Barrasso stops Billy Carter Service Station Museum from becoming national park

The Daily Caller – By Alex Pappas

The gas station of former President Jimmy Carter’s beer drinking brother will not become a national historic site paid for by taxpayers — at least, not yet.

Legislation that would expand the former president’s national historic site by 30 acres at a cost of $17 million over five years was pulled from consideration during a Senate committee meeting Thursday. Republican Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming offered an amendment preventing the Billy Carter Service Station Museum from being included in the expansion, making the Georgia museum a national park. The House has already passed similar legislation.

“The Los Angeles Times posed the question best: ‘In the age of the $787-billion stimulus package, it is, perhaps, a modest question: Should the American taxpayer foot the bill to enshrine the gas station run by the late Billy Carter?’’ Barrasso said during the meeting. “I believe the answer is no.”

The younger Carter was known for his outlandish behavior while his older brother was president, including his promotion of “Billy Beer.”

According to Barrasso’s office, it is unclear when the bill will receive a vote, though his office says he “will continue to fight to ensure that no taxpayer dollars are used to support the Billy Carter Gas Station.”

The Billy Carter Gas Station is privately owned, but its ownership would be transferred to the government if the legislation is approved. The gas station has old gasoline pumps, stacked tires outside, colorful articles from Carter’s closet, commendations from around the world and “Billy Beer” paraphernalia.

“Mother always believed — and she convinced the rest of us — that Billy was the most brilliant member of the family,” said Jimmy Carter, according to a past Associated Press report. “And I don’t think anybody would doubt that.”

Billy Carter died in 1988 of cancer.

Haditha Incident Commander Speaks Out for the First Time

DEFEND OUR MARINES – by Nathaniel R. Helms

Retired Marine Corps lieutenant colonel Jeffrey Chessani broke more than five years of silence Tuesday to tell Defend Our Marines what it was like to finally leave the Marine Corps he loves without ever being entirely exonerated of failing to adequately investigate an alleged massacre that never happened. “Praise God, this has taken care of everything,” Chessani said during an in-depth telephone interview from his home near Camp Pendleton, California. In the background the tiny voices of some of his seven children could occasionally be heard.

After more than four years of legal wrangling, Chessani was forced to retire last week after Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus accepted a December 2009 ruling by a Camp Pendleton military board of inquiry that found Chessani was not guilty of misconduct after more than 23 years of exemplary service. The BOI ruled Chessani must retire anyway because he displayed “substandard performance” by failing to conduct a more detailed investigation of the civilians killed…” as a result of a house clearing counter-attack by four of his Marines.

The criminal charges against Chessani were dismissed in June 2008 when Marine Corps military judge Colonel Steven Folsom ruled that Chessani was the victim of undue command influence by General James Mattis while the distinguished general was considering whether to charge Chessani and his men with crimes. After two appeals courts refused to overturn Folsom’s ruling, Chessani was forced to endure a Board of Inquiry last December to determine whether he would be allowed to retire at his present rank.

During 2005 and 2006 Chessani commanded 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines (3/1)–the Thundering Third–a reinforced infantry battalion of roughly 1,900 Marines and attached Army and Iraqi units tasked with pacifying 4,000 square miles of Al Anbar Province when the incident at Haditha erupted on November 19, 2005.

“I’m not bitter. I am not necessarily glad these things happened, but it worked out for the best,”  Chessani said. “I was on my third deployment in three years and got prideful. I thought I might be selected for a top level school and colonel so I decided to give it a try. Before my third deployment we were looking at retirement when I came back. The deployments were so hard of my family. That was going to be the plan. Now we can do it.”

Chessani completed his final day of active duty service on July 16, 2010, more than four and a half years after he was charged with dereliction of duty and orders violations for allegedly covering up the deaths of 24 Iraqi citizens killed by Marines under his command at Haditha. The Iraqis–including women and children–died in a Marine counterattack after insurgents, hiding among them, triggered an IED ambush that killed one passing Marine and left two others severely wounded…

Instead of promotions and honors Chessani, now 46, and his eight subordinates were accused of participating in the unprovoked massacre of 15 innocents and the suspicious killings of at least nine suspected insurgents and then conspiring to cover the incident up.

A few months after the charges were leveled on December 19, 2006, one enlisted Marine indicted for murder and assault accepted immunity to testify against his squad mates. Another enlisted Marine, never charged but frequently named as a possible suspect, ended up working in a cushy billet for the prosecution. As expected, he later surfaced long enough to testify against his fellow Marines. It was a dirty business. In the end their rambling, disconnected testimony was soundly discredited.

Now, more than four and a half years later one enlisted Marine, Staff Sergeant Frank Wuterich, the squad leader who led the counterattack against the two houses where the civilians died, still faces 12 counts of involuntary manslaughter. Wuterich’s court martial is scheduled to begin September 13th at Camp Pendleton…

“When I was in theater I heard they [the Marine Corps] were briefing the President of the United States. I knew I was going to be relieved and probably charged. I even told my X.O. [executive officer] to be standing by if I was relieved. But I didn’t expect what happened. Some things I heard second-hand, like: ‘Don’t do anything to the Marines until after we (senior Marine Corps commanders) have briefed Congress.’ I thought, ‘What does that have to do with the Marine Corps? They are not in my chain of command.'”

In late March, soon after the battalion returned to Camp Pendleton from Iraq, 1st Marine Division Major  General Richard F. Natonski summoned Chessani and several members of the battalion staff to his office. Chessani said he was expecting the call.

“They called me and told me to bring Captain [Lucas] McConnell, the C.O. of Kilo Company with me. Then they called again and told me to bring Captain [James] Kimber, commander of India. I thought that was too much. I wondered what they wanted him for. [When] I asked and they said they didn’t know. I was also told to bring my X.O. and the Sergeant Major.”

The next morning after a terse meeting with Natonski the three officers were relieved of their commands. On April 7, 2006 the Marine Corps issued a press release stating they were relieved “due to lack of confidence in their leadership abilities stemming from their performance during a recent deployment to Iraq.” “It was the most devastating day of my life,” Chessani recalled…

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PLO Flag to Fly in Washington D.C.

Israel National News

The United States State Department has announced to the Palestinian Authority/Palestinian Liberation Organization Mission representative in the United States that its status will be upgraded from a ‘bureau’ to that of a “general delegation’ and that this change will allow the office in which the  representation is situated to fly the PLO, now also the Palestine Authority, flag at its entrance.

The upgrading, besides allowing the flag to be flown, also grants certan privileges to the delegation staff, such as diplomatic immunity, although it is not equal to embassy status.

The PLO’s chief representative in the United States, Maen Areikat,  said that this step makes the PLO’s status in the United States equivalent to its status in Canada and many western European countries.

Israeli Radio reported that sources in Prime Minister Netanyahu’s office said that the Prime Minister knew of the planned step and did not object to it. . Diplomatic sources in Jerusalem claimed that the step was taken to strengthen Abu Maazen and try to get him to agree to direct talks with Israel. However, they expressed dissapointment that the White House did not make ceasing the PA’s anti Israel incitement a condition for the status upgrade.

Related Links:

The Swamp: Billy Carter’s gas-station: Historic site

Michelle Malkin:  Setback for the ‘Committee to Make the Billy Carter Service Station Museum a Nat’l Historic Site’

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