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February 17, 2014

"Iffy" Prosecution Watch

What constitutes an "iffy" case? If you answered, "One where a senior military leader admits violating the UCMJ by carrying on an adulterous affair for 3 years with a subordinate", or "one where four other subordinates have come forward claiming inappropriate conduct (including pressuring them to send him nude photos)", you win today's "FACTS??? We don't need no stinkin' facts!" award:

Hmm. Awful lot of iffy discipline cases among the military brass lately.

We've covered the ongoing (and, so far as we can tell, completely baseless) suggestions that holding senior military leaders accountable for following the rules they get paid to enforce somehow amounts a politically motivated witch hunt here, here, and here.

The facts are that Sinclair admits carrying on a 3 year affair with a subordinate. He has offered to plead guilty to adultery and conduct unbecoming - both offenses under the UCMJ:

General Sinclair, who is married with children, has offered to plead guilty to conduct unbecoming of an officer and to adultery, which is punishable under military law, his lawyers say. But they have pressed hard in negotiations against his serving prison time.

Did we mention that he also demands no reduction in rank because that would reduce his retirement pay? Or that cares so little for the reputation of the service that he has created a web site used to trash his accuser? The folks at This Ain't Hell don't think much of that tactic, and frankly neither do I:

Bottom line: the site strikes me as primarily a blatant and rather transparent PR effort, designed to garner sympathy for Sinclair among members of the public. Even if Sinclair is innocent, I personally find such a public PR effort distasteful and beneath what I’d expect from a military GO. YMMV regarding both the site and how distasteful you find it.

Sinclair at this point has to know his career is over. He’s now simply fighting to stay out of jail and keep his pension. I’d guess he probably doesn’t much care about appearances and decorum.

One TAH commenter nails it:

There are always more lenient sentences and “wink wink” results for GoFo’s. It’s been that way since the first Neandertal clan organized a hunting party.

Sinclair will be given a slap on the wrist, lose his star, but be allowed to retire as an O-6 with full pension. Bank on it.

And the rest of the Junior Officers and all the enlisted will take note and remember.

The charges against this guy are not limited to his affair:

At Sinclair's arraignment at Fort Bragg, he deferred entering a plea to charges that include forcible sodomy and other alleged misconduct committed while furthering an affair with the female captain. He also faces charges he engaged in inappropriate relationships with four other women — soliciting nude photos from two of them — and charges he possessed alcohol and pornography in the war zone.

Prosecutors have presented testimony about Sinclair's conduct with the five women who were not his wife, including officers who served under his direct command. The charges involve activities when he was in Afghanistan, Iraq, Germany and at bases in the U.S.

The female captain at the heart of the case said she carried on a three-year sexual relationship with Sinclair. Adultery is a crime under military law, and her admission could end her career.

The defense has cast her as scorned lover trying to ruin the life of an outstanding warrior and patriot.

There is no physical evidence in this case. Therefore, the charge of forcible sodomy is going nowhere. This is a guy who, after flouting the UCMJ, seriously believes he should be allowed to simply retire with no reduction in rank and no jail time.

That's a deal a lot of enlisted men and women accused of similar offenses would jump at. It's hard to think of anything more destructive to morale than a self-serving senior officer being honorably retired with no reduction in rank or punishment for offenses junior personnel are harshly punished for committing. Senior officers should be held MORE accountable, not less, because they are charged with enforcing the rules.

But hey, who needs facts when you've got a narrative to promote? Isn't this exactly what bloggers keep accusing the media of doing?

Posted by Cassandra at February 17, 2014 09:23 AM

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Hasn't he tried the "I couldn't help myself; it's an addiction" argument? Or does that not fly in the military? I've known it to work brilliantly in a private firm.

Posted by: Texan99 at February 17, 2014 10:40 AM

I just can't understand why people keep throwing this nonsense out there. It's like a recipe:

1. Link to a bunch of stories you haven't personally bothered to research.

2. Pronounce that this story matches some broad narrative without actually verifying it fits the pattern (or even establishing that there's a pattern out there to "fit", really).

3. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

4. Presto: instant narrative! Just look at all these cases out there!

Posted by: Cassandra at February 17, 2014 10:53 AM

Following a link from T99 over at Grim's Hall, I started reading through posts by the Sultan of Knish. I found one about the Left and how its hatred is all that keeps it going; the post included this quote:

On the internet, manufactured outrage has become the only progressive stock in trade.

When I first started commenting on the Internet and blogging, it seemed to me that that statement was much, much more true of the Left (progressives) than of the Right (conservatives). I still think it's more true of the Left than of the right but not much, much more true.

I do think some of it is about page views but I also think it is simply about human nature and what happens when we are allowed - encouraged even - to give our tempers free rein:

It seems as if I could do anything when I'm in a passion. I get so savage, I could hurt anyone and enjoy it. [snip]

...the sharp words fly out before I know what I'm about, and the more I say the worse I get, till it's a pleasure to hurt people's feelings and say dreadful things.

Like most vices, self-righteous anger is addictive - and feels remarkably good when one is indulging it. And, as with any addiction, temperance becomes unthinkable and truth must fall by the wayside when it gets in the way of a fix.

Posted by: Elise at February 17, 2014 12:24 PM

When I first started commenting on the Internet and blogging, it seemed to me that that statement was much, much more true of the Left (progressives) than of the Right (conservatives).

Generally speaking, both sides are quick to pounce on offenses committed by the other side and very slow to hold their own side to the standards they claim to believe in. Since most people spend more time on sites they already agree with, most of us are making these judgments based on very biased samples that are heavily weighted with examples of lefty misdeeds with very few examples of offenses committed by our own side.

That's just as true of me as it is of anyone. I don't spend a lot of time on lefty sites. What is beginning to alarm me is that I don't *have* to go looking for this stuff. It's right there on the right-leaning sites I already visit, and I already ignore most of it.

I still think it's more true of the Left than of the right but not much, much more true. I do think some of it is about page views but I also think it is simply about human nature and what happens when we are allowed - encouraged even - to give our tempers free rein

That's pretty much what I think.

I've always thought neither side held a monopoly on human frailty, but what has kept me in the right-leaning camp all these years has been the conservative position that truth is more important than party loyalty and self restraint/dispassionate analysis is better than "break-out-the-pitchforks" demagoguery and blatant appeals to emotion.

Abandoning that position seems an odd way to advance the notion that integrity or better values are any kind of differentiator between the right and left.

Posted by: Cassandra at February 17, 2014 12:57 PM

One more thought - faced with far less serious charges, John Allen resigned. That's leadership by example.

But we don't honor that sort of antiquated nonsense anymore.


Posted by: Cassandra at February 17, 2014 01:02 PM

It’s interesting how a topic encountered in one place, pops up elsewhere. In a piece on Senator Mike Lee, Contentions quotes the Senator as saying:

Anger is not an agenda. And outrage, as a habit, is not even conservative. Outrage, resentment, and intolerance are gargoyles of the Left. For us, optimism is not just a message — it’s a principle. American conservatism, at its core, is about gratitude, and cooperation, and trust, and above all hope.

Posted by: Elise at February 17, 2014 06:23 PM

- Yes, Flag/General officers should be held to a higher standard.
- note the UCMJ does *not* reflect current public sentiment nor current civilian law. Both adultery and sodomy remain criminal offenses under the UCMJ.

Excellent quote Elise!

Best Regards,

Posted by: CAPT Mike at February 18, 2014 10:35 PM