Can the Commandant Survive?

For the past several weeks, I’ve been following allegations of unlawful command influence lodged against the Commandant of the Marine Corps (CMC), General James Amos. Until the last 24 hours, information has been fragmented, at best. As a whole, it didn’t appear to be in Amos’ favor, but being definitive was not possible.

It started with court-martial charges-gone-horribly-awry against Captain James Clement, who exercised command authority over the Marines accused of desecrating (urinating upon) bodies in Afghanistan. Essentially, the charges were dropped once defense counsel pushed the issue of unlawful command influence against the CMC. In lieu of court-martial charges, the Marine Corps elected to subject Captain Clement to administrative discharge, a process with substantially fewer tools for defense counsel to obtain and test evidence.

Then, the situation became a bigger mess when JAGs involved in the case started to blow whistles, implicating overwhelming influence from the CMC to subordinate officers. One whisteblower JAG in particular, MAJ James Weirick (a big fan of illeism) was relieved of duties and caused to undergo a psychological exam on suspect grounds. All of this smacked of character assassination and coverup.

Every day, the evidence against Amos grew stronger and stronger, especially when evidence concerning his senior civilian attorney-advisor, Robert Hogue, came to light.

Now, Akin Gump power-player John Dowd enters the fray. You might know him best for the Dowd Report which detailed Pete Rose’s gambling for Major League Baseball or his representation of John McCain during the Keating Five fiasco.

Dowd swings a bat. A really big bat. I could tell you about it, but I’d rather show you. In complete and succinct detail, he lays-out the facts. While we must acknowledge that he is advocating on behalf of his client, his facts are hard (if not impossible) to argue.

At one point, I might have told you that this wouldn’t have much effect on the CMC. The overwhelming majority of allegations against military muckity-mucks end in a dustbin somewhere in a forgotten basement corner of the Pentagon. Now, however, I think it has gone past the point of no return. Considering the full body of publicly-known evidence against him, I find it hard to believe how the President and the Secretary of Defense can continue to have faith in Amos’ ability to lead the Marine Corps.

When a Washington power-player lawyer at a bigwig firm is compelled to take a case against you pro bono, it is a clear sign that a threshold has been met or exceeded. Expect a less-than-auspicious exit for the nation’s top Marine.


Note: As always, the best information about this and other noteworthy military cases can be found at