The Pentagon’s Inspector General has cleared the Marine Corps’ top general of allegations involving unlawful command influence regarding the Marines urinating on the Taliban video case. That’s according to the office of Congressman Walter Jones (R-NC) who was among a group that pushed for the investigation into Commandant Gen. Jim Amos.
Claims of unlawful command influence against Amos were made by one of the chief military prosecutors assigned to the case:
Deputy Judge Advocate Maj. James Weirick. Weirick filed a complaint after he said Amos and his legal staff refused to provide appropriate discovery materials to him and to the defense in the case. The military dropped felony courts martial proceedings against two Marine defendants in the urination video last summer after the original prosecuting authority assigned to the case, Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, told the defense that Amos had improperly ordered the defendants “crushed” and court martialed at the outset, though Waldhauser had told Amos that the alleged infractions warranted lesser administration proceedings.
UPDATE: John Dowd, the attorney for one of the Marines shown in the video, James Clement, responded to today’s news by calling the Inspector General incompetent or corrupt. In a statement, Dowd said, “Clement filed a complaint via me that he was a victim of [Unlawful Command Influence UCI]. I received an acknowledgement in July 2013 that [the Inspector General was] investigating the complaint. Thereafter, they never contacted me or James or any of the witnesses, except Waldhauser. We gave the IG our entire file.
To conclude, that the claim of UCI by Captain Clement, which was supported by sworn declarations from [Waldhauser, Weirick, Clement and others] internal memos executed by [Amos] and emails from [Amos] and his staff directing the dispositions in the [Taliban urination video] cases which prompted the dismissal of-the Special Court martial charges against Captain Clement is unsubstantiated makes a mockery of our system of accountability and reflects either the gross the incompetence or corruption of DOD IG.”
In an exclusive interview with me for BlueForceTracker.com, Weirick described a series of actions by Amos and his staff that he alleged improperly interfered with the case and deprived the defendants of their right to a fair trial.
Gen. Amos has not responded to the allegations except to say, in an interview with NPR last February, that he “questioned some early decisions” by Waldhauser and then realized
“that probably wasn’t the right thing to do as it related to undue—what we call undue command influence, the influence that a commander, a senior commander can have on the junior commander.
“And so immediately, to correct that, I moved that case to another three-star general, and then I stayed completely out of it. And the cases have been processed through that other three-star general, and I would argue they’ve been handled justly. So, the matter of influence from my office was my concern with regards to my attitude as I was talking to my younger commander. And I didn’t – as I got back, and I thought this is probably something that I shouldn’t have done. I mean, he got the impression quickly that I was not pleased with how this conversation was going.”
“Would he, though, have gotten the impression that he was moved because he questioned?” asked the NPR host.
“I think that’s absolutely specious,” replied Gen. Amos. “I think that – and I’ve kept my mouth shut for a year and a half, and I think that’s absolutely specious. I mean, I can’t speak for him, but I can speak for myself.”
Amos’ alleged actions prompted a group of former military lawyers and officers to rally around Weirick, who claimed unfair retribution after filing the complaint against Amos. On Oct. 22, 2013, 27 of them signed a letter to U.S. lawmakers calling for a Congressional inquiry, and accusing Gen. Amos of exerting unlawful command influence and depriving the accused Marines of due process.
In a previously-issued statement, a Marine spokesman stated, “The commandant [Amos] immediately realized that he had
compromised the situation and took immediate action to ensure that the investigation and cases
were given to an appropriate new convening authority who could exercise independent and unfettered discretion to take action in those [urination video] cases.”
In a statement provided to the Marine Corps Times after news of the IG findings, Weirick said, “The inspector general has withheld the entire investigation pursuant to the Privacy Act,” it states. “Thus I, along with all members of the public, am in no position to evaluate the rigor of the investigation or determine if the inspector general applied the correct legal standard when determining there was no unlawful command influence.”
Amos is scheduled to retire shortly.