Coming into the discussion, late......Very good points by all. Mattis is no doubt a fearless warrior with a supreme intellect, and a leader that many Marines would be honored to serve under. But his handling of the Haditha case seemed flawed at best.
The presiding judge for LtCol Chessani’s Undue Command Influence motion hearing found that there was not only an appearance of UCI, but it could possibly be proven if further investigation was made, that actual UCI did occur. Mattis never took responsibility for his error in judgement in how the Haditha case against the 8 Marines was handled.
The Haditha case came at a critical juncture in the debate over the appropriate Rules of Engagement in Iraq. Mattis seemed to go along with the emerging counterinsurgency approach of “winning hearts and minds” strategy as being more important than the “have a plan to kill everyone you meet” strategy he advocated early on in Iraq. We can see how successful these current ROE’s are working in Afghanistan.
The effect of how these Haditha Marines were treated by our military, by the press, by certain members in Congress was not lost on Marines in theater. They were well aware that they, too, could be thrown under the bus, have their lives/careers destroyed, and their families’ resources dessimated trying to defend themselves should they placed in a similar situation. Hesitation under fire leads to casualties.
So, while Mattis may be outstanding, compared to other generals obama could choose from, he will always be connected with the appearance of Undue of Command Influence (railroading) associated with the handling of Lt Col Chessani’s charges. He will always bear the responsibility for the outcome from the Haditha Marines’ charges.
The impact of Murthas unrestrained remarks, coupled with medias specious, sensationalized accounts of the incident, was recently underscored by Iraqi negotiators discussing the future of the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) between Iraq and the US.
The negotiations reportedly came to a screeching halt last week when the Iraqis refused to budge over demands that US service members be denied immunity from Iraqi prosecution for alleged war crimes in Iraq.
US and Iraqi officials reportedly reached the impasse because most of the US Marines accused of massacring civilians at Haditha have been exonerated.
The specious Haditha incident was identified by name during the delicate negotiations in Baghdad to determine whether the United States intends to give up its traditional legal sovereignty over American service members, numerous news reports said.
The Iraqis want assurances they can exact their own brand of justice on American service members trapped in similar situations.
The US has SOFA agreements in 80 countries that give the US autonomy over disciplining American troops.
The Americans military needed to show the Iraqis that it would go balls to the wall in prosecuting Marines and soldiers who were accused of battlefield "atrocities". Winter and the rest of the cowardly perfumed princes of the Pentagon made the ill-advised decision to showcase "the Haditha massacre" aand throw eight heroic battlefield veterans under the bus like human sacrifices rather than man up and tell the Iraqis that the al Queda propaganda wasn't going to work this time.
This level of "diplomacy" was above Mattis's pay grade and he may have found himself between a rock and a hard place. Still, as the case progressed and it became clear that there WAS no case, that the whole thing was really nothing more than a carefully orchestrated propaganda effort, Mattis could have himself manned up and effectively told Winter and the Pentagon to go play with themselves by dismissing all cases without prejudice. To his shame, he didn't. He let the disgraceful fiasco drag on and on and he'll have to live with that.
...And Mattis will surely "live with it" a lot easier than the eight good Marines who were successfully removed from America's war effort thanks to a chain of command that handed a victory to the enemy in an all-too-quick, cowardly fashion.
Excellent posts by you both.
The appearance and the probability of actual UCI is out there for all to see from the hearings and the upholding of it by the military appeals court.
There’s nothing “behind the scenes” about it or any kind of “inside” info re the UCMJ. The judges acting for the UCMJ are the ones that determined it was there and put an exclamation mark on it with the outcome of the appeal.
No real argument here, but the mere appearance of Undue Command Influence is not proof of its existence. George Patton was always connected to his slapping of a shellshocked soldier on Sicily. But Patton did what he thought was best at the time, and he remained our best field general throughout the war.
He will always bear the responsibility for the outcome from the Haditha Marines charges.
This is where I disagree with you. As the convening authority, General Mattis bears responsibility for the charges being brought to trial. But responsibility for the outcome of those charges rests solely with the court martial jury.