LTC Jeffrey Chessani
Needs Your Help Today
For the past two and a half years, Lt. Colonel Jeffrey Chessani, USMC, has been investigated and prosecuted for his involvement in the so called "Haditha massacre" - a "massacre" that never happened.
Now - after devoting 20 years of his life to defend ours ─ he faces criminal charges as a result of a legitimate combat action taken by four of his Marines after they were ambushed by insurgents in Haditha, Iraq, on November 19, 2005.
If convicted, LtCol Chessani faces 2-1/2 years imprisonment, dismissal from the Corps, and loss of all of his retirement pay.
You may have heard that last month a military judge dismissed all the charges against LtCol Chessani, citing unlawful command influence over the officer who referred the charges to a court-martial.
But the government appealed, and recently filed their brief.
Jeffrey Chessani is their political scapegoat and they're embarrassed about being unable to make the charges stick for ANY of the Haditha Marines thus far.
Originally, four Marines were charged with murder, and four more with failing to properly investigate and report the civilian deaths. A military jury of seven officers acquitted Marine 1st Lt. Andrew Grayson of all charges, and charges were dropped against five others. Only LtCol Chessani, the Battalion Commander, and SSgt Frank Wuterich, the squad leader, still face charges. Wuterich has pleaded not guilty to voluntary manslaughter charges.
The Thomas More Law Center, which is defending Chessani, said the judge's decision to dismiss the charges against LtCol Chessani was based on evidence that various generals who controlled the disposition of the case may have been influenced by Marine lawyer Col. John Ewers, who attended dozens of closed-session meetings in which the case was discussed. Ewers was an investigator of the Haditha firefight, and is a witness prosecutors planned to call in the case. As such, he should not have been permitted to be present in any of those meetings.
There are only a few days left for LtCol Chessani's defense team to file his response brief. Then they must begin preparing for the inevitable trial.
Please help us send a message to all our combat troops that you will stand with them when they need your help. Don't let politicians like John Murtha
convict an innocent Marine officer.
Donate to LtCol Chessani's defense fund now.
Your donation helps keep America strong! And it's tax deductible.
After all he has done for his Nation ─ for you and me ─ will you chip in $25 to help this Marine? If you can give more, please do. If you can't spare $25, any amount will help.
LtCol Chessani urgently needs your help - NOW.
Click here to donate to the LtCol Chessani Defense Fund.
Your donation is tax-deductible.
He has been defending our Nation for twenty years...often away from his wife and children... so that we could be safely with ours.
LtCol Chessani served three combat tours in Iraq. He served in the First Persian Gulf War, and in Panama. He is a committed Christian, husband, and father of 6 young children, ages 10 and under, all home-schooled.
As members of the larger military family, you understand better than anyone else the sacrifices this Marine and his family have made over 20 years of service to our nation.
You can imagine how betrayed you would feel in his position, and how difficult it would be to raise enough money to pay for the high-caliber defense team necessary to win this battle against the government. We certainly know his military pay wouldn't cover the cost of a team of legal experts.
LtCol Chessani is fighting not only to defend his honor as a Marine officer -- he's also fighting to protect the future of his family, and their ability to receive the military retired pay he's earned. If LtCol Chessani loses this battle, his family also loses his retirement pay and benefits -- pay and benefits they've made 20 years of sacrifices for, too.
This is a grossly unjust end to a career devoted to protecting and defending America. Don't let the politicians railroad this innocent Marine.
When you hear the facts, you will be outraged about what our government is doing to this courageous and loyal Marine.
So please read on...
On November 19, 2005, at approximately 7:15 a.m., a Marine convoy was rolling through Haditha, Iraq - a terrorist stronghold. Suddenly, a roadside bomb went off destroying a Marine Humvee, killing one Marine and seriously injuring two others.
The Marines immediately received fire from the ambushing insurgents, who were shooting from nearby civilian-occupied homes.
A four-man fire team responded as trained; they cleared several houses occupied by the armed insurgents, and in the ensuing room-by-room, house-by-house gun battle, it was reported that 8 enemy were killed.
Tragically, 15 civilians also died ─ in urban combat, where insurgents purposefully use civilians as human shields, civilian casualties are tragic, but not uncommon. In fact, sometimes the insurgents themselves kill civilians to achieve a propaganda victory by blaming the Americans. LtCol Chessani was the battalion commander of these brave Marines ─ the 3rd Battalion ("The Thundering Third"), 1st Marines -- one of the most decorated units in the history of the Marine Corps.
As the Battalion Commander, LtCol Chessani was responsible that morning for approximately 2000 American and friendly Iraqi troops in an area of operations just about the size of South Carolina. He immediately reported the deaths of the 15 Iraqi civilians to his superiors.
Not one of LtCol Chessani's superiors hearing of the 15 civilian deaths ─ including top generals ─ considered it unusual. Not one ordered a further investigation.
However, several months later, an inflammatory Time news article accusing the Marines of massacring innocent civilians caused public hysteria. The story was planted by insurgent propaganda operatives who knew too well that the liberal anti-war media hungered for such stories.
