A Marine Corps officer who took on the top brass, and lost, has started a new career path in a legal job under the Pentagon’s Joint Staff, not the Corps.
Maj. James Weirick, a staff judge advocate, filed a series of whistleblower complaints the past two years against Gen. James Amos, the Marine commandant, and his top aides. He charged they illegally interfered in the prosecution of Marines in the infamous Taliban corpses desecration video on YouTube. He further charged he was retaliated against by superiors who stripped him of his job, ordered a mental health evaluation, gave him a bad fitness report after years of receiving good ones, and compared him to the Navy Yard murderer.
The Pentagon inspector general investigated some of his complaints and has concluded his superiors acted properly in removing him from his post. The report said they were responding to a sharply worded email Maj. Weirick sent to a civilian Marine attorney and a potential witness in the IG probe.
But the IG did not address another matter — Maj. Weirick’s central charge that Gen. Amos was guilty of unlawful command influence when in early 2012 he met privately with Lt. Gen. Thomas Waldhauser. Gen. Waldhauser, who was overseeing the urination case prosecutions, later testified Gen. Amos ordered him to “crush” the defendants and kick them out of the Marines. He said he refused to prejudge the defendants.
Gen. Amos removed Gen. Waldhauser and appointed a new convening authority, acknowledging his remarks went too far, but later denying he ever said the word “crushed.” The Marine Corps never told defense attorneys why Gen. Waldhauser was removed. They discovered it themselves when a military judge gave them permission to question Gen. Waldhauser.
A congressional staffer said the IG passed on investigating the Waldhauser matter because it decided the military justice system could handle that issue.
Defense attorneys had planned to raise Gen. Amos’ actions at a scheduled public court martial in 2013 and wanted permission to question him. But that never happened. At the last moment, Lt. Gen. Kenneth Glueck, commander of Combat Development Command in Quantico, canceled the court martial of Capt. James V. Clement. The general sent the case to an administrative hearing.
What the IG did investigate was Maj. Weirick’s complaint of reprisal.
In September 2013, he sent the sharply worded email to Peter Delorier, a former Marine staff judge advocate who was a former deputy counsel to the commandant.
“You are being offered the opportunity to come clear,” Maj. Weirick wrote. “To do the right thing. To be honest. To abide by your professional obligations. To demonstrate honesty, courage, commitment. Those values you embraced all those years ago. Take this opportunity. Come to the side of the honest and truthful. Delay, obfuscation, and intimidation are not working. Those tactics will never work against Weirick.”
Maj. Weirick wrote of Gen. Amos’ legal staff at the Pentagon, “none of them can stop Weirick. You know this. They have not done it thus far, what makes you think they will in the future?”
Gen. Glueck, the major’s commanding officer, told IG investigators he was alarmed by the message as possibly “threatening” and approved removing Maj. Weirick from his staff legal job.
“I think those are probably some of the key phrases that kind of jumped out at me,” Gen. Glueck testified. “I mean, I’ve never seen a field grade officer write an email like that.”
An unnamed officer said he gave Maj. Weirick a poor fitness report, one month after the email, because he failed to get a physical and because the email to Mr. Delorier violated rules against communicating with potential witnesses.
A number of former Marine staff judge advocates wrote to the Senate and House Armed Services Committees, asking them to investigate Gen. Amos for his actions in the urination cases.
L. Lee Thweatt, a former Marine defense attorney, said on Tuesday that the IG report “ignores the disturbing reality” of what the top brass did to discredit Maj. Weirick.
“General Amos and his advisors conjured a boogie man in Maj. Weirick in order to save their own skins, and to obscure their own misconduct,” he said. “Sadly, the report issued by the DoD IG failed to criticize, and barely even identified, this coordinated effort at the highest levels of the Marine Corps designed to unfairly discredit Maj. Weirick. The chilling effect that this deficient and flawed report will have on others who observe legal and ethical misconduct by high ranking government officials is both predictable and disturbing. It is open season on whistle blowers within the Department of Defense.”
Maj. Weirick told The Washington Times that Gen. Amos’ top civilian legal adviser, Robert Hogue, was wrong to publicly compare him as a potential threat on a par with the Navy Yard shooter. He said he passed two mental health evaluations and is disappointed the IG did not criticize Mr. Hogue for the insult.
Maj. Weirick moved to the Joint Force Development office in June.
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