Saturday, December 23, 2006



Haditha K-3-1 Marines

December 23, 2006:

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. — The Marine Corps on Thursday charged four members of an infantry squad with unpremeditated murder in the deaths of Iraqi civilians in Haditha last year in a case that may raise questions about the rules of engagement that troops face in Iraq.

Four officers, including the Marines’ company and battalion commanders, were charged with dereliction of duty, including failure to properly investigate or report the alleged murders of the civilians, officials announced.

The much-anticipated charges came several months after major investigations into the actions of the leathernecks with 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines, who fired at Iraqis in a car and raided several homes, killing 24 residents including women and children, after a roadside bomb attack on their convoy. The Nov. 19, 2005, explosion killed Lance Cpl. Miguel Terrazas, 20, and wounded several Marines with Kilo Company, 3/1.

An initial official news release about the incident stated that civilians died in the roadside blast, not in the squad’s subsequent assaults on the nearby houses. But Marine Corps officials acknowledge it was an erroneous release.

Despite the severity of some of the charges, none of the eight men will be confined or restricted pending preliminary Article 32 evidentiary hearings, said Col. Stewart Navarre, chief of staff for Marine Corps Installations West and a former infantry regiment commander.

“They are not under restriction, and they will not be confined,” Navarre said during a press conference Thursday afternoon at the base.

The eight Marines charged are:

Staff Sgt. Frank D. Wuterich, 26, who led 1st Squad, 3rd Platoon, Kilo Company, during the battalion’s recent deployment. Wuterich is charged with 12 counts of unpremeditated murder in the deaths of 12 Iraqis and one count of unpremeditated murder in the deaths of six other Iraqis. He is also charged with two counts of soliciting his team leader to make a false official statement and one count of lying.

Sgt. Sanick P. Dela Cruz, 24, a rifleman with 1st Squad. Dela Cruz is charged with five counts of premeditated murder in the deaths of five Iraqis and one count of making a false official statement.

Lance Cpl. Stephen B. Tatum, 24, a rifleman with 1st Squad. Tatum is charged with two counts of unpremeditated murder in the deaths of two Iraqis, four counts of negligent homicide in the deaths of four other Iraqis and one count of assault for an assault on two Iraqis.

Lance Cpl. Justin L. Sharratt, 22, a rifleman with 1st Squad. Sharratt is charged with three counts of unpremeditated murder in the deaths of three Iraqis.

Lt. Col. Jeffrey R. Chessani, 42, who was 3/1’s commander at the time. Chessani is charged with two counts of dereliction of duty for failing to report an alleged law-of-war violation and one count of violating a lawful order for failing to investigate the allegations.

Capt. Lucas M. McConnell, 34, who was Kilo Company’s commander at the time. McConnell is charged with two counts of dereliction of duty for failing to ensure that the allegations were accurately reported and thoroughly investigated.

Capt. Randy W. Stone, 34, a legal officer who was assigned as 3/1’s battalion staff judge advocate. Stone is charged with two counts of dereliction of duty for negligently failing to ensure reporting and investigation of an alleged law-of-war violation and one count of violating a lawful order for failing to ensure the allegations were reported and thoroughly investigated.

1st Lt. Andrew A. Grayson, 25, an intelligence officer who was 3/1’s Human Exploitation Team commander. Grayson is charged with two counts of dereliction of duty for failing to ensure that the allegation was accurately reported and thoroughly investigated. He also is charged with lying and impeding an investigation.

The Haditha investigations were prompted by questions from Time magazine and its March article detailing allegations of a massacre.

Neal Puckett, a defense attorney representing Wuterich, who faces the most serious charges, said the staff sergeant is keeping his focus. Wuterich’s pregnant wife, Marisol, was admitted to the hospital the previous night and is awaiting the birth of their third child.

He’s a little bit surprised” at the charges but maintains he followed the law in his and his squad’s actions that day in Haditha, Puckett said.

They did everything they were supposed to do in protecting themselves,” said Puckett, a retired Marine lieutenant colonel.

The lawyer remained optimistic. “We look forward to it,” he said of the prosecution. “We look forward to the opportunity to bring all the facts out.

Several families and defense attorneys contend that the investigations and charges are politically motivated. But Marine Corps officials dismissed the notion that the charges are a political ploy. “There’s been no pressure from any member of Congress or any other folks further up the chain of command,” Navarre said.

Members of one family who attended the press conference said they were disappointed.

“Justin has given everything to his country and has done nothing to deserve it,” Theresa Sharratt, Lance Cpl. Sharratt’s mother, flanked by her husband Darryl and daughter Jaclyn, told reporters after the press conference.

“Shame on you for abandoning our son,” Theresa Sharratt said of the Marine Corps.

The Sharratts left their Pennsylvania home and came to Southern California because they were unsure whether their son would get his requested holiday leave to return home, Darryl Sharratt said. Their son spent the past two Christmas holidays in Iraq.

“It’s been hell. It’s been hell,” Darryl Sharratt said, tears streaming down his face. “We came here just to support Justin.”

In announcing the charges, Marine Corps officials did not release any portions of the investigations, said to include more than 10,000 pages of documents. Navarre promised “fair and impartial proceedings” under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

The maximum punishment for a conviction on unpremeditated murder is a life sentence, loss of all pay and allowances and a dishonorable discharge.

Eight Marines charged in Haditha case


CAMP PENDLETON ---- Marine Corps officials on Thursday charged eight Camp Pendleton Marines in connection with the deaths of 24 Iraqi civilians in the town of Haditha in November 2005.

The charges vary by individual, and include accusations of unpremeditated murder, dereliction of duty, false official statements and obstruction of justice.

Four enlisted men were charged with unpremeditated murder and other crimes;four officers face charges for allegedly failing to report or investigate the deaths of the Iraqi civilians after the Nov. 19, 2005 incident, which happened after a roadside bomb exploded in a convey of Humvees carrying U.S. troops. One of the troops was killed, two others were injured. In the aftermath of the explosion, 24 Iraqis, including woman and children, in nearby homes and a taxi were killed.

The Marine Corps announced this afternoon that it has charged the 26-year-old squad leader, Staff Sgt. Wuterich, with 13 counts of unpremeditated murder, as well as with charges related to soliciting another to commit an offense and making a false official statement.

Unpremeditated murder is the rough equivalent of second-degree murder charges.

The others charged include:

-- Sgt. Sanick Dela Cruz, 24, was charged with five counts of unpremeditated murder, as well as making a false official statement.

-- Lance Cpl. Stephen B. Tatum, 25, faces two counts of unpremeditated murder, and one count of negligent homicide (related to the deaths of four victims), and one count of assault.

-- Lance Cpl. Justin Sharratt, 22, is charged with three counts of unpremeditated murder.

