Top Marine Gen. James Amos is accused of interfering in sex assault, desecration cases

Top Marine Gen. James Amos is accused of interfering in sex assault, desecration cases

A military judge did something extraordinary last summer when he ordered the Marine Corps‘ top officer to submit sworn statements in a sexual assault case. The answers from the commandant, Gen. James F. Amos, have some in Marine legal circles wondering whether he told the full truth.

Gen. Amos, a Joint Chiefs of Staff member, faces charges from defense attorneys that his words and actions have unleashed a wave of unlawful command influence over jurors who venerate the commandant.

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Marine’s conviction for rape of Kentucky woman overturned

Marine’s conviction for rape of Kentucky woman overturned

In its May 22 ruling, the Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals said Commandant Gen. James Amos’ push against sexual assault was unlawful command influence. The court set aside the 19-year sentence at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., that was handed down in October 2012 to Staff Sgt. Stephen P. Howell. He was convicted in a military court trial at Parris Island, S.C., of rape, forcible sodomy, adultery and other charges involving a Lexington, Ky., woman.

Read more here.

UCMJ: 837. ART. 37. UNLAWFULLY INFLUENCING ACTION OF COURT

(a) No authority convening a general, special, or summary court-martial, nor any other commanding officer, may censure, reprimand, or admonish the court or any member, military judge, or counsel thereof, with respect to the findings or sentence adjudged by the court, or with respect to any other exercises of its or his functions in the conduct of the proceedings. No person subject to this chapter may attempt to coerce or, by any unauthorized means, influence the action of a court-martial or any other military tribunal or any member thereof, in reaching the findings or sentence in any case, or the action of any convening, approving, or reviewing authority with respect to his judicial acts. The foregoing provisions of the subsection shall not apply with respect to (1) general instructional or informational courses in military justice if such courses are designed solely for the purpose of instructing members of a command in the substantive and procedural aspects of courts-martial, or (2) to statements and instructions given in open court by the military judge, president of a special court-martial, or counsel.

(b) In the preparation of an effectiveness, fitness, or efficiency report on any other report or document used in whole or in part for the purpose of determining whether a member of the armed forces is qualified to be advanced, in grade, or in determining the assignment or transfer of a member of the armed forces or in determining whether a member of the armed forces should be retained on active duty, no person subject to this chapter may, in preparing any such report (1) consider or evaluate the performance of duty of any such member, as counsel, represented any accused before a court-martial.

Honor and Deception (USAFA, 2013)

Honor and Deception (USAFA, 2013)

A secretive Air Force program recruits academy students to inform on fellow cadets and disavows them afterward

Facing pressure to combat drug use and sexual assault at the Air Force Academy, the Air Force has created a secret system of cadet informants to hunt for misconduct among students.

Cadets who attend the publicly-funded academy near Colorado Springs must pledge never to lie. But the program pushes some to do just that: Informants are told to deceive classmates, professors and commanders while snapping photos, wearing recording devices and filing secret reports.

For one former academy student, becoming a covert government operative meant not only betraying the values he vowed to uphold, it meant being thrown out of the academy as punishment for doing the things the Air Force secretly told him to do.

Read more here.

AFA’s Cooks convicted in sexual assault case, booted from military (2013)

AFA’s Cooks convicted in sexual assault case, booted from military (2013)

An Air Force Academy cadet has been convicted by a court martial panel on a sexual assault charge and kicked out of the military.

Air Force Academy cadet Jamil Cooks, who pleaded guilty last week to unlawfully entering women’s dorm rooms at the academy, was convicted by a court martial panel on a charge of abusive sexual contact, the academy announced Sunday morning.

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Gazette confirms former Air Force Academy cadet’s account (2013)

Gazette confirms former Air Force Academy cadet’s account

When former Air Force Academy cadet Eric Thomas faced a disciplinary board in August 2012, a special agent with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations said he would come to explain how Thomas worked dozens of cases as a confidential informant and had been of great service to the Air Force.

The agent never showed up, and Thomas was expelled from the academy eight months later. On Friday, an active-duty member of the Air Force Academy with direct knowledge of the case said the agent, Brandon Enos, did not show up because he was told not to by the local OSI commander, Lt. Col. Vasaga Tilo.

Read more here.

Pentagon Says Uncovering the Truth about Military Sexual Violence Is Too Burdensome. Huh?

Pentagon Says Uncovering the Truth about Military Sexual Violence Is Too Burdensome. Huh?

It’s often said that people should be judged by their actions, not merely their words. The same is true of institutions, even the Department of Defense (DoD).

Facing intense criticism for how it responds to sexual violence within the military, the Pentagon has said: “Sexual Assault is a crime that is not tolerated, condoned, or ignored in the DoD. It is one of the most serious challenges facing our military.”

Yet, in Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) litigation that has now been pending for three years, the Pentagon argues that releasing its records regarding military sexual violence is too “burdensome,” because it involves a large number of documents. But that raises more questions than it answers: Doesn’t the volume of documents only confirm the magnitude of sexual assault in the military? Why is the DoD opposing efforts to shed further light on military sexual violence, a necessary step to creating effective solutions?

Read more here.

Pentagon using change in diagnoses to hide sexual assault cases, critics charge Switch from ‘personality’ to ‘adjustment’ disorder discharges

Pentagon using change in diagnoses to hide sexual assault cases, critics charge Switch from ‘personality’ to ‘adjustment’ disorder discharges

Lawmakers say they fear the Defense Department has found a new way to drum sexual assault victims out of the service: by diagnosing adjustment disorder and having them discharged from the military.

