The Pendulum Has Swung: Defending Yourself Against False Allegations in Senator Claire McCaskill’s Military Justice System

If you or someone you know has been falsely accused of a crime,
please contact Save Our Heroes.

This animated video describes the obstacles faced by military members who are wrongly or falsely accused of sexual assault. From the recent changes to the UCMJ to the barriers built around the alleged victim, wrongly and falsely accused service members face an uphill battle defending themselves. Court-martial defense lawyer Will M. Helixon, with decades of experience as a sex crimes prosecutor, can team with the military detailed counsel to level the playing field and defend the rights of the wrongly and falsely accused. (www.helixongroup.com)

Learn more: Letter of Support for Save Our Heroes in Our Shared Quest for Military Justice Reform & Constitutional Rights

An Open Letter to Congress Regarding the Investigations of the National Guard Recruiting Assistance Program (G-RAP)

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Guard Recruiting and Assistance Program (G-RAP)

Dear Congress,

Both the New York Times and the Washington Times are reporting that the Army’s investigation of National Guard soldiers and veterans who participated in the Guard Recruiting Assistance Program (G-RAP) has gone far and wide of the intention. Thousands of Guard troops have had their military and civilian careers destroyed over the Army’s accusations and questionable investigations.

They are questionable because of the constitutionality of the Army serving as a police force to investigate citizen soldiers. They are questionable because CID’s tactics do not conform to policy. They are questionable, because in five years of investigations and an estimated $40 million spent by CID, not even a fraction of the alleged fraud has been found. Senator Claire McCaskill took, at face value, Gen Quantock’s testimony that $100 million was lost to G-RAP fraud. Senator McCaskill set loose the largest military criminal investigation in history.

I am just a citizen volunteer: not military, not an attorney, who did background research for a friend caught in this trap. In the process I amassed thousands of pages of documentation that the investigations are unjust, and possibly illegal – That the premise of massive fraud is wrong and that the witch hunt continues only to prove the Army’s wild exaggerations.

G-RAP is a dark and complicated story and one that needs attention. Shining a spotlight on this can only happen in Congress.

I would welcome an opportunity to share what I have found.

Sincerely,

Liz Ullman

Related Links:
Defend Our Protectors
Stop G-RAP Injustice on Facebook
The Conspiracy Behind the G-RAP War on American Soldiers
If You Look at the Dollars, Guard Recruiting Assistance Program Investigations Make No Sense
Top Ten Problems with the National Guard Recruiting Assistance Program (G-RAP) Investigations

Violent Crime, Non Combat Death & Suicide at United States Military Bases

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*Research not complete.

My experiences as a victim of crime in the United States military inspired me to do the work I do today as a military justice policy analyst. Not only did I witness first hand how a predator operates but I witnessed multiple predator types in real time while serving my country. If these people committed these acts of crimes at work in the civilian world, they would have been in jail or I would have been rich after taking my employer to civil court. Well maybe not because the deck is stacked against the accuser but we do in fact have a civilian justice system that allows us to hold others accountable, while it simultaneously protects the due process rights of the accused. This cannot be said of the military justice system. There is no guarantee a military Commander will do anything with a crime report let alone process the felony crime effectively. We do not want a justice system where one man or woman decides whether to do nothing, give a non judicial punishment for a felony crime, or railroad the accused or accuser. We do want a justice system where we can hold our employer accountable without roadblocks from the Pentagon, Congress, and the Feres Doctrine. We cannot effectively tackle the violent crime issue in the military until the victims of crimes, like sexual assault and domestic violence, feel safe enough to report. Crime victims have expressed that they do not want to report crimes to a Commander for fear of retaliation. The Department of Defense admitted that of those of who did report the crime, 62% perceived that they faced retaliation. If service members felt safe enough to report, it could help us prevent homicide, suicide, and non combat death.

