Ex-Marine com­man­dant lied on re­sume

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - BY ROWAN SCAR­BOR­OUGH

The Marine Corps is ac­knowl­edg­ing that the re­tir­ing com­man­dant, Gen. James Amos, did not at­tend the Corps’ of­fi­cers train­ing school, though he told the Se­nate Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee in a signed re­sume that he had grad­u­ated in 1972.

A Corps of­fi­cial told an in­quir­ing con­gress­man last week that Gen. Amos grad­u­ated from The Ba­sic School on Feb. 28, 1977, through a cor­re­spon­dence course.

Corps of­fi­cials por­tray the off-site attendance as within rea­son be­cause he trans­ferred to the Marine Corps from the Navy, which com­mis­sioned him as an of­fi­cer in 1970. An avi­a­tor, Gen. Amos was com­mis­sioned a Marine of­fi­cer in Jan­uary 1972, the same re­sume in­di­cates.

Gen. Amos’ re­sume con­tain­ing the state­ment was pro­vided to the Se­nate in 2010 as part of the con­fir­ma­tion process to four-star rank and com­man­dant, the Corps’ top of­fi­cer.

The Ba­sic School is a rig­or­ous, and re­quired, rite of pas­sage for young of­fi­cers who for six months crawl and march in the mud, heat and cold of Quan­tico, Vir­ginia. In the end, they are deemed in­doc­tri­nated into the Corps’ tra­di­tion-filled cul­ture and ba­sic war-fight­ing tech­niques.

Un­der “Ed­u­ca­tion/qual­i­fi­ca­tions,” Gen. Amos’ re­sume lists “The Ba­sic School 1972.” Gen. Amos signed, and thus at­tested to the Se­nate, that the re­sume was “cur­rent, ac­cu­rate and com­plete.”

Amid pomp and tra­di­tion, Gen. Amos, the 35th com­man­dant, passes com­mand to Gen. Joseph Dun­ford on Fri­day at the Marine Bar­racks pa­rade grounds in Wash­ing­ton.

His ten­ure over the past two years has been marked by con­tro­versy over his in­ter­ven­tion in crim­i­nal cases and his speeches to Marines on such mat­ters.

In one speech, ac­cord­ing to McClatchy News­pa­pers, Gen. Amos ex­pressed dis­ap­point­ment that so few de­fen­dants were be­ing kicked out of the Corps and asked “why have we be­come so soft” in sex­ual mis­con­duct cases since 80 per­cent of charges are “le­git­i­mate sex­ual as­sault.”

Some de­fense lawyers banded to­gether to ac­cuse him of un­law­ful com­mand in­flu­ence and of pre­judg­ing charges in crim­i­nal cases.

One of them, L. Lee Th­weatt, a for­mer Marine Corps judge ad­vo­cate, be­gan in­ves­ti­gat­ing the gen­eral’s of­fi­cial re­sume. He could find no ev­i­dence that Gen. Amos at­tended The Ba­sic School at the Vir­ginia Marine base — no roster, no photographs, no cer­tifi­cate.

He said the Corps’ pub­lic af­fairs branch re­fused to an­swer his ques­tions.

On Oct. 1, Mr. Th­weatt sent a let­ter, with his find­ings, to De­fense Sec­re­tary Chuck Hagel, and Sen. Carl Levin, Michi­gan Demo­crat and Se­nate Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee chair­man.

He called on Mr. Hagel not to cer­tify Gen. Amos as hav­ing suc­cess­fully com­pleted his four years as a four-star gen­eral be­cause, in the lawyer’s opin­ion, he mis­led the Se­nate com­mit­tee.

Mr. Th­weatt’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion prompted Rep. Wal­ter B. Jones, North Carolina Repub­li­can and a mem­ber of the House Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee, to ask the Corps whether Gen. Amos did, in­deed, grad­u­ate from The Ba­sic School.

A Corps pub­lic li­ai­son of­fi­cial said in an email to a Jones aide that, “As dis­cussed, [leg­isla­tive af­fairs] in­formed me that Gen. Amos did not at­tend the Ba­sic School in that he was an in­ter-ser­vice trans­fer from the Navy.”

