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March 17, 2014

Sexual McCarthyism? The Hyperbole Continues

What is it about the Sinclair case that sends so many conservatives into Kama Sutra-esque defenses of the indefensible? Do facts really not matter to us anymore? On the aptly-named "Twitter", Christina Hoff Sommers accuses the Department of Defense of "sexual McCarthyism":

Wow!Pentagon pursued sex assault case even though it knew accuser lying. Sexual McCarthyism no longer just on campus.

This is just nonsense on stilts. First of all, there is exactly zero evidence that the accuser lied about the charges of sexual assault. What she is accused of lying about is when she found her old cell phone and when she first turned it on. That isn't actually relevant to the charge of sexual assault but it does damage her credibility with a jury. Since the only evidence so far on the sexual assault charges is her testimony, this matters. What it does NOT do, though, is prove she was lying about the assault in the first place. Let's unpack Ms. Sommers' claim:

McCarthyism is the practice of making accusations of disloyalty, subversion, or treason without proper regard for evidence. It also means "the practice of making unfair allegations or using unfair investigative techniques, especially in order to restrict dissent or political criticism."

The charge that DoD has been engaging in "McCarthyism" seems more than a tad ironic, given that conservatives usually argue that Joe McCarthy was right. A brief search yields dozens of mainstream conservative pundits and sites pointing out that the Left's favorite "witch hunt" analogy is a factually inaccurate and misleading progressive narrative used to rewrite history and obscure what really happened. But hey, who needs pesky facts when the credibility of our own narrative (and a few book sales!) are at stake? You know that false "McCarthyism" meme we've been fighting for decades? It just became useful. Let's embrace it. "Reclaiming" is the term generally used in progressive circles.

Where in the Sinclair case is the evidence that the Pentagon made unfair allegations or used unfair investigative techniques in order to restrict dissent or political criticism? Let's walk through what we know. Sinclair was accused of adultery, an offense under the UCMJ, and 7 other offenses. Here are the ones Sinclair has agreed to plead guilty to... so far:

Adultery.
Requesting explicit photographs from several female Army officers.
Possessing pornography in theater (violation of General Order 1).
Seeking a date with another junior officer (a lieutenant).
Disobeying a commander’s order.
Misusing his government charge card.
Mistreating his former mistress, a captain.

General Sinclair was accused of two more offenses:

Sexual assault (forcing his mistress to have oral sex)
Threatening to kill his mistress.
These charges were always going to be harder to prove as there was no objective evidence outside of the witness's testimony. This is why sexual assault charges are always hard to prove. That doesn't mean we should ignore all accusations of sexual assault - only that proving them in court is going to be a "he said/she said" affair. As we pointed out in our very first post on this topic, absent a dramatic revelation of new evidence (which has already occurred when a second cell phone belonging to his mistress surfaced during the trial), there was probably insufficient evidence to prove those charges.

Was it really improper for the military to charge Sinclair with sexual assault? Did they (referring back to our definition of McCarthyism) use unfair investigative techniques or make unfair allegations? In what sense is it unfair to charge a defendant with an offense when there's a witness willing to testify on the matter? Finally (and perhaps more importantly):

1. What happens when a defendant is charged with lesser offenses, but evidence sufficient to prove a more serious offense comes out during the trial (in the same way the second cell phone surfaced unexpectedly)? Is the prosecution allowed to ask for a conviction on a charge not alleged at the start of the trial?

2. Isn't the purpose of a trial to establish the truth? Do conservatives really want to argue that - in hindsight - it was improper to charge a defendant with an offense because during the trial, new evidence unknown to prosecutors at the time the charges were filed damaged the accuser's credibility?

