Skip to comments.SECNAV Boots Two Sergeants for Lying At Haditha Court-Martial
Posted on 04/20/2012 9:50:38 AM PDT by smoothsailing
April 20, 2012
Navy Secretary Ray Mabus has ordered administrative separation processing of two squad members who testified against SSgt Wuterich in January and admitted lying to NCIS and on the stand about the November 2005 shooting deaths of 24 Iraqi civilians in Haditha.
During the January 2012 court-martial of the squad leader, SSgt Wuterich, Sgts Humberto M. Mendoza and Sanick P. Dela Cruz testified on the stand that they lied to NCIS during the investigation, the Article 32 investigations and withheld information. Their motivation to do so was unclear, even as Mendoza attempted to say he didnt tell the truth because he was protecting his men.
SECNAV sent an April 19, 2012 letter to Commandant General Jim Amos stating such conduct is wholly inconsistent with the core values of the Department of the Navy. SECNAV directed the Commandant to immediately initiate administrative processing for administrative separation is in the best interest of the service.
The government presented the two Sergeants and two other members of the squad who had separated from the Marine Corps as witnesses against SSgt Wuterich in an attempt to focus the responsibility of the civilian deaths on the squad leader. The fact that Dela Cruz and Mendoza had provided the same testimony at an Article 32 Hearing and were in fact, proven to have been lying at the hearing, didnt seem to bother the prosecutors as they built their case against SSgt Wuterich on that testimony.
At what point does the Marine Corps owe an apology to the public and to the former SSgt Wuterich, now a civilian, for building a case against him based on proven perjury? SECNAVs directive to ADSEP the two Sergeants is the first step. Neal Puckett, his lead defense counsel, hailed this move as true justice in a case fraught with injustice for nearly six years. He wonders what this means for the prosecutors who were told by NCIS agents that one of the Marines, then Cpl Dela Cruz, lied during interviews after his charges were dismissed, yet persisted in sponsoring his testimony at the 2007 Article 32 hearing and 2012 trial of SSgt Wuterich.
Read the News Article here.
Haditha Marines Ping.
Has he forgotten that it depends on what the “meaning of is, is”? Why are these Sergeants held to a higher standard than a former “commander in chief”?
Because they're Marines. Lying to implicate their staff sergeant and to save their own asses is disgraceful.
Because they are the little people, don't have any money or powerful connections. In other words they are expendable.I'm not saying what they did was right though as I don't know enough about the story.
They lied to Leroy Jethro Gibbs?
They are lucky they only got booted.
Thanks for posting this, Smooth.
The Investigators did not want facts I’ll bet. I was on leave in the Army and came back to find the barracks locked down because a M3 grease gun came up missing. CID investigator told me of a conversation I had of several guys sitting around speculating. He demanded I tell him about the gossip session. I told him no as I have no facts to help him. He threaten me with court martial and I told him I need a lawyer.
Thanks for the heads up here. Bttt
Would you doubt, even for a second, that the USMC has a higher standard for its service members than the we do for Congress and the Executive Branch?
Any one know what type of discharges this could lead to? And benefits? Just curious.
Interesting turn of events.
Even though they were granted immunity from prosecution for their actions in the Haditha incident itself, as far as I know the false statements and testimony are a seperate matter.
Since deliberate deceit does direct dishonor to Corps Fidelity, I would think discharges could be less than Honorable and benefits withheld.
An admin sep means they can’t get a dishonorable or bad conduct discharge-those have to be awarded by court-marital. The worst they could get would be an other than honorable. That will hurt them as far as benefits but exactly how much is determined on an individual basis and by the VA, not the Marines. But seeing as how it is SECNAV himself ordering their separation, if he wants the VA to screw them, no doubt they’ll be screwed.
