This is Marine Lt. Col. Jeffrey Chessani. For more than 20 years, the Colonel has had your back. He's had your back three different times in Iraq including the second battle of Fallujah; once in the first Persian Gulf War and has also served in Panama.
It has been said by his superiors that Col Chessani has unlimited potential and value to the Marine Corps. That he has demonstrated moral courage and that he is a superb leader.
And now on December 1, 2009 he is facing a Military Board of Inquiry (BOI) to figure out if he is guilty of misconduct and should be demoted in rank. All this because of the "Haditha Massacre" - a "massacre" that quite literally never happened.
The question must be asked. Why is the Government going after this fine Marine Officer? Someone who represents the very best America has to offer? And why are they doing it on a trumped up charge? What is the purpose of trying to destroy this truly great American hero?
Let's take a step back first. Almost four years ago to the day (November 19, 2005) a Marine convoy was moving through Haditha in Iraq - a terrorist stronghold. A roadside bomb exploded and the convoy took casualties. One United States Marine dead and two more seriously injured when the bomb went off under a Humvee. Gunfire directed at the Marines started immediately from the ambushing insurgents who were holed up in nearby civilian-occupied home.
The officer at the scene ordered four Marines - at great risk to themselves - to storm those homes from where the terrorists were firing. What happened next was a house-by-house, room-by-room battle in which nine terrorists were killed. There were also 15 civilian casualties who might have been shot by the Marines or the terrorists or a combination of the two. Obviously the death of civilians is always terrible - but not as common an occurrence as some people might think.
The bottom line here is that the colonel IMMEDIATELY reported those 15 deaths to his superiors. In fact the Pentagon had his battlefront report within 24 hours. NOT A SINGLE superior officer - including generals - thought it unusual. NOT ONE OF THEM suggested an investigation. In fact those officers went so far as to commend Lt Col Chessani for a job well done.
Then along came Time Magazine. MASSACRE they screamed. John Murtha jumped on the bandwagon accusing the Marines of cold blooded murder - even saying there was no firefight! He said the Marines were stressed from being in country for too long.
The Liberals went nuts. Our brave military were torturers; murderers; rapists - and of course, responsible for the "Massacre at Haditha" - that has a nice ring to it, don't you think?
The largest investigation in the history of the NCIS (Naval Criminal Investigative Services) .........
Take that in again!!! - The largest investigation in the history of the NCIS including 65 full time agents went on a year-long, multi-million Dollar digging trip - targeting the Colonel and his four enlisted men.
The Government has LOST at every stage of the criminal process. The four marines have been cleared. At one point they were charging Lt Col Chessani criminally. The Government's case? He did not file the proper paperwork. Had he been convicted he would have faced two and a half years in prison!!
One of the military judges who heard testimony in the case, had the following to say about the Government's evidence and pursuit of this national hero.
"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..." - Military Judge, LtCol Paul Ware, USMC
So now he faces this BOI. There are no rules of evidence as we understand them. No cross examination; no subpoena of witnesses. The Government merely has to prove misconduct by a preponderance of the evidence - not beyond a reasonable doubt. The Board could demote him or force him to retire. He could lose his retirement and health benefits for himself and his family.
And at the end of the day, the Government is charging him with failing to report a criminal incident which EVERYONE now understands DID NOT TAKE PLACE!
On Monday of this week Brian Rooney - one of the owners of the Pitsburg Steelers and a Marine Reserve Major himself - was my guest while I was filling in on 540 WFLA. It's a fascinating interview and you can here it BY CLICKING HERE - the top of Hour Two on 10/26/09.
Brian is one of the attorneys representing this Marine through the non-profit Thomas More Law Center. They are doing it for free. They will examine thousands of pages of reports; personally interview witnesses and travel the 2,000 miles to the BOI in California - an event that is expected to last for weeks.
Please check out their website and see if you can help. They are all that is standing between this Marine and Governmental crucifixion! - http://www.thomasmore.org/
FREEDOM IS NOT FREE!!
Make sure Lt Col Chessani understands just how much we Patriots get it!
(Copyright © 2009 By Simon L Conway All Rights Reserved.)
Simon Conway is the two-time winner of the FIVE STAR Best in Client Satisfaction for Real Estate Agents in the Orlando area.