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Yesterday afternoon, the military filed its appeal of Col. Steven Folsom’s ruling that charges be dropped against Lt. Col. Jeffrey Chessani. The specific charges being refiled against Col. Chessani are violation of a lawful general order and dereliction of duty. This morning, the Thomas More Law Center issued a statement critical of the military’s decision. Here’s what it says:

Late yesterday afternoon, military prosecutors filed an official notice that they are appealing the June 17th decision of Military Judge Colonel Steven Folsom, USMC, which dismissed all charges against Lt Colonel Jeffrey Chessani on the grounds of unlawful command influence. Prosecutors have 20 days in which to file their appeal brief to the Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals (NMCCA), which is located in Washington, D.C.

Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Thomas More Law Center, reacted with outrage, “This case has turned into the persecution of one of the Marine’s finest combat commanders. LtCol Chessani devoted his life to the Corps and his Nation. He served three tours of duty in Iraq, away from his wife and children in defense of us all. In their attempt ‘to get’ Chessani, prosecutors granted immunity to seventeen Marines, including one they had charged with murder. Still they failed. Sadly, in the process they have destroyed the career of an outstanding officer. Enough is enough.”

The Thomas More Law Center, a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, represents LtCol Chessani alongside his detailed military attorneys.
LtCol Chessani’s official 2006 Combat Fitness Report, which includes the time frame in which he is facing criminal charges, declared him “a superb leader, who knows his men, knows the enemy, knows his business,” and recommended him for promotion. The reviewing Major General added, Lt. Colonel Chessani has “unlimited potential and value to the Marine Corps,” and also recommended him for promotion.

The Thomas More Law Center defends and promotes the religious freedom of Christians, time-honored family values, and the sanctity of human life through litigation, education, and related activities. It does not charge for its services. The Law Center is supported by contributions from individuals, corporations and foundations, and is recognized by the IRS as a section 501(c)(3) organization. You may reach the Thomas More Law Center at (734) 827-2001 or visit our website at www.thomasmore.org.

This is disgusting behavior on the military’s behalf. How can this go forward, especially considering LtCol. Chessani’s Combat Fitness Report applauds him for his qualities during the timeframe in which the Haditha firefight happened? Here’s what LtCol. Chessani’s CFR says in part:

  • “Leads Marines from front in every operation. Demonstrates moral courage every day.”
  • “Doesn’t hesitate to report bad news fast or contest unrealistic plans/poor concepts. Despite the complexity and size of his AO [area of operations], he always maintains a calm, cool demeanor.”
  • “Gets the job done to an exceedingly high standard.”

Richard Thompson is right in calling this as a transition from a prosecution to persecution of LtCol. Chessani and his family. It’s absurd that this appeal is happening, especially considering the fact that this firefight was properly and instantly reported up the chain of command. I’m interested in hearing how the persecution prosecution will explain how someone can assemble a detailed PowerPoint presentation and still be derelict in his duties.

I’m also keenly interested in hearing how they’ll explain away the gaping discrepancy between his CO’s statements on his CFR and the charges filed against him. How can someone be of a “calm, cool demeanor”, which declares him “a superb leader and which recommends him for promotion while being guilty of derelict in his duties?

That’s the daunting task that the prosecution faces. They have to convince the tribunal that LtCol. Chessani is a brilliant officer guilty of being sloppy and disobeying orders. Essentially, the prosecution is asking the tribunal to ignore LtCol. Chessani’s career achievements and believe unsubstantiated allegations.

That isn’t an uphill fight. That’s a task equivalent of climbing Mt. Everest in your shorts on a cold, cold day.

It’ll be interesting to see if the chargees will be reinstated. I wouldn’t be surprised if it isn’t granted. Regardless, an investigation into military investigations must follow the minute these trials are complete.

Anything less than a thorough and independant investigation into these investigations is unacceptable.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

Cross-posted at California Conservative

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