Or are these people seriously advancing another specious argument: some sort of "right to plea bargain to avoid having damaging evidence come out at trial?" Conservatives have often accused the media of ignoring information that doesn't support their preferred narrative, but from what we can see, conservatives pushing the frankly idiotic "sexual McCarthyism" seem to be ignoring all sorts of inconvenient facts. The first is that the prosecutor who dropped out of the case was in the middle of a complete nervous breakdown. What upset him was not that he doubted sexual assault had taken place, but that the accuser had so damaged her own credibility that he wasn't going to be able to prove it in court:

Last month, the lead prosecutor on the case quit after acknowledging to his superiors that he also felt that the captain had been untruthful in the January hearing and that he thought the most serious charges against General Sinclair should be dropped. But Army officials have said that the former prosecutor, Lt. Col. William Helixon, was under extraordinary stress from health and personal issues when he voiced those misgivings, and that he remained convinced that the captain’s account of sexual assault was true.

Most people understand that not being able to prove a criminal accusation beyond a reasonable doubt does NOT prove the defendant was innocent.

The second thing being ignored is that the alleged "appearance of unlawful command influence" consists of accusations that a lowly Army Captain (advocating for the defense, no less!) somehow intimidated a Lieutenant General.

To support the defense’s claim of political interference, they introduced a December letter the military lawyer assigned to represent the accuser sent to Lt. Gen. Joseph Anderson, the commander at Fort Bragg. Under military law, it was up to Anderson to decide whether or not to accept Sinclair’s plea offer and drop the sexual assault charges.

Writing on behalf of the accuser, Capt. Cassie L. Fowler urged Anderson to reject the deal, suggesting that to do otherwise would “have an adverse effect on my client and the Army’s fight against sexual assault.”

“Acceptance of this plea would send the wrong signal to those senior commanders who would prey on their subordinates by using their rank and position, thereby ensuring there will be other victims like my client in the future,” Fowler wrote.

Military judge Col. James Pohl said Tuesday that Fowler’s letter to Anderson was improper, but did not constitute evidence of unlawful command influence. Anderson is a three-star general, the judge said, while the special victim’s advocate is just a captain.

General Sinclair's accuser is not the only one whose credibility has been damaged by this trial. Conservatives lobbing misleading and hyperbolic accusations of "witch hunts" and "sexual McCarthyism" have either not done their homework or - worse - are intentionally misleading their readers.

Which is pretty much what we keep accusing progressives and the mainstream media of doing. Is General Sinclair - a man who has admitted to the vast majority of charges leveled at him - really an innocent victim of a White House-led witch hunt?

Is this guy really someone we want to defend?

This trial seems to have done a pretty good job of getting at the truth. Whether he is or is not guilty of the additional charges of sexual assault is something we'll never know. Legally, he will not be found guilty, and that's as it should be.

But to pretend the military should not have charged him in the first place is preposterous.

Note: thanks to Cathy Young for noting I had misspelled Christina Hoff Sommers' name (and my apologies to Ms. Sommers). Should be corrected now. Cathy also commented:

...knowing Christina, she's decidedly not a "McCarthy was right" kind of conservative -- more an old-style Democratic disenchanted with gender- and race-based identity politics.

That's a good thing to know. I had always assumed she was a conservative because of her work with AEI and the National Review, but her Wikipedia page makes it clear that she is, in fact, a Democrat:

Author Barbara Marshall has stated that Sommers explicitly identifies herself as a "libertarian."[10] Sommers is also a registered Democrat.[11] The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy categorizes Sommers' equity feminist views as classical liberal or libertarian and socially conservative.[12] Sommers has criticized how "conservative scholars have effectively been marginalized, silenced, and rendered invisible on most campuses."[13] In an article for the text book, Moral Soundings, Sommers makes the case for moral conservation and traditional values.

Guilt by association! :) It was possibly defamatory (no, I'm not being entirely serious here :p) and definitely factually inaccurate to accuse Ms. Sommers of being a conservative. I assumed she was making the same argument as several other conservative bloggers who have claimed the White House or DoD are purging senior military leaders, conducting witch hunts, or allowing "iffy" prosecutions to go forward. The term 'witch hunt' (which I've noted repeatedly in 5-6 other posts on this issue) and McCarthyism are often used interchangeably, so I saw a common theme where perhaps there was none.

