The Marine Corps has dropped criminal charges against Capt. James V. Clement in connection with an incident involving US troops urinating on dead Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan.
The controversial 40-second urination video surfaced on YouTube. Clement himself does not appear in the infamous video of the July 2011 incident.
Clement was headed to a military court martial over allegations of dereliction of duty, failing to properly supervise junior Marines, failing to stop the misconduct of junior Marines, failing to report misconduct, and making false statements to military investigators.
The officer’s attorneys had alleged that the Marine Commandant had tried to rig the trial to ensure a conviction. They intended to bring on witnesses to prove that claim.
On Friday, the Marine Corps abruptly and without explanation withdrew the charges against Clement. A pre-trial hearing was scheduled for this coming Wednesday.
According to the Washington Times, “Capt. Clement’s defense counsel obtained a sworn statement from Lt. Gen. Thomas D. Waldhauser, who had been overseeing all urination cases as the convening authority. He told of a one-on-one meeting in 2012 with Gen. [James] Amos in which the commandant said he wanted Marine defendants ‘crushed’ via courts-martial.”
A Pentagon whistleblower investigation into possible “unlawful command influence” is underway as a result.
Clement is not out of the woods, however, as he will be brought before an administrative Board of Inquiry that could result in an involuntary discharge from the Marines.
John Down, one of Clement’s lawyers, reportedly wanted to go forward with the court martial trial that he believed would have exonerated is client and added that “The charges never should have been brought in the first place, and we clearly demonstrated that. We’ll demonstrate that again in the Board of Inquiry.This is sore losing. This is not classy, and it doesn’t stand with the excellence the Marine Corps is known for.”