23 April 2007
In 1971, Capt. Gary Myers was an Army JAG, assigned to Capt. Ernest Medina’s defense.
There was worldwide interest in the court martial of Lt. Calley’s commander. Myers’ colleague on the defense team, civilian attorney F. Lee Bailey, reveled in the attention and gave the press conferences. Meanwhile, Capt. Myers had no comment for reporters and went about the patient work of winning the case.
Today, Myers represents a Haditha Marine, LCpl. Justin Sharratt. Reporters from the New York Times and Washington Post are practically camped at Myer’s door. But, even as a civilian, Myers is an old-school Army lawyer, and has no comment for the press.
Meanwhile, this past week, we were flooded with leaks in the Haditha case.
On Saturday, a headline screamed out from the front page of the Washington Post: Report on Haditha Condemns Marines. The story purported to summarize the classified Bargewell Report on Haditha (somehow “obtained” by the Post’s, Josh White).
When asked about the leak, Lt. Col. Sean Gibson (spokesman at Marine Corps Central Command in Florida) said the report “is part of an ongoing investigation, and as such is neither releasable nor would it be appropriate for me to comment on it.”
Lt. Col. Gibson’s statement was an honorable one. But the leak of classified material lapped up by the Post was yet another victory for the bastards, who continue their winning streak. Let’s tally up their victories over the past six months.
1. November, 2006: The NCIS investigative report on the Haditha incident was leaked to Vanity Fair
2. November 21, 2006: Unnamed “Pentagon sources” unleashed hell on unsuspected families of servicemen by telling NPR’s Morning Edition that five Marines were expected to face charges for murder. Not only that. The names, ages, and hometowns of the five Marines were given out. The names were picked up by other media outlets across the country and around the world.
Included on the list was Cpl. Hector Salinas (“age 22, of Houston, Texas”). Salinas was never charged.
3. December 5, 2006: A “Marine official and a lawyer involved in the case” told that the New York Times that at least five Marines are expected to the be charged in Haditha deaths. The names and hometowns of the five were given again (for the benefit of anyone who missed the NPR broadcast), including Cpl. Salinas. No correction, apology, or explanation was ever made.
(Charges were finally filed against eight Marines on December 21st)
4 and 5. January 6, 2007: A red letter day for bastardy. A “senior defense official” told the Associated Press that his previous leaks were correct: evidence didn’t back the Marines
But this was small potatoes compared to the bombshell in the Washington Post. That paper “obtained” the entire 10,000-page NCIS report with hundreds of pictures). The Post’s article, by Josh White, was selective with the facts to paint a picture of guilt.
Then the bastards slept until…
6. April 20, 2007: A leaker identified as “someone involved in the case who declined to be identified because the documents are not public” told the Associated Press that seven Marines had been granted immunity . Marine spokesman Lt. Col. Sean Gibson declined to comment. He said, “As this is an ongoing investigation, the government will not confirm the identity of potential witnesses or discuss the conditions under which they may appear.”
7. April 22, 2007: The Washington Post “obtained” the confidential report by Army Maj. Gen. Eldon Bargewell about Haditha. With grotesque inaccuracy, the Post claimed the report condemned Marines.
And that’s where we stand. At least seven leaks in the past six months in a case whose integrity has been questionable from the start.
The lull in the leaks between January 6th and April 20th may have been because Lt. Gen. James Mattis ordered an investigation. On the other hand, Capt. Jay Delarosa (a Marine spokesman) has had no comment on the investigation since it was announced so it’s unclear where it stands.
I have contacted General Mattis’ office and the USMC Inspector General. I have made a case for the investigation to be public. I believe it is essential for the leakers, and their motives, to be exposed. There has continued to be no comment.
When honorable men see bastards at work, sometimes “no comment” isn’t enough. The Corps owes protection to Marines whose good names have been dragged through the mud, whose families have been subjected to the worst kinds of torment and harassment from the media.
As in the Medina case decades ago, men of honor such as Gary Myers are fighting the real fight, and fighting to win in court under the rule of law. JAGs are working honorably as well. The truth should prevail.
But anyone who cares about a fair fight should be as concerned as I am that the bastards are back.