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.