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20 years


The rest of the story in the 2011 Afghan incident in
which five US Marines were charged with urinating
on the bodies of Taliban fighters to avenge comrades
killed in a recent battle. Three others sanctioned.

I'm sure most Americans remember July 22, 2011, when Marine Sgt. Robert Richards videographed four US Marines in combat fatigues, urinating on the bloody bodies of Taliban fighters. The Marines, led by Staff Sgt Joseph Chamblin, were ordered to retrieve the bodies of 12 Taliban fighters who were making IEDs that were being used to kill the Marines in the troop to which the sniper team led by Chamblin belonged. Earlier that day, before the urinating incident, one of those killed by an IED blast was a friend of Chamblin's, Sgt. Mark Bradley. The Taliban fighters, caught planting the explosive devises by Chamblin's sniper team, were killed. When they retrieved the bodies, four of the Marines urinated on the bodies of the Taliban fighters. The counterinsurgency operation took place in the Musa Qala district of Helmand Province in the southern part of Afghanistan.

On terminal leave from the Marine Corps in July, 2013, Chamblin told a local North Carolina TV news journalist that urinating on the dead bodies was not planned. It just happened. After being demoted (one stripe) and fined $500 for his actions, Chamblin was asked if he had it to do over, would he do it again? His answer? "Yup." Chamblin, a 15-year, career Marine, is retiring from the USMC this month (Sept., 2013).

Pleading guilty to multiple charges in January, 2013 was Staff Sgt. Edward Deptola. Like Chamblin, Deptola was reduce in rank one grade and fined $500.00.

After reaching an agreement with the Marine Corps that will secure his retirement benefits, career Marine Sgt. Robert Richards declined the judgment of an Article 32 hearing and has asked for a general court martial in order to defend himself. Richard's court martial deals with minor offenses. He could be reduced in rank one grade and forfeit two-thirds of his pay for up to one month. But regardless of the outcome, he will be allowed to retire with full benefits.

When the video became viral on the Internet, the first reaction came from Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who issued a formal complaint to then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. Karzai said what the marines did was "...Inhumane..." and that he "...condemned the act in the strongest possible terms." Panetta told the US media that what the Marines did was "...utterly deplorable." Clinton, on the other hand, vowed to Karzai that she "...would hold the Marines accountable." And, she did. Please...remember that in 2016 when Hillary asks the American people to make her commander-in-chief of the US military. And remember how the political arm of the military, controlled by Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Leon Panetta did their best to make an example of USMC Capt. James V. Clement, Chamblin's platoon commander by denying him any semblance of a fair trial.

Not present at the urination ceremony—done deliberately to desecrate the bodies on the belief that other Taliban fighters would believe their comrades could not get to heaven—but also charged in February, 2013 was Clement, with conduct unbecoming an officer and gentleman for failing to properly supervise his men (although he was not there when the incident occurred, nor did he had knowledge of the incident until after it happened). He was also charged with failing to properly supervise junior Marines, and in making false statements to investigators. (Clement also served as the executive officer of the Marine 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines in Afghanistan.)

It was at the time of the Richards decision that did not sit well with the Marine Corps commandant, Lt. Gen. Jim Amos, that allegations in an Inspector General complaint were filed against Amos for unlawful command influence in the urination cases. Amos removed a three-star general initially assigned to oversee the prosecution of the eight Marines ultimately charged in the affair. :Amos ordered Lt. Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, the convening authority, to have the charged Marines thrown out of the Corps for their infraction. Amos, who was receiving his "marching orders" from Panetta, who in turn received his from Obama, who appears to have been listening to Clinton's demand to severely punish the Marines in order to make points with Karzai, told Waldhauser he wanted each of the Marines crushed. When Waldhauser refused, Amos stripped the general of his authority to prosecute the case. Waldhauser signed a declaration which he gave to Clement's attorney, John Dowd.