-- Each of the four officers facing charges are accused of dereliction of duty. The charges also accuse Lt. Col Jeffrey Chessani of wrongfully failing to accurately report and investigated a suspected violation of the law of war. The 42-year-old also has two counts of dereliction of duty.

-- Capt. Randy Stone is charged with violating a lawful order, in that he allegedly failed to insure accurate reporting. the 34 year old also faces two counts of dereliction of duty.

-- Capt. Lucas McConnell, 31, faces one charge of dereliction of duty.

-- First Lt. Andrew Grayson, 25, is charged with dereliction of duty, false officials statements and obstruction of justice.

Attorneys for the some of the men from Kilo Company of the 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment have said for months that the killings were the result of a legitimate action following a massive explosion that killed Lance Cpl. Miguel Terrazas of El Paso, Texas.

The Iraqi victims included six children and five women, all of whom died inside homes near the site of the bombing.

The accused Marines returned from Iraq in April. They were not taken into custody, but were assigned to tasks at Camp Pendleton as the investigation into what happened in Haditha, a city 125 miles northwest of Baghdad, ran its course.

Neal Puckett, the attorney for Wuterich, said his client "does not think the Marine Corps is abandoning him." He also said his client, from Meriden, Conn., has no plans to cooperate with prosecutors because "he didn't't do anything wrong."

"Everything he did that day was in an effort to protect his Marines after the IED (improvised explosive device) went off," Puckett said. "We maintain the tactics used that day were within his right to use."

Puckett also noted that Wuterich's wife, Marisol, is in the hospital today, expecting to deliver the couple's third child.

Tatum's attorney confirmed Thursday morning that his client would be charged in the matter. However, that attorney, Jack Zimmerman said Tatum was not at Camp Pendleton today and has not had the charges read to him yet.

Gary Myers, attorney for Sharratt, said his client was also notified this morning of the charges.

Sharratt, Myers said, will not be jailed at this point but he did not know if his client would have other restrictions, such as not being allowed to leave base.

"Our position is now and always has been that these were combat-related deaths," Myers said.

The Haditha incident spawned two investigations, one looking into whether the Marines had committed war crimes, the other probing the reporting of the incident up the chain of command.

Dozens of reporters and camera crews descending on the base today for the formal charging announcement against the men and about what actions are being taken against Marine commanders, whose handling of the initial report of the civilian deaths and their subsequent investigation of what happened came under question.

The leveling of murder charges is not a surprise, according to one military legal expert.

"If we want to have a justice system that is taken seriously around the world, then we have to be capable of disciplining our own, of at least trying our own," said Kathleen Duignan, executive director of the Institute of Military Justice in Washington.

She said the likelihood of any plea deals for any of the men will depend on the strength of the evidence the prosecution has against the men.

If the evidence is strong against the men, then defense attorneys may be inclined to negotiate, she said.

"But, it will depend on whether the defense thinks it's in their best interests to roll the dice," Duignan said.

Reached by phone in Washington on Thursday, former military attorney and retired West Point Professor Gary Solis said that a lack of forensic evidence will complicate things for the prosecution.

"The lack of a body will make it difficult to prove the cause of death," Solis said, referring to the fact that U.S. officials were unable to obtain permission from the families of those who died to exhume and conduct autopsies on the bodies of those who were killed in the incident.

He said that he knows Wuterich's attorney Gary Puckett, who he referred to as an "outstanding legal mind."

"He is a first-rate defense council," Solis said.

He added that while he wouldn't't be surprised to see plea deals worked out between prosecutors and some of the "lesser players" in the case.

Solis said that maximum penalty that the accused could face for unpremeditated murder would be life in prison.

The Haditha case unfolded when the Marine patrol aboard four Humvees was passing through the city about 7:30 a.m. on Nov. 19, 2005.

Several of the Marines there that day have told investigators and the civilian attorneys they have hired have said they were told that minutes after the explosion the men were attacked by insurgents armed with AK-47 assault rifles, shots they said were coming from one or more nearby homes.

The first Iraqis to die were five men who emerged from a car and began running. None of those men have been determined by investigators to be insurgents.

The squad radioed word of the attack to commanders, and over the next few hours stormed through several homes in what they said was a search for their attackers.

The shooting that took place in two of the homes appeared justified, sources close to the case have said, but the assault on a third home may have violated the Marine Corps' rules of engagement.

Those rules allow a combat operation against any source of fire or suspected insurgent stronghold, but are clear in directing that lethal force not be used against children or apparent civilians unless absolutely necessary.

One week after major elements of the 3rd Battalion returned from Iraq in April, then-1st Marine Division Maj. Gen. Richard Natonksi, announced he was relieving the now-accused Chessani of his post as commanding officer of the 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment also known as the "Thundering Third."

The mix of politics and the military justice system has been a major component in the Haditha story since it was first reported. Anti-war voices point to Haditha as the Iraq war comparison to the My Lai massacre during the Vietnam War in which U.S. Army troops killed hundreds of Vietnamese villagers. As in the My Lai case, politicians say the stress faced by U.S. troops in Iraq facing an uniformed enemy in an urban environment is a major factor in what happened at Haditha.

Two months after Time magazine wrote the first story on the Haditha incident, U.S. Rep. John Murtha, D-Penn., in May said the Marines overreacted to the death of Terrazas and, acting in rage, "killed innocent civilians in cold blood."

A leading voice in Congress for repositioning some U.S. troops to Kuwait and bringing the rest home, Murtha's remarks prompted a firestorm on Capitol Hill and led to a libel lawsuit filed against him by Wuterich. Murtha, a former Marine, has refused an offer to settle the suit by issuing a public apology and it is uncertain if his position as a federal lawmaker shields him from the suit.

Theresa Sharratt, mother of one of the enlisted Marines said to be facing charges, Lance. Cpl. Justin Sharratt, also is expected to be on the base and speak to the media this afternoon.

Sharratt's sister, Jaclyn Sharratt, reached by phone as she checked in at the base Thursday, said that she has faith that things will turn out well for her brother.

"We have faith and belief in them and know they did the right thing," she said. "They just followed the rules of engagement."

She said her family has been under the stress of not knowing what was coming since March.

"It's real now, not something hypothetical," she said. "Now that it's reality, we are just going to have to deal with it."

In his lawsuit, Wuterich provided the public account from any of the troops there that day about what happened.

In the lawsuit, Wuterich said five men in a taxi that came upon the scene shortly after the bombing were shot when they fled the vehicle and ignored orders in Arabic. The suit said the military's rules of engagement allowed troops to "shoot suspicious people fleeing a bombing. Therefore in following that policy the Marines opened fire killing the men."