As first re­ported by the Marine Corps Times, a Marine Corps of­fi­cer tele­phoned the Jones aide Fri­day and told him that Gen. Amos grad­u­ated via cor­re­spon­dence cour­ses in Fe­bru­ary 1977, five years after the date on his of­fi­cial re­sume.

The aide asked for proof. None had been pro­vided as of Tues­day.

Maj. John Cald­well, a Marine spokesman, told The Wash­ing­ton Times that Gen. Amos “com­pleted The Ba­sic Of­fi­cer Course via cor­re­spon­dence, which was common prac­tice for pi­lots dur­ing the Viet­nam era. Com­ple­tion of pro­fes­sional mil­i­tary ed­u­ca­tion re­quire­ments via cor­re­spon­dence is common prac­tice to­day and is another method the Marine Corps uses to sat­isfy ed­u­ca­tional qual­i­fi­ca­tions in cir­cum­stances pre­vent­ing for­mal school attendance.”

Maj. Cald­well said the Corps would pro­vide no other in­for­ma­tion.

A spokes­woman for Mr. Levin said he had no com­ment.

Mr. Th­weatt also has filed a com­plaint with the Pen­tagon in­spec­tor gen­eral say­ing “there can be no doubt that Amos’ mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tions here were ma­te­rial to his con­fir­ma­tion.”

The in­spec­tor gen­eral has in­ves­ti­gated other com­plaints against Gen. Amos and cleared him of wrong­do­ing.

A Marine lawyer whistle­blower said Gen. Amos il­le­gally in­ter­vened in the cases of eight Marines charged in con­nec­tion with the in­fa­mous Tal­iban uri­na­tion video in Afghanistan. The of­fi­cer in charge of the ju­di­cial pro­ceed­ings said Gen. Amos or­dered him to “crush” the de­fen­dants, which the judge be­lieved was out of line and which he re­fused to do.

The whistle­blower also com­plained of re­tal­i­a­tion, but the in­spec­tor gen­eral said the com­man­dant’s of­fice was within bounds to trans­fer him, or­der a men­tal health ex­am­i­na­tion — which he passed — and urge him to turn in his li­censed guns.

“To date, Gen­eral Amos has faced no per­sonal ac­count­abil­ity for any of his mis­con­duct,” Mr. Th­weatt said in his let­ter to Mr. Hagel. “In­stead, the In­spec­tor Gen­eral rub­ber-stamped Gen­eral Amos’ un­law­ful com­mand in­flu­ence and worse, the Sec­re­tary of the Navy has applauded Gen­eral Amos in the press.”

Mr. Th­weatt wrote to the in­spec­tor gen­eral that, “A cor­re­spon­dence course for TBS is ob­vi­ously not an ad­e­quate sub­sti­tute for weeks and weeks spent in the forests of Quan­tico, dig­ging fight­ing trenches, hik­ing and car­ry­ing an 80lb pack through snow, mud, rain and heat, fir­ing and clean­ing weapons, learn­ing nav­i­ga­tion and lo­gis­ti­cal skills, and gen­er­ally pre­par­ing to lead Marines by ac­tu­ally lead­ing Marines.”

On Fri­day, Mr. Jones, a strong critic of Gen. Amos’ con­duct in the Tal­iban des­e­cra­tion case, wrote to Mr. Hagel to say that “mis­lead­ing or fal­si­fy­ing in­for­ma­tion pre­sented to Congress is a very se­ri­ous charge.”

He said in­for­ma­tion about Gen. Amos and The Ba­sic School “calls into ques­tion the in­tegrity of not only the en­tire United States Marine Corps, but also of any per­son who has par­tic­i­pated in this al­leged cover-up.”

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

The Marine Corps ad­mit­ted that the re­tir­ing com­man­dant, Gen. James Amos, did not at­tend the rig­or­ous of­fi­cers train­ing school, though he told the Se­nate Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee that he grad­u­ated in 1972.

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