U.S. Marine Joseph Chamblin was convicted by a military court for an incident in which several Marines posted a video of themselves urinating on the corpses of dead enemy combatants.
Putting aside any discussion about Chamblin’s actions, which are already well known and not in dispute, the Marine Corps’ handling of the case stands out in the annals of military justice as a great case study in how not to handle any important case.
Then Marine Corps Commandant General Jim Amos had the power to appoint the convening authority for the case. The convening authority is a senior officer who decides how the accused will be charged. At that time, the convening authority was then Lieutenant General Thomas Waldhauser.
Waldhauser, now the four-star commander of U.S. Africa Command…alleged that Amos asked him whether he would give all the snipers general courts-martial, the highest form of criminal trial. When Waldhauser responded he would not, Amos allegedly told him he could make someone else the convening authority for the cases.
Two days later, Amos did just that, appointing then-Lt. Gen. Richard Mills to take over. He told Waldhauser he had “crossed the line” in their previous conversation and was removing Waldhauser to fix that problem. via military.com…
The Commandant doubled down on his internal interference by then incorporating information about the incident into a sort of road show presentation regarding public perceptions of the Marines.
The Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals took the uncommon step last week of overturning Chamblin’s conviction, stating:
“The highest-ranking officer in the Marine Corps told [Waldhauser] that the appellant and his co-accused should be ‘crushed,’ ” the court wrote. “This is an unusually flagrant example of UCI. We find that UCI this direct, and occurring at this level, is highly corrosive to public trust in this proceeding.” via military.com…
image courtesy of military.com