• Petitioning Rep. Buck McKeon

This petition will be delivered to:

California-25
Rep. Buck McKeon

Require General Amos, Commandant of the Marine Corps, to keep his promise to Congress and answer questions in writing about his unlawful command influence.

    1. Lee Thweatt
    2. Petition by

      Lee Thweatt

      Houston, TX

On March 12, 2014, during a hearing before the House Armed Services Committee, General James F. Amos, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, was asked a series of questions by Congressman Walter Jones (R-NC) related to unlawful command influence alleged to have been committed by General Amos and his top legal advisors.  Congressman Jones requested a response from General Amos within six (6) weeks.  The Chairman of the Committee, Congressman Buck McKeon (R-CA) permitted General Amos the opportunity to respond immediately at the hearing, but General Amos stated "I'll respond in writing."  More than six weeks has passed since then, and to date, General Amos has not kept his sworn promise to provide answers to these questions.  You can see video footage of the exchange between Congressman Jones and General Amos here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_plOOpZx2Bw.

The questions posed to General Amos relate to whether he abused his power and position of command to unlawfully influence military justice proceedings.  They further made inquiry into whether General Amos feared a Marine Corps lawyer named Major James Weirick who reported General Amos' unlawful command influence to the Department of Defense Inspector General, and whether General Amos ever reprimanded Robert Hogue, the top civilian lawyer to the Commandant, in the wake of Mr. Hogue's slanderous comments comparing Major Weirick to the mentally deranged Washington Navy Yard shooter who murdered a dozen people last year.   

 Congressman Jones also pressed General Amos concerning an interview with National Public Radio that General Amos gave on February 17, 2014.  In that interview, General Amos denied stating that he ever told Lieutenant General Thomas Waldhauser, USMC, that he wanted Marine Corps snipers who urinated on dead Taliban fighters in Afghanistan "crushed" and "kicked out" of the Marine Corps for doing so.  LtGen Waldhauser, who was fired by General Amos after he refused to "crush" those Marines as General Amos desired, signed an affidavit under penalty of perjury directly contradicting General Amos' statements made to NPR.   Thus, Congressman Jones asked General Amos:  "I’m asking you today, and you can put it in writing, are you saying that General Waldhauser lied under oath?"  Congressman Jones also asked, "During the same NPR interview you stated that 'certainly none of them have been crushed or thrown out of the Marine Corps.'  General Amos, how many of them were not allowed to continue to serve in the Corps?  My information says that the number is 7 out of 9 Marines.  Would you please verify what you said in the NPR article interview is that 'none have been crushed.'"

Lastly, Congressman Jones made reference to "Tarnished Brass", a 27 February 2014 article in Foreign Policy Magazine, and posed this question:  "Sir, I would rather not be reading this but it has been printed in the press, and it all goes back to Captain James Clement [one of the Marines "crushed" and "kicked out" of the Marine Corps, even though he didn't desecrate any dead enemy fighters or order anyone to do so] and to Major James Weirick.  The article says, and I quote, “the top Marine Corps general is unpopular with his troops, damaged on Capitol Hill, and under investigation in the Pentagon.  Can he really still lead?”  This again I would ask you to submit in writing to the Committee."

It should not take the top ranking officer in the Marine Corps more than six seconds, and certainly not more than six weeks, to respond to questions about his own integrity and capacity to lead Marines, particularly when the questions come from a member of Congress in the exercise of their oversight authority over the military.  Yet, General Amos has simply not responded, even though he agreed under oath to do so in writing.  The House Armed Services Committee should not permit anyone, especially the top ranking Marine Corps general, to simply ignore them.  Nonetheless, that is what General Amos has done.  By extension, he is ignoring the American people and showing contempt for the concept of civilian oversight of the military.

Unlawful command influence has been called "the mortal enemy of military justice" by the nation's highest military appeals court.  Where present, it renders military justice a sham and turns it into an illusory exercise.  Military personnel accused of crimes thus cannot not receive a fair shake and their constitutional, fundamental right to due process becomes trampled by other agendas.  Moreover, it is worth remembering that unlawful command influence is, by definition, against the law.  Congressman Jones was right to ask General Amos about these important issues, and Congress should require General Amos to keep his promise to answer the questions posed to General Amos more than six weeks ago.  This petition is addressed to the leadership of the House Armed Services Committee, and requests that the Committee promptly commence an investigation into General Amos' lack of response, utilizing its oversight powers to the fullest extent permitted by law.

Recent signatures

    News

    1. Rest In Peace, Sgt Richards

      Lee Thweatt
      Petition Organizer

      Sgt Rob Richards, USMC--one of the Marines that General Amos endeavored to crush--has died:

      http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2014/08/14/marine-sniper-at-center-of-viral-video-scandal-found-dead/

      In a universal arc which, as Dr. King once suggested, was perhaps too long, but was nonetheless bent toward justice, General Amos and his top civilian attorney, Robert Hogue are unable to sleep well tonight, and for many, many nights thereafter. I hope instead that they will remember Sgt Richards, and his devoted wife, and the other Marines they worked to run out of the Marine Corps.