I still believe that using the term "sexual McCarthyism" is not justified by the facts in this case. My apologies to Ms. Sommers for calling her a conservative!

Posted by Cassandra at March 17, 2014 08:06 AM

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Comments

It's funny, I scan my Facebook feed waiting for the opposite shoe to drop. "Army sweeps sexual assault under the rug!" Or perhaps "Female soldier sexually assaulted, her career is in ruins and he gets to retire!"

Sinclair is a rat bastard of the first water, and I do believe he is likely to get off far more lightly than he should. He's the one who put his head in the vise (pun FULLY intended), and I think he believed the good old boy system would protect him or turn a blind eye to it (as I'm sure it did earlier in his career). By no means do I think he's indicative of a "culture" or some such nonsense, save perhaps for the culture of flag officers seemingly having an aura of invulnerability to courts martial (regardless of the crime). But to describe his prosecution as a "witch-hunt" is laughable.

Furthermore, the McCarthyism comparison is not apt. Yes, McCarthy DID actually find a large number of Communists in the State Department. Being correct, however, is not the same thing as being "right". If anything, just because McCarthy was correct and the prosecution of Sinclair is correct does not make them identical. Sinclair DID most (if not all) that he is accused of. Given his accuser's problems in pre-trial, the fact that he's STILL pleading guilty indicates to me that there's some solid evidence backing those charges (likely emails, if my guess is correct). Not exactly a witch-hunt in this case. Unless you believe in witches.

Posted by: MikeD at March 17, 2014 10:30 AM

Great comment, Mike. I agree with everything you said.

This whole thing really offends me. I think dirtbags who violate the laws they get paid to enforce should be held accountable, and I believe in the rule of law.

My disgust with conservatives who will embrace any argument - no matter how specious and no matter how many times we have argued the argument is inherently flawed - to advance their own narratives is hard to overstate.

We're supposed to be better than this. We're supposed to stand for something.

Ironically, the oft-maligned military justice system seems to have done a damned good job here. Which only makes the hysteria harder to explain.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 17, 2014 10:44 AM

Just a few notes from someone who really hasn't bothered with the issue, because with everything else going on, I just don't have time to care. :-)

Right, wrong, or indifferent, McCarthyism does mean "Unfair witch hunt over politics". One can rail about McCarthy being right all one wants, just as one can rail about "magazines" being called "clips".

Putting "Sexual" in front of McCarthyism replaces "Over politics" with "Over sexuality". So I think "Where in the Sinclair case is the evidence that the Pentagon made unfair allegations or used unfair investigative techniques in order to restrict dissent or political criticism" misses the argument. They believe he is being unfairly prosecuted over sexuality, not political dissent. Perhaps they think he's being sacrificed on the alter of "war on women".

And that the prosecuter remains convinced of his guilt despite the credibility problem of the witness will likely be seen as evidence of an unfair desire to investigate (that the prosecution is blocked from doing anything about it doesn't negate their alleged desire).

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at March 17, 2014 11:04 AM

Ironically, the oft-maligned military justice system seems to have done a damned good job here. Which only makes the hysteria harder to explain.

Careful with the sexually charged lingo there, lady! :P

I will point out though, that the flaw you're pointing out with conservatives is equally applicable to liberals. I think it's just human nature to want to disregard evidence contrary to what we believe in exchange for even the most flimsy of arguments that back our position. No one is immune to it. Including me. I try to catch myself when I do it, but I'm just as flawed and fallible as anyone else. And frequently I find myself playing Devil's Advocate on many topics because it is a way of fighting inherent bias. If you can articulate an opposite position (without resorting to stereotype) then you are at the beginning of understanding.

