Attorney Neal A. Puckett told The Washington Times that Gen. Michael Hagee, the Marine commandant, briefed Rep. John P. Murtha, Pennsylvania Democrat, on the Nov. 19 killings of 24 Iraqis in the town north of Baghdad. Mr. Murtha later told reporters that the Marines were guilty of killing the civilians in "cold blood." Mr. Murtha said he based his statement on Marine commanders, whom he did not identify.If the Marine commanders told a congressman that the Marines were guilty, then the defense has a good point about tainting the jury pool. And, if as seems more likely, Murtha was exaggerating what the Marines commander had told him, he'll have to admit that under oath. I bet he'll be a whole lot more careful what he goes and says to the media. And other congressmen will be more wary about coming out of confidential briefings and blowing off to the press in order to score political points.
Mr. Puckett said such public comments from a congressman via senior Marines amount to "unlawful command influence." He said potential Marine jurors could be biased by the knowledge that their commandant, the Corps' top officer, thinks the Haditha Marines are guilty.
Thursday, June 15, 2006
This is just perfect. Congressman went all over the media proclaiming the guilt (ahead of the investigation) of the Marines involved in the incident at Haditha. Now, the defense lawyer for one of the Marines has announced plans to call Murtha as a witness.
Posted by Betsy Newmark at 6:38 AM