Gen. Jim Amos weathered questions Wednesday from a member of the House Armed Services Committee about his handling of the infamous scout-sniper urination video scandal and its aftermath. But Navy Secretary Ray Mabus quickly came to Amos’ defense after the hearing, saying he had full trust in the commandant.
Amos appeared before the committee with Mabus and Adm. Jon Greenert, chief of naval operations, to discuss the Navy-Marine Corps fiscal 2015 budget proposal, but Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., veered from the topic for several minutes to pepper Amos with questions surrounding the urination video and the removal of the Marine attorney who blew the whistle on the Corps’ handling of the case.
Maj. James Weirick, then a staff judge advocate assigned to Marine Corps Combat Development Command in Quantico, Va., filed inspector general complaints with the Navy and the Department of Defense in which he alleged that Amos and his top legal advisers sought to manipulate the legal process against the Marines involved by improperly ordering witness interviews and other investigative materials to be classified.
In September, after Weirick sent a strongly worded and somewhat bizarre email to Peter DeLorier, urging the former legal adviser to the commandant to “come clean” about his role in the alleged manipulation of justice, he was relieved of his duties by Robert Hogue, Amos’ top civilian attorney. Hogue questioned Weirick’s mental state and said he had safety concerns about Weirick’s behavior, likening it to that of the Navy Yard shooter.
Jones, who noted that he had become friends with Weirick and believes him to be “a man of integrity,” asked the commandant who brought that email to DeLorier to his attention. Without giving Amos time to respond, Jones fired off several more questions.
“The second question would be, who decided to issue the protective order taken out against Major Weirick?” Jones asked. “And since you were named in the protective order, did you fear Major Weirick at any point?”
Jones then asked whether Hogue was reprimanded for comparing Weirick to a man who murdered 12 people and injured three others during a mass shooting last fall.
Jones went on to question Amos about recent statements he made in an interview with NPR, during which he stated he never wanted the scout snipers “crushed” or kicked out of the Corps. Amos’ claim directly contradicted a sworn statement by Lt. Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, who was initially tasked with overseeing the sniper investigation, who wrote that the commandant said exactly that.
“I’m asking you today — and you can put it in the writing — are you saying that General Waldhauser lied under oath?” Jones asked Amos.
Jones requested that Amos provide his written responses within six weeks.
The congressman was alone in questioning Amos’ behavior. Nearly every other committee member who posed questions to the general about the budget first thanked him for his service and what he has done for the Corps. This was Amos’ final appearance as commandant at a committee budget hearing.
Amos left the hearing room without addressing reporters’ questions. But Mabus hung back, and said he wanted to say something he didn’t have the opportunity to share during the hearing.
“A lot of committee members commended General Amos for his service, and I want to say that it has been one of the high honors of my life to serve with Jim Amos as the commandant,” Mabus said. “I think he is a man of absolute integrity. I think he has made some very hard and very good decisions for the Marine Corps. And he has my absolute, 100 percent support, backing and thanks for the results he has come out with in the United States Marine Corps.”