The military justice system is bad enough without people like Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) trying to make it worse.
On Wednesday, the liberal senior senator from the Show-Me State used a news release to share her feelings about a letter in which Air Force Lt. Gen. Craig A. Franklin explained to Secretary of the Air Force Michael B. Donley his decision to overturn the guilty verdict issued by members of a court-martial panel in a sexual assault case at Aviano Air Base, Italy. Interestingly, the liberal senator did not include a copy of the letter in her release. Why? Because it doesn’t support the position she’s espoused during the past five weeks as a combatant in DoD’s War on Men.
Before I delve into the content of the March 12 letter written by General Franklin, commander of Third Air Force and the convening authority in the case of Lt. Col. James H. Wilkerson III, a review of the battles in this war is in order.
In a post March 7, I shared the full text of the scathing letter in which Senator McCaskill strongly urged Secretary Donley and Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, Chief of Staff of the Air Force to consider removing General Franklin for cause.
A few days later, Senator McCaskill announced she was proposing legislation to curtail the authority of military commanders to override court-martial convictions involving sexual assault charges and publicized the fact that she had met with Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh “to discuss her ongoing efforts to address sexual assaults in the military.” In addition, however, she used another news release to smear the now-innocent Colonel Wilkerson.
“Rape is the crime of a coward—and rapists in the ranks are masquerading as real members of our military,” she explained, adding, “The focus of our efforts should be on effective prosecution. There’s no reason a General who’s never heard the testimony of factual witnesses should be able to wipe out a verdict with the stroke of a pen.”
Those words prompted me to demand Senator McCaskill apologize to Colonel Wilkerson for inferring that he was a rapist. In addition to the fact that Colonel Wilkerson had been declared innocent, he had never been accused of rape in the first place!
On April 8, Senator McCaskill announced new Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel had bought into her plan to take away commanders’ authority when it comes to courts-martial cases like the one involving Colonel Wilkerson.
Now, back to the Wednesday news release in which Senator McCaskill referred to the letter written by General Franklin to Secretary Donley.
“This explanation crystalizes exactly why the convening authority should not have the unilateral ability to overturn a jury verdict-and why we need legislation that restricts their ability to do so,” the liberal member of the Senate Armed Services Committee wrote. “This letter is filled with selective reasoning and assumptions from someone with no legal training, and it’s appalling that the reasoning spelled out in the letter served as the basis to overturn a jury verdict in this case.”
Next, read the piece I published Monday under the headline, National Defense University Publishes Must-Read Article About Military Sexual Assault. Pay particular attention to the ending, and let me know if you agree with me by leaving a comment below.
UPDATE 4/12/2013 at 1:29 p.m. Central: When I published this piece yesterday, I failed to note how this subject matter has a connection to my soon-to-be-published book, THE CLAPPER MEMO, and makes me think General Franklin might want to read the book. In his letter to SAF Donley, the general noted the following:
“Lt Col Wilkerson voluntarily agreed to take an (Air Force Office of Special Investigations) polygraph examination. I am fully aware of and considered the polygraph results. As you are aware in a criminal investigation, a polygraph is only an investigative tool to assist in the potential focus of the investigation and/or to attempt to elicit admissions of guilt. It is not a “lie detector test,” nor is it “pass” or “fail.” Because of the inherent unreliability of polygraphs, they are entirely inadmissible in a court-martial. Ultimately, Lt Col Wilkerson has consistently maintained his complete innocence — throughout two lengthy OSI interviews, through the entire court-martial, and throughout his nearly four months in prison (following the court-martial and during the post-trial process).”
Bob McCarty is the author of Three Days In August: A U.S. Army Special Forces Soldier’s Fight For Military Justice, a nonfiction book that’s available in paperback and ebook via most online booksellers, including Amazon.com. It chronicles the life and wrongful conviction of Army Green Beret Sgt. 1st Class Kelly A. Stewart. His second book, THE CLAPPER MEMO, is coming soon.