Military Justice System Headed Down Same Path as Healthcare

“If you like your military, you can keep your military.”

U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sinclair, the deputy commanding general of support with the 82nd Airborne Division and Regional Command-South, speaks with Afghan media outside of a school near Forward Operating Base Howz-e-Madad in Kandahar, Afghanistan, Nov. 16, 2011. Sinclair was attending an open house, where Afghan students received backpacks full of school supplies. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Amanda Hils/Released)

U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sinclair, then-deputy commanding general of support with the 82nd Airborne Division and Regional Command-South, speaks with Afghan media Nov. 16, 2011. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Amanda Hils/Released)

To my knowledge, President Barack Obama hasn’t said that yet — at least, not in public. But the military justice system seems to be headed down the same path as the nation’s healthcare system.

Unlike the debate regarding healthcare, the debate about the need for military justice reforms involves people in positions of power (i.e., President Obama and members of Congress) who have absolutely no concept of what is necessary in a military justice system, because they have never served. Led by people like Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), they advocate steps that will only worsen an already-flawed system.

One person who seems to understand what’s at stake is Patti Fruit, a resident of the Fayetteville, N.C., area near Fort Bragg. While I don’t agree with everything she wrote in a letter to the editor of the Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer about the headline-making outcome of Army Brig. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sinclair’s court-martial, I do agree with the following point she made:

“Yes, he admits to adultery with underlings, but why military women who have achieved rank did not have the honor and courage to report the general’s advances from the beginning is a question that needs addressing.”

What was the outcome of General Sinclair’s case? Sexual assault charges against him were dropped after political influence, in lieu of facts, was cited as the driving force behind a higher-ranking general’s decision to prosecute Sinclair.

One-hundred-eighty-degrees opposite Ms. Fruit, members of The New York Times Editorial Board revealed in a letter published today that they don’t have a clue about the military justice system.  Their lack of a “clue” is illustrated in the two paragraphs highlighted below:

The deal followed a stunning ruling by a military judge last week suggesting that by holding out for more severe punishment, and by rejecting an earlier plea deal, the senior Army officer overseeing the prosecution might have been improperly influenced by political considerations in bringing the most severe charges against the general because of a desire to show new resolve in the military against sexual misconduct. The prosecution had also been badly shaken by revelations that the general’s accuser may have lied under oath.

The episode offers a textbook example of justice gone awry, providing yet another reason to overhaul the existing military justice system, which gives commanding officers with built-in conflicts of interest — rather than trained and independent military prosecutors outside the chain of command — the power to decide which sexual assault cases to try.

The Times Editorial Board’s description of this week’s happenings in the case as “a textbook example of justice gone awry, providing yet another reason to overhaul the existing military justice system” is about as truthful as any of President Obama’s promises concerning the so-called Affordable Care Act (a.k.a., “ObamaCare”).

Three Days In August by Bob McCarty

Click on image above to order book.

“If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor,” the president said.  We all know how long that promise lasted.

“If you like your plan, you can keep your plan,” the president said.  Tell that to the hundreds of thousands of Americans who’ve lost coverage since ObamaCare went “live.”

“We’re going to work with employers to lower your premiums by up to $2,500 per family per year,” the president said.

Rather than telling us “If you like your military, you can keep your military,” it appears President Obama and his sycophants on The Left are determined to dismantle it without asking for input from anyone else and without regard for or our nation’s security.  In short, the military justice system seems destined toward the same fate as healthcare and, sadly, Republicans in Congress seem to lack the wherewithal (a.k.a., “spines”) to do anything about it.If Americans don’t stand up and demand their politicians stop meddling with the military, then they’ll deserve the military that’s left standing.  And it won’t be pretty.  Or, for that matter, an effective fighting force.

To learn more about sexual assault prosecutions in the military, read my series, “War On Men in the Military.”

To learn more about the case involving Army Sgt. 1st Class Kelly A. Stewart, order a copy of Three Days In August, the nonfiction book in which I chronicle his life story and wrongful conviction in a U.S. military courtroom in Germany.

Bob McCarty is the author of Three Days In August and THE CLAPPER MEMO. To learn more about either book or to place an order, click on the graphic above.

Bob McCarty is the author of Three Days In August and THE CLAPPER MEMO. To learn more about either book or to place an order, click on the graphic above.

