Thursday, May 15, 2014

A House Republican says he is offended by the written response he received from Gen. James Amos, Marine Corps commandant, over punishment meted out to a whistleblower.

“The commandant’s responses, via your approval, did nothing but disappoint, disrespect and offend me,” Rep. Walter Jones of North Carolina, a member of the House Committee on Armed Services, said in a May 13 letter to Navy Secretary Ray Mabus.

Mr. Jones has come to the defense of Maj. James Weirick, a judge advocate at the Marine base in Quantico, Va.

Maj. Weirick has filed complaints with the Pentagon inspector general against Gen. Amos. He accused the four-star officer of unlawful command influence in trying to dictate the punishment of nine Marines accused in the 2012 Taliban urination video posted on YouTube.

Gen. Amos fired Lt. Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, who was overseeing the cases, after he refused the commandant’s edict to “crush” the men and kick them out of the Corps, Gen. Waldhauser has said. Months later, Gen. Amos denied in an NPR interview that he used the word “crushed.”

After Maj. Weirick sent a sharply worded email to one potential witness, the Corps stripped him of his legal duties, ordered him to turn in his licensed fire arms, and had him undergo a mental health evaluation, which he passed. Gen. Amos’ civilian legal adviser defended the action by comparing Maj. Weirick to the Washington Navy Yard shooter.

At a hearing this year, Mr. Jones confronted Gen. Amos as he sat at the witness table. The general chose to answer the congressman’s allegations in writing.

He wrote Mr. Jones on May 1 that he does not remember who told him about Maj. Weirick’s Sept. 21 email that triggered his removal as a legal officer.

“Maj. Weirick’s battalion commanding officer issued a lawful military protective order as a result of the email,” Gen. Amos said. “No, I do not fear Maj. Weirick.”

Mr. Jones said “your job is to stand up for your Marines.” He asked if he had reprimanded his counsel, Robert Hogue, for his “slanderous comments comparing Maj. Weirick to the Navy Yard shooter?”

“No. Mr. Hogue has not been reprimanded,” Gen. Amos answered.

Gen. Amos declined to answer whether he was accusing Gen. Waldhauser of lying when the commandant told NPR he had never used the word “crushed.”

He said the matter was under investigation by the inspector general.

According to letters sent to several congressmen, that matter is not specifically being probed. The IG said it is investigating whether Maj. Weirick was the victim of reprisal for communicating his allegations to Congress.

In his May 13 letter to Mr. Mabus, Mr. Jones said he is skeptical of Gen. Amos’ assertion that he did not remember who told him about Maj. Weirick’s email.

 “I am forced to wonder if Robert Hogue is the man the commandant is protecting,” Mr. Jones said. “This answer is weak, at a best, and I request the real answer be provided.”

The congressman also dismissed Gen. Amos’ non-answer to the “crushed” question. Mr. Jones said the commandant was willing to discuss it on NPR, so why not in an official response to a congressman?

“These non-answers speak volumes about the direction in which the Marine Corps is heading, and by which the Marine Corps is led,” Mr. Jones said.

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