ThomasMore.org (Urgent - Will you help this Marine Officer?)
Urgent - Will you help this Marine Officer?
July 18, 2008
Dear Patriotic American:
For the last two and a half years Lt. Colonel Jeffrey Chessani, USMC, has been investigated and prosecuted for his involvement in the so called “Haditha massacre” – a massacre that never happened.
Now – after devoting 20 years of his life to defend ours’ ─ he faces criminal charges as a result of a legitimate combat action taken by four of his Marines after being ambushed by insurgents in Haditha, Iraq, on November 19, 2005.
If convicted, he faces 2½ years imprisonment, dismissal from the Corps, and loss of all of his retirement pay.
You may have heard that last month a military judge dismissed all the charges against LtCol Chessani.
But the government appealed the judge’s dismissal. It has until July 28th to file its brief. We have 20 days to file a response brief. It’s clear the government will likely re-file charges if it loses.
Jeffrey Chessani is their political scapegoat and they’re embarrassed about the loss. It’s hard to believe the lengths to which the politicians in the Pentagon will go to convict an innocent Marine officer. As you read on you’ll know why.
After all he has done for his Nation ─ for you and me ─ will you chip in $25 to help this Marine? If you can give more, please do.
He has been defending our Nation for twenty years…often away from his wife and children… so that we could be safely with ours.
LtCol Chessani served three combat tours in Iraq. He served in the First Persian Gulf War, and in Panama. He is a committed Christian, husband, and father of 6 young children, ages 10 and under.
I am certain that when you hear the facts, you will be as outraged as I am about what our government is doing to this courageous and loyal Marine. So please, read on…
On November 19, 2005, at approximately 7:15 a.m., a Marine convoy was rolling through Haditha, Iraq — a terrorist stronghold. Suddenly, a roadside bomb went off destroying a Marine Humvee, killing one Marine and seriously injuring two others. The Marines immediately received fire from the ambushing insurgents, who were shooting from nearby civilian-occupied homes.
A four-man fire team responded as trained; they cleared several houses occupied by the armed insurgents, and in the ensuing room-by-room, house-by-house gun battle, it was reported that 8 enemy were killed.
Tragically 15 civilians also died ─ in urban combat, where insurgents purposefully use civilians as human shields, civilian casualties are a tragic, but not uncommon. In fact, sometimes the insurgents themselves kill civilians to achieve a propaganda victory by blaming the Americans.
LtCol Chessani was the battalion commander of these brave Marines ─ the 3rd Battalion (“The Thundering Third”), 1st Marines—one of the most decorated units in the history of the Marine Corps. As the Battalion Commander, LtCol Chessani was responsible that morning for approximately 2000 American and friendly Iraqi troops in an area of operations just about the size of South Carolina.
He immediately reported the deaths of the 15 civilian Iraqis to his superiors.
Not one of LtCol Chessani’s superiors hearing of the 15 civilian deaths ─ including top generals ─ considered it unusual. Not one ordered a further investigation.
However, several months later, an inflammatory Time news article accusing the Marines of massacring innocent civilians caused public hysteria. The story was planted by insurgent propaganda operatives who knew too well that the liberal anti-war media hungered for such stories.
Anti-war Congressman John Murtha, who wields tremendous power over military appropriations, jumped in and echoed Time’s story. He appeared on major television networks and publicly accused the young enlisted Marines of “cold blooded” murder and Marine officers of a “cover-up.” He blamed it all on the stress of being in Iraq too long. Incredibly, these accusations were made even before the investigation was completed.
It’s clear ─ the government has turned the prosecution of Jeffrey Chessani into a never-ending persecution.
The trumped-up charge: failing to properly report and investigate the November 19, 2005 incident.
The government is doing everything it can to convict LtCol Chessani. He is the political scapegoat they must convict to satisfy Murtha and the press.
The vast resources of the military are at its disposal. The number of military investigators is virtually limitless. Government prosecutors can go anywhere, talk to anyone, and get anything, all at government expense. The Marine command structure is mandated to cooperate.
So far, the government has spent millions of our taxpayer dollars, employed over 65 Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) agents ─ the largest investigation in that agency’s history ─ and granted immunity to scores of witnesses, all in their attempt to make Jeffrey and the “Haditha Marines” political scapegoats.
But I’m sure you know that the impact of this case reaches far beyond the personal tragedy and injustice to Jeffrey and his family.
You know it will drastically curtail the future ability of our combat men and women to defend our Nation.
Lt. Colonel Paul Ware, USMC, an Investigating Officer who heard testimony in several cases involving the charged enlisted Marines blasted the credibility of the government witnesses and expressed concern that the allegations were nothing but a tactic “to erode public support of the Marine Corps and missions in Iraq.” He went on to say:
“Even more dangerous is the potential that a Marine may hesitate at the critical moment when facing the enemy . . . .”
Retired General Thomas McInerney, former Joint Force Commander and Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force, called the prosecutions of the Haditha Marines “despicable.” He warned:
“We cannot fight a war like that . . . We’re not taking care of our people.”
Regardless of how you feel about the war, LtCol Chessani was in Iraq because his country sent him there. He defended us, now we must defend him.
Just to give you an idea what this Nation has lost by the prosecution of LtCol Chessani, and why he deserves your support, I want to give you a few excerpts from his official Combat Fitness Report.
This is a required annual evaluation of a Marine officer’s performance prepared by his superiors. It covers the period of September 2005 to February 2006 ─ which includes the date of the incident for which LtCol Chessani is facing criminal charges:
“Leads Marines from front in every operation. Demonstrates moral courage everyday. Doesn’t hesitate to report bad news fast or contest unrealistic plans/poor concepts. Despite the complexity and size of his AO [area of operations], he always maintains a calm, cool demeanor.”
“Always seeks advantage over complex, diverse insurgent enemy. Truly one of the finer thinkers in this COIN [counterinsurgency] environment.”
“One of the top 3” infantry/cavalry battalion commanders “of 13 who have served with RCT –2 [the regiment] during OIF. A superb leader, who knows his men, knows the enemy, knows his business. Doesn’t attract a lot of fanfare; just gets the job done to an exceedingly high standard.”
“Long ball hitter; recommend selection for promotion to Colonel and TLS [Top Level School].”
The Reviewing Officer, Major General Huck added his comments: “Top notch officer with outstanding potential. Promote and select for TLS [Top Level School]. Post TLS slate for Regimental command and subsequent joint tour. Unlimited potential and value to the Marine Corps. Capable of the most challenging assignments.”
One distorted magazine article has devastated the life and family of this patriotic Marine officer… and could adversely affect our military for years to come.
This case is about how our military fights and will fight in the future.
LtCol Chessani has willingly answered the call to serve his country. That’s why he deserves the support of every Patriotic American today.
Richard Thompson President and Chief Counsel, Thomas More Law Center
P.S. It is urgent you donate now. We have 20 days to file our response to the government brief. We must also prepare for the inevitable trial. The successful defense of Jeffrey Chessani is vital to the security of America and to all our military personnel we place in harm’s way. Your donation is tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law.