Col. Jeffrey Chessani
A non-profit legal group representing Marine Lt. Col. Jeffrey Chessani against government allegations related to a firefight in Haditha, Iraq, is crediting radio talk show host Michael Savage and his audience with helping bring about victory.
“Michael Savage has given a national forum to the law center so that we could show the government’s persecution of one of our bravest combat leaders,” said Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Law Center.
“The government took its best shot and lost. They have wasted millions of taxpayers’ dollars. It’s time for the Pentagon to say ‘enough is enough.’ I now call upon our military and civilian leaders to drop this persecution of Lt. Col. Chessani and his family,” Thompson said today.
WND reported yesterday when the Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed a decision to dismiss the counts against Chessani.
The law center said the result was at least partly the work of Savage and the audience of his radio show, “The Savage Nation,” who donate tens of thousands of dollars for the expenses of the defense.
“For the last four years, Lt. Col. Chessani has been investigated and prosecuted for his involvement in the so-called ‘Haditha Massacre’ – a massacre that never happened,” the law firm said.
“During this entire court process, the Thomas More Law Center, a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, has been representing Lt. Col. Chessani without charge. The estimated attorney fees thus far would have amounted to a million dollars,” the organization said.
“However, the law center is receiving donations from patriotic Americans all across America to support the cost of their defense of Lt. Col. Chessani.
One of Lt. Col. Chessani’s greatest supporters is conservative radio talk show commentator, Dr. Michael Savage. Dr. Savage personally donated upwards of $20,000 to the law center to assist in Lt. Col. Chessani’s defense. It is estimated that because of his encouragement, Savage listeners donated tens of thousands of dollars to Lt. Col. Chessani’s defense as well,” the law center said.
Savage, who broadcasts weekdays from 3-6 p.m. Pacific Time, has been recognized by Talkers Magazine with its Freedom of Speech award. Trained as a scientist, he holds master’s degrees in medical botany and medical anthropology and earned a Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley in epidemiology and nutrition Science.
Savage is also the author of 20 books, including four New York Times best-sellers. His latest book, “Psychological Nudity,” tells his childhood stories and is largely apolitical.
The law center confirmed today that the government, which allowed unlawful command influence to seep into the case against Chessani, has another four weeks to decide whether to file another appeal.
The criminal charges originated with a legitimate combat action taken by four enlisted Marines in Chessani’s command after they were ambushed by insurgents in Haditha, Iraq, on Nov. 19, 2005.
Even though Chessani wasn’t present during the incident, he was criminally charged with failing to launch a full investigation into the incident. If convicted, he faces two and a half years imprisonment, dismissal from the corps, and loss of all of his retirement pay.
The case developed after U.S. Rep. John Murtha, a Democrat, publicly accused troops of “killing innocent civilians in cold blood.” That was after a military investigation of the firefight found “no indication” that the Marines had “intentionally targeted, engaged and killed noncombatants.”
As WND reported, the case against Chessani was originally dismissed after Col. Steven Folsom, who presided over the case, ruled the charges were tainted by “unlawful command influence.” Folsom cited improper closed-door meetings with investigators that gave credence to the defense’s argument that Chessani was made a “political scapegoat” for the highly publicized Haditha incident.
Eventually eight Marines were charged, but cases against Lance Cpls. Stephen Tatum and Justin Sharratt, Capts. Randy Stone and Lucas McConnell and Sgt. Sanick P. Dela Cruz were dropped. First Lt. Andrew Grayson was acquitted, leaving only the Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich case pending and Lt. Col. Chessani’s case in appeals.