If we think about violent crime committed by military personnel compared to violent crime statistics in the United States (reference above graph), at first glance it appears the military has a homicide ‘issue’ among the ranks. Please see the below links for a sample of crime on some of the U.S. military bases. All military bases worldwide will eventually be included in this research. And the research for sexual assault, rape, domestic violence, and physical assault specifically has not been conducted yet either. Because the research is far from being complete, it is too early to make any assumptions so I will put the data in one place and let you come to your own conclusions. But if military crime mirrors civilian crime statistics, one can deduce that if the military has a lot of homicide, there is even more rape. Currently the number one concern in the military is a Commander’s ability to give a non judicial punishment for a felony crime. A Commander can bypass the courts martial process simply by punishing and/or discharging the accused with a preponderance of the evidence. This does nothing to protect our military personnel and the civilians who live near our bases in America and worldwide. Predators do not discriminate. They are just as likely to harm civilians as they are military personnel. They know their rights and they know that jurisdiction issues and lack of communication among law enforcement agencies will help prolong getting caught. We need to be one step ahead.

We can’t get real violent crime numbers for the military bases unless we include those who died of non combat deaths while they were deployed. Veterans Noonie Fortin and Ann Wright inspired me to initially look into the non combat deaths of female soldiers overseas because they observed the unusually high number of female soldiers who died of non combat deaths during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Their chief concern was that although the military labels a non combat death as a suicide, there are suspicions that some female soldiers were murdered, like LaVena Johnson, Amy Tirador, and Ciara Durkin. I did the research on every single female soldier who died from non combat deaths overseas and their concerns are valid. My research on non combat deaths in Iraq alone revealed that roughly 30% of female soldiers died as a result of homicide, suicide, and other unknown causes. I am working on collecting the data for male soldiers who died from non combat related injuries in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other areas. I started with 2010 so we can get the most recent cases but I will go back to September 11, 2001 in the next phase of data collection. The first male soldier non combat death case I found in 2010 was an unsolved homicide. His name was SSG Anton Phillips and he was stabbed to death in Afghanistan. Further research in this area has uncovered that non combat deaths of male soldiers are just as prevalent.

Learn more:
The US Military Recruited Violent Felons to Support the War Efforts
Non Combat Deaths of Female Soldiers in the US Military (Afghanistan)
Non Combat Deaths of Female Soldiers in the US Military (Iraq)
Non Combat Deaths of Female Soldiers in the US Military (Other Areas)
Violent Crime, Non Combat Death & Suicide at Fort Bragg, North Carolina (US Army)
Violent Crime, Non Combat Death & Suicide at Fort Campbell, Kentucky (US Army)
Violent Crime, Non Combat Death & Suicide at Fort Carson, Colorado (US Army)
Violent Crime, Non Combat Death & Suicide at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington
Violent Crime, Non Combat Death & Suicide at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Texas
Violent Crime at Fort Wainwright, Alaska (US Army)
Violent Crime at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska
A List of Soldiers Targeted & Murdered for the Servicemen’s Group Life Insurance Benefits
Rep Nikki Tsongas & Rep Mike Turner Host Educational Caucus: Improving Treatment Resources for Male Survivors of Military Sexual Trauma
An Open Letter to the Senate and House of Representatives in Support of the Military Justice Improvement Act
Letter of Support for Save Our Heroes in Our Shared Quest for Military Justice Reform & Constitutional Rights

Letter of Support for Save Our Heroes in Our Shared Quest for Military Justice Reform & Constitutional Rights

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October 1, 2016

U.S. House of Representatives
United States Senate
Washington, DC

To Whom It May Concern:

This is a letter of support for Save Our Heroes. We recognized immediately that Save Our Heroes and victims of crimes both want similar changes in the military justice system. Save Our Heroes is asking for three specific legislative/policy changes to restore fundamental fairness in the military justice system:

1. Remove all Commanders authority from decision-making in the legal system.
2. The number of panel members should be increased to 12 for General Courts Martial.
3. Any conviction at Courts Martial shall require a unanimous verdict.

