We Have Our Smoking Gun That The Marine Commandant Tried To Ban The Marine Corps Times


Emails unearthed by the Marine Corps Times reveal that an effort by high ranking Marines to remove the newspaper from newsstands and checkout counters at Marine Corps exchanges was indeed a rebuke of the paper’s critical coverage of the Commandant, Marine Gen. James F. Amos.

The exchange in May of last year occurred between one of Amos' key spokesmen, Col. Chris Hughes; Amos' top civilian attorney, Robert Hogue; and Sheryl Murray, the assistant deputy commandant for Manpower and Reserve Affairs. Brig. Gen. Paul Kennedy, then the director of Marine Corps public affairs, was copied on the email.

Hughes’ email read:

We are working a rather tight timeline to respond to CMC on an item. Every couple of years, we have a falling out with Marine Corps Times that warrants consideration of some level of ‘ban’ from our facilities. We believe that we may be close to such an impasse, and we want to present the Commandant with options. We believe it becomes a ‘good order and discipline’ issue if CMC believes he is being misrepresented by them. On such grounds, could he prohibit their sale in our [Marine Corps Community Services] facilities? Or, could he place them somewhere less prominent?

Less than a year later, in December, the Corps announced it was removing the paper from storefronts in an effort to "professionalize."

The decision made national headlines  earlier this month  and raised eyebrows from Marines, veterans, members of congress who said the move resembled an attempt to limit the First Amendment protected freedom of the press.

The Corps quickly undid the move, saying that there had been a "clear misunderstanding of intent."

Four of the Corps top public affairs officers even spoke with Lance Bacon, a reporter with the Marine Corps Times, to explain the move. The panel included Hughes, Col. Sean Gibson, Maj. Shawn Haney, and Maj. John Caldwell.

They were directly asked "Was Marine Corps Times’ removal from the front of the story a response to its sometimes critical coverage of the Corps and specifically the commandant?"

They replied that it was not.

It is wonderful that this interview exists now, and that Hughes, who fired the smoking gun, was on the panel. The entire thing is well worth the read, by my favorite quote comes from Hughes, when he was asked:

"When the decision was made to move Marine Corps Times, was the commandant made aware of it and the details contained therein?"

He said:

I’ll jump on that one. You know, the commandant is concerned with, the commandant, let me just gather my thoughts for a second. When he became aware of this issue, he’s the one that directed get the Marine Corps Times back to the front. He understood the impression that this would have with many, and that was certainly not his intent. He wants a holistic look at how we do business. What product is here, immediately available for our Marines and why. And a holistic means, focus groups, discussions, an ongoing process, not just somewhat immediately moving an individual product. And he recognized how this would be perceived and quickly said “my goodness let’s get this back to the front until we can complete a thorough study."
Ryan Kules

Editor's note: A combat wounded veteran, Ryan served in the U.S. Army as an armor officer assigned to 1st Battalion, 13th Armor Regiment. While deployed to Iraq in 2005, his vehicle was hit with an improvised explosive device buried in the road. He works as the Wounded Warrior Project's national Combat Stress Recovery Program director.

On Nov. 29, 2005, my life changed forever. I was a 24-year-old U.S. Army armor captain deployed to Taji, Iraq, when my vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device. On that day, I lost two of my soldiers, Sgts. Jerry Mills and Donald Hasse, and I lost my right arm and left leg.

Read More Show Less
(U.S. Marine Corps photo)

CAMP PENDLETON — Susan and Michael McDowell attended a memorial in June for their son, 1st Lt. Conor McDowell. Kathleen Isabel Bourque, the love of Conor's life, joined them. None of them had anticipated what they would be going through.

Conor, the McDowells' only child, was killed during a vehicle rollover accident in the Las Pulgas area of Camp Pendleton during routine Marine training on May 9. He was 24.

Just weeks before that emotional ceremony, Alexandrina Braica, her husband and five children attended a similar memorial at the same military base, this to honor Staff Sgt. Joshua Braica, a member of the 1st Marine Raider Battalion who also was killed in a rollover accident, April 13, at age 29.

Braica, of Sacramento, was married and had a 4 1/2-month-old son.

"To see the love they had for Josh and to see the respect and appreciation was very emotional," Alexandrina Braica said of the battalion. "They spoke very highly of him and what a great leader he was. One of his commanders said, 'He was already the man he was because of the way he was raised.' As parents, we were given some credit."

While the tributes helped the McDowells and Braicas process their grief, the families remain unclear about what caused the training fatalities. They expected their sons eventually would deploy and put their lives at risk, but they didn't expect either would die while training on base.

"We're all still in denial, 'Did this really happen? Is he really gone?' Braica said. "When I got the phone call, Josh was not on my mind. That's why we were at peace. He was always in training and I never felt that it would happen at Camp Pendleton."

Read More Show Less
(Reuters/Kevin Lamarque)

SEOUL (Reuters) - The United States looks set to break a promise not to hold military exercises with South Korea, putting talks aimed at getting North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons at risk, the North Korean Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday.

The United States' pattern of "unilaterally reneging on its commitments" is leading Pyongyang to reconsider its own commitments to discontinue tests of nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), the ministry said in a pair of statements released through state news agency KCNA.

Read More Show Less
(Courtesy of Roman Sabal)

A deported Marine Corps veteran who has been unable to come back to the U.S. for more than a decade was denied entry to the country Monday morning when he asked to be let in for a scheduled citizenship interview.

Roman Sabal, 58, originally from Belize, came to the San Ysidro Port of Entry around 7:30 on Monday morning with an attorney to ask for "parole" to attend his naturalization interview scheduled for a little before noon in downtown San Diego. Border officials have the authority to temporarily allow people into the country on parole for "humanitarian or significant public benefit" reasons.

Read More Show Less
Jeff Schogol

Navy Secretary Richard Spencer took the reins at the Pentagon on Monday, becoming the third acting defense secretary since January.

Spencer is expected to temporarily lead the Pentagon while the Senate considers Army Secretary Mark Esper's nomination to succeed James Mattis as defense secretary. The Senate officially received Esper's nomination on Monday.

Read More Show Less