Finally, A Lawyer Makes Sense

In the first paragraph of a piece published two days ago, military defense attorney Richard Stevens drives home the point that “the military justice system is being turned into the military prosecution, or persecution, system in court-martial cases alleging rape and/or sexual assault (UCMJ Article 120).”  And he’s as familiar with the system as anyone after having worked in the system as both a JAG officer and civilian defense attorney.

Richard Stevens Mil Justice 1-10-14

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He goes on to point his legal finger at “lawmakers and senior government and military officials who care more about an inaccurate politically correct narrative than the fairness of the military justice system” before describing them as “conspiring to make continued changes to the system to ensure commanders and JAGs have no discretion, or at least don’t dare to exercise what little discretion they may ultimately retain.”

Moving forward, Stevens highlights how two Air Force lieutenant generals — Susan Helms and Craig A. Franklin — saw their three-start careers abruptly ended by elected officials engaged in allowing political correctness to run amok.

Rather than rehash Stevens’ piece in its entirety, however, I simply recommend you read it.

In addition, I recommend you read several pieces in my series, War on Men in the Military.

Finally, if you really want to boost your blood pressure, order a copy of my first nonfiction book, Three Days In August, in which I chronicle the life story of Army Sgt. 1st Class Kelly Stewart and reveal how his career as a highly-decorated Green Beret combat veteran was ruined by this agenda-driven form of military justice.

WARNING:  Reading this book will make your blood boil.

Bob McCarty is the author of Three Days In August and THE CLAPPER MEMO. To learn more about either book or to place an order, click on the graphic above.

Bob McCarty is the author of Three Days In August and THE CLAPPER MEMO. To learn more about either book or to place an order, click on the graphic above.

Military Leaders Pushed by Political Correctness

By Col. Robert Harvey, USAF (Ret.), Guest Writer

Led by U.S. Senators Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), political correctness is bullying its way into our military in the name of protecting women. Sadly, the changes to the military justice system being advanced by these women are designed specifically to convict more men accused of sexual assault without regard for the truth.

McCaskill - Gillibrand The senators’ proposed changes include stripping military commanders of their authority to dismiss convictions during the clemency process. Commanders would still be “permitted” to review cases, but prohibited from dismissing them. In other words, commanders would only act as “rubber stamps” if the proposed changes are approved.

The senators want to mandate dishonorable discharge/dismissal for sexual assault. Strong punishments for sure, but they can deny servicemen retirement benefits previously earned during lengthy and otherwise honorable service. Currently, court-martial panel members (a.k.a., “jurors”) decide, along with other punishments, whether or not to strip retirement benefits. In turn, those decisions are reviewed by commanders. While dishonorable discharge/dismissal may be warranted in aggravated or violent cases of sexual assault, the same punishment for something the military now describes simply as “unwanted touching” — something that’s not even considered a crime outside the military — would be cruel and unusual punishment. Leave the sentencing to the jury!

The senators want to require input from victims during clemency hearings. A clemency hearing is a post-conviction review by the commander. During this post phase, the commander conducts a review and either approves or reduces the sentence. He cannot, however, increase the sentence. The requirement for a victim to provide input during clemency would be redundant. Victims can speak as witnesses during trials, and they’re afforded opportunities to speak during sentencing. What more would the senators like them to be able to say?

The senators want victims to be able to read letters of support for the defendant and respond to them. Again, why? Just so the victim can have the last word? Since the senators want commanders to be nothing more than “rubber stamps,” why have this (or clemency) at all? In all probability, this idea stems from a case the senators disagree with that involved a commander dismissing a conviction. In other words, the senators are acting like spoiled kids when they don’t get their way.

The senators want to “make it clear commanders failing to address sexual assaults should be relieved of command.” This is troubling — a direct threat to any commander who considers not pressing every case to court martial, regardless of the evidence. In other words, if Senators McCaskill and Gillibrand do not get their way, the commander gets fired.

Recently, a two-star Army general in Japan was relieved of duty, because his higher ups did not believe he adequately pursued an assault case. Now, the de facto policy in the Army is that every case goes to court-martial or the commander gets fired. This sets a very serious precedent that sweeps aside any effort at truth or justice in favor of a political agenda.

