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Saturday, March 08, 2008

Winter Soldier II - Slippery Legal Slope plus Update on Jason Washburn

Nat Helms and David Allender have just posted a piece about the legal ramifications of testifying to "war crimes" at Winter Soldier II...

Lawyers watching the events say the former warriors who participate in Winter Soldier II face a different world than their Vietnam-era counterparts. A new law adopted in 2000 puts them at risk of prosecution by the federal government.

Military attorney Jim Culp called Winter Soldier II the “soul-searching, freedom-losing session in Silver Springs.” Culp says the IVAW member’s desire to “tell the truth” about the war in Iraq carries with it possible heavy consequences because doing so expose the veterans to possible prosecution under the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act.

MEJA is the same law used by a civilian federal Grand Jury to indict former Marine Corps Sergeant Jose Nazario with killing an Iraqi prisoner of war more than three years ago. The former Riverside cop, who was abruptly fired, is waiting to go to trial sometime this year.

In another application of MEJA in Kentucky, the federal government used the act to arrest and charge former 101st Airborne Division veteran Steven D. Green with rape and murder. He had been discharged from the Army for a “personality disorder” when the crimes were revealed. Both men will serve long prison terms in federal custody if they are convicted.

Kevin McDermott, the Orange County, California defense lawyer representing Nazario, said the IVAW volunteers are stepping onto a slippery slope. The Act ostensibly applies to crimes committed abroad by civilians that carry at least a one-year prison term, but the federal government now uses it to prosecute former service members as well, he said.

“They could be charged if there was any independent evidence of their crimes,” McDermott said Wednesday.

But not to worry - the Communists at the National Lawyers Guild has the IVAW's back...

In a related note - David Allender was in contact with Jason Washburn this week about Washburn's statements about Haditha Marines going on a rampage and killing civilians. David writes about it here...

Earlier this week Defend Our Marines set out to find Washburn. The disenchanted Marine was unknown to long-term veterans of the Thundering Third. Like Sgt Sanick Dela Cruz, Washburn transferred from the 1/4 to the 3/1 for his third and final tour.

“I was once a Marine, and I'll always be a Marine,” Washburn told us. “I will always defend my brothers and sisters that serve in the military. I would not be a part of Winter Soldier if I thought it was going to do anything to bring harm to them. This is not going to be like the VVAW version of WS. We are not just getting together to talk about ‘war crimes’. The policies being implemented and occupation of Iraq are the crimes.”

We pointed out to Washburn that this was at odds with a statement on his own IVAW profile page. The statement read: “During [my third] tour it was a squad in my unit that went on a rampage after they were hit with an I.E.D. and ended up killing around 26 civilians.” The Justin Sharratt case alone proves that isn't true.

Washburn answered: “I completely forgot about that shit on my profile. I wholeheartedly apologize and retract that statement. I was wrong to put that up.”

By the next day, Washburn had changed the last sentence of his profile to read, “During that tour it was a squad in my unit that was hit with an I.E.D. and while repelling the attack that followed, they incidentally ended up killing around 26 civilians.”

Good on you Jason Washburn. Those of us that have fought for the truth to be published about the Haditha Marines appreciate your willingness to correct your profile.

I know that I speak for many others when I say that the scrutiny will continue as will fact checking of any claims made at WSII. But this was a good start and much appreciated...

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