by Nathaniel R. Helms |
Wednesday, September 17, 2008, 5:33 PM EASTERN |
CBS television network battled it out with the Marine Corps
Wednesday morning at the US Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces in
Washington, D.C. The fight is over outtakes from a 60 Minutes
interview with a Marine sergeant accused of killing civilians in
representing the three sides (the Marine Corps, CBS and SSgt Frank Wuterich) told the
five-judge panel why, and why not, the Marine Corps should be entitled
to video recordings the news program didn’t use.
interview was conducted by correspondent Scott Pelley for the 60
Minutes investigation, "The Killings in Haditha". It was
originally broadcast on March 18, 2007 and has been rebroadcast twice
judges heard several mutually exclusive arguments.
Marines said a lower court that refused them the video erred and its
decision should be reversed.
for CBS argued the Marine Corps has no right to its property. The
Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals in June denied a CBS
motion to quash the subpoena demanding the video.
Instead, it ordered the military judge presiding over Wuterich’s
court-martial to review the outtakes in his chambers to determine if
they contain anything incriminating before absolutely refusing to give
the Marine Corps what it wants.
Kathleen Kadlec, a JAG lawyer representing Wuterich, asked the court
to review the lower court order for the trial judge to review the
tapes. Defense attorneys simply don’t want the video to be included in
the government’s body of evidence.
Wuterich has been in legal limbo since he was charged with murder and
other war crimes on December 21, 2006. Seven co-defendants have
either been exonerated in pre-trial maneuvering or by acquittal.
government is appealing the dismissal of charges against LtCol Jeffrey
Chessani, Wuterich’s battalion commander at Haditha. Early this
summer, the military judge presiding over the career Marines’ case
dismissed the charges against him after determining Chessani was a
victim of unlawful command influence.
Decicco, the Clerk of the US Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces,
said he “can’t even hazard a guess on a time frame” when the judges
will rule on the arguments.
judges will give it a high priority,” Decicco said.
Nathaniel R. Helms
Defend Our Marines
17 September 2008
Note: Nat Helms is a Contributing Editor to Defend Our
Marines. He is a Vietnam veteran, former police officer, war
correspondent, and, most recently, author of
My Men Are My Heroes: The Brad Kasal Story (Meredith Books, 2007).