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THE CAMP PENDLETON 8

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By Michelle Malkin  •  June 14, 2006 10:40 AM

***update: We’ve captured and posted the video of Hillary getting booed as she asks progressives to support the troops. Guess they won’t be helping out the Camp Pendleton 8…LGF asks: What’s wrong with Marine brass?***

My column this week calls attention to the Camp Pendleton 8–7 Marines and Navy corpsman being held in shackles with no charges against them as higher-ups investigate an alleged murder of an Iraqi man earlier this spring in Hamandiya. Excerpt:

Did you know there are seven young Marines and a Navy corpsman sitting in a military brig right now in leg and wrist shackles — despite the fact that they’ve not been charged with any crime?

The men are in solitary confinement, locked in 8’x8′ cells at San Diego’s Camp Pendleton, as investigators probe an April 26 incident involving the 3rd Battalion, 5th Regiment, 1st Marine Division. They are behind bars 23 hours a day; family members can only see them through inch-thick Plexiglas. Military blabbermouths have told the press that the service members are suspected of kidnapping and shooting a man in the Iraqi town of Hamdaniya. The Iraqi man’s family reportedly came forward seeking payment for his death as media hysteria set in over the separate alleged atrocity in Haditha.

These men — our men — may be innocent. They may be guilty. Charges may or may not be filed this week. But this much is certain: The media leaks and the Murtha-fication of the case are already taking a heavy toll on the troops and their families. The headlines have already convicted them: “Iraqi’s Slaying Planned By Marines, Official Says.” “Marines Planned to Kill Iraqi Civilian, Then Planted Evidence.”

***

I have heard from several family members and friends with connections to the Camp Pendleton 8.

Erica is the wife of one of the men. She has set up a website to tell her husband’s story here and she is asking for help:

I’m writing this on behalf of my husband, who is a corporal in the U.S. Marine Corps. He has been deployed to Iraq three times, serving in a rifle battalion as an infantry man, and I have been with him every step of the way.

A month after leaving for his second deployment, our first and only child (our daughter) was born. The first time my husband saw our child she was 6 months old. Also during his second deployment, he witnessed his best friend being shot and killed by enemy gunfire. My husband was awarded the Purple Heart for combat wounds.

On this last combat tour, two months before he was to return home, my husband was sent back to the states and into pretrial confinement at the military base brig at Camp Pendleton, California. At the brig, he is under maximum security. It’s unfair considering the fact that he was in Iraq (for the third time) risking his life, fighting for our country and he has not been convicted of anything.

My husband is one of the seven Marines and one sailor that are being held without being charged over accusations about the incident in Hamandiya that has been in the news for the past few weeks. Whenever he leaves his cell, he is shackled, handcuffed, and escorted by two guards. He is kept in solitary confinement and let out for exercise only 1 hour a day. When I visit him, he is presented to me behind a thick glass barrier and still shackled. We can’t even touch each other.

My husband’s term in the Marine Corps is up this November. Four long years…..and then something like this happens. He was planning on re-enlisting this November to become a recruiter or work at the recruiting range. He loves his job and sees himself in the Corps for at least 4 more years. But his dreams just may have went down the drain.

My husband and I have a lot of support coming in and we thank each and every one who has shown this support. It is especially appreciated at this time when we need to raise public awareness and give him a proper legal defense. With him imprisoned and without the support of the Marine Corps, I was left to fight this fight alone. On an enlisted man’s salary, I had quite a fight ahead of me.

Fortunately, one of the best lawyers that a Marine can ask for has just agreed to join me in this fight. My husband is being represented by Mr. Victor Kelley, a retired Marine officer with a history of successfully defending Marines.

As I write this, Mr. Kelley is on his way to meet with my husband. Since the Marine Corps has told us nothing, we don’t know what Mr. Kelley will face when he gets there. But, we do know that he is the person to find out. Hopefully, he will able to move this process forward and gain my husband’s freedom.

Private First Class John J. Jodka is also being held. His father has a website here:

This website is dedicated to my 20 year old hero, my son John.

John is a consummate Marine serving his country to the best of his ability. John heard the call to citizen service and was assigned to combat in Iraq with the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division (REIN), “Darkhorse 3/5”, one of the most storied infantry battalions in the history of the US Marine Corps.

John has always wanted to serve his country at the “tip of the spear” as a Marine rifleman. My proudest moment in life was watching as John’s Senior Drill Instructor handed the Eagle, Globe and Anchor to him at Boot Camp graduation. John needs your help. 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.

His family has retained civilian counsel Joseph Casas and Jane Siegel to fight for his rights due him under the Uniform Code of Military Justice and the Constitution of the United States, but the costs will be staggering. He faces serious charges and a long road ahead of him. John and his family have contributed all their funds to the defense. My son, my hero, is in a VERY bad spot but I am convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt of his innocence. I am overwhelmed by the strength of my son’s moral convictions and belief in the truth. When we visit him at the Brig, we go in sad thinking about his condition, but we come out uplifted from listening to his motivation and unwavering faith. Sadly, the US Marine Corps leadership has turned its back on my son and his squadmates in a Quixote-like search for political correctness; but even though he is abandoned by his leaders and held in conditions worse that Zacarias Moussaoui’s prison, my son’s positive attitude, humor and fervent belief in what is right buoys my spirits and uplifts those around him.

