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Female Marine Corps recruits go through close combat training at the United States Marine Corps recruit depot June 23, 2004 in Parris Island, South Carolina. Marine Corps boot camp, with its combination of strict discipline and exhaustive physical training, is considered the most rigorous of the armed forces recruit training. Congress is currently considering bills that could increase the size of the Marine Corps and the Army to help meet US military demands in Iraq and Afghanistan.
National Journal
Billy House
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Billy House
Feb. 12, 2014, 11:37 a.m.

A House Re­pub­lic­an is seek­ing a hear­ing in­to the Mar­ine Corps’ de­cision to move the Mar­ine Corps Times off prom­in­ent news­tands at the front of base com­mis­sar­ies and ex­changes, call­ing it “a blatant at­tempt to pun­ish” the pub­lic­a­tion for art­icles crit­ic­al of Corps Com­mand­ant Gen. Jim Amos.

Rep. Wal­ter Jones of North Car­o­lina sent a let­ter Monday blast­ing the Corps’ ac­tion as a “rep­re­hens­ible” ef­fort to make the in­de­pend­ent pub­lic­a­tion more dif­fi­cult to find. Jones sent the let­ter to House Armed Ser­vices Mil­it­ary Per­son­nel Sub­com­mit­tee Chair­man Joe Wilson and rank­ing mem­ber Susan Dav­is.

On Wed­nes­day, two days after Jones’s let­ter was sent, the Mar­ine Corps an­nounced it is pla­cing the Gan­nett pub­lic­a­tion back on its usu­al news­tands — at least tem­por­ar­ily.

But Jones, him­self a mem­ber of the House Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee, said later on Wed­nes­day he still wants a hear­ing to look in­to the mat­ter.

“In Amer­ica, a free and open press is crit­ic­al to demo­cracy,” Jones wrote in Monday’s let­ter. “If you start to con­trol what our ser­vice mem­bers read, then we, as a na­tion, have a crit­ic­al prob­lem.”

A state­ment on the ser­vice’s of­fi­cial Face­book page ex­plained the re­versal Wed­nes­day: “Re­ac­tion to the Mar­ine Corps Times’ re­lo­ca­tion demon­strated a clear mis­un­der­stand­ing of in­tent; there­fore, the product will re­turn to its ori­gin­al loc­a­tion pending the out­come and com­mu­nic­a­tion of a more com­pre­hens­ive, pur­pose­ful plan based on our Com­mand­ant’s in­tent as it relates to an em­phas­is on pro­fes­sion­al­ism with­in our Corps.”

But a state­ment from Jones’s of­fice says that “While Con­gress­man Jones wel­comes this de­cision, he re­mains troubled that Mar­ine Corps lead­er­ship has im­plied an in­tent to again re­move the pub­lic­a­tion from its prom­in­ent store loc­a­tion in the fu­ture to cre­ate room for ‘health­i­er food and bever­age choices’ and ‘mil­it­ary lit­er­at­ure from the Com­mand­ant’s Read­ing List.’ “

“This at­tempt by the Mar­ine Corps lead­er­ship to stand in the way of a free and open press is un­ac­cept­able,” Jones said in a state­ment Wed­nes­day. “The Mar­ine Corps Times is a widely read pub­lic­a­tion among mem­bers of our armed forces, as it provides them with crit­ic­al in­form­a­tion re­lated to vari­ous as­pects of their em­ploy­ment and ser­vice to our coun­try.”

Jones has writ­ten a let­ter to the Corps’ deputy com­mand­ant for man­power and re­serve af­fairs, Lt. Gen. Robert E. Mil­stead, re­quest­ing fur­ther de­tails re­gard­ing the ini­tial de­cision to re­lo­cate pub­lic­a­tion with­in the ser­vice’s stores.

In its own story about the de­cision to re­lo­cate its place with base stores and com­mis­sar­ies, the Mar­ine Corps Times on Sunday in­cluded a com­ment from Peter Lun­dquist, the Mil­it­ary Times’ vice pres­id­ent and gen­er­al man­ager.

“For any re­tail­er to hide one of its best-selling products is just bad busi­ness. It ob­vi­ously will hurt our news­stand sales, but it also hurts rev­en­ues to the Ex­change,” Lun­dquist said. “But I’m told this isn’t about busi­ness. Mar­ine Corps Times helps Mar­ines and their fam­il­ies stay in­formed about their ser­vice and their live­li­hood. We be­lieve our in­de­pend­ence is an as­set to Mar­ines.”

“By what stand­ard is Mar­ine Corps Times not pro­fes­sion­ally ori­ented read­ing ma­ter­i­al, and who is set­ting that stand­ard for Mar­ines?” Lun­dquist asked.

The pa­per also noted that throughout much of the past year, it has pub­lished dozens of art­icles as part of an on­go­ing in­vest­ig­a­tion in­to al­leg­a­tions that the ser­vice’s com­mand­ant, Amos, ab­used his au­thor­ity to en­sure Mar­ines were pun­ished for an em­bar­rass­ing war-zone scan­dal.

“Nu­mer­ous re­ports have cap­tured the at­ten­tion of main­stream me­dia out­lets, in­clud­ing NPR, CNN, and Time magazine, among sev­er­al oth­ers,” the pa­per noted.

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