They are seven soldiers and one sailor who were on assignment in Iraq when in the course of doing their duty they were accused among other things, of kidnapping, conspiracy and murder and are currently being detained in solitary confinement at Camp Pendleton in San Diego, California. The eight men are accused of kidnapping an Iraqi man, tieing him up, shooting him and throwing him in a hole on the side of the road, then covering it up by planting a shovel and AK-47 on him, and then lying to investigators and military officials.
Sgt. Lawrence G. Hutchins III
Cpl. Trent D. Thomas
Hospitalman 3rd Class Melson J. Bacos
Lance Cpl. Tyler A. Jackson
Lance Cpl. Robert B. Pennington
Pfc. John Jodka III
Lance Cpl. Jerry Shumate Jr.
Cpl. Marshall Magincalda
These men were accused by the alleged victim's family four days after the alleged incident. They were relieved of duty and are being held in pre-trial confinement. They were being held in shackles at the waist, legs and ankles but thanks to Michael Savage and pressure from families, friends and supporters, the shackles were removed. The prisoners are held in solitary confinement, and according to family and attorneys they are denied medical and dental care, and denied access to information that would help their case.
They can in fact be held in pre-trial confinement if the Commander deems is appropriate. According to the UCMJ, “When a person may be confined. No person may be ordered into pretrial confinement except for probable cause. Probable cause to order pretrial confinement exists when there is a reasonable belief that: (1) An offense triable by court-martial has been committed; (2) The person confined committed it; and (3) Confinement is required by the circumstances.”
My question is how can you confine someone if there is no viable evidence a crime was committed? And if there was enough evidence why weren't the men charged right away?
According to logs, PFC Jodka was interrogated three times while still in Iraq. One session lasted seven hours. There are no transcripts from any of those interviews. Investigators do not use written transcripts or audio/video when interviewing the accused and witnesses. The Government has denied Cpl. Jodka's defense request to visit the crime scene, denied the defense request for use of a forensic psychologist, and denied access to witnesses. Why? According to Lt. Gen. John Sattler, Commander, USMC Central Command, the requests are premature because no charges have yet been filed.
The defense is being told the autopsy is not completed however the alleged victim's body has already been flown back to Iraq for re-burial. NCIS interviewed members of the alleged victim's family yet the defense has not been able to do so and the witnesses will not be present at the Article 32 hearings. Lt. Col. Sean Gibson informed the press "there is no mechanism in place to assure the witnesses will appear at trial."
The ONLY accusors are the family members who will not even be questioned by the defense or present at the hearings.
The military attorneys are too busy with other caseloads to assist the civilian attorneys in this matter. Jane Siegel, a former Marine Colonel is one of the defense attorneys in this case and even she has come out against this injustice.
Add to all that, the investigation is being tainted by a member of Congress and anonymous investigators and Pentagon officials asserting guilt before the investigation is complete:
``What's clear is that they killed a guy and knew they were going to do it when they started out on this effort," said the official, who also spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is incomplete.
"There was no firefight. There was no IED (improvised explosive device)that killed those innocent people," Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., said during a news conference on Iraq. "Our troops overreacted because of the pressure on them. And they killed innocent civilians in cold blood. That is what the report is going to tell."
A senior Pentagon official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly, has said a shovel was also planted on the body to make it appear the man was trying to plant an explosive device. (FoxNews.com)
What does Murtha know? Who is his source? Why are "officials" involved in the investigation and at the Pentagon allowed to comment on an investigation that is not yet completed? Why has the President not come out and defended these soldiers by stating they are innocent until proven guilty? How can he turn his back on them and at the same time decide that suspected terrorists held at Gitmo are entitled to protection under the Geneva convention? Why are our soldiers being held as if they were prisoners already convicted and awaiting execution?
In the eyes of the media, they are.
To appease the Iraqis and terrorists waiting for a good excuse to nail us, the Pentagon held a special press conference to announce the charges. And when that happened, most of us shook our heads and figured "so much for justice".
Without going into detail because it would take forever, the you can read the inconsistent and shaky accounts of the alleged incident at The Riehl World View: Press Accounts Of Second Alleged Atrocity Don't Add Up
Also you can check out this timeline at the website of Casas Law Group who is one of the many attorneys representing these men.
If the Pendleton Eight are found guilty they will be executed. They deserve the right to be heard, the right to equal access to evidence, the right to face their accusors, the right to justice. These men are sons, brothers, husbands, and fathers. There are real people behind the faces and names. Their lives are on the line. And while our President and our Congress fight for rights for the suspected terrorists held in Gitmo, and while Saddam Hussein enjoys over 2,000 feet of living space not to mention his own garden, our own soldiers, American citizens, who put their lives on the line for freedom not just for Americans but for Iraqis, are being denied equal access to justice.
WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG HERE PEOPLE?
The Sixth Amendment of the Constitution states:
"In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence."
Truth and justice cannot prevail if these men are not able to properly defend themselves.
Now this little blurb is unrelated but did you know:
In April 2006, Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli ordered subordinate commanders in Iraq to investigate ALL incidents in which US soldiers might be responsible for seriously injuring or killing Iraqis or causing more than $10,000 in property damage.
I believe in accountability, but how in hell can you fight a war if, after every engagement, you must stop and investigate whether or not the engagement was warranted.
Can you imagine if the great WWII leaders Admiral Chester Nimitz, Generals Omar Bradley, Dwight Eisenhower, George Marshall, Douglas MacArthur, George Patton, Bernard Law Montgomery (UK), Charles DeGaulle (Fr), and Georgi Konstantinovich Zhukov (USSR) had conducted war in this manner?
Can you imagine how many more soldiers would have died?
Can you imagine what course the war would have taken?
The military continues to meet or exceed its recruitment quotas month after month, which means an awful lot of brave men and women believe in the cause for freedom. But how long till they finally get disgusted and quit enlisting and re-enlisting because the need for appeasing politicians, terrorists, other countries, and the UN outweighs the need to successfully accomplish their mission?