The sordid saga of certain members of the Marine Corps legal establishment's vicious effort to convict a group of heroic Marine warriors of crimes none of them committed got even sleazier this week when it was revealed that a prosecutor sought to extort a guilty plea from an innocent and courageous young Marine 1st Lieutenant in return for leniency that would spare him the ordeal of a court martial he may be facing.
In a display of the integrity that is a byword among Marine officers, Lt. Andrew Grayson — "G-Man" to his fellow Marine officers — spurned the easy way out and chose to reject out of hand the poisoned sweetheart deal allegedly offered by reserve Marine prosecutor Lt. Col. Sean Sullivan, a Chicago lawyer. In effect, Grayson was asked to plead guilty to something he did not do in order to escape being tried for something more serious which he did not do.
"I was asked by the prosecution to fall on my sword for the greater good of the Marine Corps,'' Grayson, 26, told the AP in a brief statement. "The prosecution wanted me to distort the truth to fit their end goal.''
Twenty-six year-old Lt. Grayson is among the four former officers of the 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment who were charged with dereliction of duty for allegedly failing to investigate the Nov. 19, 2005, engagement that left 15 Iraqi civilians and eight insurgents dead during a bitter hard-fought battle in Haditha after an enemy ambush that killed a member of the unit.
As I have repeatedly demonstrated over the past year, the charges of failing to investigate the events of that day are provably false. The entire day's action was not only carefully monitored by battalion intelligence operatives and other officers all the way up the chain of command, but fully reported in excruciating detail in an after-action PowerPoint report sent to higher levels of command that very night. There was never any doubt about what transpired that day and absolutely no need for further investigation.
In recent weeks, as one defendant after another is exonerated by the evidence, the real story I have been reporting of what happened in Haditha is finally emerging.
Doubts only arose after a fallacious Time magazine report several months later that was based entirely on testimony and videos shot by known insurgent propagandists stirred a media firestorm.
In rejecting a deal that would have made him admit to a non crime in order to escape the long legal ordeal he faces, Grayson has shown the kind of integrity expected from officers of the United States Marine Corps.
"It's heartening to see that these young officers actually believe in the words that we were taught and live by, veteran Marine Captain Brian Rooney, told me.
Rooney, who as an attorney with the Thomas More Law Center now represents Lt. Col. Jeffrey Chessani facing similar charges, served in Fallujah during the furious second battle in that city. He said that "In the Marine Corps, we say that 'integrity is doing the right thing when nobody is watching.'
“Lieutenant Grayson is doing the right thing. That's what Lieutenant Grayson was getting at when they questioned his integrity — for him to say he's not going to compromise it, I say 'good on him'"
In the past year, we have seen displays of that kind of integrity on the part of the 3rd Battalion Marines time and again. Their incredible bravery in combat has been also revealed in the way many of them have responded in the face of an attack by certain members of the prosecution whose disreputable actions are a stain on the honor of the Corps.
Grayson's name on the roll of honor must be added to the name of Capt. Jeffrey Dinsmore, 3rd Battalion's former intelligence officer and Grayson's superior. From the very beginning of the Haditha hoax Jeff Dinsmore has sought to do everything in his power to proclaim and prove the innocence of his fellow 3rd Battalion Marines, despite the damage it might well do to his distinguished 20-year career in the Corps he loves.
In the face of the prosecution attack fueled by a long parade of leaks of damaging but false information to a media anxious to believe the very worst of the Marines, he remained steadfast in proclaiming their innocence.
I'll let his proud dad, Navy veteran Don Dinsmore tell you about it: "If I may get personal for a moment: my eldest son, Captain Jeff Dinsmore [3rd Battalion Marines] called me immediately after his people were charged in December 2006. He asked his dad what he should do.
"I said, 'You know what you have got to do, you are a Marine.' But I also asked, 'Do you understand what it will cost you?'
"He said, 'Yes, probably my career.'
"Then he said, 'We went over there together as Marines, we watched each other's backs like Marines, we were ready to take a hit for each other, because we are Marines. If I had taken that hit for any of them it would have wrecked my career. They are innocent and I can prove it, and I'm a Marine and I will leave no man behind.'"
Of Grayson, Jeff Dinsmore said "His action will certainly keep the other Marines encouraged and fighting as well."
That's what Marines mean by integrity.
Phil Brennan is a veteran journalist and World War II Marine who writes for NewsMax.com. He is editor and publisher of Wednesday on the Web (http://www.pvbr.com) and was Washington columnist for National Review magazine in the 1960s.
He also served as a staff aide for the House Republican Policy Committee and helped handle the Washington public relations operation for the Alaska Statehood Committee which won statehood for Alaska. He is also a trustee of the Lincoln Heritage Institute and a member of the Association For Intelligence Officers.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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