Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The McCain and Fitz cases: an editorial view

The Military Times editorial board has written here about what it considers the high stakes in the charges against the skippers of the McCain and the Fitzgerald. Was the decision to prefer negligent homicide charges "dicey"? "It’s a move that will have a potentially far-reaching impact on all services and service members up and down the chain of command. It raises unsettling questions about the scope — and limitations — of a commander’s responsibility." The editors write:
The Navy is taking a big risk here.

Will these criminal charges discourage future leaders from seeking command?

Will this make commanders more risk-averse when making the split-second, life-or-death decisions that they might face?

Will this hurt morale if sailors view this as a politically motivated decision by admirals seeking to appease their critics?
It is concerning that the editorial concludes that the two commanding officers deserve to be punished. Maybe they do, but maybe they don't. It would be fairer to wait for the facts to unfold in the Article 32, UCMJ, preliminary hearings.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Why were these cases tried in a military court?

Pakistan Today reports that the execution of three civilians who were sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court has been stayed by the Supreme Court. But why were these cases tried by such a court in the first place?
"Muhammad Liaqat was allegedly involved in a fatal attack on a journalist, while Sabir Shah and Shafaqat were sentenced to death over the murder of Advocate Arshad Ali in Lahore."
Human rights jurisprudence strongly disfavors the trial of civilians by military courts. 

What's up with the Mounties?

Changing the culture of an organization, especially a traditionally conservative and hierarchically bureaucratic one like a military force, is probably the hardest thing to do in any restructuring effort — but that’s especially true if the culture is shaped by history and training. The RCMP is hypersensitive to criticism, and that’s largely because its members view loyalty to the traditions of their service in the same light as any military around the world; they are taught to be fiercely proud of their identity and purpose. And its ill-fitting task of contract policing sets the backdrop for practically all of the problems that confront the force.

Ken Hansen, of Maclean's Magazine, writing here on the Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Does Chelsea Manning's run for the Senate violate the UCMJ?

The Daily Caller reports here on whether Chelsea Manning's candidacy for the U.S. Senate violates a DoD punitive regulation and could therefore lead to disciplinary action under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Victor M. Hansen, a retired Army judge advocate who teaches at New England Law, comments
. . . that Manning’s run for office is legally prohibited and could result in prosecution.

“It’s prohibited for the obvious reason that you don’t want someone serving two masters on active-duty,” Hansen stated. “But in Manning’s case, it’s less of a concern, because she’s on excess leave – she has less connection with the military than GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham did when he was an Air Force reserve judge advocate general and certainly less than Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster does while serving as national security adviser to Donald Trump.”
*   *   * 
According to Hansen, the Army likely wants the issue of Manning to fade away from the public spotlight rather than having a commander take the time to open an investigation.
Query: is the Defense Department's political candidacy regulation unconstitutional as applied?

Sunday, January 21, 2018

The McCain and Fitz cases

USS John S. McCain
USS Fitzgerald
Military Times's Geoff Ziezulewicz and Mark D. Faram have this report on the challenges and potential implications of the preferral of charges against the COs of USS John S. McCain (DDG-56) and USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62). Excerpt:
[The Naval War College's Captain Michael] Junge criticized the Navy’s opacity regarding the Fitz and McCain investigations regarding who received non-judicial punishment, and why. He also said he wished the service would release the full investigations into the collisions, instead of the piecemeal information that has come to public light thus far.

“I really wish the Navy had released the real report,” Junge said. “Right now it looks like there must be something else that’s not been released to make these charges stick.”