These requests by Save Our Heroes are similar to the overall changes that victims of crimes in the military have lobbied for, specifically that Commanders be removed from the reporting and decision-making process because of fear of bias, lack of investigative training, and the power to discharge and/or punish with the stroke of a pen. Save Our Heroes is requesting the same changes because ultimately both the victims and accused are looking for a military justice system that mirrors the civilian justice system while respecting the need of the Commanding Officer to ensure discipline is maintained within their command. We want a justice system where crimes are reported to legal authorities and not a Commander who is an authority figure with the power to impact your entire life. We want a justice system where crimes will be investigated thoroughly by unbiased military criminal investigative organizations looking for the truth. We want a justice system that provides the same constitutional rights as those provided in the civilian justice system. Save Our Heroes is specifically asking for changes that are commonplace in the civilian justice system, like a jury of twelve of our peers and a unanimous verdict. Our military deserves no less.

Victims of crimes in the military are asking for a military justice system that provides due process for the accuser and the accused. Crime victims want the ability to go to trial based on an independent prosecutor’s decision to charge because there was sufficient evidence to move forward with a case. Crime victims want those people who level false accusations, and engage in other abuses of the process, to be held accountable. While we recognize that false reports represent a small percentage of total reports (between 2-8 percent based on Bureau of Justice Statistics data), those who do falsely accuse are hurting the real victims of these crimes and should be held accountable through the same impartial military justice system. Both the accusers and the accused are asking for due process, which is best accomplished by a system that mirrors the civilian justice system. Currently, Commanders have control of the process when the accused, accuser, defense attorneys, and prosecutors should have control over the process.

Sincerely,

Jennifer Norris, Military Justice for All
Stephanie Schroeder, US Human Rights Network & UN Board Member
Brian Lewis, Men Recovering from Military Sexual Trauma

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.

Read more here.

Marine’s conviction for rape of Kentucky woman overturned

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Stephen Howell, US Marine Corps

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.

VOR America: Jennifer Norris Discusses Sexual Misconduct in the Military (2014)

CBS News: Military cracks down on rampant sexual abuse

Jennifer NorrisCBS News: Former Air Force Sgt. Jennifer Norris, a rape victim, said, “Blaming a civilian hook-up culture for the epidemic does nothing but contribute to victim blaming, excusing perpetrators, and it belittles the serious nature of these crimes.”

She said the system is rigged against low-ranking service members. “Commanders who are responsible for the resolution of these cases are far too often biased in favor of the often higher-ranking perpetrators,” she said.

Norris spoke at a press conference at which Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and other members of Congress pushed legislation that would allow victims to bypass their commanders.

As far as how to make that happen, the senator said, “Allow them to report directly to a military lawyer, a trained prosecutor, someone who understands sexual assault, and is the one who will do the investigation and then decide whether or not to bring it to trial.”

Read more at CBS News here.

Honor and Dishonor: The trials of Sgt. Brent Burke

HBrent Burkeonor and Dishonor: The trials of Sgt. Brent Burke

Sergeant Brent Burke earned his stripes at Fort Campbell, Kentucky — home base for his division, the legendary 101st Airborne. Once under the command of former General David Petraeus, the soldiers of the 101st have seen more action than most soldiers in the U.S. Army. It is also where Sgt. Burke will learn if he will continue to serve in the Army, or if he will serve out his life in prison, because military prosecutors in the Army’s Judge Advocate General’s Corps, known as JAG, will court martial Sgt. Brent Burke for double homicide.

“I would say that the tough part of any case like this is the fact that it was four years old … and it was mostly circumstantial evidence and when you put all that together it certainly makes for a difficult case,” JAG prosecutor Lt. Col Matthew Calarco told “48 Hours” correspondent Richard Schlesinger.  Lieutenant Colonel Matt Calarco’s mission, after four civilian trials failed to get a verdict, is to finally prove Sgt. Burke shot and killed his wife, Tracy, and her ex-husband’s mother, Karen Comer, on Sept. 11, 2007.

Read more here.