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Report: IG finds Marine Corps commandant did not show favoritism

Nov. 21, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
Commandant Gen. Jim Amos did not give preferential treatment to then-Maj. James B. Conway in the Corps' investigation of the infamous video showing scout snipers urinating on Taliban corpses, the DoD inspector general has determined.
Commandant Gen. Jim Amos did not give preferential treatment to then-Maj. James B. Conway in the Corps' investigation of the infamous video showing scout snipers urinating on Taliban corpses, the DoD inspector general has determined. (Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Benjamin C)
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The Pentagon inspector general has determined that Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Jim Amos did not show favoritism toward the son of his predecessor as the service investigated an embarrassing war-zone video last year, according to a report published Thursday by the Wall Street Journal.

The decision comes eight months after a Marine attorney, Maj. James Weirick, filed an explosive complaint accusing Amos and members of his legal team of seeking to influence the outcome of several cases connected to the video, which shows four Marine scout snipers urinating on dead insurgents in Afghanistan.

As first reported by Marine Corps Times, Weirick’s complaint also alleged that during the Marine Corps’ investigation of the video, Amos exhibited preferential treatment to ensure the promotion of then-Maj. James B. Conway, who was executive officer of the scout snipers’ unit during that deployment. Conway is the son of retired Gen. James T. Conway, the service’s 34th commandant.

The IG concluded Amos’ conduct was “reasonable under the circumstances,” according to paperwork reviewed by the Journal. Speaking on the condition of anonymity, a Marine official familiar with the situation said Thursday night that the Journal’s report is accurate and that the IG’s decision is at least a week old.

It’s not immediately clear whether the Pentagon IG’s office considers the matter closed entirely. Citing unidentified senior defense officials, the Journal’s report says “they don’t believe” there are any other investigations into Amos’ conduct.

However, Weirick’s complaint further alleged the commandant’s legal advisers sought to classify evidence assembled during the urination video investigation in violation of an executive order, signed by President Obama, defining what constitutes classified national security information and what does not. Earlier this month, Weirick also filed a complaint with the Information Security Oversight Office asking officials there to address the matter. The agency, which answers to the president, is responsible for policy and oversight of the government’s security classification system.

A spokesman for Amos, Lt. Col. David Nevers, declined to address specific questions about the Journal’s report, signaling a desire to respect an ongoing process.

In a brief statement, Nevers said: “Discipline, accountability and engaged leadership are the touchstones of our Corps. The American people expect no less.”

James B. Conway is now a lieutenant colonel in command of an infantry battalion based in Hawaii. Conway was never accused of wrongdoing; however, he was promoted to his current rank and allowed to take a new assignment while other officers in the unit were kept in administrative limbo. Weirick’s complaint said this may have constituted “selective prosecution.”

Weirick’s attorney, Jane Siegel, said she was aware of the Journal’s report but had not seen the paperwork referenced in it. She said his allegations involving Conway are not the sole element of Weirick’s complaint, noting he also claims to be the victim of reprisal, which is banned by federal whistle-blower protection provisions.

“This makes me question the extent and integrity of that investigation,” Siegel said. “... It’s very confusing what the DOD IG is doing. I would expect more from a neutral and superior organization.”

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