Anti-war Congressman John Murtha, who wields tremendous power over military appropriations, jumped in and echoed Time's story. He appeared on major television networks and publicly accused the young enlisted Marines of "cold blooded" murder and Marine officers of a "cover-up." He blamed it all on the stress of being in Iraq too long.
Incredibly, these accusations were made even before the investigation was completed. Murtha's statements conflicted with investigative results from the military itself. An initial investigation by Army Col. G.A. Watt found "there are no indications that (Coalition Forces) intentionally targeted, engaged and killed noncombatants." Later, Army Maj. Gen. Aldon Bargewell found no coverup.
We're all familiar with the old saying, "There's no such thing as a former Marine. Once a Marine, Always a Marine." Well, in our opinion, John Murtha is one of that very rare breed -- a former Marine!
A true Marine would never have jumped on the media band wagon without verifying the facts for himself.
The damage done to these Marines and their families by Murtha's irresponsible acts is reprehensible. He should be ashamed, if he weren't too arrogant. You won't believe his office's treatment of a mother whose son has completed four tours to Iraq and Afghanistan with the 82nd Airborne! The government appears to be turning the prosecution of Jeffrey Chessani into a never-ending persecution.
The charge: failing to properly report and investigate the November 19, 2005 incident. The government is doing everything it can to convict LtCol Chessani. He is the political scapegoat they must convict to appease Murtha and the press.
The vast resources of the military are at its disposal. The number of military investigators is virtually limitless. Government prosecutors can go anywhere, talk to anyone, and get anything, all at government expense. The Marine command structure is mandated to cooperate. The government has already sent a crew to Iraq to film interviews with several children who survived the firefight in Haditha that day.
So far, the government has spent millions of our taxpayer dollars, employed over 65 Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) agents ─ the largest investigation in that agency's history ─ and granted immunity to scores of witnesses, all in their attempt to make Jeffrey Chessani and the "Haditha Marines" political scapegoats.
The impact of this case reaches far beyond the personal tragedy and injustice to LtCol Jeffrey Chessani and his family.
It will drastically curtail the future ability of our combat men and women to defend our Nation.
LtCol Paul Ware, USMC, an Investigating Officer who heard testimony in several cases involving the charged enlisted Marines, blasted the credibility of the government witnesses and expressed concern that the allegations were nothing but a tactic "to erode public support of the Marine Corps and mission in Iraq."
He went on to say:
"Even more dangerous is the potential that a Marine may hesitate at the critical moment when facing the enemy . . . ."
Retired General Thomas McInerney, former Joint Force Commander and Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force, called the prosecutions of the Haditha Marines "despicable." He warned:
"We cannot fight a war like that . . . We're not taking care of our people."
Regardless of how you feel about the war, LtCol Chessani was in Iraq because his country sent him there. He defended us, and now we must defend him.
For an idea of what this Nation has lost by the prosecution of LtCol Chessani, and why he deserves your support, read these excerpts from his official Combat Fitness Report.
For those who don't know, this is a required annual evaluation of a Marine officer's performance, prepared by his superiors. It covers the period of September 2005 to February 2006 ─ which includes the date of the incident for which LtCol Chessani is facing criminal charges:
- "Leads Marines from front in every operation. Demonstrates moral courage everyday. Doesn't hesitate to report bad news fast [could this be a reference to Haditha?] or contest unrealistic plans/poor concepts. Despite the complexity and size of his AO [area of operations], he always maintains a calm, cool demeanor."
- "Always seeks advantage over complex, diverse insurgent enemy. Truly one of the finer thinkers in this COIN environment."
- "One of the top 3" infantry/cavalry battalion commanders "of 13 who have served with RCT -2 [the regiment] during OIF. A superb leader, who knows his men, knows the enemy, knows his business. Doesn't attract a lot of fanfare; just gets the job done to an exceedingly high standard."
- "Long ball hitter; recommend selection for promotion to Colonel and TLS [Top Level School]."
The Reviewing Officer, Major General Huck added his comments: "Top notch officer with outstanding potential. Promote and select for TLS [Top Level School]. Post TLS slate for Regimental command and subsequent joint tour. Unlimited potential and value to the Marine Corps. Capable of the most challenging assignments."
One distorted magazine article has devastated the life, career and family of this patriotic Marine officer... and could adversely affect our military for years to come.
This case is about how our military fights and will fight in the future. Politicians have historically gotten in the way of professional military members doing the job they have been trained to do, which ironically, includes defending those very politicians who get in their way.
LtCol Chessani has willingly answered the call to serve his country, and done so with the honor typical off Marine officers. That's why he deserves the support of every Patriotic American today.
The successful defense of Jeffrey Chessani is vital to the security of America and to all our military personnel we place in harm's way.
Click here to Donate Now.
Our thanks to the Thomas More Law Center, which is defending LtCol Chessani, for providing the majority of this article and the photos.
P.S. Please share LtCol Chessani's story with others who will realize the gravity of this important case.