USMC LT COL CHESSANI MADE "SCAPEGOAT"
IN HADITHA CASE - "POLITICAL CORRECTNESS"
DICTATES DECORATED COMBAT LEADER TAKE
BLAME FOR KILLINGS IN IRAQ TWO YEARS AGO
LANCE CPL ALSO CHARGED - IT WAS "ACT OF
WAR" - ALL OTHER ACCUSED MARINES CLEARED
MILITARYCORRUPTION.COM ASKS READERS TO
DONATE TO COL AND CPL'S LEGAL DEFENSE FUND

It's an injustice that is sure to adversely impact the morale of our U.S. Marines fighting in Iraq.

The senseless sacrifice of a fine officer and combat leader, Lt. Col. Jeffrey R. Chessani, may satisfy the "PC" wimps at the Pentagon, but it undermines and demoralizes officers and men who must make split-second decisions in combat that often spell the difference between life and death.

Chessani, 42, the former commander of 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, wasn't even at Haditha when the shootings took place. November 19, 2005 was the date when a patrol of Marines were ambushed with a roadside bomb, one Grunt killed, and his buddies shot dead some 20 Iraqi civilians, including (as they later discovered) women and children.

YOUNG CORPORAL SHOWS REMORSE AT MISTAKEN SLAYINGS

Lance Cpl. Stephen B. Tatum, the only other Marine out of eight originally charged, to be recommended for court-martial (and unfairly slandered as "cold-blooded killers" by the fatuous Congressman John P. Murtha), told investigators at his Article 32 preliminary hearing he fired his rifle into a dimly-lit room at "shadowy figures." The young Marine wept as he described his horror at the realization, moments later, that he had inadvertently shot women and children.

Both men face court-martial. Chessani was charged with dereliction of duty and violation of a lawful order to fully investigate the aftermath of the tragic shooting. He could get up to three years in prison. Tatum was hit with charges he committed involuntary manslaughter, reckless endangerment and aggravated assault.

However Tatum won't be tried on the murder count he'd originally been tagged with. The Marine prosecutors felt they didn't have a strong enough case to prosecute him, but Lt. Gen. James Mattis, the man who has overall authority to decide who goes forward to trial, and who doesn't, disagreed.

"Cpl. Tatum, because of his training and the circumstances he found himself in, did not exact revenge or commit murder, "Lt. Col. Paul Ware wrote to the general in recommending the Grunt not face court-martial. It was to no avail.

NO MATTER WHAT TRIAL RESULT, LT COL CHESSANI'S
MILITARY CAREER IS OVER

As for Chessani, even if acquitted (as he should be), his career as a Marine officer is over. The high cost of legal defense, the terrible ordeal of being unjustly punished by the Corps to which he dedicated the better part of his adult life, all this will be a crushing burden for him to carry.

We wonder why the last bastion of military honor, the United States Marines, would follow the lead of the other military branches in persecuting their own and seeking "scapegoats" to satisfy the howls of the posturing politicians who need to place our boys in the worst possible light to gain electoral advantage.

In combat, there is no margin for error. Hesitation for even a nanosecond could cost a soldier or Marine his life. Even the Marine prosecutors in this case don't contend the Grunts from 3rd Battalion deliberately "executed" or wantonly killed innocent civilians. It is very likely in all wars, such as Vietnam - where we recall a patrol member tossing a grenade into a dugout in a village only to be horrified that he'd killed not VC but a mother and her child - that such deaths can and will occur.

MilitaryCorruption.com thinks putting men like Cpl. Tatum and especially Lt. Col. Chessani on trial in such a circumstance will ultimately prove to be very damaging to the war effort in Iraq. Marine infantrymen will feel constrained to delay self-defensive fire, and some of them will undoubtedly die as a result.

We urge our readers who feel the two Marines now going to court-martial are being "scapegoated," if you want to help them with a contribution to their legal defense funds, here is how you can do that. Send your check or money order to the Lance Cpl Stephen Tatum Fund c/o Christopher M. Odell, Esq., 711 Louisiana Street, Suite 2100, Houston, Tex. 77022. To help Lt. Col Chessani, please contact the Thomas More Law Center at www.thomasmore.org. Thank you.

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