Ex-Marine Questions Prosecution in Civilian Court

Discussion in 'SitRep' started by ToughOmbre, Aug 17, 2008.

  1. ToughOmbre

    ToughOmbre Active Member

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    This is very troubling to me....

    What do you think is going on here?

    Sunday, August 17, 2008

    IRVINE, Calif. — A former Marine sergeant facing the first federal civilian prosecution of a military member accused of a war crime says there is much more at stake than his claim of innocence on charges that he killed unarmed detainees in Fallujah, Iraq.

    In the view of Jose Luis Nazario Jr., U.S. troops may begin to question whether they will be prosecuted by civilians for doing what their military superiors taught them to do in battle.

    Nazario is the first military service member who has completed his duty to be brought to trial under a law that allows the government to prosecute defense contractors, military dependents and those no longer in the military who commit crimes outside the United States.

    "They train us, and they expect us to rely back on that training. Then when we use that training, they prosecute us for it?" Nazario said during an interview Saturday with The Associated Press.

    "I didn't do anything wrong. I don't think I should be the first tried like this," said Nazario, whose trial begins Tuesday in Riverside, east of Los Angeles.

    If Nazario, 28, is convicted of voluntary manslaughter, some predict damaging consequences on the battlefield.

    "This boils down to one thing in my mind: Are we going to allow civilian juries to Monday-morning-quarterback military decisions?" said Nazario's attorney, Kevin McDermott.

    Others say the law closes a loophole that allowed former military service members to slip beyond the reach of prosecution. Once they complete their terms, troops cannot be prosecuted in military court.

    Scott Silliman, a law professor and executive director of the Center on Law, Ethics and National Security at Duke University, says it has little to do with questioning military decisions and everything to do with whether a service member committed a crime.

    "From a legal point of view, there is no difference in law between war and peace," he said.

    The Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act law was written in 2000 and amended in 2004 primarily to prosecute civilian contractors who commit crimes while working for the U.S. overseas. One of the authors contends prosecuting former military personnel was "not the motivation."

    "I don't fault the Department of Justice for using what legal authority they have if a clear criminal act has been committed. But I do think that it would be preferable for crimes committed on active duty be prosecuted by court martial rather than in civilian courts," said Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala.

    "I think maybe what it says is we need to rethink the question of military personnel who are subject to prosecution."

    Telephone messages for a spokesman in the U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles seeking comment were not returned.

    Nazario, of Riverside, is charged with one count of voluntary manslaughter on suspicion of killing or causing others to kill four unarmed detainees in November 2004 in Fallujah, during some of the fiercest fighting of the war. He also faces one count of assault with a deadly weapon and one count of discharging a firearm during a crime of violence.

    The case came to light in 2006, when Nazario's former squadmate, Sgt. Ryan Weemer, volunteered details to a U.S. Secret Service job interviewer during a lie-detector screening that included a question about the most serious crime he ever committed. Weemer was ordered this month to stand trial in military court on charges of unpremeditated murder and dereliction of duty in the killing of an unarmed detainee in Fallujah. He has pleaded not guilty.

    According to a Naval Criminal Investigative Service criminal complaint, several Marines allege Nazario shot two Iraqi men who had been detained while his squad searched a house. The complaint claims four Iraqi men were killed during the action.

    The complaint states the squad had been taking fire from the house. After the troops entered the building and captured the insurgents, Nazario placed a call on his radio.

    "Nazario said that he was asked, 'Are they dead yet?"' the complaint states. When Nazario responded that that the captives were still alive, he was allegedly told by the Marine on the radio to "make it happen."

    Though Nazario and his attorneys declined to discuss the facts of the case with the AP, the former Marine has always maintained his innocence.

    Fallujah was the scene of two Marine battles in 2004, the first of which was launched after insurgents killed four U.S. contractors in the city. That battle was aborted in April 2004 and the Marines launched Operation Phantom Fury in November of that year.

    Nazario said he was on his first deployment when his squad entered Fallujah, which he described as a "high combat zone" with insurgents taking shots at troops at every turn — with everything from AK-47s to rocket-propelled grenades.

    Thirty-three in his battalion were killed in the battle. The first, he said, was a man in his squad. Nazario later received the Navy-Marine Corps Commendation Medal with a "V" for valor for combat and leadership in Fallujah.