A short time later, Wuterich's suit contends, AK-47 shots were heard and Marines saw bullets striking the ground near their position. A four-man team that included Wuterich entered one of the homes, tossed a fragmentation grenade into a room where they heard voices and then fired a series of "clearing shots." That pattern was repeated in two other homes.

"Any accusation that the Marines 'executed' civilians or deliberately targeted noncombatants is either a horrendous misunderstanding or intentional lie," Wuterich's suit contends.

Lawyers for other Marines involved in the incident have said Wuterich's account is consistent with what their clients have told them.

Critics of the case have contended that witnesses at Haditha, located in the heart of the dangerous Anbar province known as the Sunni Triangle and peppered with insurgents, have misled investigators.

The critics also point to the fact that none of the victims have been exhumed for autopsy because of resistance from their families and therefore no concrete forensic evidence of how they died is available.

Earlier news stories had reported that one of the men who would be charged would be 1st Lt. William T. Kallop ---- the commanding officer of Kilo Company who was the only officer at the scene of the Haditha incident. Kallop was not targeted in the charges filed Thursday.


Medal Recommended for Leader at Haditha
By PAULINE JELINEK, Associated Press Writer
Wednesday, August 30, 2006

WASHINGTON — The Marine who led an Iraq mission in which up to 24 civilians were killed is"an outstanding squad leader and undoubtedly"deserves a medal for his actions, his commander said in a memo weeks later.

Staff Sgt. Frank D. Wuterich is among troops under investigation for allegations they deliberately killed Iraqis civilians _ many of them women and children _ after coming under attack Nov. 19 in Haditha.

Earlier this month, Pentagon officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told The Associated Press that evidence collected about the Haditha killings supported allegations that Marines deliberately fired on civilians.

His attorney released a document Wednesday to the AP in which Wuterich's platoon commander wrote that Wuterich had established security, then"led a counterattack on the buildings ... where his Marines were still receiving sporadic fire."

"That counterattack turned the tide of the ambush and killed a number of insurgents still attempting to fight or attempting to flee the area,"said platoon leader Lt. William T. Kallop.

In a two-page memo, Kallop laid out several previous missions in which Wuterich had participated.

"He is an outstanding squad leader and undoubtedly a worthy recipient of the NAM'V,'"Kallop wrote, referring to the Navy Achievement Medal with a combat distinguishing device.

"What it shows is that he was a good Marine, well respected, and he was put in for an award for heroic actions on that day,"said Wuterich attorney Neal Puckett.

The document was first revealed in Wednesday editions of The Washington Post, which said the memo was written in January and reveals that Kallop believed Marines were under attack when they stormed civilian homes and opened fire.
The Marines initially reported after the killings at Haditha that 15 Iraqi civilians had been killed by a makeshift roadside bomb and in crossfire between Marines and insurgent attackers. Based on accounts from survivors and human rights groups, Time magazine reported in March that the killings were deliberate acts by the Marines.

The Marine Corps and Navy prosecutors are reviewing evidence to determine whether to recommend criminal charges.

Marine Corps spokesman Lt. Col. Scott Fazekas said officials have found no record that any medal was awarded.


In Haditha, Memories of a Massacre
Iraqi Townspeople Describe Slaying of 24 Civilians by Marines in Nov. 19 Incident

By Ellen Knickmeyer
Washington Post Foreign Service

Saturday, May 27, 2006; Page A01

BAGHDAD, May 26 -- Witnesses to the slaying of 24 Iraqi civilians by U.S. Marines in the western town of Haditha say the Americans shot men, women and children at close range in retaliation for the death of a Marine lance corporal in a roadside bombing.

Aws Fahmi, a Haditha resident who said he watched and listened from his home as Marines went from house to house killing members of three families, recalled hearing his neighbor across the street, Younis Salim Khafif, plead in English for his life and the lives of his family members. " I heard Younis speaking to the Americans, saying: 'I am a friend. I am good,' " Fahmi said. " But they killed him, and his wife and daughters."

An image from a videotape shot by a Haditha journalism student Nov. 19 shows what appears to be a morgue after an alleged retaliatory raid by U.S. Marines. (Associated Press)

The 24 Iraqi civilians killed on Nov. 19 included children and the women who were trying to shield them, witnesses told a Washington Post special correspondent in Haditha this week and U.S. investigators said in Washington. The girls killed inside Khafif's house were ages 14, 10, 5, 3 and 1, according to death certificates.

Two U.S. military boards are investigating the incident as potentially the gravest violation of the law of war by U.S. forces in the three-year-old conflict in Iraq. The U.S. military ordered the probes after Time magazine presented military officials in Baghdad this year with the findings of its own investigation, based on accounts of survivors and on a videotape shot by an Iraqi journalism student at Haditha's hospital and inside victims' houses.

An investigation by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service into the killings and a separate military probe into an alleged coverup are slated to end in the next few weeks. Marines have briefed members of the Senate Armed Services Committee and other officials on the findings ; some of the officials briefed say the evidence is damaging. Charges of murder, dereliction of duty and making a false statement are likely, people familiar with the case said Friday.

"Marines overreacted . . . and killed innocent civilians in cold blood," said one of those briefed, Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), a former Marine who maintains close ties with senior Marine officers despite his opposition to the war.

Haditha is one of a chain of farm towns on the Euphrates River where U.S. and Iraqi forces have battled foreign and local insurgents without resolution for much of the war. The first account of the killings there was a false or erroneous statement issued the next day, Nov. 20, by a U.S. Marine spokesman from a Marine base in Ramadi: " A U.S. Marine and 15 civilians were killed yesterday from the blast of a roadside bomb in Haditha. Immediately following the bombing, gunmen attacked the convoy with small arms fire. Iraqi army soldiers and Marines returned fire, killing eight insurgents and wounding another.''

The incident was touched off when a roadside bomb struck a Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment supply convoy . The explosion killed Lance Cpl. Miguel Terrazas, 20, of El Paso, who was on his second tour of duty in Iraq. Following in the footsteps of two Marine uncles and a Marine grandfather, Terrazas had planned to go to college when it was all done, his family said.

Insurgents planted the bomb on a side road off one of Haditha's main streets , placing it between two vacant lots to try to avoid killing -- and further alienating -- Haditha's civilians, residents said. It went off at 7:15 a.m. [Marine] Terrazas was driving the Humvee, and he died instantly. Two other Marines in the convoy were wounded.

" Everybody agrees that this was the triggering event. The question is: What happened afterward?" said Paul Hackett, an attorney for a Marine officer with a slight connection to the case.

The descriptions of events provided to The Post by witnesses in Haditha could not be independently verified , although their accounts of the number of casualties and their identities were corroborated by death certificates.