Case in point, according to my news feed this morning, the detestable Fred Phelps is apparently in rapidly failing health. And many people I know are celebrating that fact. So, I find myself forming defenses for the man. Not because I find him or his opinions good or even reasonable, but because no one, not even Fred Phelps, is a caricature that others make him out to be. In his youth, Phelps was a champion of civil rights in Topeka. In fact, he was the go to lawyer of many blacks in Kansas because of the fact that he crusaded in favor of civil rights. Most of his detractors do not even know that. Were he an Illinois Nazi in his youth, I doubt most would have been surprised, but the man actually did good works once. Now, I don't think this justifies or even makes up for his horrid behavior in later life, but I do think that it demonstrates that there is good in everyone. And being able to articulate that, I feel, makes me better able to argue against him and his position. Viewing ones opponents as cartoon villains does not strengthen one's positions or arguments.

Posted by: MikeD at March 17, 2014 11:09 AM

...Right, wrong, or indifferent, McCarthyism does mean "Unfair witch hunt over politics".

OK, if McCarthyism is an "unfair witch hunt over politics" and sexual McCarthyism is an "unfair witch hunt over sex", this case still fails.

This case wasn't merely about sex. The guy wasn't having sex with his wife, or having sex with a civilian on his own time.

It was about sexual conduct that is illegal under (and therefore a punishable offense under) the UCMJ. The suggestion that it is somehow "unfair" to prosecute a guy who not admits he did most of what he was accused of boggles the mind.

I'm confused. Where's the unfairness?

Posted by: Cassandra at March 17, 2014 11:46 AM

I will point out though, that the flaw you're pointing out with conservatives is equally applicable to liberals. I think it's just human nature to want to disregard evidence contrary to what we believe in exchange for even the most flimsy of arguments that back our position. No one is immune to it. Including me. I try to catch myself when I do it, but I'm just as flawed and fallible as anyone else. And frequently I find myself playing Devil's Advocate on many topics because it is a way of fighting inherent bias. If you can articulate an opposite position (without resorting to stereotype) then you are at the beginning of understanding.

Amen. I've never once claimed that liberals don't do this, and wouldn't think of doing so. And I wouldn't claim that I've never done it either, though I do try extremely hard not to do it.

The point I made here is that we often accuse liberals and the media of doing this (often followed by claiming we're better than they are because we don't). My point is exactly the one you just made - we do it too.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 17, 2014 11:50 AM

Careful with the sexually charged lingo there, lady! :P

Heh ... I will admit I was engaging in a bit of eye-poking there :p

Posted by: Cassandra at March 17, 2014 11:51 AM

The sentencing will be interesting.

Sentencing will begin this week. While it's unclear what penalty Sinclair faces, the government has agreed to a "quantum" -- essentially a maximum-penalty cap that won't be revealed to Pohl, according to the defense. Pohl will hand down his sentence, and Sinclair will face the lesser of the two sentences -- either Pohl's or those laid out in the quantum.

If I were Pohl, I would sentence him to the absolute maximum on all counts to which he plead. Sends the appropriate message to the force, and ensures that he suffers every bit of the penalty he agreed to in negotiations.

Posted by: Grim at March 17, 2014 02:37 PM

Where's the unfairness?

My only guess would be along the lines of "Show me the man, I'll find you the crime".

All of us have committed crimes for which the punishment would be devestating (when transporting lobster in the wrong color box is a felony it's impossible to obey *all* the laws).

There but for the grace of not pissing off the wrong person go we.

I could be wrong, but I think that's their argument.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at March 17, 2014 03:31 PM

Hi Cass,
Wow! You are really fired up about this case. Please don't let this ruin a beautiful day.


Observations:
- Yes, McCarthy *was* correct. He was also an *ssh*l* about it. (in a related story, Nixon was also right about Alger Hiss)
- Under the UCMJ, lesser charges are always included. The presiding officer issues instructions on the law, but the member of the courts martial have much more control over the outcome of the trial than an Article 3 jury.
. . . I happen to agree w/ you that this guy is a jerk, that his behavior was execrable, and that he's obviously guilty of several crimes under the UCMJ.
BUT
I'm also hugely disappointed at the time, $$$ and good will wasted on this show trial. Screw the difficult to prove inflammatory charges; convict him of the obvious, then hammer him (UCMJ provides for fairly stiff penalties, if the members choose to 'go for it').
- *everyone* deserves to be defended; even, maybe especially, the genuinely low-life rotten ones.
- any/everyone that assumes this guy will 'get off light' if he can only dodge the most serious charges ought to read the UCMJ. The members of that court can give him a dishonorable discharge and send him to prison for a year on the single (article 134) count of adultery.
- a 'Plea Deal' under UCMJ is hugely different than under article 3 proceedings.