    Though Nazario was not physically injured, he was later found to have post-traumatic stress disorder.

    After leaving the military, Nazario worked as an officer with the Riverside Police Department and was close to completing his one-year probation. He said he knew nothing of the investigation until he was arrested Aug. 7, 2007, after being called into the watch commander's office to sign a performance review.

    He said he was leaning forward to sign when he was grabbed from behind by his fellow officers, told he had been charged with a war crime and was turned over to Navy investigators waiting in a nearby room. Because he had not completed probation, the police department fired him.

    Since then, he said, has been unable to find work.

    "You're supposed to be innocent until proven guilty," he said. "I've put in applications everywhere for everything. But nobody wants to hire you if you have been indicted."

    Without any income, Nazario said, he has been forced to move in with his parents in New York. He and his wife resorted to selling some of their household goods, such as electronics equipment, to a pawn shop.

    His wife, once a stay-at-home mother to their 2-year-old son, has gone to work as a customer service receptionist, he said. She will be unable to attend his trial.

    "She has to work. We need the money," he said, his eyes reddening as he blinked away tears.

    Nazario said he has no regrets about being a Marine, only regrets about what has happened since.

    "My faith in the system is shaken. There's no doubt about that," he said.

    One of Nazario's defense attorneys, Doug Applegate, said he believes that ultimately the former Marine will be acquitted because of lack of evidence.

    "There are no bodies, no forensic evidence, no crime scene and no identities," he said.

    It is unclear what, if anything, Marines being subpoenaed to testify will say about the events in the house in Fallujah.

    Another Marine, Sgt. Jermaine Nelson, 26, of New York is slated to be court-martialed in December on charges of unpremeditated murder and dereliction of duty for his role in the deaths.

    Although he has not entered a plea in military court, Nelson's attorney has said his client is innocent.

    Nelson and Weemer were jailed in June for contempt of court for refusing to testify against Nazario before a federal grand jury believed to be investigating the case. Both were released July 3 and returned to Camp Pendleton.

    TO
     
  2. Matt308

    Matt308 Glock Perfection
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    Lawyers will be the death of us all.

    Treating prisoners of war with fully nationalized US citizen rights. Treating fully nationalized citizens serving in our military as enemy combatants. I think I have fallen down the proverbial rabbit hole.
     
  3. wilbur1

    wilbur1 Active Member

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    THIS IS COMPLETE BULLS#$%!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
     
  4. pbfoot

    pbfoot Active Member

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    Sorry guys I can't see anything wrong except is the order giver on the radio also charged.
    I understand things happen on the battlefield but thats why you get the training to obey Lawful Orders
     
  5. Matt308

    Matt308 Glock Perfection
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    Yes Pb. But that is what a Courts Martial is for. Not a civil court. Kinda like the UN prosecuting a Canadian soldier for war actions. BS. In fact if a US civil court is appropriate, then why not other world state civil courts. It quickly spins out of control.
     
  6. ToughOmbre

    ToughOmbre Active Member

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    Civil court? No effin' way.

    And this may be emotion talkin', but I'm giving the benefit of the doubt to the soldier in combat every damn time!

    TO
     
  7. pbfoot

    pbfoot Active Member

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    Then why didn't the US Military take the ball and run
    Realizing that the man is innocent until proven guilty the facts as shown indicate the man had shown poor judgement the man is professional soldier. When we had a similar but worse situation in Somailia we ended up with a parlimentary inquest
     
  8. Matt308

    Matt308 Glock Perfection
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    Poor judgement or not, if the civil courts assume legal responsibility for adjudicating military actions, the US military will be hornswaggled (handicapped).

    I'm not weighing in on an individuals soldiers, marines, sailors, etc., case, but rather am stating a position that civil courts interfering with military affairs directed by the Commander in Chief (President) are contrary to constitutional powers.

    The military has their own means of ensuring proper behavior as defined in the Uniformed Code of Military Justice (UCMJs).
     
  9. pbfoot

    pbfoot Active Member

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    He could not be charged under military law since he was no longer in the military its this option or he cannot be charged . For the most part I trust the legal systems and I'm sure the right decision will be made . I'm sure glad the guy ain't a cop anymore
     
  10. Matt308

    Matt308 Glock Perfection
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    Then go after the military. Don't go after the individual. Perhaps the UCMJs should be adjusted to account for attrocities (not sure they aren't now).
     
