OF THE MARINES? NOT NATONSKI.
A political general who warmed a chair most of his non-combat career, has been rewarded by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Maj. Gen. Richard Natonski, who spent much of his 30 years in uniform safely behind a desk, (he was 1st Marine Division commander for a while in Iraq) has been nominated for promotion to lieutenant general in the wake of his "scapegoating" one of his company commanders who had no role in the so-called Haditha "massacre."
Capt. James Kimber saw his military career destroyed by the armchair general, when Natonski relieved the 33 year-old combat vet of his command. So much for "due process of law." Natonski decided to chop heads to help his boss at the Pentagon. He needed to make it look like the Marine Corps "leadership" was "cracking down" on alleged civilian casualties in Iraq. So Kimber got caught up in the "political correctness" hysteria, even though he and his men were miles away from the scene when the Haditha killings allegedly took place.
It used to be Gen. Peter Pace, Rumsfeld's obedient "yes-man" and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was the most reviled Marine in e-mails sent to us from members of the Corps around the world. Now, Pace can move over and make room for Natonski. Unlike Pace, the soon to be three-star general has no Purple Heart medal or Silver Star, but he does have a lot of other pretty, multi-colored ribbons on his chest to show he has been a good staff officer all these years.
For example, Natonski wears the Distinguished Service Medal, Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Defense Meritorious Service Medal with one oak leaf cluster; Meritorious Service Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal . . . well, you get the picture.
We are told the newly-nominated three-star general is slated to get another Stateside desk job - deputy commandant for Plans, Policies and Operations. While other Marines get their boots bloody fighting for their lives in the Middle East, you can be sure Natonski will be waited on and made comfortable, befitting his increased rank.
That is little solace for Capt. Kimber, whose outstanding war record in Iraq - his company found 350 weapons caches, neutralized 40-plus improvised explosive devices, and captured more than 100 insurgents (not counting the enemy killed in combat) - deserves the thanks of a grateful nation instead of the craven actions of an ambitious politician in uniform.
BRASS HATS BACK DOWN AT PENDLETON, NO MORE SHACKLES
Over at Camp Pendleton, a firestorm of bad publicity has rocked the Marine Corps. It seems the spectacle of decorated combat troops being treated like terrorists themselves - confined in stuffy eight by nine foot cells, shackled by the feet when let out for their one hour of exercise per day, interrogated eight hours at a stretch with no bathroom breaks, dining on bread and water, didn't go over very well with the public. They vote, especially when angered, and an election is coming in November. While Rumsfeld remains the 800-pound gorilla Bush doesn't dare remove, something had to be done.
The seven Marines and a Navy corpsman, who have yet to be officially charged or receive any semblance of military "justice" at Pendleton has developed into a very embarrassing situation. The arrogant and obnoxious SecDef Donald Rumsfeld would have preferred such brutal treatment of American fighting men didn't get so much media attention, but it has.
Retired Brig Gen. David Brahms, a Carlsbad, Calif. attorney representing one of the prisoners - a 21 year-old lance corporal - said in disgust: "These men have been treated worse than Saddam Hussein. He's got a better confinement situation than they."
Well, that did it. Now the official line ("damage control") is the eight "suspects" in the Haditha incident will get better treatment, effective immediately. Gone are the shackles, although the prisoners are of course escorted wherever they go when let out of their tiny cells. No more bread and water, and the brig commander has been ordered to forgo use of restraints, such as handcuffs attached to a leather belt, while the men are within the confines of the military lockup. The "Hannibal Lector" treatment is now a thing of the past.
There have been no Article 32 preliminary hearings yet. And if any of the cases are dropped due to lack of evidence or over-zealous prosecution, it won't help the Marine Corps image or recruiting efforts one damn bit.
IS MURTHA A SENILE OLD FOOL, A CALCULATING POLITICIAN, OR BOTH?
Few congressmen have garnered themselves so much publicity in such a brief time. Once a "hawk" and "conservative" Democrat from Pennsylvania, John Murtha, has reinvented himself as the leading "dove" in the U.S. Congress. He never fails to remind one and all he was a Marine colonel and served in Vietnam. He's not saying much these days about the circumstances of his two Purple Heart "wounds," neither of which apparently required hospitalization. But at least he went overseas, which is more than the present occupant of the White House ever did.
We at MilitaryCorruption.com also oppose the war, but for different reasons We supported the Afghanistan invasion because the Taliban were our proven enemy. And we needed to capture Osama Bin Laden, something that might still happen.
But going into Iraq was questionable from the start. It doesn't help Republican chances in the upcoming elections that Vice-President Cheney was top dog at Halliburton, which has won repeated "no-bid" contracts reaping multi-millions of dollars There's something slimy and unsettling about any politician, much less the vice-president of the United States, "profiting" from a war he helped begin.
The Democrats are not without blame. In fact, they have been shameless in trying to exploit our battlefield deaths and many setbacks in Iraq. Anything for a vote. Where are their solutions and answers to the Iraq problem? All they can say is "We're not Republicans. Vote for us." Right now, many, like Hillary Clinton, are scampering to cover their tracks, having voted for the war in the first place. You can throw your back out of whack, trying to twist and turn that much! Maybe the New York senator will need a good chiropractor soon.
As for Murtha, he stepped over the line when he loudly proclaimed that U.S. Marines had killed Iraqi civilians at Haditha "in cold blood." How does he know? Was he there? Where is his proof? That he was told that it had happened by Marine Corps brass before any investigation had been completed or charges brought and spouted off for headlines was the height of irresponsibility.
"Command influence" extends to members of Congress who sit on key committees and vote for military appropriations. If the calculating politician Murtha "says" the Marines are "guilty," lets rush to judgment and punish them all, even if they are innocent.
Sometimes Murtha appears to be a senile old fool, caught up and almost befuddled in his new-found celebrity. He seems uncomfortable with his new bedfellows on the political left. But we think he knows what he's doing. If Murtha's right about the "war crimes" at Haditha, then he cruises to a lop-sided victory in his marginal congressional district back home. But if he turns out to have prejudged United States Marines in combat in the defense of our country, the "colonel" will be dead meat politically and can forget about any ambitions he has to climb up the leadership ladder in the House. If he's wrong, political oblivion deservedly awaits him. Time will tell.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: We have been receiving complaints that, once again, efforts are being made to deny Marines here and abroad access to MilitaryCorruption.com on government computers. We ask Marine Commandant, Gen. Mike Hagee to make sure this stops at once. Otherwise, we will be forced to take legal action to protect our First Amendment rights.)
FEW GOOD MEN" - THE GRUNTS OF INDIA