In direct response to your question (1), no I don't believe an existing Courts Martial can 'up-charge' during the proceeding convened for a lesser charge, however the convening officer is quite free to dissolve that court, and allow and/or direct a new proceeding that includes additional charges. In that case the command would have to 'start over' with an article 32 investigation . . .

No, the purpose of a trial is emphatically not to establish the truth. The purpose of a trial is to:
- establish facts (by jury, and this *is* supposed to be a search for the 'truth' via an adversarial contest between prosecution and defense)
- provide for 'due process of law'
- determine guilt by publicly established standard (beyond a reasonable doubt for Article 3 proceedings), or 'not guilty' (our courts do not rule on 'innocence')

>>> and I *hugely* agree that senior officers should be held to a higher standard.

Very Best Regards,

PS: hope you are healing nicely.

Posted by: CAPT Mike at March 17, 2014 03:45 PM

To further cast speculation upon their thought processes (note: these are *not* my own thoughts)

Adultery. - Unaware of or disagree that this should be a crime in the military.

Requesting explicit photographs from several female Army officers. - Ooooh, he *asked*. How terrible! Burn him!

Possessing pornography in theater (violation of General Order 1). - OMG, he was in possesion of something any teenager with access to Google can have!

Seeking a date with another junior officer (a lieutenant). - He *asked* someone for a date? How dare he! That's a downright bastard right there.

Disobeying a commander’s order. - Unaware

Misusing his government charge card. - So pretty much like every department head in the .fedgov?

Mistreating his former mistress, a captain. - You mean the break-up didn't go well? Heaven forbid! How have we been able to go so long as a society without criminalizing a bad break-up?

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at March 17, 2014 03:45 PM

My knee is a lot better - I can walk without crutches (still need the knee brace as my ACL was pretty much destroyed).

Not looking forward to the surgery, but I have several weeks to try and build up the muscles in my thigh and leg so I suppose it's a blessing in disguise. Hopefully if I strengthen everything beforehand, the post-surgery pt will be easier.

Thanks for asking :)

Posted by: Cassandra at March 17, 2014 03:52 PM

My only guess would be along the lines of "Show me the man, I'll find you the crime".

All of us have committed crimes for which the punishment would be devestating (when transporting lobster in the wrong color box is a felony it's impossible to obey *all* the laws). There but for the grace of not pissing off the wrong person go we. I could be wrong, but I think that's their argument.

You may well be right, but that's a pretty unimpressive argument :p

Posted by: Cassandra at March 17, 2014 03:59 PM

It's Sommers, not Summers. ;-) Also, knowing Christina, she's decidedly not a "McCarthy was right" kind of conservative -- more an old-style Democratic disenchanted with gender- and race-based identity politics.

That said, I think you're right that she was a bit hasty on this particular issue, for all the reasons you mention:

(1) We don't know for sure that the accuser was lying about the assault. (Though even Amanda Marcotte now allows that she might have been, which is, I don't know, like the Pope saying that maybe there is no God after all.)

(2) Even if she was lying, Sinclair is no innocent victim; he violated the military code in multiple ways.

(Was he overcharged because of politics, though? Quite possible.)

Just my 2 cents.

Posted by: Cathy Young at March 17, 2014 04:17 PM

Thanks for the correction, Cathy. I appreciate it!

I don't know Ms. Sommers but have linked to several of her articles in the past (usually I agree with most of what she has to say). My impression of her was that she's usually pretty careful and not given to exaggerations. So this one really surprised me.

