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

May. 12, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
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Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Jim Amos, left, and Rep. Walter B. Jones. A May 1 letter to Jones addresses the five questions Jones put to Amos during a March 12 budget hearing.
Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Jim Amos, left, and Rep. Walter B. Jones. A May 1 letter to Jones addresses the five questions Jones put to Amos during a March 12 budget hearing. (File)
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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.

In a May 1 letter to Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., Gen. Jim Amos addresses the five questions Jones put to him during a March 12 budget hearing in Washington. The first centers on the Marine Corps’ treatment of Maj. James Weirick, the Marine attorney who was removed from his post and served with a restraining order after sending a terse email to one of Amos’ legal advisers imploring him to “come clean” about his involvement in the sloppy prosecution of several Marines tied to a war-zone scandal.

Weirick has an active reprisal complaint on file with the Pentagon Inspector General’s Office.

“I recall hearing about Major Weirick’s 21 Sept 2013 email briefly from someone on my staff, but I do not remember the full context, nor the circumstances when I first read it,” Amos writes, indicating the restraining order was issued to “safeguard discipline and good order.”

Jones asked Amos, whose name was listed in the restraining order, whether he ever feared Weirick. “No,” Amos responded, “I do not fear Major Weirick.”

It was another of Amos’ attorneys, civilian Robert Hogue, who told Marine Corps Times that Weirick’s firing and the restraining order were necessary in light of last year’s mass shooting at the Washington Navy Yard. Hogue made the comment twice, once before and once after a military mental health specialist concluded Weirick is fit for duty and poses no safety risk.

Jones asked Amos whether Hogue was reprimanded for what he said. He was not, the commandant responded.

Amos did not provide an answer for the most consequential portion of Jones’ questioning: Whether comments the commandant made to National Public Radio in February implied that another general lied under oath.

In a sworn statement made last year, Lt. Gen. Thomas Waldhauser said that Amos told him he wanted Marines “crushed” and kicked out of the service for making an inappropriate video in which four scout snipers are seen urinating on Taliban corpses. In his interview with NPR, Amos denied saying that. But in response to Jones, Amos said “inasmuch as this matter is under review by the DoD Inspector General, I will not comment further.”

A spokesman for Amos declined to elaborate on the commandant’s responses to Jones. Jones’ office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Reached by email, Weirick offered a brief statement: “As the most important questions were not answered because of the ongoing IG investigation, it is imperative that the investigation is concluded in a timely manner.”

Gary Solis, a retired Marine judge advocate who now teaches law at Georgetown and George Washington universities, called the commandant’s response “a weak legalistic dodge,” saying Jones’ question about Waldhauser could be germane should any of the Marines punished for the urination video appeal their cases. The Marine Corps and the public deserve a “forthright honest answer,” he said.

Amos “won’t comment because the IG is investigating the matter,” Solis said. “That might satisfy if it were a criminal matter being investigated by police or prosecutors. But the IG’s investigation is an administrative matter, highly unlikely to involve criminal charges.”

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