- The Washington Times - Friday, August 9, 2013

Legal proceedings for Marines accused of urinating on dead insurgents in Afghanistan have been ongoing for many months. Only recently, however, has the Marine Corps disgorged documents that demonstrate criminal conduct by the commandant of the Marine Corps in attempting to unlawfully influence the outcomes of legal proceedings against these Marines. Documents obtained by attorneys in the pending courts-martial demonstrate that the commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. James Amos, removed the authority to dispose of the cases from Lt. Gen. Thomas D. Waldhauser, whom he previously had appointed, after Gen. Waldhauser refused Gen. Amos‘ demand that the accused Marines be “crushed” and discharged.

Additional evidence shows that senior lawyers on the commandant’s staff engaged in efforts to cover up the commandant’s misbehavior, hide it from defense counsel for accused Marines and publicly and falsely report the reasons Gen. Waldhauser had been removed as convening authority for the cases.

Unlawful command influence has been described as the “mortal enemy of military justice.” It is also a crime under military law. Gen. Amos‘ transparent attempt to unlawfully influence pending legal proceedings and interfere with the lawful authority of a subordinate commander calls for swift remedial action, including removal from his current position. It dishonors the service of all Marines to have the Marine Corps‘ commandant attempt to unlawfully influence military justice proceedings and use his staff lawyers to cover it up and hide the evidence.

Inasmuch as court-martial for a general officer is problematic, the secretary of defense should take immediate action to demand Gen. Amos‘ retirement at the grade of major general. Gen. Amos‘ conduct has dishonored the Marine Corps, disgraced the uniform and called into question his fitness for the position he holds. Failure to promptly and forcefully discipline Gen. Amos sends the message that what is intolerable and criminal in military justice — unlawful command influence — is excusable. That is just wrong.

LT. COL. CHARLES W. GITTINS

U.S. Marine Corps (Retired)

Winchester, Va.