      Even a fool can see that General Amos and Mr. Hogue ran these Marines out of the Corps not because they had to do so, but simply because they could, and for no other reason. Along the way, all but the willfully blind can see that they lied about their unlawful efforts to needlessly and senselessly humiliate these brave, if imperfect, warriors. They abused our country's classification protocols to hide their misconduct. They publicly disparaged Major James Weirick--the Marine Corps lawyer who blew the whistle on their scheme, comparing him to a mass murderer. They violated federal law and canons of legal ethics. They punished the Marine Corps Times for reporting all of it. And now, like the cowards they are, they will not release an Inspector General's report which apparently...which astonishingly...gives them a free pass for what they undeniably, indisputably did here.

      Their conduct is disgraceful, illegal and immoral. And for General Amos in particular, it comes down to this: instead of taking care of his Marines like all of Marine officers, including him, were trained and taught to do from day one in Quantico...he took care of himself. He is the worst example of a man, of a leader, and of a Commandant conceivable.

      It is clear by now that our courts will not hold either Amos or Hogue accountable for what occurred here. Neither will the Congress, or any government agency or inspector. All of that is of course disheartening, even disillusioning. And I suppose that the only thing, the only real thing, to be done about it is to never forget that it happened, and to teach it to others, and to speak out against it with all of the force of character possible, in order to make sure that it never, ever happens again.

      Semper Fidelis and RIP Sgt Richards. May the Lord bless him and keep him. May the Lord's face shine on him with grace and mercy. May the Lord look upon him with favor, and give him peace.

      Marine sniper at center of viral video scandal found dead

      Retired Marine Cpl. Robert Richards, a combat veteran who was badly wounded in Afghanistan and later appeared in a controversial video urinating on dead Taliban insurgents, was found dead Wednesday night in his home in Jacksonville, N.C. He was 28.

    2. Why is the IG report clearing General Amos being withheld from the public?

      Lee Thweatt
      Petition Organizer

      Friends,

      The Department of Defense Inspector General (IG) has apparently issued a report which concludes that the claims of unlawful command influence against General Amos are unsubstantiated.

      http://www.marinecorpstimes.com/article/20140801/NEWS/308010078/Investigation-clears-top-Marine-general-tampering-sensitive-legal-cases

      Think about that for a moment. According to the IG, no Marines were unfairly "crushed" by General Amos. Amos did not lie to NPR. Indeed, it was perfectly acceptable for Amos to relieve LtGen Waldhauser and replace him with someone who in fact started court-martial proceedings just as Amos desired. It was also fair game to designate the memorandum signed by Amos--the one which confirmed the per se unlawful command influence--as "classified" national security material, and to fail to produce the memo to the defense attorneys for the Marines being subjected to courts-martial. When all criminal charges were dismissed against Captain Clement at the 11th hour before a hearing which would have surely invoked the harshest imaginable judicial review of this nefarious scheme, that was ok, too. After his criminal charges were dismissed, the immediate commencement of a Board of Inquiry against Captain Clement, where the legal advisor to the Board was specifically identified by a military appeals court as someone who had previously committed unlawful command influence, was perfectly acceptable in the eyes of the IG. When the Commanding General of the US Southern Command testified in person at the Board of Inquiry that Captain Clement had done nothing wrong, and that the Marine Corps in fact owed Captain Clement an apology for what many seasoned observers agree, as John Dowd described it, is indeed "the worst case of unlawful command influence in the history of the Marine Corps", and the Board nonetheless ran Captain Clement out of the Marine Corps against his will, that too was not the result of unlawful command influence. When other Marines, under immense prosecutorial pressure, admitted to misconduct without their lawyers first having the benefit of having a memo from the Commandant which might have resulted in the eventual dismissal of all charges against them, that was completely appropriate and in keeping with fundamental fairness. And let us not overlook the extraordinary implication that LtGen Waldhauser apparently committed perjury when he signed an affidavit stating that Amos wanted these Marines "crushed". The IG apparently had no issues with that, either.

      I would love to read the IG report which makes all of these things--these impossible things--possible. But, I can't read it. Neither can you. It isn't being released to the public. The IG says that since the allegations were unsubstantiated, the Privacy Act exempts the report from disclosure to anyone but General Amos and the Department of the Navy.

      Do you all know how many times a military trial judge or military appeals court has issued a finding on either the presence or absence of unlawful command influence without explaining the rationale for their conclusion? Zero. Something like that has never before happened in the history of our nation's military justice system. And, unless we are ready to embrace a government and military justice system that truly operates arbitrarily and in secret, it should never happen.

      You know who can release the report immediately, though? General Amos, that's who. Amos can absolutely waive whatever privacy interest the IG has conjured for him to hide behind here. Until he does so, none of us can determine precisely how the IG came up with these astonishing conclusions. The public deserves the opportunity evaluate and scrutinize the IG's methodology here. Was it as robust as the circumstances of this serious episode require? Or was the conclusion by the IG the result of something else--something which frankly, ought to scare the hell out of all of us.

      Release the report now, General Amos.