In the first minutes after the shock of the blast, residents said, silence reigned on the street of walled courtyards, brick homes and tiny palm groves. Marines appeared stunned, or purposeful, as they moved around the burning Humvee, witnesses said.

Then one of the Marines took charge and began shouting, said Fahmi, who was watching from his roof. Fahmi said he saw the Marine direct other Marines into the house closest to the blast, about 50 yards away.

It was the home of 76-year-old Abdul Hamid Hassan Ali. Although he had used a wheelchair since diabetes forced a leg amputation years ago, Ali was always one of the first on his block to go out every morning, scattering scraps for his chickens and hosing the dust of the arid western town from his driveway, neighbors said.

In the house with Ali and his 66-year-old wife, Khamisa Tuma Ali, were three of the middle-aged male members of their family, at least one daughter-in-law and four children -- 4-year-old Abdullah, 8-year-old Iman, 5-year-old Abdul Rahman and 2-month-old Asia.

Marines entered shooting, witnesses recalled. Most of the shots -- in Ali's house and two others -- were fired at such close range that they went through the bodies of the family members and plowed into walls or the floor, physicians at Haditha's hospital said.

A daughter-in-law, identified as Hibbah, escaped with Asia, survivors and neighbors said. Iman and Abdul Rahman were shot but survived. Four-year-old Abdullah, Ali and the rest died.

Ali took nine rounds in the chest and abdomen, leaving his intestines spilling out of the exit wounds in his back, according to his death certificate.

The Marines moved to the house next door, Fahmi said.

Inside were 43-year-old Khafif, 41-year-old Aeda Yasin Ahmed, an 8-year-old son, five young daughters and a 1-year-old girl staying with the family, according to death certificates and neighbors.

The Marines shot them at close range and hurled grenades into the kitchen and bathroom, survivors and neighbors said later. Khafif's pleas could be heard across the neighborhood. Four of the girls died screaming.

Only 13-year-old Safa Younis lived -- saved, she said, by her mother's blood spilling onto her, making her look dead when she fell, limp, in a faint.

Townspeople led a Washington Post reporter this week to the girl they identified as Safa. Wearing a ponytail and tracksuit, the girl said her mother died trying to gather the girls. The girl burst into tears after a few words. The older couple caring for her apologized and asked the reporter to leave.

Moving to a third house in the row, Marines burst in on four brothers, Marwan, Qahtan, Chasib and Jamal Ahmed. Neighbors said the Marines killed them together.

Marine officials said later that one of the brothers had the only gun found among the three families, although there has been no known allegation that the weapon was fired.

Meanwhile, a separate group of Marines found at least one other house full of young men. The Marines led the men in that house outside, some still in their underwear, and away to detention.

The final victims of the day happened upon the scene inadvertently, witnesses said. Four male college students -- Khalid Ayada al-Zawi, Wajdi Ayada al-Zawi, Mohammed Battal Mahmoud and Akram Hamid Flayeh -- had left the Technical Institute in Saqlawiyah for the weekend to stay with one of their families on the street, said Fahmi, a friend of the young men.

A Haditha taxi driver, Ahmed Khidher, was bringing them home, Fahmi said.

According to Fahmi, the young men and their driver turned onto the street and saw the wrecked Humvee and the Marines. Khidher threw the car into reverse, trying to back away at full speed, Fahmi said, and the Marines opened fire from about 30 yards away, killing all the men inside the taxi.

After the killings, Fahmi said, more Americans arrived at the scene. They shouted among themselves. The Marines cordoned off the block; then, and for at least the next day, Marines filed into the houses, looked around and came out.

At some point on Nov. 19 , Marines in an armored convoy arrived at Haditha's hospital. They placed the bodies of the victims in the garden of the hospital and left without explanation, said Mohammed al-Hadithi, one of the hospital officials who helped carry the bodies inside. By some accounts, some of the corpses were burnt.

The remains of the 24 lie today in a cemetery called Martyrs' Graveyard. Stray dogs scrounge in the deserted homes. " Democracy assassinated the family that was here," graffiti on one of the houses declared.

The insurgent group al-Qaeda in Iraq said it sent copies of the journalism student's videotape to mosques in Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, using the killings of the women and children to recruit fighters.

After Haditha leaders complained, the Marines paid compensation put variously by townspeople at $1,500 or $2,500 for each of the 15 men, women and children killed in the first two houses. They refused to pay for the nine other men killed, insisting that they were insurgents. Officials familiar with the investigations said it is now believed that the nine were innocent victims. By some accounts, a 25th person, the father of the four brothers killed together, was also killed.

As the official investigations conclude and fresh information continues to surface in Haditha, several aspects of the incident remain unclear or are in dispute .

For example, John Sifton of Human Rights Watch, which helped break the news that spurred the military investigation , said he had been told by Marine officers that the rampage lasted three to five hours and involved two squads of Marines.

Although Marines' accounts offered in the early stages of the investigation described a running gun battle, those versions of the story proved to be false, officials briefed by the Marines said.

Also, one member of Congress who was briefed by Marines said in Washington that the shooting of the men in the taxi occurred before the shootings in the houses.

Another point of dispute is whether some houses were destroyed by fire or by airstrikes. Some Iraqis reported that the Marines burned houses in the area of the attack, but two people familiar with the case, including Hackett, the lawyer, said warplanes conducted airstrikes , dropping 500-pound bombs on more than one house.

That is significant for any possible court-martial proceedings, because it would indicate that senior commanders, who must approve such strikes and who would also use aircraft to assess their effects, were paying attention to events in Haditha that day.

The Marines of Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines have rotated back home, to California. Last month, the Marine Corps relieved Lt. Col. Jeffrey Chessani of command of the 3rd Battalion. Two of his company commanders were relieved of their commands, as well . Authorities said a series of unspecified incidents had led to a loss of confidence in the three.

In Haditha, families of those killed keep an ear cocked to a foreign station, Radio Monte Carlo, waiting for any news of a trial of the Marines.

" They are waiting for the sentence -- although they are convinced that the sentence will be like one for someone who killed a dog in the United States," said Waleed Mohammed, a lawyer preparing a file for Iraqi courts and the United Nations, if the U.S. trial disappoints. " Because Iraqis have become like dogs in the eyes of Americans.''

A Washington Post staff member in Iraq and staff writer Thomas E. Ricks and staff researcher Julie Tate in Washington contributed to this report.

August 1, 2006: Navy ends Haditha investigation
From Mike Mount
CNN Washington Bureau
Tuesday, August 1, 2006; Posted: 1:59 p.m. EDT (17:59 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A U.S. naval investigation team has wrapped up its investigation into the murders of 24 Iraqi civilians in Haditha, allegedly at the hands of U.S. Marines, U.S. military officials told CNN.

The case has been handed over to a military prosecution team that will look further into the allegations and see if there is enough evidence to build a case, the officials said Tuesday.

