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Another Haditha case dismissed

Posted by Richard on June 17, 2008

The government is now 0-for-7 on prosecuting the eight Haditha Marines:

In a move that prompted tears of joy from courtroom spectators, Military Judge Colonel Steven Folsom, USMC, this morning dismissed all charges against LtCol Jeffrey Chessani on the grounds of unlawful command influence. His opinion from the bench lasted an hour, and prosecutors were given 72 hours in which to notify him if they planned to appeal.

The charges were dismissed without prejudice.

Chessani was charged with dereliction of duty and orders violations for allegedly failing to investigate and report the "Haditha massacre" of November 19, 2005. He was the highest ranking officer to be charged in the well-publicized incident and would have faced dismissal from the service, loss of all retirement benefits and three years in prison had he been convicted.

LtCol Chessani's official 2006 Combat Fitness Report 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, LtCol Chessani has "unlimited potential and value to the Marine Corps," and also recommended him for promotion.

The deaths of 24 Iraqis in the house-to-house, room-by-room battle created a firestorm of criticism both at home and abroad, including comments from Rep. John Murtha who claimed at the time that the Marines "killed innocent civilians in cold blood." Yet news that seven of eight original defendants have either been acquitted or have had the charges against them dropped has received scant attention.

Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Thomas More Law Center that was representing Chessani, said, "We are all grateful for the judge's ruling today. He truly was the "last sentinel" to guard against unlawful command influence." He added, "Tragically, our own government eliminated one of its most effective combat commanders. The insurgents are laughing in their caves."

Only one defendant, squad leader Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich, remains. Wuterich, who faces voluntary manslaughter charges, has pled not guilty.

I'm betting that Wuterich will be acquitted or the charges will be dismissed. Maybe after that happens, John Murtha, Dennis Kucinich, Madeline Albright, Time, Newsweek, the New York Times, CBS, etc., will apologize to these men.

But I won't bet on those apologies. 

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