Blackstone QuoteAs if threatening their careers is not enough, another push is underway to force commanders to send cases to court-martial regardless of the available evidence. The senators want to include this provision: “Commanders retain ability to refer cases for court martial in consultation with legal counsel—including when prosecutors decline.”

Why would a commander insist a case proceed to court-martial after prosecutors decline to recommend that option? This provision, along with threats of being fired, will encourage commanders to do just that. At the same time, it confirms the senators’ joint goal is to force each case to trial regardless of the evidence or strength of the case.

Isn’t this just the flip side of what the senators object to already – that is, a commander being able to affect a case? Evidently, the senators only disagree with a commander when he rules in favor of an accused. When a commander rules against an accused and over the best judgment of a prosecutor, the senators find that acceptable. That’s not justice!

Two other changes the democrats want to implement include eliminating the consideration of the defendant’s military character and establishing guidance to move the accused from the unit.

Elimination of military character as a consideration for case disposition means that a defendant will be prohibited from showing a positive military record of good conduct as part of his defense. Even murderers get the opportunity to show that they have not always been bad people. Why take this away from military defendants? Why are they singled out for slander in the courtroom without being able to provide a defense?

Finally, the senators want to “protect” the alleged victim by moving the accused from his unit prior to any trial being conducted and without regard to evidence of the establishment of guilt. Without time for due process, this has the effect of establishing that the accused is guilty until proven innocent.

In a modern-day version of the Salem Witch Trials, Senators McCaskill, Gillibrand and others want to establish that one woman’s story is enough to send any man to prison; that every man who is accused is guilty; and that evidence and legal process need not interfere with the sequence of events that follow an accusation. “Just burn them all!” is the new mantra, and that’s unacceptable!

Col. Robert Harvey, USAF Ret.

Col. Robert Harvey, USAF Ret.

Colonel Harvey retired after 33 years of military service which included six years in the U.S. Army and 27 years in the U.S. Air Force. A combat fighter pilot with more than 3,100 hours in F-16 cockpits, 160 of which were flown in combat during Operation Desert Storm, his distinguished career also includes service as a fighter squadron commander and an air operations group commander.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) is guilty, too. For details, see Senators McCaskill and Ayotte Push Sexual Assault ‘Witch Hunt.’ To learn more about the dangers facing the military justice system, read my my series, “War on Men in the Military.”

Bob McCarty is the author of Three Days In August and THE CLAPPER MEMO. To learn more about either book or to place an order, click on the graphic above.

Bob McCarty is the author of Three Days In August and THE CLAPPER MEMO. To learn more about either book or to place an order, click on the graphic above.

Green Beret Sacrificed at Altar of Political Correctness

I came across an article today in the McCook (Neb.) Daily Gazette that reminds me a lot of the story told in my nonfiction book, Three Days In August: A U.S. Army Special Forces Soldier’s Fight For Military Justice.

The article recounts the story of Capt. Steve Berry, an Army defense attorney, and eight Special Forces soldiers he represented after they were accused of murdering a triple-agent in their midst during the height of the war in Vietnam.

As it turned out, the defense team’s evident willingness to pull out all the stops prevented the soldiers from being sacrificed for reasons of political correctness and charges against them were dismissed in September 1969.  For more details, order Berry’s 1984 book, “Those Gallant Men.”

Fortunately for the soldiers involved, their case took place 43 years ago when men were more willing to stand up for what was right and just.  Unfortunately for Army Green Beret Sgt. 1st Class Kelly A. Stewart, his case took place more recently and in a world where political correctness is allowed to run amok.

Though the list of charges against Sergeant Stewart did not include murder, he was convicted, sentenced to prison and branded a “sexual offender” despite no physical evidence or eyewitnesses being presented at his trial during three days in August 2009.  In the end, a highly-decorated combat veteran was allowed to be sacrificed on the altar of political correctness.

All of the horrific details of Sergeant Stewart’s trial, conviction and appeals process can be found in my book, Three Days in August.  Based on extensive interviews and never-before-published details taken from the actual Record of Trial, it paints a portrait of military justice gone awry that’s certain to make your blood boil.

Three Days In August is available in paperback and ebook via most online booksellers, including Amazon.com.

For details about my second nonfiction book, visit THE CLAPPER MEMO website.