Dowd asked the judge to accept Waldhauser's affidavit, and allow the defense to call the general as a witness for Clement In addition, Dowd told the court he wanted to see the email traffic between Amos, the convening authority, the JAG Corps, and any of the lawyers assigned to prosecute any of the defendants. "The email traffic," Dowd said in his brief, "would have revealed that Gen. Amos 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 a crime' he did not commit." Citing the affidavit, Dowd accused Amos of blatant, unlawful command influence that denied his client of a fair court-martial.

Maj. James Weirick, a staff attorney at Quantico filed the initial report against Gen. Amos with the Pentagon Inspector General. A Marine spokesman, defending Gen. Amos' actions said: "...[t]he commandant realized he had compromised the situation and took immediate action to ensure that the investigation and the cases were given to an appropriate new convening authority who would execute independent and unfettered discretion to take action in those cases.". When you apply simple logic to this equation. Gen. Amos' instructions from his civilian political leaders was to crush the Marines who desecrated the bodies of the Taliban fighters and make examples out of the the Marines that every member of the military would learn from. Hillary Clinton demanded that these men be made examples of, and that became the order of the day from the Pentagon and from the Oval Office (since everyone in the federal bureaucracy knows that no one in Obamaland does anything not previously approved and sanctioned by the Community Organizer).

The prosecution argued hard to keep Gen. Waldhauser's statement from coming in—and they fought hard to prevent the civilian attorney, Dowd, from being able to call Gen. Amos to the stand. (Reminds me of Tom Cruise's character, Lt. jg Daniel Kaffee in A Few Good Men, going after the Jack Nicholson character, Col. Nathan R. Jessup.) In the end, maybe because Amos remembered what happened to the imaginary Col. Jessup in A Few Good Men, on Friday, Sept. 6, the Marine Corps dropped the charges against Capt. Clement after Dowd accused Gen. Amos of engineering the largest case of unlawful command influence in the history of the Marine Corps.

"The withdrawal of the charges," Dowd told the media on Saturday, Sept. 7, "was another act of cowardice by the commandant, his counsel and the Judge Advocate Division of the 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 hearing before the Chief Judge...on several motions o compel discovery."

The Corps dropped the charges against Clement when his law team won a judge's order to admit Waldhauser's statement, and to hear his testimony in a pretrial hearing. The case ended when the new convening authority in the urination cases, Lt. Gen. Kenneth J. Glueck, withdrew all charges against Clement. The order, however, still requires Clement to undergo an administrative board of inquiry which will decide whether or not Clement committed misconduct. The board will decide whether Clement remains in the Marine Corps, or is separated from the military under less than honorable grounds. If he is represented in that hearing by his civilian lawyer, John Dowd, the odds are pretty good he will remain in the Marine Corps—but likely with "stunted career opportunities." The military likes their mistakes to simply go away—particularly when the civilians who run the government are the only guilty malefactors.

Interestingly, Lt. Gen. Waldhauser was tapped by incoming Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel as his senior military adviser.

In the final analysis there were five Marines complicit in a prank that anyone who just saw of their comrades blown to pieces by Taliban fighters just like—and perhaps were—the same the twelve bloody corpses laying before them. Their commanders would, and should, have understood the emotion that made them do what they did. What they did was understandable. I'm sure without an iPhone around, that same thing played out all over Afghanistan and in Iraq. What made their tasteless prank "criminal" was a socialist Secretary of State and an Islamofascist at the helm of the ship-of-state. Because of the Karzai demand that the marines be punished, and a fanatic Secretary of States demanding that heads roll (symbolically although Taliban fighters who catch wounded Marines are wont to cut off their heads—literally). Demoting the marines involved by one stripe seems appropriate based on the Karzai reaction to the incident, because anyone dumb enough to videotape themselves doing it deserved that reprimand. But to each of the Marines involved in the urination salute to the Taliban, I salute you. Next time, just put pig entrails in their pants and leave them lay where their fellow terrorists are sure to find them. I promise you, it will have a more lasting effect on the Taliban fighters without an incriminating video tape.



Just Say No
Copyright 2009 Jon Christian Ryter.
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