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June 15, 2006

Major Schadenfreude Alert

What I wouldn't give to be a fly on that wall:

A criminal defense attorney for a Marine under investigation in the Haditha killings says he will call a senior Democratic congressman as a trial witness, if his client is charged, to find out who told the lawmaker that U.S. troops are guilty of cold-blooded murder. Attorney Neal A. Puckett told The Washington Times that Gen. Michael Hagee, the Marine commandant, briefed Rep. John P. Murtha, Pennsylvania Democrat, on the Nov. 19 killings of 24 Iraqis in the town north of Baghdad. Mr. Murtha later told reporters that the Marines were guilty of killing the civilians in "cold blood." Mr. Murtha said he based his statement on Marine commanders, whom he did not identify.

Mr. Puckett said such public comments from a congressman via senior Marines amount to "unlawful command influence." He said potential Marine jurors could be biased by the knowledge that their commandant, the Corps' top officer, thinks the Haditha Marines are guilty.

"Congressman Murtha will be one of the first witnesses I call to the witness stand," Mr. Puckett said yesterday.

Question: will Puckett question other Congressmen who were briefed that day to see how they summarize Hagee's words? Can't you just see Rep. Murtha squirming?

If he says Hagee told him the Marines were guilty, Murtha will have made it all but impossible to claim these "cold-blooded killers" got a fair trial.

If, on the other hand, it comes out that Hagee offered no opinion on the guilt of the accused Marines (as seems likely given his refusal to speculate on the matter), Murtha is revealed to be a liar.

Which choice do you think Murtha will make?

Posted by Cassandra at June 15, 2006 08:13 AM


John Murtha!

The next majority leader of the House of Representatives!

Hurrah! Hurrah!

Okay, back to reality now.

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at June 15, 2006 12:52 PM

You mean, someone making charges against our military might be forced.... to back up his claims?! Under OATH?! Oh, the humanity.


Posted by: Patrick Chester at June 15, 2006 01:36 PM

Oh, the humility! I wonder, though, when hearsay is evidence? You see, I know Hagee won't comment on it because he gave a brief. That means, at least verbage wise to me, a summary of what is under investigation-an allegation that civilians killed and the circumstances thereof.

Okay, my non legally trained mind is going to explode so I need to quit, but Murtha's mouth is going to have to recant. I vote for the dunking stool after they have finished with Hillary.

Posted by: Cricket at June 15, 2006 01:59 PM

As I said at MilBlogs, I think given Murtha's stature as re: military appropriations, it's possible to make a legal argument analagous to "command influence" even if Hagee himself said nothing. Murtha's comments in the press alone are a strong bias to your ability to get a fair trial from serving officers.

Posted by: Grim at June 15, 2006 03:48 PM

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