed the video & the PowerPoint presentation & decided that a further investigation wasn’t warrented. That changed when Rep. Murtha made his unsubstantiated accusations. It wasn’t until then that the Marines decided to conduct additional Article 32 inquiries into the matter.

  • Steve J. says:

    Steve J., we have video proof from a circling UAV and audio proof that they didn’t kill innocent civilians in cold blood. That’s why all murder charges have been dropped.

    There is no such video. The charges have been dropped because the investigation started 13 months after the event and there is now insufficient evidence.

  • Gary Gross says:

    Steve J said:

    There is no such video. The charges have been dropped because the investigation started 13 months after the event and there is now insufficient evidence.

    You’re wrong. The video exists because Capt. Dinsmore testified to it during one of the article 32 hearings. There isn’t a snowball’s prayer in hell that he wouldn’t get prosecuted if he gave false testimony.

  • Robert Tracy says:

    I would like to publish this on my blog.

    But I want absolute Truth about this.

    I could go to http://www.snopes.com/ to verify all this but just give me the sources you have and I’ll get this EX-Marine on my blog. “Once a Marine, always a Marine” I think does not apply to Murtha.

    Just want to be sure.

    Semper Fi!

    Robert Tracy

  • Gary Gross says:

    Robert, Feel free to post this on your blog. As for Snopes, I’m not sold that their information is all that reliable.

  • Skyler says:

    So you haven’t seen the video.

    So you’re getting it third hand what is on the video.

    Your comments are consistent with what I suspected. Usually such video would be classified and this is why no one has seen it outside of specific audiences.

    I have great respect for Capt Dinsmore. But I do think that this resembles more that game in kindergarten where one person whispers something into his neighbor’s ear who in turn does the same. After only a few people, the message is completely distorted.

    A video from an overhead drone cannot say what is happening in a home. The description provided by Wuterich on what happened inside the homes, if accurate, is likely enough to convict. The did not have positive ID of a hostile act or hostile intent per his account.

    You are grasping at straws. You are in effect doing the same thing, just in the opposite direction that Murtha did; You are jumping to conclusions.

    If these Marines were wrong, then the Marine Corps needs to make it clear that they do not support such behavior. The politics of people insisting that they be exonerated does a disservice to justice and to the reputation of the Marine Corps.

    I would suggest that you, Murtha, me, and everyone else should await the results of the investigation and trial, if any, before spouting off how innocent or guilty these men are. I admit to overreacting too, but it’s still wrong. Let’s wait for Col Conlin to finish up.

  • Gary Gross says:

    So you haven’t seen the video.

    So you’re getting it third hand what is on the video.

    Your comments are consistent with what I suspected. Usually such video would be classified and this is why no one has seen it outside of specific audiences.

    You’re right. I haven’t seen the video. It was declassified so it could be used at the Article 32 hearing. The fact that it was used to exonerate a Marine tells me that it was authenticated.

    If these Marines were wrong, then the Marine Corps needs to make it clear that they do not support such behavior.

    I totally agree. That they didn’t get beyond an Article 32 hearing is quite telling.

    I would suggest that you, Murtha, me, and everyone else should await the results of the investigation and trial, if any, before spouting off how innocent or guilty these men are.

    I’m unwilling to wait because of all the charges that’ve been dropped. Had some of these Marines gone to court-martial, I’d be more hesitant to speak up but since they haven’t, I’ll continue to speak up.

    BTW, it doesn’t take a trial to know that these men’s constitutional rights were ignored. John Murtha didn’t hesitate in making his accusations even though he hadn’t been briefed.

    That isn’t the type of America I want to live in. The America I want to live in is one where the person is presumed innocent.

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