That depends on how much hay the Corps thinks these two will make upon separation. Other Than Honorable discharges can be appealed after 6 month, and possibly upgraded to Good Conduct. If the government feels these guys are going to make a stink, they'll get OTHs. If they think these guys will roll over, they push for Bad Conduct Discharges. This is one of those cases where they can send a very clear message to the rank and file, and they may do it.
That's just my 2 cents.
These are Administrative Seperations directed by the SECNAV.
The worst they can get will be Other Than Honorable.
A Bad Conduct Discharge is a punitive seperation that would first require a special or general court-martial, IIRC.
Could be either a General (under honorable conditions) or Under Other Than Honorable Conditions (UOTHC). A General, as a rule, doesn’t deprive the member of benefits because it’s “under honorable conditions”. A UOTHC results in loss of most veteran benefits. No matter whether I think they deserve a UOTHC, it’s unlawful command influence for SECNAF to direct an administrative discharge - that’s the decision of the unit commander, to be acted on by the Special Court Martial Convening Authority. As a former military defense counsel, I’d have a ball with the procedural aspects of that case. “Two wrongs don’t make a right” is perfectly applicable here. And these men are scum, unworthy “to claim the title of United States Marine”.
Remember, the Big Chicken Dinner can only be assessed by a court martial. Based on their sworn testimony that they lied, only “a scintilla” (itty bitty bit) of evidence is needed to support a confession. I don’t know that these marines have a leg to stand on. Also, I’ve never - not a single time in my 26 years of active and reserve service as a JAG - seen a UOTHC upgraded to an Honorable, except on the basis of newly discovered evidence pointing to the innocence of the accused.
“Their motivation to do so was unclear”
Here’s how that works in similir situations:
The troops are told “Command want results and the political heat off!”
“We’re looking to you to make that happen!”
No need to mention any positive or negative incentives.
Good point. My perspective my be a bit scewd. I saw it happen twice in 10 years. Of course as you say new evidence was presented in both cases. Hmm, maybe I should have picked a better crowd to hang around...all these guys I knew getting in trouble..YIKES :-)
No one should be punished for perjury in this country after the media, congress and the people let Bill Clinton off scot free. If I was on a jury in a perjury trial I would never vote to convict.
ping me when Col. Sean Sullivan receives some form of punishment. Until then, this is just CYA posturing by the Brass to divert attention from their own malfeasance. These guys are indeed despicable, but they were led and used by the prosecution to get the others.
I would be delighted to do so, Sullivan is a detestable weasel.
“He wonders what this means for the prosecutors who were told by NCIS agents that one of the Marines, then Cpl Dela Cruz, lied during interviews after his charges were dismissed, yet persisted in sponsoring his testimony at the 2007 Article 32 hearing and 2012 trial of SSgt Wuterich. “
I dunno - sounds like you’re in the “in a world of blind men, the one-eyed man is king” scenario! Gotta stay positive! Have a good weekend.
I have a sneaking suspicion if SSGt Wuterich had been convicted based on their testimony, nothing would have happened to these two Marines.
Thanks for posting this. Needless to say these two “scumbags” deserve nothing less than a dishonorable discharge and loss of all benefits. They lied to save their own asses and made life a living hell for 6 years for our family.
Yes, the government was determined to get somebody’s scalp to save face.
Good on ya, Mr. Puckett!
jafusafr: "...its unlawful command influence for SECNAF to direct an administrative discharge - thats the decision of the unit commander, to be acted on by the Special Court Martial Convening Authority. As a former military defense counsel, Id have a ball with the procedural aspects of that case. Two wrongs dont make a right is perfectly applicable here..."
Noted. Thank you.
Note to self.
This is the same Navy Secretary who decided to stick to his decision to “Name Warship for Murtha Despite Protests”.
Navy Secretary Ray Mabus.
Absolutely, Mom. I hope they get the max.
Since it’s an ADSEP, I believe the best we can hope for is a General Discharge Under Other Than Honorable Conditions and forfeiture of all benefits. It will serve them right, even though they deserve worse.
As always, all the best to you and yours. :)
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