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Congressman calls for hearing on moving Marine Corps Times at exchanges

Feb. 12, 2014 - 08:43PM   |  
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Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) on Wednesday called for a congressional oversight hearing on why the Corps abruptly moved issues of the Marine Corps Times from newsstands in the front of commissaries and exchanges. (Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images)
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Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) on Wednesday called for a congressional oversight hearing on why the Marine Corps abruptly moved Marine Corps Times from newsstands in the front of exchange stores to the back, where the publication is more difficult to find.

Earlier on Wednesday, Marine Corps leaders announced they had reversed that decision, implemented late last year. Marine Corps Times will immediately return to its original location in commissaries and exchanges —for the time being.

Gen. John Paxton Jr., assistant commandant of the Marine Corps, explained in Wednesday’s announcement that Marine Corps Times had been moved as part of an existing “Reawakening Campaign” — aimed at reinforcing standards and discipline. Marine Corps Times was being returned to the front of the stores, Paxton said, “pending the outcome of a more comprehensive, purposeful plan based on our Commandant’s intent as it relates to an emphasis on professionalism within our Corps.”

Paxton said “shelf space will likely be required at some point” to make room for healthier food and beverage choices and books included on the reading lists of Commandant Gen. Jim Amos as well as his wife, Bonnie.

Jones said that while he welcomes the decision to move Marine Corps Times back to its original placement, he remains troubled that Marine Corps leadership has implied an intent to again remove the publication from its prominent store location.

In a letter to Joe Wilson (R-S.C.), chairman of the House Armed Services military personnel subcommittee, and Ranking Member Susan Davis (D-Calif.), Jones expressed his concern over whether Marine Corps Times was moved because it had published a number of stories that called into question the actions of Amos and others of his staff.

Those stories centered on allegations that Amos and his staff improperly intervened in the prosecutions of Marines connected to a controversial incident in which scout snipers were recorded urinating on dead enemy combatants in Afghanistan.

“Marine Corps Times did the job of any paper; to tell the truth and the story of a situation that might be happening within the Marine Corps.,” said Jones, a Marine Corps Times subscriber.

Jones said he has asked to meet with Wilson and Davis in the coming week.

He also has requested the Marine Corps make available all documentation surrounding the decision to move the publication.

Jones said his intent on calling for a hearing to have Marine Corps leadership explain any future changes before a committee of the House — a necessary step “to prevent this infringement on the First Amendment from occurring again.”

“If they have justification for moving Marine Corps Times and other papers, then bring it to the committee and explain it,” he said.

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