The 27 lawyers charge that Gen. James Amos, the Corps commandant and member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, violated the rule against “unlawful command influence” by a behind-the-scenes effort to dictate the verdicts against eight Marines.
“Our country is entitled to trust her Marines completely, and that trust starts first and foremost with the commandant himself,” they said in a letter to the chairmen of the House and Senate Armed Services committees. “Congress should not sit idly by when there are indications that the commandant of the Marine Corps may have engaged in or permitted unlawful command influence in the Courts-Martial process.”
Gen. Amos‘ spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.
The former judge advocates say that Gen. Amos provided misleading sworn statements to the court when asked about his actions and withheld documents from defense attorneys.
They also cite the actions of superiors against Maj. James Weirick, a staff judge advocate at the Combat Development Command in Quantico, Va.
After watching what he considered inappropriate actions by the commandant and his legal staff, Maj. Weirick filed a complaint with the Defense Department inspector general.
Earlier this month, superiors stripped Maj. Weirick of his legal duties, asked for his personal licensed weapons and advised him to seek a mental health evaluation — actions his attorney calls blatant retaliation. Maj. Weirick has received superior fitness reports and was selected for promotion to lieutenant colonel.
Gen. Amos‘ legal adviser, Robert Hogue, told the Marine Corps Times that Maj. Weirick’s assertive email to a potential witness in the inspector general’s investigation made headquarters worry about another Washington Navy Yard massacre.
The former judge advocates say Mr. Hogue’s comment was a continuation of harassment against a whistleblower.
“Such tactics appear to be designed to discredit Major Weirick in an attempt to insulate the commandant and his lawyers from the forthcoming report and conclusions of the Inspector General of the Department of Defense concerning these disturbing events,” they said.
Court documents were attached to their letter. One showed that Gen. Amos met one-on-one with Lt. Gen. Thomas D. Waldhauser on Feb. 10, 2012. At the time, Gen. Waldhauser served as a “convening authority” overseeing the cases of Marines linked to a 2011 video of troops urinating on Taliban corpses.
Gen. Amos ordered Gen. Waldhauser to court-marital all defendants, whom he wanted “crushed.” Gen. Waldhauser said in a sworn statement that he could not follow that order.
Gen. Amos replaced him, but did not tell defense attorneys why.
“We urge you to exercise your oversight responsibilities and fully explore these events so that due process, fundamental fairness, and most of all, integrity, remain most revered within the military justice system and in the tradition of the United States Marine Corps,” the retired lawyers said to Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon, California Republican, and Sen. Carl M. Levin, Michigan Democrat.