      Semper Fidelis,

      L. Lee Thweatt
      Houston, Texas

      Investigation clears top Marine general of tampering in sensitive legal cases

      The Pentagon's investigative agency has cleared the Marine Corps' top general of allegations he and other senior officials manipulated military justice to ensure several troops were punished for a making an inappropriate video three years ago in Afghanistan, Marine Corps Times has learned.

    3. General Amos never did fully respond to Congress, but General Dunford did

      Lee Thweatt
      Petition Organizer

      Friends,

      I wanted you to know that while General Amos never did fully respond to Congressman Jones' questions, we nonetheless continued to press the issues related to General Amos' unlawful command influence and abuse of power. The good news is that someone in the Senate Armed Services Committee appears to have been paying attention. Here is an article from yesterday's Marine Corps Times:

      http://www.marinecorpstimes.com/article/20140729/NEWS/307290082/Dunford-fielded-tough-questions-military-justice-before-his-confirmation

      These questions from the Senate to our next Commandant confirm that the Senate has seen enough of General Amos' misconduct, and that they expect more--much more--from General Dunford and his advisors. Refreshingly, General Dunford appears to get it. A new era is coming to the Marine Corps.

      General Dunford's answers, among many other reasons, provide much cause for enthusiasm going forward. We will soon have a Commandant who gets it--one who does more for his Marines than crush them or breaks the law to interfere with their rights to due process. One who will have the good sense not to take public positions on military justice which earn him rebukes from our nation's highest military appellate court and result in overturned convictions, wasted time and money, and diminished confidence in a military justice system already under scrutiny. One who does not tolerate or encourage retaliation against whistleblowers, or reposition newspapers who question him or his advisors, or one who simply and astoundingly misleads the American people when interviewed on NPR. When our Commandant is applauded for something within our Corps for more than letting Marines roll up their uniform sleeves, when he is known within the House Armed Services Committee as someone who will not take nearly two months to half-heartedly answer, and in one case, continue to outright avoid, questions from Congress about his own integrity, when he will not hide behind the sorry likes of the top civilian attorney to the Commandant, Robert Hogue or his ilk, our Marine Corps will be better--far better--for it.

      Thanks to all of you for your efforts in this matter. You made a difference by speaking out and taking a stand for accountability in our government and fairness in our military justice system. If any new developments arise, I will let you know.

      Semper Fidelis,

      L. Lee Thweatt
      Houston, Texas

      Will General Amos keep his promise to Congress?

      On March 12, 2014, General James F. Amos, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, testified before the full House Armed Services Committee concerning the Fiscal Year 2015 National Defense Authorization Budget Request from the Department of the Navy. During that hearing, Rep.

    4. A "weak, legalstic dodge" by the Commandant of the Marine Corps

      Lee Thweatt
      Petition Organizer

      If you missed it, technically speaking, the Commandant has now responded to Congressman Jones' questions. His response to one of the questions was this astoundingly evasive gem: “Inasmuch as this matter is under review by the DoD Inspector General, I will not comment further.” More about that here:

      http://www.marinecorpstimes.com/article/20140512/NEWS/305080054/Marine-chief-responds-congressman-about-whistleblower-fallout-do-not-fear-Major-Weirick-

      Obviously, General Amos would never tolerate a response like this (appropriately called a "weak, legalstic dodge" by one law school professor and former Marine Corps judge advocate) from one of his Marines. Nor would he ever tolerate an 8 week delay in responding. Yet, he apparently believes that a sitting member of the House Armed Services Committee should tolerate it. The good news: Congressman Jones sent a letter dated May 13, 2014 to the Secretary of the Navy demanding straight answers from General Amos. Stay tuned...

      Marine chief responds to congressman about whistleblower fallout: 'I do not fear Major Weirick'

      The top Marine is offering Congress few details about the fallout from a whistleblower complaint except to say he's not afraid of the man who accused him of abusing his authority and that critical media coverage of his leadership is an unfortunate side effect of the tough choices he's had to make as the service's commandant.

    5. Reached 2,500 signatures

    Supporters

    Reasons for signing

    • David Mork COLORADO SPRINGS, CO
      • 19 days ago

      I am tired of reading about abuse of power and attitude that demonstrates one feels above the law--particularly someone who is rightly held to a higher standard since he holds young Marines' lives in his hands. I want him to be fairly investigated and dealt with justly. No more, and CERTAINLY no less.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Charles Gittins WINCHESTER, VA
      • 3 months ago

      Because I care about pulic officials who disregard questions from Congress and who lie to the American public as General AMos did on NPR.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • joe head STRONG, AR
      • 5 months ago

      For the people responsible for unlawful command to be brought to justice.

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    • Dustin Kaster SHELBYVILLE, IN
      • 5 months ago

      This is a growing problem in the United States, not just in the military but especially in the civilian side. What is tyranny? One example would be wrongful persecution, but who watches the watchers? It's supposed to be the American People, but Americans are self righteous cowards that would rather live on their knees than make a stand against tyranny, so this is what you get.

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    • Eugenia Cruz KANSAS CITY, KS
      • 5 months ago

      Like the saying goes give them and inch they will take a mile!

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:

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