U.S. Marines are alleged to have killed the civilians in a bloody rampage November 19, following the death of a Marine by a roadside bomb.

The Naval Criminal Investigative Service will assist with additional interviews as the prosecution proceeds with the investigation.

Once the findings are reached, Lt. Gen. John Sattler -- the commander of Marine forces in the U.S. Central Command region -- will determine whether any Marines will be charged. There is no timetable for when that decision will be made.

Military officials expect some of the Marines to be charged.

Hindering the investigation is the fact that relatives of the victims will not allow the bodies to be exhumed for examination because their religion forbids it.

[NOTE: The body of the Muslim, alleged to have been murdered by the "Pendleton 8" was exhumed, sent to Dover, Delaware for autopsy and returned to Iraq for re-burial]

Although the U.S. government is still trying to persuade the families to change their minds, prosecutors are building their case under the assumption they will not get autopsy results , according to U.S. military officials.

Last month, a separate investigation into the military response to and reporting of the incident concluded that senior leaders failed to sufficiently investigate the killings in spite of conflicting information, according to a defense official.

The findings, which have not been been made public, came as part of a voluminous report prepared by Maj. Gen. Eldon Bargewell and reviewed by Army Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli.

Chiarelli forwarded copies of the report, along with his recommendations, to Gen. George Casey, commander of forces in Iraq, and Gen. John Abizaid, the commander of the U.S. Central Command.

While Bargewell found the reporting of the incident untimely, inaccurate and incomplete, according to a Defense Department source, Chiarelli questioned the motivation of senior Marine leadership in failing to investigate the incident properly.

Any finding of negligence could lead to a range of actions, from administrative reprimand to criminal charges.

August 2, 2006: Marine Names Murtha in Defamation Suit
Congressman Discussed Killings Involving Serviceman's Squad in Haditha, Iraq
By Josh White
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 2, 2006; A05

A Marine Corps staff sergeant who led the squad accused of killing two dozen civilians in Haditha, Iraq, will file a lawsuit today in federal court in Washington claiming that Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.) defamed him when the congressman made public comments about the incident earlier this year.

Attorneys for [Staff Sergeant] Frank D. Wuterich, 26, argue in court papers that Murtha tarnished the Marine's reputation by telling news organizations in May that the Marine unit cracked after a roadside bomb killed one of its members and that the troops " killed innocent civilians in cold blood." Murtha also said repeatedly that the incident was covered up.

Murtha argued that the questionable deaths of 24 civilians were indicative of the difficulties and overpowering stress that U.S. troops are facing. The congressman, a former Marine, has been a leading advocate for withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq.

In the court filing, obtained by The Washington Post, the lawyers say that Murtha made the comments after being briefed by Defense Department officials who " deliberately provided him with inaccurate and false information." Neal A. Puckett and Mark S. Zaid, suing for libel and invasion of privacy, also wrote that Murtha made the comments outside of his official scope as a congressman.

Telephone calls yesterday to Murtha's office in Washington were referred to his district office in Pennsylvania, and calls there were not returned. A Marine Corps spokesman declined to comment yesterday on the Haditha investigation or the lawsuit.

The suit could have interesting legal ramifications because Wuterich and the other members of his squad have not been charged and have not received any official investigative documentation about the Nov. 19 incident. A Naval Criminal Investigative Service investigation is expected to determine possible charges this summer, said officials familiar with the case.

Zaid said the filing is designed partly to force Murtha to disclose what information he received from the Defense Department and the Marine Corps commandant to form his opinion, essentially trying to speed up the discovery process in a potential criminal trial.

" This case is not about money; it's about clearing Frank Wuterich's name, and part of that is to identify where these leaks are coming from," Zaid said in an interview. " Congressman Murtha has created this atmosphere that has already concluded guilt. He's created this environment that really smells, and he's the only one who has done that."

The move by Wuterich is rare, as statements made by members of Congress generally are protected under the "speech or debate" clause in Article I, Section 6, of the Constitution. But legal experts said the clause grants immunity only for what lawmakers say in legislative proceedings and does not apply to news releases, speeches and other public comments.

Rodney A. Smolla, dean of the University of Richmond Law School and a libel expert, said yesterday that Wuterich would have the burden of proving that he is innocent and that Murtha's statements were false, but he added that the quotations appear to be actionable in court . He said the suit shows that Wuterich probably thinks he did nothing wrong.

" Part of the subtext of this is it's a showing of confidence and a preemptive strike of sorts," Smolla said. " The congressman's statement does not sound as if it is merely hyperbole or opinion or name-calling. Instead, it conveys the idea that the Marines violated professional standards and perhaps the law."

Wuterich, through his attorneys, has maintained his innocence and has said that the Marines killed two dozen people that day because they were engaged in a firefight with suspected insurgents. He told his lawyers that he and other Marines used grenades and rifles to clear two houses they thought were hostile.

Another Marine's detailed account of the incident, obtained by The Post, corroborates Wuterich's version.

Donald Ritchie, associate historian in the Senate Historical Office, said that such defamation suits happen from time to time but that they tend not to go anywhere because of the constitutional protections members have. He said the most famous case was in 1979, when the Supreme Court ruled that Sen. William Proxmire (D-Wis.) was not protected when he made defamatory statements to constituents in a newsletter.

" The Supreme Court has suggested that speech and debate has limits to it, and that makes people vulnerable in certain areas," Ritchie said.
Researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report.

Holiday situational awarness...

Collateral Consequences of a DUI Conviction
For Military Personnel, the Collateral Consequences of a DUI are severe. According to Rob Leonard, author of the Georgia DUI Blog, these consequences can include: 1) No promotions 2) No leave or passes allowed; 3) No transfer or reassignment; 4) No selection to attend military schools; 5) Barred from Re-Enlistment forcing a discharge at end of enlistment; 6) Mandatory referral to alcohol or substance abuse program; 7) Administrative discharge action, with likelihood of stigmatizing Less than Honorable Discharge, which denies veteran’s benefits, including Educational Assistance (G.I. Bill); 8) Court-Martial, which may impose confinement, forfeitures, reduction in rank, and either a Bad Conduct Discharge or Dishonorable Discharge, both of which are stigmatizing and disqualifying for military and veterans benefits. Please refer to the Georgia DUI Blog for additional military collateral consequences.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Gordon James Klingenschmitt

Chaplain Court-Martialed for Praying "In Jesus' Name"

Dear Concerned Friend,

As we joyfully embrace this Season of our Savior's birth, the gavel's ominous rap still echoes in my ears. Even now it's hard for me to fully grasp that this could be happening to me in this Christian nation of ours. But it's an inescapable fact: I've been found guilty of the "crime" of praying in Jesus' name while in uniform.

