Marine Corps Drops Charges In Taliban Urination Case

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Excerpted from Washington Times: The Marine Corps has suddenly dropped criminal charges against an officer in the infamous Taliban urination video case, heading off what promised to be an embarrassing pre-trial hearing for the commandant on Wednesday.

Defense attorneys for Capt. James V. Clement had won a judge’s order, over objections from Marine prosecutors, for two staff attorneys to testify in open court about how senior commanders had interfered in the case to get a guilty verdict.

The lawyers also were seeking to question Gen. James Amos, the commandant, and wanted access to his private emails.

But the criminal case ended Friday when Lt. Gen. Kenneth J. Glueck, who heads Marine Corps Combat Development Command in Quantico, Va., and was overseeing the prosecution, filed a brief court paper withdrawing the charges.

John Dowd, Capt. Clement’s principal defense counsel, had accused the commandant of engineering the largest case of unlawful command influence in the Corps‘ history.

“The withdrawal of the charges was another act of cowardice by the the commandant, his counsel and the the Judge Advocate Division of [Marine Corps headquarters] to cover up the worst case of unlawful command influence in the history of the Marine Corps, which was beginning next Wednesday to be uncovered in a hearing before the Chief Judge … on several motions to compel discovery,” Mr. Dowd said Saturday.

The defense attorney said he wanted to see email traffic between the commandant, his counsel and his legal division.

“That email traffic would have revealed that [the commandant] and his lawyers had engaged in a secret, corrupt effort to rig and control the investigations and dispositions of the so-called desecration cases until Capt. Clement refused to submit to a corrupt process [of being] charged with crimes he did not commit,” he said.

Capt. Clement’s defense counsel obtained a sworn statement from Lt. Gen. Thomas D. Waldhauser, who had been overseeing all urination cases as the convening authority. He told of a one-on-one meeting in 2012 with Gen. Amos in which the commandant said he wanted Marine defendants “crushed” via courts-martial.

Gen. Waldhauser went on to become Defense Secretary’s Chuck Hagel’s senior military adviser.

Citing that conversation, Capt. Clement’s attorneys accused the commandant of blatant unlawful command influence that denied their client a fair court-martial. They filed a motion to dismiss the charges, thus setting up a series of public pre-trial hearings on Gen. Amos‘ conduct to begin with Wednesday’s scheduled session.

Capt. Clement had been charged with dereliction of duty for not properly supervising Marines who urinated on Taliban corpses. A video of the act went viral on YouTube, drawing harsh criticism from the White House. He denies any misconduct.

Maj. James Weirick, a staff attorney at Quantico who was to testify on Wednesday, filed a complaint with the Pentagon inspector general over Gen. Amos‘ actions. An investigation is underway.

Gen. Amos, through an aide, later told Gen. Waldhauser he regretted his orders and decided to replace him.

A Marine spokesman said earlier this summer: “The commandant immediately realized that he had compromised the situation and took immediate action to ensure that the investigation and cases were given to an appropriate new convening authority who could exercise independent and unfettered discretion to take action in those cases.”

The Washington Times was not able to get an immediate comment from the Corps.

Gen. Glueck’s order did not explain why he was dropping the charges.

He ordered that Capt. Clement undergo an administrative board of inquiry, which will determine if he committed misconduct. The board can decide if he should be retained or separated under less than honorable conditions.

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