  11. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
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    It sounds like a loop-hole that they're exploiting especially with the focus on Gitmo.

    He was a military member at the time of the crime (if there was one), and it should therefore come under military rule.
     
  12. freebird

    freebird Active Member

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    Yes I agree that it would probably be better to give a soldier a Court Martial after discharge for actions committed while in uniform, rather than a civilian court.

    Here is a question: If I understand correctly, a US soldier in a combat zone WITHOUT ANY LAWFUL GOVERNMENT is subject only to the UCMJ. If a soldier commits a crime in another country is he not subject to that countries law? For example the soldiers that raped a girl in Okinawa were tried in Japanese court.

    So if I understand correctly, he could be charged by the Iraqi government with a crime?

     
  13. Matt308

    Matt308 Glock Perfection
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    Depends on the nation treaties, Freebird. This was a sticking point with the US just recently.
     
  14. freebird

    freebird Active Member

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    It's a double edged sword Matt. On one hand I totally understand the US resistance to exposing soldiers to juctice in every tin-pot banana republic. {no offence to those of you who live in such a place :) }

    I think if the soldier makes an error of judgement IN COMBAT, say shoots civilians by mistake or whatever, I can agree the UCMJ should apply.

    But if the guys are off duty and commit some crime then the local law should apply.

    Like the guys who raped the 14 yr old in Iraq shot the whole family

    I'm sorry to say but that sentance was lame. For this kind of crime they should be castrated torn apart by camels. :mad:

    But then the Japanese court was out to lunch too. 7 years for gang raping a 12 yr old girl? Bull***t!


    And I don't want anyone to think I am saying this is only a military problem, it's a problem with lots of scum in society. There are too many slack judges {lots in Canada!} that give out just a few years for rape/murder. I have no sympathy for these creeps.

    I wish we could vote out the lame judges in Canada, like you can in the USA.

    Sorry for the rant.
     
  15. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
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    Sorry, Freebird. In some states you can't - like NJ - Judges are appointed for life, just like the Supreme court. And even if you could vote them out like PA it still doesn't matter. From what I've seen, Judicial elections are as popular as deep-fried mud pies. Hardly anybody votes unless its tagged onto the general election. But mostly voters go party lines.
     
  16. evangilder

    evangilder "Shooter"
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    Military members who commit crimes or are alleged to have committed crimes should be tried by a military tribunal only. Civil courts are not the place to try these kinds of cases because people who have never worn a uniform can not fully understand a lot of things about the military structure and culture.

    Trying a military case in a civil court is a recipe for disaster. Our troops deserve better.
     
  17. ccheese

    ccheese Member In Perpetuity
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    I have heard of service members who were discharged, then were found to
    have been involved in a criminal act. In the two cases I know of, both were
    recalled to active duty, then tried. The alleged acts were commited while
    on active duty, and both members were tried under the UCMJ.

    Boy ! Have you got that right....

    Charles
     
  18. pbfoot

    pbfoot Active Member

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    Now I'm presuming this guy is innocent
    But if he did do as the charge states he should be brought to justice but since he has finished his commitment plus a year cannot be charged in the military justice system so there is only one option the civilian courts , I'm going to guess a military background will be high on the list as the defence attorney looks at the jury pool
     
  19. freebird

    freebird Active Member

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    As long as the UCMJ court martial is not seen as a whitewash or a slap on the wrist, it wouldn't be a problem.

    The case in point seems to be one in which it occured in an active combat, I agree that a military trial is better.

    The fact that 99.+ % of US soldiers are moral, compassionate and honorable is lost on the public when they see headlines like Abu Grhaib etc.

    What I would be concerned about as a non-military member of the public is that abuses would be covered up or "whitewashed" to avoid bad press or because of a sort of "code of silence" that often prevents police from ratting on other cops or other similar proffecsional organizations.

    How would the military ensure that there is not another repeat of the Mai Lai {Vietnam} travesty, when only one man was ever court martialed for a horrific crime that 50+ soldiers activly participated in?
     
  20. evangilder

    evangilder "Shooter"
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    I cannot pass judgment on this case as I don't know enough of the facts, but more importantly, I wasn't there. The problem here is that there are members of the general public that would like to do nothing more than fry a guy who is even accused of a war crime. Civil juries hearing cases of a military allegation are not completely capable of providing an impartial judgment.
     
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