Monday, November 9, 2009

LTC Jeffrey Chessani

On December 2, 2009, LtCol Jeffrey Chessani will face a Military Board of Inquiry to determine whether he is guilty of misconduct because of the alleged actions of his four Marines in the so-called “Haditha Massacre” – a massacre the government now knows never happened.
He refused to throw his four Marines under the bus to save his career. So the government is doing everything it can to punish him.
He urgently needs your help.
He served three tours of duty in Iraq, including the Second Battle of Fallujah. He also served in Panama and in the First Persian Gulf War. He honorably served his country as a Marine officer for over 20 years.
His superiors considered him a superb leader who demonstrated moral courage with unlimited potential and value to the Marine Corps.
Because a military court dismissed the original criminal case against LtCol Chessani, the government ordered the Board of Inquiry to administratively decide his fate. This is the government’s clever second-chance to “finish him off” without having to follow normal court rules.
Here are the facts.
The four Marines were members of the battalion commanded by LtCol Chessani ─ 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines (“The Thundering Third”) ─ one of the most decorated units in the Marine Corps.
On the morning of November 19, 2005, a Marine convoy was rolling through Haditha, Iraq — an insurgent stronghold. Suddenly, a roadside bomb went off under a Humvee, killing one Marine and seriously injuring two others.
Marines immediately received fire from the ambushing insurgents who were shooting from nearby civilian-occupied homes.
Following orders from the officer at the scene, and at great risk to themselves, the four Marines stormed the houses from which the insurgents were firing. In the ensuing room-by-room, house-by-house gun battles, the Marines killed at least nine insurgents.
Tragically, 15 civilians were also killed in the crossfire. In urban combat where insurgents purposely use civilians as human shields, civilian casualties are an unfortunate, but not uncommon occurrence.
LtCol Chessani immediately reported the deaths of the 15 civilian Iraqis to his superiors.The Pentagon had his battlefront report within 24 hours.
Not one of Jeffrey Chessani’s superiors – including top generals – learning of the 15 civilian deaths considered it unusual. Not one of them suggested an investigation. In fact, his superiors commended him for a job well done.
But a few months later, the government reacted to an inflammatory Time Magazine news lead. The article, instigated by an insurgent propaganda operative, accused Marines of massacring innocent civilians.
At least 65 fulltime investigators, the largest investigation in the history of the NCIS (Naval Criminal Investigative Services) were assigned to conduct a year-long, multi-million dollar investigation focused on LtCol Chessani and his Marines.
Pennsylvania Congressman John Murtha, the leading anti-war politician, couldn’t resist the political opportunity. He appeared on major television networks and proclaimed there had been no ambush or firefight. He publicly accused the young enlisted Marines of “cold blooded” murder and Marine officers of a “cover-up.” Of course, he blamed it on the stress of being in Iraq too long.
Incredibly, this was even before the investigation was completed.
LtCol Chessani was first criminally charged with failing to accurately report and investigate the actions of his four Marines. Essentially, the government said he did not file the proper paperwork. It needed a scapegoat.
The Thomas More Law Center agreed to represent LtCol Chessani without charge.
The Thomas More Law Center is a national, not-for profit, public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan. It is the Christian response to the ACLU. We support a strong national defense and an independent and sovereign United States of America. We are recognized by the IRS as a 501(c) 3 organization.
Granted, no organization can match the prosecutorial resources of the federal government.
But with donations from patriotic Americans to sustain our effort, we were able to defeat the massive federally-funded prosecution at every stage of the criminal process.
The Board of Inquiry is the government’s last chance to punish LtCol Chessani.LtCol Paul Ware, USMC, a military judge who heard testimony in one of the cases involving the November 19th Haditha incident, had this to say about the government’s case:
"To believe the government version of facts is to disregard clear and convincing evidence to the contrary and sets a dangerous precedent that, in my opinion, may encourage others to bear false witness against Marines as a tactic to erode public support of the Marine Corps and mission in Iraq. Even more dangerous is the potential that a Marine may hesitate at the critical moment when facing the enemy..."
A Board of Inquiry is an administrative hearing where the normal rules of evidence are thrown out the window. The Board can consider material without the benefit of a cross examination; they can consider the tainted record of the Article 32 Hearing; LtCol Chessani cannot subpoena witnesses; and the government need only prove misconduct by a preponderance of the evidence (50.1%) rather than beyond a reasonable doubt.
The Board could force LtCol Chessani to retire and demote him in rank. Aside from the obvious disgrace to one of our most effective combat commanders, this would cost him and his family huge losses in retirement pay and benefits.
A Board of Inquiry finding of misconduct will not only be a tragedy for LtCol Chessani and his family, but for all our troops the government places in harm’s way.
Every patriotic American should be concerned with the outcome of this case because it could drastically curtail the future ability of American soldiers to defend our Nation.
Your generous financial support can help end this personal tragedy and injustice to Jeffrey Chessani and his family... and insure the future of America’s fighting spirit.
Remember, your contributions are tax deductible.
I am aware that these are hard economic times for many, but please consider the sacrifices that LtCol Chessani and his wife and children have made for each of us and our families, so that we may have peace at home. This is one of those times that you can show your gratitude. So please be as generous as you can.

But, if you can’t afford to make a contribution, please take a moment to pray for LtCol Chessani and his family.
Note the absurdity of it all... LtCol Chessani is charged with failing to accurately report and investigate a crime that the military now knows never happened.
Insurgents eliminated one of America’s most effective combat officers with a false accusation.
Our representation of LtCol Chessani is without charge. But we need your financial support to carry on this fight.
The Board of Inquiry will take place at Camp Pendleton, California. It will last several weeks.
Without our help, LtCol Chessani’s legal bills defending against the criminal charges and now the charges in the Board of Inquiry would already be astronomical — out of reach for a husband and father of six young children (the seventh on the way).
LtCol Chessani was in Iraq because his country needed him there. That's why he deserves the support of every patriotic American. Now is the time to show him our gratitude.
As tragic as these civilian deaths in Haditha were, it’s essential that we not shackle our combat commanders’ ability to make decisions by placing them in fear of criminal prosecution every time there are civilian casualties as a result of combat action.
LtCol Chessani has devoted his life to the defense of OUR country... NOW he needs OUR help.
Show him your gratitude for his service by sending the largest tax-deductible gift you can.

May God bless you, and may God continue to bless America.
Richard Thompson President and Chief CounselThomas More Law Center To forward to family and friends click here.To Visit our website ( click here.
If you prefer to mail your donation to the Thomas More Law Center, please mail to:
Thomas More Law Center24 Frank Lloyd Wright DrivePO Box 364Ann Arbor, MI 48106

No comments:

Post a Comment