We don't know for sure that the accuser was lying about the assault. (Though even Amanda Marcotte now allows that she might have been, which is, I don't know, like the Pope saying that maybe there is no God after all.)

*snort*

I agree that the accuser may well have been lying about the alleged assaults. We don't know, and we'll probably never know. It just bothered me that possibly lying about when an old cell phone was turned on (if that's actually what it was, and not simply an incorrect recollection) was misrepresented as lying about the alleged assaults themselves.

If someone were to ask me when was the last time I turned on my personal cell, I could not tell them. I don't find it at all unlikely that I could have turned it on, and then forgot about it. And let's not forget that the only reason we know about this is that the accuser turned it over.

That said, the accuser here is not exactly a sympathetic character. I'm not inclined to excuse her behavior - she knew what she was doing was wrong. But let's face it: Sinclair is even less sympathetic. He was not only MUCH senior to her but apparently has a track record of harassing women who work for him.

On the possibility of overcharging, I don't know. I talked to my husband about this. He said he wasn't at all surprised Sinclair was charged - it didn't seem out of line to him given what they knew at the time.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 17, 2014 04:37 PM

Agreed. I actually hadn't even realized until now that "asking a junior officer out on a date" referred to a separate incident from the one with the accuser. Given that (1) he's married and (2) this blatantly violates the fraternization rules, this is pretty bad.

I'll send the link to this post to Ms. Sommers if you don't mind?

Posted by: Cathy Young at March 17, 2014 05:17 PM

From what I read, several other women came forward with additional charges including pestering them for sex or to send nude photos/videos of themselves. I may be wrong on the exact details in this comment. In a previous post, an Army Times article I linked to said there were 4 other accusers.

Haven't had time to review that article - busy day at work today!

I certainly don't mind your sending the link to Ms. Sommers. I do hope she won't be offended at my repeated suggestions that she's a conservative.

I definitely lumped Ms. Sommers in with the other numerous posts I've objected to from conservatives on this topic. I did genuinely think she was a conservative, so I appreciate your setting me straight on that. This is one of the things I hate about blogging - I hate getting things wrong, and hope I have corrected the record in the addition at the end of my post.

Capt. Mike is right that I am passionate about not making excuses for wrongdoing or criminal behavior in an effort to score points on Obama/Hagel, etc. I'm not sure what prompted the 'sexual McCarthyism' charge from Ms. Sommers, but it pains me to think that I may have been unfair to her.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 17, 2014 05:45 PM

Adultery. - Unaware of or disagree that this should be a crime in the military.

As an E-2 coming out of Basic Training, I knew adultery was a crime under the UCMJ. Disagree with a law all you like, that does not somehow invalidate that law. He knew it was illegal and did it anyway. And I've known NCOs brought up on courts martial for adultery. To excuse a General while punishing the lower ranks is bovine excrement.

Requesting explicit photographs from several female Army officers. - Ooooh, he *asked*. How terrible! Burn him!

Again, I knew this to be illegal. And I'll point out, I was NOT JAG, I was MI. How did I know? We got bi-yearly training on this stuff. And why this is a problem is pretty easy. I want you to imagine that your company's president implies that if you don't provide explicit pictures of yourself, or if you're like me and cannot fathom why anyone would want that, imagine that he or she wants such pictures of your wife. Now, clearly you know that you can say no, and raise the issue with HR if pressed on the matter. But when it's your word against his, and he's the one signing the paychecks, you don't think that's pretty heavy stuff to throw at a 24 year old CPT? THAT is why it is illegal.

Possessing pornography in theater (violation of General Order 1). - OMG, he was in possesion of something any teenager with access to Google can have!

Violation of orders given by a senior officer which GO #1 certainly is IS a serious matter in the Army. And it is one that other soldiers have stood before a court martial for. Why should Sinclair get a pass?

Seeking a date with another junior officer (a lieutenant). - He *asked* someone for a date? How dare he! That's a downright bastard right there.

