Marine Corps commandant accused of asserting unlawful influence
Gen. James F. Amos, 35th commandant of the Marine Corps, speaks with Col. James Bierman, commanding officer, 3rd Marine Regiment, during a visit to Marine Corps Base Hawaii on Feb. 10, 2011.
A group of 27 retired and former Marine Corps and Navy judge advocates and officers are asking Congress to investigate allegations that Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James F. Amos used his power to improperly influence legal proceedings following a scandal that arose after a group of Marines were filmed urinating on the corpses of Taliban fighters in Afghanistan in 2011.
According to the letter, which was earlier this week in the Marine Corps Times, Amos and one or more senior legal advisers denied Marines due process, made misleading statements under oath and abused the legal discovery process. The co-signers said he also tried to “besmirch and disparage the reputation and career of the one Marine lawyer who, at great risk to his military career, did the right thing and reported all of this to the Inspector General of the Department of Defense.”
The letter was addressed to the chairmen of both the House and Senate armed services committees, and includes signatures from attorneys for some of the troops Amos is alleged to have wronged.
The letter was accompanied by several supporting documents, including a sworn statement by Lt. Gen. Thomas D. Waldhauser, the convening authority originally in charge of the prosecution of a number of troops for desecration of corpses and other offenses. In the statement, Waldhauser said Amos told him that because Waldhauser did not intend to court-martial all those involved, Amos could remove him as convening authority. Several days later, Waldhauser was removed.
Amos made the change, the letter writers suggested, “to ensure his own wishes and predetermined outcomes in at least one, and perhaps other, military justice proceedings resulted.”
In written responses in an inquiry into the affair, the group said Amos “later provided what appear to be misleading written responses, sworn to and thus made under oath” and failed to provide important documents. Later the Marine Corps retaliated against a Marine lawyer, Maj. James Weirick, who filed a whistleblower complaint, the 27 co-signers said.
“In addition to being relieved from duty, Major Weirick has since been unfairly painted as mentally unstable” by a Marine Corps civilian attorney who, the group said, compared Weirich to the shooter in the Sept. 16 Navy Yard assault.
A Marine Corps spokesman said Amos was aware of the letter but had no comment.