Christina at Blue Girl in a Red State is a close family friend of the Jodkas and a proud liberal outraged by her friends’ plight. She is trying to get congressional representatives to pay attention. She wrote to tell me she is challenging liberal blogs to contribute to Jodka’s defense fund. I wish her the best of luck. She is continuing to cover the story.

The wife of the Navy corpsman in custody has a website here:

My husband is a 20 year-old Hospital Corpsman Third Class. He graduated from high school in June 2003. He began his first combat deployment to Iraq in July 2004. During his first deployment, 19 Marines from his Battalion gave their lives as the ultimate sacrifice for our country. Nine Marines from his Company were killed, five of them in one firefight. Two Marines died in my husband’s arms. My husband was awarded the Purple Heart during his first deployment. He returned home in April 2005, in time for the birth of our daughter. In January 2006, after spending a very short time at home, my husband left again for his second combat tour in Iraq.

I proudly stood by my husband each time he deployed because I am also an active duty Hospital Corpsman Third Class proudly serving our country. Even though I wear a military uniform, it was still difficult to watch my husband deploy to combat because I didn’t know if I would ever see him again. I know that our daughter is too young to appreciate what has happened to her father, but I know in my heart she misses him.

My husband is represented by Attorney Jeremiah J. Sullivan, III. Mr. Sullivan informed our family that his office has received numerous telephone calls from concerned citizens, companies, and organizations from across the country. Many of them have asked how they can donate funds to defray my husband’s legal fees. As a result of this overwhelming generosity, I have set up this fund for the benefit of my husband. Any contributions received will be utilized solely for his defense. Contributions may be mailed to: Patriot Defense Fund, P.O. Box 80862, San Diego, CA 92138-0862. All checks should be made payable to the “Patriot Defense Fund.”

I have had the opportunity to visit my husband at the Brig in Camp Pendleton. During the visits, my husband’s arms and legs remained shackled at all times. I can only speak to my husband through the glass with a guard posted in the room. When I told my husband about the support he has received from across the country, it immediately lifted his spirits. Words cannot express my husband’s gratitude for the many kind words and support.

I will update this website as often as I can with more current information as it becomes available. It has been extremely difficult between working, visiting my husband, and caring for our daughter. I will do my best. You may send e-mails to my husband at HM3@patriotdefensefund.com. I will deliver your e-mails to him. Your words of support will be greatly appreciated.

***

The national media ignored a protest by supporters outside Camp Pendleton over the weekend. Not a peep heard yet from the American Civil Liberties Union. The website of the self-anointed crusaders for individual rights contains hundreds of articles on the rights of al Qaeda suspects and an indignant press release on the suicides of Guantanamo Bay detainees. But no mention of the Camp Pendleton Eight. For their part, human rights groups were too busy shedding tears for the Gitmo terrorist suicide squad and lionizing them as “heroes” in the words of William Goodman of the Center for Constitutional Rights. Editorial cartoonists have been preoccupied desecrating the Marine Corps logo and tarring troops as baby-killers.

A clarion voice stepped into the fray this week to push back against the global rush to judgment against our troops. Ilario Pantano, a Desert Storm vet-turned-Wall Street banker and new media entrepreneur-turned-commissioned Marine officer from Hell’s Kitchen, launched his gripping book “Warlord: No Better Friend, No Worse Enemy” this week, which recounts his harrowing ordeal as a Marine smeared and cleared. Last spring, he faced the death penalty for defending himself and his men in the heat of battle and killing two Iraqi insurgents. He was accused then, as Marines are being accused now, of wantonly executing Iraqis to send a message. His family and friends’ defense of Pantano was met, as those of Marines are being met now, with incredulity or apathy.

There were no pleas to withhold judgment against Pantano from the New York Times then. No Oprah sit-downs now with the wives and children of accused troops.

As an agitated, condescending Ann Curry of NBC’s “Today Show” tried to paint Pantano Monday as a callous thug, he replied with quiet dignity: “I don’t think it’s helpful to national security to have this kind of self-flagellation before the facts are actually disclosed.”

Innocent until proven guilty? Justice for all? Benefit of the doubt? These are apparently foreign concepts when it comes to Americans in uniform being held on American soil. Perhaps if our troops proclaimed themselves “conscientious objectors” and converted to Islam, they might start getting some sympathy.

***

Dan Riehl takes a close look at reporting on the alleged murder and says “Press Accounts Of Second Alleged Atrocity Don’t Add Up.”

Sounds familiar.

***

Related:

Blackfive reports on the Hadji Girl hysteria:

I received the original video “Hodji Girl” (that was the title) back in early March from a Corpsman who thought that Corporal Joshua [Belile] was hilarious. I sent it around to my friends with the caveat not to post it so [Belile] wouldn’t suffer the wrath of the humorless asshat sycophants in charge of the military or suffer the unbelievable media bias that is now occurring.

I’m certain that Joshua and the Sweater Kittenz will be fine through this…there are probably agents all over them now to get a deal.

But if this goes down badly for Joshua, I say we start a defense fund for the guy.

Send a letter of support through the Sweater Kittenz band site here.

Here’s an interview with Cpl. Joshua Belile.

***

Related: Please support Project Valour-IT. More at the Castle.

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