YES, he is. See above for why. He cannot ask for a date (especially when agreeing to it puts that female officer in violation of the Adultery statute if that agree, as the General is a married man) without the implicit hint that refusing him will negatively impact her career. So yes, a big deal, and illegal which he had to be aware of, as I knew it to be.

Disobeying a commander’s order. - Unaware

You were unaware that this was against the UCMJ or you think he was unaware that sexually harrasing subordinates was an extremely clear violation of orders? Both are frankly unbelievable.

Misusing his government charge card. - So pretty much like every department head in the .fedgov?

Yes. Just like the civilian law called "credit fraud" which soldiers have spent time in Leavenworth for.

Mistreating his former mistress, a captain. - You mean the break-up didn't go well? Heaven forbid! How have we been able to go so long as a society without criminalizing a bad break-up?

Once again, he mistreated a subordinate officer. Even he does not contend that this charge is untrue. Frankly I'm anxious to hear what evidence you have that this was nothing more than a "bad break up" that even BG Sinclair didn't know.

I'm horrified that your excuses all amount to nothing more than "this is all no big deal". It apparently is a big deal when junior officers and NCOs do it, cause they get sent to Leavenworth for these crimes all the time. Or is your argument that it's no big deal for a General to break these laws that lesser mortals like the soldiers I served with could face?

I guess good order and discipline is something only for us proles, and not for the perfumed princes, eh?

Posted by: MikeD at March 17, 2014 09:37 PM

And holy HELL do I need to work on my reading comprehension. I'm sorry as hell You, I was WONDERING what alien took over the good man I knew!

Posted by: MikeD at March 17, 2014 09:39 PM

*Yu not You... I'm gonna quit posting late at night. My brain CLEARLY isn't working.

Posted by: MikeD at March 17, 2014 09:40 PM

No worries Mike.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at March 18, 2014 04:22 PM

YAG is waaaaay too good at this Devil's Advocate thing.

He's gotten me a few times, but now we see how he is... Oh yes, we see :p

Posted by: Cassandra at March 18, 2014 04:44 PM

FWIW, Mike, I'm kind of glad you posted that comment.

One of the things I've objected to most about some of these "OMG!!11! THEY'RE PERSECUTING THE GENERALS!" posts is the almost slavish deference to senior officers.

Having seen how hard most senior officers do work and how much they care about their jobs, I am willing to give them all the credit in the world. But no one should be above the law or accountability.

It's one thing for me to say that I think it sends the wrong message to junior enlisted, NCOs, and staff NCOs when they see the big Kahunas get away with things they'd fry for. But I'm just a Marine wife. I haven't walked the walk, so to speak, and don't have the experience to speak to some of the excellent points you made.

I do know that when couples are separated by long deployments, adultery has a much bigger impact on morale in the command. When wives are left at home for literally a year or more, they wonder about infidelity. Heck, everyone worries about it.

No one needs to see a senior leader screwing around on his wife with female officers under his command. Deployments are hard enough on couples as it is.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 18, 2014 04:53 PM

Sinclair ... is a piece of perfumed [USMC language omitted] Army turd. Throw the book AND THE BOOKCASE at him. Penalties should get stiffer (perhaps by raising the minimums rather than raising the maximums) as you go up the line of command.

That said, just because he is guilty as sin doesn't mean that there wasn't a witch (warlock?) hunt. Such things occasionally do find the guilty; the problem is that they also find the innocent who can't prove their innocence.

Glad you're getting better, Cass. Best wishes on the surgery.

Posted by: htom at March 18, 2014 05:57 PM

...just because he is guilty as sin doesn't mean that there wasn't a witch (warlock?) hunt.

Well, it would take some actual evidence of a witch hunt to convince me that this particular case was the result of a witch hunt. And evidence is exactly what I *haven't* seen presented.

When someone comes forward with an accusation, it's not like the military is supposed to look the other way. They investigate, and only if there's enough evidence to take the charge seriously is there even a trial. This is precisely what the Democrats have been complaining about - very few cases make it to trial because the evidence just isn't there.

