Haditha Marine Lt. Col. Jeffrey Chessani Charges Dropped


I’ve been extremely tardy in announcing that the 7th Haditha Marine has had his charges dropped.

And then there was one.


Saying a general overseeing the case had been influenced by an investigator, a military judge today dismissed charges against Lt. Col. Jeffrey Chessani, who was accused of not looking into the killings of 24 Iraqis in Haditha in 2005.

“Unlawful command influence is the mortal enemy of military justice,” said Col. Steven Folsom, quoting previous case law. “In order to restore the public confidence, we need to take it back. We need to turn the clock back.”

The charges can be refiled, but Folsom ordered that the Marine Forces Central Command not be involved in the future, The Associated Press explains. The prosecution has 72 hours to appeal.

Ben Johnson gives a great rundown of the sequence of events regarding the trial aspect of the case:

  • In April 2007, the government offered immunity to Sgt. Sanick P. Dela Cruz in exchange for his testimony. He promptly changed his story five times.
  • In August 2007, Lt. Gen. James Mattis pronounced 22-year-old Lance Cpl. Justin Sharratt absolutely “innocent” of all wrongdoing.
  • At the same time, Lt. Gen. Mattis waved charges of dereliction of duty against Capt. Randall Stone, saying Stone’s actions did not “rise to the level of criminal behavior.”
  • One month later, prosecutors granted immunity to Capt. Lucas McConnell, who was not at the scene, in exchange for his testimony.
  • In April 2008, the government dismissed all charges against 26-year-old Lance Cpl. Stephen Tatum “with prejudice.” Although an eyewitness testified Tatum acted with malice aforethought, Tatum passed his lie detector test, while his accuser failed his. His adversary, a native of Venezuela, also happened to be “trying to get his application for U.S. citizenship released by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, which is holding up his papers.” Tatum nearly broke down on the stand last July, telling the judge: “I am not comfortable with the fact that I might have shot a child…That is a burden I will have to bear.”
  • Two weeks ago, a jury found Lt. Andrew Grayson “not guilty” of multiple counts of making false official statements and one count of attempting to deceive.

I can all but guarantee the charges will NOT be refiled. The way this whole event has been politicized by the cowardly ex-Marine Murtha forced the military to proceed with charges that should never had been filed in the first place. Which we now see made some on the prosecuting team act improperly to ensure a conviction.

Sadly, this has ruined the careers of Marines who did a tough job, and did it well. They acted as they were trained to do in combat and for that they were thrown under the bus. The firm that represented Chessani had this to say:

Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Law Center, commenting on the judge’s decision had this to say, “We are all grateful for the judge’s ruling today. He truly was the “last sentinel” to guard against unlawful command influence.”

“Tragically, our own government eliminated one of its most effective combat commanders. The insurgents are laughing in their caves,” said Thompson.

And they aren’t kidding. Take a look at this officers resume: (via California Conservative)

  • “Leads Marines from front in every operation. Demonstrates moral courage everyday. Doesn’t hesitate to report bad news fast or contest unrealistic plans/poor concepts. Despite the complexity and size of his AO [area of operations], he always maintains a calm, cool demeanor.”
  • “Always seeks advantage over complex, diverse insurgent enemy. Truly one of the finer thinkers in this COIN [counterinsurgency] environment.”
  • “One of the top 3 infantry/Cav Bn commanders of 13 who have served with RCT –2 [the regiment] during OIF. A superb leader, who knows his men, knows the enemy, knows his business. Doesn’t attract a lot of fanfare; just gets the job done to an exceedingly high standard.”
  • “Long ball hitter; recommend selection for promotion to Colonel and TLS [Top Level School].”

And now a very deserving officer has had his career demolished thanks to Murtha and his need to prove Bush was wrong.

Thankfully Murtha isn’t off the hook yet.

