A former Air Force officer, I’ve always been under the impression that military officers lead by example and be held to a higher standard than enlisted people. If or when officers fail, they should be punished more severely than their enlisted counterparts. And then I read this article about Army Col. James Johnson III.
As commander of the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, he was not only entrusted with the welfare of thousands of soldiers and their families, but also with millions of dollars worth of resources, including cold, hard cash while members of the unit were deployed to Iraq. He violated that trust, according to the article, by engaging in a pattern of fraudulent activities that could have cost the U.S. government more than $580,000. And, oh yeah, he committed adultery, wrongful cohabitation and bigamy with an Iraqi woman who was not his wife (duh!).
What did the West Point graduate get for his bad behavior? A reprimand, a $300,000 fine and the prospect of spending five years behind bars if he fails to pay the fine.
Considering the alternatives, I’d say his future looks relatively bright. He was NOT dismissed from the Army, NOT sentenced to forfeit pay and allowances, NOT required to spend any time behind bars AND he gets to keep his full military retirement! Not bad. Some guys have all the luck!
And then there’s the case of Green Beret Sgt. 1st Class Kelly A. Stewart, the soldier whose life and wrongful conviction are chronicled in my book, Three Days In August: A U.S. Army Special Forces Soldier’s Fight For Military Justice.
Though he admitted to having a consensual one-night stand with a German woman inside his Stuttgart hotel room in August 2008, he faced a court-martial panel one year later, was convicted of a variety of sexual offenses and sentenced to eight years behind bars at the U.S. Military Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. And that’s not all!
He was also stripped of his Special Forces tab, reduced in rank to private, ordered discharged from the Army upon completion of his sentence and — last, but not least — branded with the “sex offender” label for the rest of the life if military justice continues to elude him via the appeals process.
Most disturbing about this highly-decorated combat veteran’s conviction is that it came despite a complete lack of any physical evidence, despite a complete lack of eyewitnesses to the alleged crimes and only after his accuser — supported by German government officials — refused to provide the court with copies of her medical records that would have shown she had a history of mental illness.
Based on extensive interviews and never-before-published details taken from the actual Record of Trial, Three Days in August paints a portrait of military justice gone awry that’s certain to make your blood boil.
After you order a copy of Three Days In August, please click on this link to learn more about my
upcoming second nonfiction book, THE CLAPPER MEMO. It, too, will make your blood boil Thanks in advance!