It’s the latest technique the department has used to retaliate against troops who report they were sexually assaulted, according to members of Congress who are determined to use this year’s defense policy debate to curtail the practice and get justice for the service members who they say were illegally discharged in the past.

“It’s like a ‘Whac-A-Mole,’” said Rep. Jackie Speier, California Democrat. “Every time we shut them down on something, they’ll find a way around it.”

Read more: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/may/26/pentagon-using-change-in-diagnoses-to-hide-sexual-/#ixzz3378gZZ8o

9,800 troops to stay in Afghanistan

Originally posted on KIMT 3:

[anvplayer video="282127" /]

KIMT News 3 –  President Obama announced an agenda today to bring the war in Afghanistan to a close, but maybe not soon enough for some.

The the U.S. will keep 9,800 troops in Afghanistan into 2015.

Obama says by the end of that year, the United States troop presence will be reduced by half.

Even the President says that we have been in Afghanistan longer than most Americans expected.

“Thousands of our brave service members have sacrificed their lives in Afghanistan, and tens of thousands more have sustained serious injury. We should be bringing all of our troops home, not continuing to put hearly 10,000 of them in harm’s way halfway around the world. It’s long-past time the Afghan people were in control of their own future,” says U.S. Representative Bruce Braley.

However, transporting them back is a larger task than many may think, which is…

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Loopholes in the Military Justice System

Article 92 UCMJ

Prevention

  • Focus on victim “Don’t get raped”
  • Lack of focus on MO of predators
  • No deterrents or stiff punishments for violent crimes
  • No database to track predators & prevent crimes
  • Lack of punishment/accountability for those who retaliate
  • Empowerment/Leadership/Bystander Intervention

Recruiting

  • Moral waivers, waivers in general
  • No mental health pre-assessment
  • History of recruits with felony charges
  • Predators that flock to positions of trust
  • Autonomy in position, ability to isolate

Reporting

  • Backlash on career: 92% of those who report are discharged (MRCC)
  • Lack of confidentiality: Once you report a crime, everyone knows
  • 26,300 sexual assaults/year: A number that the DoD has provided us with
  • 53% of the victims are males; men less likely to report because of shame
  • 26,300 people sexually assaulted per year does not include sexual harassment
  • Sex harassment is reported to Equal Employment Opportunity, Commander’s program
  • 87% do not report sexual assault; More then half are afraid of retaliation
  • Chain of Command influence; Every level can impact victim’s decision to move forward
  • Education for forensics; A thorough knowledge of importance of preserving evidence
  • Retaliation; Impacts on troops who report: not believed, punished, bullied, isolated, etc.
  • Formal process w/ legal focus; Report to Commander doesn’t require medical evaluation
  • DoD reports 50% increase in reporting. Does that mean increase in violent crimes?

Chain of Command

  • Depends on Personality
  • Impact on Career
  • Who is more important?
  • No legal expertise
  • No trauma experience
  • No understanding of Modus Operandi
  • Feres Doctrine/Lack of Accountability

Investigation

  • Victim centered investigation
  • Good soldier defense
  • More support for criminal then victim
  • Who investigates?
  • Competing efforts
  • OSI, CID, Commander, Prosecution, Defense
  • No criminal history on record

Forensics

  • Importance of procedure
  • Collection/Storage
  • Use in trial as evidence
  • Coordinating forensics with reports of crimes
  • Jurisdiction

Prosecution

  • Command Influenced trial
  • Commander decides to prosecute
  • Special Victims Counsel has no say
  • Lack of witnesses
  • Experts on Criminal MO
  • Coordination of multiple victims

Punishment

  • Weak punishments
  • Sex Offenders in Neighborhoods
  • Minimal deterrents for future crimes

Mental Health

  • Medication Treatment Centered
  • Understaffed Mental Health (if any)
  • Misdiagnosis in favor of government
  • Lacking Holistic PTSD Approach

Documentation

  • Commander’s Discretion
  • Criminal Characteristics
  • Permanent Files
  • Transitional Employment
  • Lack of Continuity
  • High employee turn over rate

Intelligence

  • Centralized Database
  • Connecting Crimes
  • Tracking Known Predators
  • Suicide vs Murder
  • Suicide (Bullying & Retaliation)
  • Who is retaliating?
  • Need to track red flags

Discharge

  • Errant Diagnosis
  • PTSD/MST
  • Medical Process
  • Misconduct
  • Retirement

Veterans Affairs

  • Delays in Care
  • Transition is not smooth
  • Medication focused

Congress

  • Claire McCaskill – Keep the Chain of Command in tact; status quo
  • Kirsten Gillibrand/MJIA – Victims report to military prosecutor instead of Commander
  • Jackie Speier/Stop Act – Remove the Chain of Command from reporting, investigating, and prosecuting violent offenders in US Military.

American Public

  • Saturated with victim accounts
  • Desensitized to violence in general
  • Blindly following causes
  • Trust that Government will fix

Media

  • Messages are sensationalized
  • Misinformation in general
  • Distractions
  • Missing key information
  • Education of military culture

Veteran Organizations

  • Competing efforts
  • Lack of unity
  • Decision making lacks all information
  • Egos, fame seekers, etc.