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THE TRIAL OF SSGT. WUTERICH

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SSGT WUTERICH'S CHOICE:

 

THE TRIAL WILL GO ON

 

by Nathaniel R. Helms | Friday, January 20, 2012

Camp Pendleton, Calif. -- The decision is in. Marine Corps Staff Sergeant Frank D. Wuterich is back on trial this morning to face charges of voluntary manslaughter, aggravated assault and dereliction of duty for his role in the deaths of 14 Iraqi civilians who died at Haditha, Iraq in late 2005. If convicted he could face the rest of his life in prison.

The 31-year-old father of three young girls was on the verge of submitting a request for administrative separation from the Marine Corps when he suddenly changed his mind. Compelled by the certainty of his own innocence and a deeply ingrained sense of duty he asked his defense team to end negotiations that have been going on for most of two days.  

The government’s case now rests on evidence the prosecution has gleaned from outtakes it obtained from the CBS news program “60 Minutes” in 2007 and the testimony of Naval Criminal Investigative Service special agents. The NCIS has said the Haditha investigation was the biggest inquiry in the history so perhaps there is more.

The NCIS special agents who will testify have to overcome the inherent prejudice of eight hard bitten Marines who have already heard how its overzealous agents used reprehensible tactics to badger and bully Marines who had already survived trial by fire.

When the trial unexpectedly recessed Wednesday prosecution witness Sgt. Humberto Mendoza was testifying. He was a Private First Class on November 19, 2005 when his squad was ambushed at the southern edge of the city. The prosecution’s eyewitness was so befuddled by defense attorney Haytham Faraj’s cross-examination when it slammed to a halt, he had just admitted he wasn’t sure what happened the day the entire Marine Corps was stood on its ear.

At the appropriate time Defend Our Marines will reveal what transpired Thursday afternoon to make SSgt Wuterich change his mind.

It is safe to say that SSgt Wuterich is once again displaying innate moral courage. No doubt cynics will scoff and pundits will proclaim that duty, honor and country is no longer operable in the age of every man for himself.  There must be another reason, they will no doubt say.

The fighting Marine’s brave stand proves them wrong.

The late William Safire, once the speech writer in the Nixon White House, wrote the perfect reply in the turbulent Sixties: "In the United States today, we have more than our share of nattering nabobs of negativism. They have formed their own 4-H club -- the hopeless, hysterical hypochondriacs of history."

The more things change the more they remain the same.


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Nathaniel R. Helms
Defend Our Marines
20 January 201
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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).

 

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© Nathaniel R. Helms 2012

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