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Editorial: Evidence vital to fairness

Jul. 3, 2013 - 04:34PM   |  
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The Corps' shame over how it has handled disciplinary proceedings in the infamous scout-sniper urination incident continues to grow.

The Corps' shame over how it has handled disciplinary proceedings in the infamous scout-sniper urination incident continues to grow.

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The Corps’ shame over how it has handled disciplinary proceedings in the infamous scout-sniper urination incident continues to grow.

From the battlefield in Afghanistan two years ago, when members of 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines, urinated on Taliban corpses, the focus now shifts to a broom closet at Camp Lejeune, N.C., which holds classified evidence sought by attorneys for Capt. James Clement, facing November court-martial on charges of dereliction of duty and conduct unbecoming an officer. Accused of failing to stop scout snipers under his command from firing off their guns, he is one of only two Marines still facing prosecution in the case.

His attorneys contend evidence was improperly classified — on orders from the counsel for Gen. Jim Amos, the service’s commandant — and stored it 300 miles away from their Washington, D.C.-area offices to inhibit access to witness statements and other material that could exonerate their client.

This echoes an an earlier, related complaint that Marine leaders sought to improperly classify information in the case. Other documentation suggests former Commandant Gen. James T. Conway’s officer son, 3/2’s executive officer at the time of the incident, received special treatment to ensure he did not become ensnared in the case.

These are the defense team’s allegations, but nonetheless the Corps’ handling of the scout sniper incident is looking worse all the time. Clement and his attorneys are owed nothing less than immediate and convenient access to everything they need to mount a fair defense.

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