The Thomas More Law Center has issued an extremely troubling release suggesting former SecDef Rumsfeld was involved in politically influencing the Haditha investigation:
Revelations by top Marine Generals, that former Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, set up a shadow "body" composed of high-ranking administration officials to oversee the Haditha investigations, could prove to be the most damning evidence of the political motivations and influence over the ongoing prosecutions of Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Chessani, USMC, and other combat Marines involved.
Lawyers with the Thomas More Law Center, a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, which represents Marine LtCol Jeffrey Chessani, uncovered the existence of the extraordinarily unusual oversight body.
"The hysteria and media firestorm over Abu Gharib and the Pat Tillman investigations lead to fear of a similar media reaction to the Haditha incident, causing the military's civilian bosses to set up this shadow oversight body. This extraordinary action politicized the military justice system and was a clear signal to top generals that they were expected to hold individuals criminally responsible. The investigation turned into a quest for a prosecution-not justice," commented Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Law Center.
This extra-judicial influence would be unconscionable, if these charges are true. They deserve immediate investigation at the highest levels of the executive and legislative branches.
The release cites the following evidence:
- An admission by the Director of the Naval Criminal Investigation Service ("NCIS") that over 65 investigators were assigned to the case, which in his opinion was the largest investigative effort in Department's history.
- Formation of "Legal Team Charlie" composed of military lawyers reassigned from other units and reserve officers activated for the purpose of prosecuting this case-all highly unusual.
- The Secretary of Navy countermanded a determination by General James Mattis, USMC, that Colonel Stephen Davis, USMC, LtCol Chessani's regimental commander, would receive a Non-Punitive Letter of Caution, which would not be part of his permanent record. Gen Mattis' decision was overridden by the Navy Secretary, who ordered a Letter of Censure, a more severe punishment, which effectively ended this fine Marine officer's career. As the consolidated convening authority in all the Haditha investigations, General Mattis' decision, under normal circumstances, would be absolute and final.