But throughout this blessed Christmastide, I'm still striving to faithfully serve as a chaplain in the U.S. Navy - appealing a court-martial verdict that will cost me and my family everything. You see, the Navy just ordered me to separate from the service by 31 January 2007. They are hoping to permanently end my career after 15.5 years of award-winning evaluations. I'm losing my pension, and my family is now being evicted from military housing, without health care benefits, on the street in the cold.

I am writing to warn you: The day has dawned in America when it is criminally punishable to pray in Jesus' name, to quote Scripture passages in a military chapel, to voice evangelical messages about Jesus. So I pray you'll read my story, because your help is needed to right this wrong. Something much bigger than my personal situation is at risk. Precariously hanging in the balance is our Constitution's guarantee of freedom of religion. And I am prepared to defend that vital principle all the way to the Supreme Court. But justice takes time. And money.

Select Here to make a tax-deductible donation to a Special Fund to Assist the Chaplain, through the "In Jesus' Name" Project of the Declaration Foundation.

.I have faith God will provide. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. I'd rather continue to pray in Jesus' name and obey God's will, than compromise and dishonor our Lord.

But what about all those other spiritually-shackled chaplains who are being coerced into silence throughout our armed forces? These men of God face the same fate I confront. Unless they betray their conscience and faith by uttering only generic, watered-down, nonsectarian, politically correct prayers, their careers are over, too, as are most of 68 chaplains suing the Navy. And what about this ungodly legal precedent that will then be further abused to silence Christian prayers by federal, state and local government employees? More than that, what will this mean to your freedom of religion as a professing Christian?


Navy Criminalizes Christianity

No exaggeration, our Navy criminalized worshipping in public! In fact, the military judge more or less told me it's a crime to pray in Jesus' name outside of Sunday chapel, if your commander orders you to stop "worshipping in public" in uniform.

So I'm now a federal convict, guilty of a "speech crime" against the government, because I simply read a prayer in uniform!

Who will stop liberal judges from censoring our prayers? Will you? If so, I need you to stand with me and support my legal defense fund.

You see, if we don't appeal this ruling, it remains the legal precedent future courts will use to punish other chaplains.

That's the reason for this letter: So you and others will know the criminalization of Christianity is officially under way. This Orwellian, out-of-control "politically correct" agenda, now evident in the U.S. military, is soon headed your direction. Something must be done, and I am calling you to stand with me on God's side. Please help defeat this threat and right this wrong by signing the enclosed petition to the Secretary of Defense. Anti-Christian liberals won't be satisfied until God and the Bible are banished from our society and America is utterly transformed into a Jesus-free zone. And, right now, the U.S. Navy is playing into their hands.

Some flatter me as a modern-day Daniel because I faithfully pray in Jesus' name. Let me assure you, I'm certainly no Daniel. As I told reporters after the guilty verdict, "Jesus was crucified, Peter and John were flogged, and I got a minor reprimand. I've not yet become a martyr for the faith."

But I honor these Bible heroes, who refused to flinch when ordered not to pray. Daniel continued to do what he knew in his heart was right, regardless of the consequences. So did Peter and John, when the Pharisees "commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus." These men obeyed God, and kept on praying and preaching in Jesus' name. So must I. While I'm not in danger of being eaten alive in a lions den, politically correct wolves are howling for my hide. So please read on - but for your sake, not mine! As you do, please keep in mind that my gaveled "crime" is something you do daily - pray in Jesus' name.

Select Here to make a tax-deductible donation to a Special Fund to Assist the Chaplain, through the "In Jesus' Name" Project of the Declaration Foundation.

Please Sign My Petition to the Secretary of Defense Robert Gates


I believe God called me to serve as a chaplain. To step up to that role and as a Lieutenant in the Navy, I stepped down from the rank of Major in the U.S. Air Force back in 2002. I volunteered for that demotion in rank, and its significant pay cut, to answer God's ministry call. The desire to do God's will is still the driving purpose in my life. My heart's desire was and is to help our men and women in uniform, to bring them the Lord's comfort and mercy.

Navy Chaplains have prayed Christian prayers in public since 1775, and since 1860 federal law and regulation protected us: "An officer in the chaplain corps may conduct public worship according to the manner and forms of the church of which he is a member." But the Navy recently has changed. What seemed an innocent "memo of suggestion" in 1998 by the former Chief of Navy Chaplains - that chaplains who pray in Jesus' name "ought not participate" and either be censored or be excluded from public ceremonies - was strengthened into a repressive policy on February 21st, 2006.

As the Navy goes, so go all the other military branches. Atheists and liberals will make sure of that. That same month, the U.S. Air Force revised its "guidelines for religious expression," reported in Jewish Week newspaper under the headline "Jesus barred from Air Force invocations." If nobody had challenged this policy, the ACLU and Americans United for Separation of Church and State would undoubtedly use this unholy precedent to subvert our God-given right to free exercise OF religion, into their coerced freedom FROM ANY religious expression - not just in the Navy but all over America.


Liberals and atheists especially can't stand to hear the name of Jesus, because deep inside they know "there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved." Remember: the ungodly want our children banned from saying "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance in our public schools. Why? Because the mention of God might "offend." Yet the ungodly care not how their anti-religious coercion hurts Christians. Their same pretext of being easily "offended" is abused in attempts to banish from our common life Ten Commandments plaques, crosses, and manger scenes across America.

.Jesus taught us to forgive, to turn the other cheek. He also expects us to shine the light of His truth and dispel the darkness, so all will see that Christ is the way to God's salvation. That's why I continued to pray in Jesus' name, even outside the chapel, even in public. And together we challenged the Navy's illegal prayer policy. Over 300,000 people petitioned the President to intervene. Many more called Congress, and 75 Congressmen and 35 pro-family groups called for an executive order, which never happened. Then the House of Representatives passed a bill to strengthen the 1860 law which already allowed chaplains to pray according to their faith. That bill was blocked by liberals in the Senate.

Liberal politicians wanted to impose "theological sensitivity requirements" on the content of all chaplain prayers and sermons. If passed by this new House and Senate, they could make matters far worse, requiring the Pentagon to punish "insensitive" prayers. Five times the White House spokesman answered media questions about me. Five times he gave the same answer: "The President cares about chaplains, but he also wants the Pentagon to make their own policies on how they should pray." Emboldened by Presidential inaction, the Navy passed the worst prayer policy in 231 years - SECNAVINST 1730.7C, which banned praying "in Jesus' name" anywhere outside of Sunday chapel.

