One has to wonder how far we've fallen as a country. We engage in day long
debates about the purpose of the Iraq war, then the Congress is spirited off
to an ostentatious presidential picnic, while at least one Marine lies in what is being described as severe confinement without even being charged with a crime.
The case of Hamdaniya is a startling and shocking story that alleges criminal
behavior by Marines. One thing to remember is that these Marines deserve the
presumption of innocence until proven guilty. According to the family of PFC
John J. Jodka and his attorney this is not happening.
I do not agree with the assessment by Jodka's attorney regarding Murtha's statements
on Haditha or anything else he says or writes about this Marine, separating
myself completely from any association thereof. I believe Murtha is speaking
out in pain and anguish as the collective voice of many U.S. soldiers who cannot
speak for themselves. That said, I'm very concerned about what I've learned
about Jodka so far.
The war rhetoric is certainly starting a crescendo that is beginning to eat
The Hamdaniya case reminds me of what happened to another soldier, not for
alleged murder of course, but for simply speaking out. His name was Captain
Ian Fishback, a case in which I also became involved, if only through writing
about it and drumming up support
for Fishback. Basically, Fishback was held incognito because Rummy didn't like
his dissent over torture. He paid for his moral compass, which every soldier is supposed to exhibit.
I'm concerned at the treatment of our troops by the Bush administration and
in particular Donald Rumsfeld's Pentagon. Certainly, if proven guilty, Jodka
and the other Marines, as well as those allegedly involved in Haditha, deserve
the severest of punishments. War crimes cannot be ignored and must be punished.
But until that happens, our soldiers deserve what every other American citizen
is afforded: innocent until proven guilty.
That PFC Jodka has allegedly not been charged is disturbing in the extreme,
no more so than the allegations against him and his fellow soldiers.
The Washington Post reported on Monday that the Iraqi victim at Hamdaniya
was Hashim Ibrahim Awad al-Zobaie, a 52-year-old disabled man shot four times
in the face. His family told the Post that a small group of U.S. servicemen
came to them last week and offered the family money in exchange for supporting
the Marines' version of the killing.
There are many rumors swirling around Hamdaniya, for which I can offer no rhetorical
guidance whatsoever. We will just have to wait and see. I've called the lawyer
in the case, but his cell phone directs me back to the site. Frankly, that's
not very helpful, especially considering they're asking for support. Email is
my only recourse and I will report back if I get a response.
Today I received a new BlogAd, which appears at the top right. I encourage
you to check it out because of what is at stake. They are seeking donations
for Marine PFC John J. Jodka's defense fund; that they're doing so through BlogAds
is amazing, which is why I'm bringing your attention to it. It's an extraordinary
move by the family and those concerned. I don't think I've ever seen a reach
out like this before, certainly not towards me.
Again, I cannot say whether this Marine is innocent or guilty, because he has
not even been charged with a crime, according to his attorney. However, he's
being held in a manner that not even the Haditha Marines endure.
For my money, on the surface, something is definitely wrong with this picture.
We'll have to wait to see what is the truth as this story unfolds. Here's a bit from Jodka's dad who says his son is innocent.
He is currently held by the Marine Corps in SOLITARY CONFINEMENT along with
7 others of his squad under investigation for the Hamdaniya incident that
occurred in combat on April 26, 2006 in Iraq. John has not yet been charged,
yet is held in the most severe confinement possible. By comparison, the Marines
being investigated for the Haditha incident are free on the base.
My son spends 24 hours a day locked in a small 8×8 cell with only a small
bed, a small stainless steel toilet, and a shelf for some of his personal
belongings. He is not allowed to write letters because pens or pencils are
considered “weapons.” He is allowed to walk out of his cell only
when he showers or visits with his family and attorneys. But when he does,
he is shackled hand and foot. To visit him means to sit on the other side
of a glass wall without being able to touch him. Remember, John has not even
been charged. John is innocent and he needs your help. … …
See top BlogAd for more (emphasis above original)