A military judge has dismissed all charges against Lt. Col. Jeffrey Chessani on the grounds of unlawful command influence arising out of the infamous 2005 Haditha incident.
Judge Steven Folsom blistered the prosecution’s case in an opinion he read from the bench that lasted an hour.
The dismissal allows the prosecution to refile charges on appeal and start the whole case over again, which is unlikely to occur.
Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Law Center, stated, “We are all grateful for the judge’s ruling today. He truly was the 'last sentinel' to guard against unlawful command influence.”
Meanwhile, Chessani’s official 2006 Combat Fitness Report declared him “a superb leader, who knows his men, knows the enemy, knows his business,” and recommended him for promotion. A reviewing major general added that Chessani has “unlimited potential and value to the Marine Corps,” and also recommended him for promotion.
The following quotes are excerpts from Chessani’s Combat Fitness Report (a required annual evaluation of a Marine officer’s performance) prepared by his superiors for the period of September 2005 to February 2006 (including the date of the incident):“Leads Marines from front in every operation. Demonstrates moral courage every day." "Doesn’t hesitate to report bad news fast or contest unrealistic plans/poor concepts. Despite the complexity and size of his AO [area of operations], he always maintains a calm, cool demeanor.” “Gets the job done to an exceedingly high standard.”
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