In an interview with nationally syndicated radio talk host Michael Savage, the lead attorney for Lt. Col. Jeffrey Chessani said he and his client will look into suing Murtha and the Time magazine reporter Tim McGuirk, who first published the accusations by Iraqi insurgents.

But the attorney, Brian Rooney, said nothing will happen until Chessani, described as a devout Christian and the father of six homeschooled children, is completely “out of the woods” legally…

But Rooney, a judge advocate general officer who served a tour of duty in Iraq himself, said the Marine Corps has until Friday at 10 a.m. Pacific Time to appeal…

Rooney acknowledged to Savage it’s difficult to sue a sitting congressman, but he believes it can be done.

“If he leaves his realm of speaking from the congressman’s point of view … then he can be sued for libel and defamation,” Rooney said.

And I don’t believe the Speech and Debate Clause will apply here seeing as how he made the rounds of the morning talkshows to push these accusations with absolutely NO evidence of wrongdoing and he was not on Capitol grounds. Yes, he doesn’t HAVE to be on Capitol grounds, it basically covers everything to do with his job, but let him explain to the court how it was his job to accuse these Marines with no evidence. Either way it will give the Marines lots of publicity, and lots of bad publicity for Murtha.

And lets not forget the man is already being sued by the last man to face charges. SSgt Wuterich.

I can’t wait to see you squirm ex-Marine Murtha.

Gateway Pundit has many more reactions.

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What? None of those celebrating the SCOTUS decision for terrorist rights weighing in with these warriors having their day in court?? I guess the celebration of “rights” is limited by one’s politics, eh?

Simply amazing. However, there has been an appeal filed and the idiots want to try and go for another trial. Idiots. Hopefully, they lose the appeal.

MataHarley: People are supposed to get their day in court. That’s the way we’re supposed to do things here. That’s one of the things that makes us better than the bad guys. What is there to weigh in about?

I find it interesting that this is being spun by the Right as “exoneration for everyone and don’t those Lefties look stupid now?”, but you’ll notice that a couple of the guys were granted immunity and one had the charges dismissed “with prejudice.”

Despite the fact that guys are getting off the hook–and I choose that formulation deliberately–it still doesn’t look like Haditha was a proud page out of Marine history.

one had the charges dismissed “with prejudice.”

Somehow I don’t think that you know what that means because in reality “with prejudice” doesn’t support the position that you are putting forth.

Why don’t you explain “with prejudice” to us.

getting off the hook–and I choose that formulation deliberately


Tell me, DW, are you privy to the evidence?

A member of the prosecution perhaps?

Outside of access to the evidence you’re just guessing.

People are supposed to get their day in court. That’s the way we’re supposed to do things here. That’s one of the things that makes us better than the bad guys.

We also have a presumption of innocence but obviously you missed that when you took the flea market law school course since you have carefully and purposely expressed that these guys are “getting off the hook.”

Has Congressman Murtha apologized yet for calling these soldiers cold blooded killers?

Will he ever apologize?

Will all the newspapers that ran the accusations on their front pages run the verdicts ?

You want to be mad at someone you be mad at the terrorists who used these innocents as shields.

Actually, I’m angry at the kids who got killed. What the heck were they thinking? Didn’t they realize that, by being killed, they were going to make life difficult for their killers? Why did three-year-old Aisha Younis Salim hate America so much? We will never know.

A solid day’s work all around. It’s Miller Time!

i think one of these guys is from around where i live. not sure though. they had their day ion court and justice previled. the gitmo guys should ahve been left tied in the desert to waste away. they want to kill innocent people fr no other reason than the color of their skin and the nation that they come from.

DW5000, of course our guys should be getting their day in court. Most especially since they have been condemned – not only by the media, but by Congress members – prior to trial. It appears the “innocent until proven guilty” concept only applies to our illegal combatants, getting access to our courts because of a corrupt SCOTUS who refuses to abide by precedents.

