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Another congressman inquires into commandant's conduct

Rep. Duncan Hunter asks Navy secretary for objective review of Marine captain's appeal

Nov. 26, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
Duncan Hunter
Rep. Duncan Hunter (File)
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Capt. James Clement (File)

A California congressman has reached out to Navy Secretary Ray Mabus on behalf of a Marine captain facing discharge for his role in the scout sniper urination scandal.

Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., wrote Mabus Nov. 26 asking that he consider the appeal of Capt. James Clement, the former executive officer of Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines.

Clement, who was not present for the urination incident, served as the radio operator on the 2011 patrol in which scout snipers were filmed urinating on enemy corpses and engaging in other questionable battlefield behavior. During a board of inquiry at Quantico, Va., in mid-October, a panel of three colonels determined that Clement failed to demonstrate leadership required of an officer of his grade and failed to properly discharge the duties expected of his grade and experience. They recommended that he be honorably discharged.

Clement’s legal team appealed the decision to Mabus last week, saying the commandant, Gen. Jim Amos, had unfairly influenced the outcome of the case.

Hunter’s letter asks Mabus to give the appeal a “thorough and objective review” in light of the allegations of misconduct and undue command influence.

“With the scout sniper incident and subsequent investigation mired in such controversy, it is critical that you use your full authority, as secretary of the Navy, to guarantee that the process for reviewing and investigating battlefield actions and command decisions, specific to this situation, maintain the highest degree of integrity,” Hunter wrote.

A spokesman for Hunter, Joe Kasper, emphasized that the congressman was not taking a position on whether unlawful command influence occurred, only that the appeal be given a fair and thorough review.

“Under the circumstances, that review is certainly warranted,” he said.

While the letter represents Hunter’s first action on Clement’s behalf, Kasper said the congressman has been tracking the issue closely. A former Marine officer, Hunter reached out to then-defense Secretary Leon Panetta following the urination video’s public release, asking that the Marines involved receive fair treatment in light of the realities of combat.

“In terms of potential punishment, the Marines depicted in the video should not be used for the purpose of making a statement to our partners in the region, especially when the U.S. military has sacrificed so much over ten years of combat in Afghanistan,” Hunter wrote Panetta on Jan. 18, 2012. “Despite their actions, these Marines are sons of America.”

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