Based on this article, it appears that charges against Lt. Col. Jeffrey Chessani might get dropped on the grounds that there was undue command influence applied to his case. Here’s what WND is reporting:

Officials with the law center today said Col. Steven Folson, the military judge assigned to the case, “informed counsel that the hearing in the Chessani case, originally scheduled for three days, June 16-18, has been changed to only one hour on Tuesday, June 17, 2008, at 9 a.m. PST.

“Col. Folsom indicated that the only business he will address is his ruling on the defense motion to dismiss Lt. Col. Jeffery Chessani’s case because of unlawful command influence,” the law center said.

Officially, Lt. Col. Chessani has been charged with dereliction of duty. The accusation made against him was that he didn’t properly investigate the firefight at Haditha on Nov. 19, 2005. The fact that the hearing was changed from 3 days to 1 hour says everything. The defense has made lots of motions, which is why they initially scheduled 3 days to get through the hearing. Here’s the part that is most telling:

Folsom only recently ruled that there was evidence in the Chessani case of unlawful command influence, which is considered the “mortal enemy” of justice within the military judicial structure.

The judge’s conclusion was based on evidence two generals who controlled Chessani’s case were influenced by Marine lawyer Col. John Ewers, one of the investigators assigned to the case. Ewers was allowed to attend at least 25 closed-session meetings in which Chessani’s case was discussed.

If there is proof that Col. Ewers sat in “on 25 closed-session meetings”, then the prosecution has a big problem.

The Thomas More Law Center said the officers involved in the firefight handled its aftermath according to military protocol.

“Even though Lt. Col. Chessani promptly reported the events of that day to his superiors, including the deaths of 15 noncombatant civilians caught in the battle, nobody in Lt. Col. Chessani’s chain of command believed there was any wrongdoing on behalf of the Marines,” the law firm said.

The notion that Lt. Col. Chessani didn’t do his duty is absurd. Here’s what Newsmax reported in June, 2007:

As previously reported by NewsMax, the battalion S2 officer made a full and complete report based on his monitoring of the day’s events and the intelligence he and others had amassed then and previous days. As we wrote at the time, the PowerPoint after-action report he sent up the command ladder proved to all the higher officers that the incident warranted no further investigation. None!

It told the full story, was supported by photographic evidence, logs of all the day’s radio transmissions, and included an almost minute-by-minute narrative of the day’s events.

The eight hours of testimony and cross examination offered by Capt. Jeffrey Dinsmore, the S2 officer, gave full details of the intelligence passed on to the officers and men of the 3rd Battalion 1St Marine Regiment including the Marines of Kilo Company. It buttressed previous briefings which alerted the Marines of insurgent tactics such as the killing of seven reconnaissance Marines who were ambushed by insurgents in hospital beds with AK-47s hidden under the bedcovers.

It’s absurd that Col. Chessani could be charged with dereliction of duty when a detailed powerpoint presentation was prepared and forwarded up the chain of command.

The question I’ve longed to ask the investigators is this: How can Lt. Col. Chessani be derelict in his duties to investigate the firefight in Haditha when a detailed Powerpoint presentation was forwarded up the chain of command?

Let’s remember that the charges weren’t dropped against Lt. Col. Chessani after then-Capt. Dinsmore’s testimony on the matter. In fact, Dinsmore’s testimony was classified. It isn’t a stretch to suggest that this was done in an attempt to hide this from Chessani’s defense team.

According to Capt. Dinsmore’s telephone testimony, given from his post in Iraq for the Article 32 hearing for Capt. Stone, intelligence showed that four of the men in the cab were among the eight identified insurgents killed that day.

The fact that then-Capt. Dinsmore gave this testimony shortly after the firefight says that prosecutors and investigators knew that they were dealing with detail-oriented officers who documented the firefight. That would suggest that they weren’t derelict in reporting this up the chain of command.

It also suggests that the powers-that-be had predetermined that someone had to pay a price even though these Marines followed the ROE to a T. These Marines didn’t “crack under pressure”, as Rep. John Murtha accused. Quite the contrary. They followed their battle plan. They noted the white vehicle that Capt. Dinsmore briefed them about. Indeed, they killed the insurgents in that car. Of the 24 ‘civilian’ fatalities, eight were identified as insurgents.

What’s most reprehensible is the fact that the Agenda Media treated Rep. Murtha’s version of events like they were words written on stone tablets and brought down from Sinai itself. There is one noteable exception to that: ABCNews’ Charlie Gibson. Here’s an exchange between Gibson and Rep. Murtha:

GIBSON: Jonathan just mentioned, there’s no charges yet filed against any of the Marines that were in this outfit, but Jonathan mentioned a moment ago, defense lawyers are already saying, well, there’s drone video and there is actual radio traffic to higher-ups that will give a different picture than you have been talking about of this incident. What do you know about that?

MURTHA: I can only tell you this, Charles. This is what the Marine Corps told me at the highest level. The Commandant of the Marine Corps was in my office just last week, so you know, I know there was a cover-up someplace. They knew about this a few days afterwards and there’s no question the chain of command tried to stifle the story. I can understand why, but that doesn’t excuse it. Something like this has to be brought out to the public, and the people have to be punished.

It’s worth noting that Gen. Michael Hagee didn’t brief Rep. Murtha until a week after Rep. Murtha made his accusations on national TV. That isn’t speculation; the Marine Corps issued a statement correcting Rep. Murtha’s account.

I’d call this persecution prosecution a house of cards if I thought it was strong enough to warrant that description.

Frankly, this has been a disgrace to the military because they attempted to railroad eight American heroes into the brig for purely political purposes. That will be apparent when the dust settles by this summer’s end. That’s when citizen journalists will hold the political class accountable for their actions.

That can’t happen soon enough.

UPDATE: Welcome Michelle Malkin & Gateway Pundit readers. I’ve said before that the minute Chessani’s case gets dropped, the charges against SSgt. Wuterich will be dropped shortly thereafter. The last thing they want is to have that exoneration happen in late Septetmber or early October.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

3 Responses to “Another Haditha Marrine Cleared?”

  • dking says:

    So what does this mean for Frank when 4 out of the 5 in the cab turn out to be insurgents?

  • Gary Gross says:

    It’s good news. SSgt. Wuterich acted according to the ROE. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to argue against a man who followed instructions.

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