That Navy policy holds that uniform-wearing chaplains violate the law by worshipping in public. We can only pray in Jesus' name and quote Bible passages in chapel on Sundays - the only time and place the Navy now protects "public worship." The Navy's top JAG investigator enforced that policy, ruling that I was "properly punished" for quoting the Bible in the chapel on a Saturday, during an optionally attended "Christian Memorial Service" to honor the faith of a deceased Sailor, a member of my flock. "That wasn't public worship," they told the newspapers.

The Navy defended my commander who punished me for quoting "offensive" Bible verses like John 3:36 in chapel, and for preaching that "Jesus is the way to heaven" in my sermon, ruling: "Lt Klingenschmitt was free to choose to deliver a message at the memorial service that, while being true to his own beliefs, could also have commanded the assent of the vast majority of his audience. Nevertheless, Lieutenant Klingenschmitt chose to deliver a message he knew to be, by his own description, 'exclusive.'" - Navy JAG investigator

So they defended the skipper and punished the chaplain, taking a black-tip marker to my Bible, and banning John 3:36:"Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him." Is this Bible verse too "exclusive" for Navy chapels? Are our Christian Sailors no longer entitled to a Christian burial? Should we stand and let the Navy enforce their new policy?

Select Here to make a tax-deductible donation to a Special Fund to Assist the Chaplain, through the "In Jesus' Name" Project of the Declaration Foundation.

Please Sign My Petition to the Secretary of Defense Robert Gates


.I had enough. On March 30, I wore my uniform to a public Christian event outside the White House that included prayers and Bible readings. Former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore delivered a hard-hitting homily to highlight the program. My ONLY "speech" in uniform that day was reading Christian prayers and scriptures. Yet the Navy wrongly contends my prayers were "not public worship." They insist worship must be restricted to the Sunday chapel. Prayer, however, is still worship in my book, whether in chapel on Sunday or outside the White House on Thursday. I was charged at court-martial with violating Article 92 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, even though I got written permission to wear my uniform at any worship service or any religious observance. The court-martial judge ignored Navy Uniform Regulations which state: "Chaplains have the option of wearing their uniform when conducting worship services and during the performance of rites and rituals distinct to their faith groups." During the court-martial I conducted my defense "by the Book" - the Bible - and rested my case without calling any witnesses, following Isaiah 53:7, which states Jesus "was oppressed and afflicted yet he did not open his mouth." It was obvious to me: worshipping in public is the same as public worship. But not to the judge. On Sept. 13, I was gaveled guilty of disobeying a "lawful" order.


My story ran in 600 newspapers that week. One poll asked: Should military chaplains be allowed to lead prayers in Jesus' name during public events that are not religious services?" And 85 percent of respondents agreed with me, and said "yes." So many good citizens were angry at the Navy, they called Sen. John Warner (R-VA) who surrendered to public opinion in a speech on the Senate floor, just one week after my court-martial:

"I am being besieged by telephone, by bloggers, by everything else... I think that we should put in report language in our bill two things: First, that the Secretary of Defense will stay-that means hold in abeyance-enforcement of these newly promulgated regulations until such time as the Congress has had an opportunity to hold its hearings...I am basically assured by the Department of Defense that they will Comply." - Sen. Warner, 19 Sep 06

Despite a solemn promise by the Secretary of Defense to "not enforce" that Navy prayer policy, they're still enforcing it against me today! Navy lawyers are still defending that illegal policy in court, as the legal basis to kick me out. God spoke to me three times during my court-martial, that if I'd lay down my life, he would resurrect me. Responding to your petitions, the House & Senate attached a conference report to the 2007 Defense Authorization Act stating:

"The conferees direct that the Secretary of the Air Force rescind the policy and revised interim guidelines concerning the exercise of religion...The conferees further direct the Secretary of the Navy rescind Secretary of the Navy Instruction 1730.7C dated February 21, 2006, titled "Religious Ministry within the Department of the Navy." - Congress Conference Report


.This is a move in the right direction, as long as it lasts. The battle isn't over, however, and it won't be until the unholy, precedent-setting verdict against me is overturned. You see, despite Congressional action, chaplains still aren't free to pray publicly in Jesus' name! The Navy's previous policy that "suggests" we not pray in Jesus' name still allows commanding officers to determine what their chaplains may and may not do.

As it now stands, any chaplain who dares to do what's right runs the risk of being disciplined by a commanding officer. And the skipper is always right, backed up by the "brass." So you see why my appeal must be overturned, either in Navy or federal courts, in order to set this matter straight. Congressional action, you see, doesn't allow my case to be "grandfathered," so my career apparently is over. The freedom purchased for others has cost me everything.

People ask, "Chaplain, would you do it over again?" Without hesitation I answer, "Yes." It was worth it to sacrifice my career for Jesus, for our Sailors, and for religious liberty, because now other chaplains will have the liberty I was denied. So I am being drummed out of the Navy, just like 68 other chaplains still suing the Navy for religious harassment, all of them evangelicals, most of them no longer in uniform, passed over for promotion because they preached Jesus Christ, and prayed in Jesus' name, without compromise.


In my case, the jury recommended only a letter of reprimand and suspended monthly fine of $250. The misdemeanor Navy court, first offense, had NO legal authority to kick me out of the Navy. But top officials immediately moved to separate me from the Navy - using strange administrative proceedings never before attempted on any chaplain - and to take away my pension. This is the latest of many reprisals against me for speaking to the Congress and the press. A March 22 email from Vice Adm. John C. Harvey Jr., the Chief of Naval Personnel, to Adm. Michael G. Mullen, the Chief of Naval Operations, proves they planned to kick me out before I wore my uniform to pray at the White House.

Select Here to make a tax-deductible donation to a Special Fund to Assist the Chaplain, through the "In Jesus' Name" Project of the Declaration Foundation.

Eight days before the March 30th event for which I was later court-martialed, Vice Adm. Harvey recommended my "involuntarily release" from the Navy "due to lack of career potential." He noted in his email: "This officer is the individual who conducted a hunger strike in front of the White House several months ago and has engaged in other actions concerning (Defense Department) and Navy Religious Ministry policies."


It's no secret that liberals don't want to see or hear anything Christian. The mere mention of Jesus' name raises questions deep inside, that atheists don't want to answer.

Jesus promised in Matthew 10:22, "All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved."

Take it from me: Persecution awaits - in the form of ostracism, discipline and punishment - anyone who mentions anything specifically Christian.

We must take our final stand. Don't let our Christian chaplains be compromised and silenced or, worse, ousted from service.

Take action with me now, to guard our nation's freedom of religion, guaranteed by the Constitution.