Either way, the innocent don't have to prove their innocence. The burden is on the prosecution to establish guilt - if they fail to present evidence (and there was evidence in abundance in this case) then the defendant is acquitted without the defense even having to present a case.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 18, 2014 08:35 PM

Glad you're getting better, Cass. Best wishes on the surgery.

Yikes! Hit "post" too quickly!

Thanks. It isn't for several weeks. Things move slowly out heah in Fredneck.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 18, 2014 08:37 PM

It's one thing for me to say that I think it sends the wrong message to junior enlisted, NCOs, and staff NCOs when they see the big Kahunas get away with things they'd fry for. But I'm just a Marine wife. I haven't walked the walk, so to speak, and don't have the experience to speak to some of the excellent points you made.

It can, has, and does send the wrong message. And trust me, we received that message LOUD and clear. And don't discount your experiences, they may be different, but they're no less valid. And to be fair, I doubt my wife ever heard me kvetch about senior officers getting slaps on the wrists for things that (had I done them) would have sent me to go break rocks for a few years. Mostly that stuff I complained to my buddies about. Not because I didn't trust her or anything, but because it really wouldn't mean as much to her.

Either way, the innocent don't have to prove their innocence. The burden is on the prosecution to establish guilt - if they fail to present evidence (and there was evidence in abundance in this case) then the defendant is acquitted without the defense even having to present a case.

Now, to be fair, this is the part that troubles me the most. There certainly is a segment of people who are so empathetic with the victims, that they want to see prosecutions, even if there is no evidence short of he said/she said. And the most recent bill that disallows the "good soldier" defense is abhorrent to me. You're limiting the accused's right to present as full a defense as possible, and that is a problem to me. Either we have a system of jurisprudence that puts the burden on the state (or command in this case) to prove that the defendant is guilty, or we admit that we don't really care for due process and throw every accused out on their ear. The "good soldier" defense is really nothing more than what every defendant has access to in a trial. Positive character witnesses. And when it's one person's word against another, and one is a criminal and the other is a choir boy, those character witnesses help establish who the jury feel they can trust. Not determine, mind, but help establish.

Posted by: MikeD at March 19, 2014 09:13 AM

And the reason I'm so bent on Sinclair is because they caught him with tons of evidence. This wasn't a disgruntled E-5 who got a bad NCOER saying "he only gigged me because in a conversation only he and I heard he told me he would unless I slept with him." Those kind of accusations are absolute poison. If they're true (and I'm sure it happens), then it destroys morale, even among the male soldiers because they're not capable of trading their favors for better ratings. And if they're false, it's really no better, because most people will assume it's true anyway AND you'll have an innocent officer slandered with no recourse (since any retaliation would be seen as proof of his guilt).

And for the record, I absolutely did know a soldier who outright BRAGGED that she got cushy jobs and better treatment for "taking care" of senior officers. Perhaps it was untrue. I actually doubt it, since she never once had to help with unpleasant duties. But I guess it's possible that the NCOs were just afraid to give her any because of the perception that she had the commander's "ear".

Posted by: MikeD at March 19, 2014 09:19 AM

...but now we see how he is... Oh yes, we see :p


You didn't see anything.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at March 19, 2014 09:59 AM

I was trying to point out the difference in standards for conviction between the UCMJ and the witch/warlock hunt (where the proof of innocence may still be questioned unless it's delivered by an actual angel, lettered in flaming text on stone.)

Posted by: htom at March 19, 2014 03:35 PM

Oh, I completely misunderstood! Sorry about that!

Posted by: Cassandra at March 19, 2014 04:05 PM

You didn't see anything.

:)

Posted by: Cassandra at March 19, 2014 04:06 PM

I will take another bite of this apple:

'Generals ought not be persecuted, but they should be fired. Frequently. For cause, or just for the hell of it(1).'

(1) except USMC

Very Best Regards,

Posted by: CAPT Mike at March 20, 2014 07:22 PM

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