Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Déjà vu all over again

Thomas W. Spoehr, a retired U.S. Army Lieutenant General and Director of the Center for National Defense, of the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy, at The Heritage Foundation, has written an issue brief titled "Congress Should Avoid Changes That Would Erode the Military Justice System." He writes:

The Military Justice Improvement and Increasing Prevention Act, if passed, would strip the authority to decide whether to prosecute sexual assaults and other serious crimes such as murder and manslaughter from commanders and give it to military prosecutors. Depriving commanders of the ability to send serious criminal cases to a court-martial undermines their ability and responsibility to enforce good order and discipline, which in turn erodes their ability to fight and win wars. There is no evidence to suggest that this change would address the very real issue of sexual assault or other crime in the military. Instead, it would likely make matters worse.

Taking a leaf out of Yogi Berra's playbook, the essay is a rerun of one the same author penned over two years ago in The National Interest. His claims have not improved with time. Readers may wish to refresh their recollection by taking another look at the Editor's comments from 2019.


  1. Letters to the Editor of the Washington Post:


  2. According to Spoehr:

    "Put another way, a commander can decide to refer a case to a court-martial even if there is no reasonable likelihood of success at trial. That is because the commander is not a lawyer and thus is not bound by the ethics rules that lawyers must follow."

    I'm not sure saying commanders don't have to follow ethics rules is the winning argument the general thinks it is. That argument alone is reason enough to take prosecution authority away from commanders. Sending someone to a court with insufficient evidence is not only unethical, it's offensive and counterproductive.


Comments are subject to moderation and must be submitted under your real name. Anonymous comments will not be posted (even though the form seems to permit them).