But, ya know, that’s democracy (the justices’ vote) and the way our republic was set up by the founding fathers. We deal with it until they figure out the error of their ways, then find a way to back peddle one more time.

Of course, the inevitable weighing in I suggested (with sarcasm) is by those who believe that our courts were letting our guys “off the hook”. Thank you for providing what I knew would come. Tho I really expected Dave Noble to be the first to come, based on his comments from from the previous Haditha thread.

So DW5000, will you be as acerbic and disappointed when terrorists get “off the hook” with our justice system? Or do you reserve your disdain only towards our troops who were under fire?

Despite the fact that guys are getting off the hook–and I choose that formulation deliberately–it still doesn’t look like Haditha was a proud page out of Marine history.

It wasn’t a proud page of Marine Corps history not because of what any of the charged did wrong, they didn’t, but because of what the Marine Corps’ “leadership” (if you could call it that) did to the accused. The Marine Chain of Command sold those Marines down the river for purely political reasons.

The Marine Corps’ CoC disgraced the Marine Corps, not the eight that were accused/charged.

We’ll see if the CoC and the despicable Murtha will be held accountable for their actions.

I doubt it…


If you were paying attention to my comments on the previous Haditha thread, and I’m sure you were, you won’t be surprised by my reaction: I accept the judgement of the court.

Putting all the understandable emotion around this issue aside for the moment, I have a hard time following the logic of the comments on the Haditha threads. I read that the military justice system is corrupted, rigged, and can’t be trusted and then when someone is exonerated, you all say “See, told you they were innocent.” If the system can’t be trusted, what is the significance of an exoneration? Isn’t that a “heads I win, tails you lose” kind of argument? Can you really have it both ways?

Noble- You sure like to turn things upside down don’t you. No charges should ever have been brought. The initial investigation showed no wrong doing (but you wouldn’t believe that) charges were brought only after political pressure was brought. Shame on them and shame on you. Some crazy things happen in a fire fight do to the law of self preservation, or do you through your vast experiences at combat know different. Please explain to us what makes you without evidence and experience an expert. Spit.


in the civil justice system, dismissed “with prejudice” means, to put it simply, that the matter cannot be brought up again. i assume it means the same thing under the USCMJ. it does not mean what you obviously, and wrongly, thought it meant.

murtha is a known pissant. apparently, so are you.

I can’t speak for anyone else on this site, but I consider the military justice system considerably less corrupt than our civil/criminal system, Dave Noble. Then again, I’m more familiar with the civilian system, and apt to be more judgmental.

In the civilian courts, there are far more ways for cases to be flawed for procedure, and thrown out for technicalities. A judge owns his court room. He can rule as he pleases – even blatantly in opposition to cited precedents – and the only way to challenge his rule is to take it a step higher in the system. Therefore you often have to have patience, and deep pockets to go the distance for justice in civilian courts.

Fact is, our civilian courts and attorneys are profit driven. He with the best (and most expensive) legal team, with the best tap dance before a jury, wins. JAGs and military courts offer no such windfall. Take money and profit out of the equation and the corruption potential goes down.

The complexity, and conflict, of poorly constructed laws from local, state and federal legislators makes the civilian courts a zoo. By comparison, military tribunals cut thru the crap and are more streamlined… less burdened by the inadequacies of badly written laws.

So when it comes to matters of our military, war and war criminals, I trust military justice over civilian justice, JAGs over ACLU lawyers any day. They have a more unique, first hand perspective of the scenarios, orders and procedure for soldiers and combat.

Glad, however, to hear you accept the court’s judgment.

Jack Murtha is a disgrace to this nation.

All of this looks like a wrestling match. Everybody on the outside where it is safe,putting their 2 cents in. Put these people in the marines place and give them a taste. Nobody has said war has gound rules. You do the best you can to serve your country. An you do what you have to do. Remember if you were not there, you will never know what had to be done. Their our Marines,On our side, Fighting for us.

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