Yes, I staged an 18-day hunger strike last Christmas, skipping Christmas dinner, drinking only water, to pray and fast for our President, losing 14 pounds. The devil hated that, but God loves the power of prayer and fasting Yes, I've gone on record as saying my superiors are breaking their oath to support and defend the Constitution, by actively pressuring chaplains to water down their prayers into generic, non-sectarian forms, against centuries of Navy tradition. But punishing a whistle-blower for his complaints is against the law. These Admirals think because I stand up for what's right and am true to my God, I'm not worthy of promotion. I'm not worthy to wear the uniform. Thus I must go. But I will not go quietly. I'll continue to fight for Jesus. And I need your help.

We must stop this godless plot to silence truth and banish Jesus from the public square. We cannot let them melt down the Christian faith into a meaningless one-size-fits-all sham, nothing more than sounding brass or tinkling cymbal. There is no more fundamental American principle than the inalienable right to freely worship our Creator, and I hope all Christians will pray publicly in Jesus' name - without fear! For any government official to mandate "non-sectarian" prayers is for him to force his government religion upon me - to censor, exclude and punish me for my obedience to Christ.

Stand with the Lord Jesus and sign our new petition that calls upon the Secretary of Defense to keep his promise, and "not enforce" that illegal (rescinded) prayer policy against chaplains like me who pray "in Jesus' name."

Please Sign My Petition to the Secretary of Defense Robert Gates

I am not alone in resisting this outrageous persecution - God, of course, is with me. I have a fine legal defense team. And the Declaration Foundation, a God-honoring organization, championed by Alan Keyes, boldly stands for Christ Jesus with me. But I'm still paying the legal bills from my court-martial, not to mention the expensive upcoming appeals, and just forget about my pension, housing, utilities, medical and food. The Navy won't pay my salary anymore. My family and I are in God's hands.


I pray you will stand with us, by helping the In Jesus' Name Project, an effort by the Declaration Foundation to aid my cause. Please give $35, $50, $100, or $500 to help us in this fight.

Somebody might even give a fifth-wheel motor home, so I can travel and preach, or at least have a temporary roof overhead - starting next month!

Select Here to make a tax-deductible donation to a Special Fund to Assist the Chaplain, through the "In Jesus' Name" Project of the Declaration Foundation.

Please Sign My Petition to the Secretary of Defense Robert Gates

Perhaps I'll soon be accepting speaking invitations. Tell your pastor if you'd like me to come, then send me an email: But at least, TAKE ACTION and sign the petition, along with making your generous contribution to help reverse this wrong and keep such persecution from other military chaplains.

In Jesus' Name Project will deliver your signed petition to the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and bring this outrage to national attention, with education and publicity drives. If those in power can silence me today, they will silence YOU tomorrow! It's true: All it takes for evil to prevail is for good men and women to do nothing.

Think of it: while our troops fight and die for freedom abroad, Navy chaplains face court-martial for praying for those same troops in the name of our Lord!

Regardless of what happens to me, the constitutional right to quote Scripture and pray in Jesus' name must be upheld throughout the military. That's why I beg you to support the In Jesus' Name Project by the Declaration Foundation. In this glorious Christmas season, full of our grateful joy for the birth of Our Lord, lift up our Christian chaplains in your prayers, that they may hold true to their faith in the God of the Bible, and His Son Jesus Christ, who alone holds the key to heaven.

Be sure to sign the accompanying petition! Ask the Secretary of Defense to revoke this outrage and safeguard the Constitution's guarantee to our free exercise of religious faith.

"And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all In the name of the
Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." - Colossians 3:17

I hope you will send back your signed petition with your best gift to help the Declaration Foundation stand up for the right of Christians, in uniform and out, to pray in Jesus' name.

Select Here to make a tax-deductible donation to a Special Fund to Assist the Chaplain, through the "In Jesus' Name" Project of the Declaration Foundation.

Please Sign My Petition to the Secretary of Defense Robert Gates

Please don't delay. Act right now. I took a stand. Now it's up to you. Stand up for Jesus today! God bless you.

Merry Christmas, In Jesus' name.
Gordon James Klingenschmitt

P.S. As a special Christmas faith commitment, please take action now, for Christian chaplains, for our troops, indeed for America. Let's give Jesus the honor of public worship he richly deserves. Then please prayerfully and financially support the right to pray publicly in Jesus' name - today!

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Monday, December 18, 2006

Check six! DOD’s “PRESS Offensive” is begun!

William Langewiesche (Vanity Fair), and more immediately Sarah Olson ( need not be concerned should that day of their courts-martial arrive.

Bob Milstead’s written promise to Mr. Langewiesche that “constitutional principles of due process and the presumption of innocence…are guaranteed in the Uniform Code of Military Justice—apart from Milstead’s bombastic, propagandistic dissembling—is not relevant.

Ms. Olson and Mr. Langewiesche can simply choose not to attend should military authorities assemble courts-martial in their honor. Maybe one or some of their colleagues might want to report on the events should they come to pass, if for no other purpose than their entertainment value.

I’m hopeful both reporters, supported by employers, will aggressively fight “subpoenas” threatening martial discipline should either journalist fail to obey their “orders.” Ms. Olson was served last Thursday morning. Mr. Langewiesche’s service is predicted in the next few weeks, soon after charges are filed against any of the Haditha Marines.

A foreseeable exercise of newly developed muscle under an amended UCMJ, by military royalty in a test of their days-old authority comes about by bringing court-martial charges for something, anything, against another reporter—any reporter—at any moment. For those dismissively waving away this clear warning, please consider the commander-in-chief signed off on expanded UCMJ authority over embedded media on 13 October this year. Ms. Olson was served last week on 13 December.

Students of trend analysis take note.

The Defense Department’s “PRESS Offensive” is in its earliest stages. Opening shots were fired against a front that so far as I can tell is weakly defended, if defended at all.

Luckily for Olson and Langewiesche a defensive perimeter is easily and quickly constructed. Olson and Langewiesche are immune from martial command and punishment. UCMJ “punitive articles” are harmless for people not working for the armed forces. Ms. Olson, a civilian, is not obliged to carry out orders issued by military governors. The civilian legal term subpoena is as meaningless in the world of martial discipline as it’s unenforceable.

Embedded journalists, on the other hand, have reason to be terribly worried.

Watch out for 13 January 2007.

No question remains regarding DOD’s attack on the press now underway. Gone begging is the grander question, whether the enemy is to be engaged at all? Will media professionals—no matter what stripe—mount a coordinated counteroffensive against “situational constitutionalists” on two fronts? The first thrust to arrest the expansive spread of military attainder; the other to efface the practice altogether.

(Note: Bob Milstead’s letter to William Langewiesche, by way of the editor, appears in the January 2007 issue of Vanity Fair, page 30. Reporter Nicholas Gage writes separately in the same issue regarding the dismemberment of “November 17,” the terrorist group that murdered Navy Captain William Nordeen, see page 68).

Here endth the lesson.

The JAG Hunter: Copyright©2006