Monday, September 30, 2013

The military justice system is in dire need of a complete overhaul!

After reading the article from my previous blog post and revisiting older ones in my archives relating to military corruption, I wanted to share an excerpt from my memoir “Broken Silence”, to give more insight to the blatant injustices that are being committed against active duty service members, after reporting their bosses’ involvement in criminal activity.

Whether the injustices are sexually motivated, racially motivated or senior officers abuse their authority simply because “they can”, is a matter that requires more than a Congressional debate.  For the past year Congress has heard dozens of testimonies from victims who reported being raped or sexually assaulted while serving in the military.  Not only was this a violation of the veteran’s civil rights, it was a clear violation of their human rights.  The 1964 Civil Rights Act, as amended, prohibits sexual discrimination, racial discrimination and whistle blower retaliation in the workplace. 

Unfortunately the 1965, Equal Employment Opportunity Act, which grants the defense secretary executive authority to manage the DoD’s equal employment opportunity program, further extending this authority to senior military officials to investigate and cover-up their own criminal activity, thus failing to uphold service member’s Constitutional rights.

When a senior officer choses to violate his military code of honor, he also chooses to violate his moral code of honor, which further questions his loyalty to our country?!

Chapter 13 – The Set-up

In his book: “Audacity of Hope”, thoughts on reclaiming the American dream”, President Obama discusses his thoughts on our Constitution; Senate procedures, separation of powers, judicial nominations and rules of Constitutional interpretation by stating:  “Not only because the procedural rules of our government help define the results-on everything from whether the government can regulate polluters to whether government can tap your phone-but because they define our democracy just as much as elections.  Our system of self-governance is an intricate affair; it is through that system, and by respecting that system, that we give shape to our values and shared commitments."

Unfortunately this is not a shared sentiment for those who are appointed by the military’s Judge Advocate General to uphold a service member’s Constitutional rights under the uniformed code of military justice (UCMJ).  It’s just that, a code, like some sort of secret society code.

I’d spent my entire adult life growing up in the Navy and was forced to learn life’s lessons on my own.  For nearly two decades I was committed to helping others. It was instinctive in my personal character.  I’d gained many pearls of wisdoms by learning how to combat ill-treatment, and I was determined to mentor other minority officer’s on how to properly exercise their rights under the Constitution while serving in the military.

Throughout American history there have been too many lives sacrificed while fighting for racial equality.  This was to allow equal protection under the law for blacks, women and “others” who are considered minorities.  Due to the military’s internal “iron clad” self-governing justice system, active duty service members are often barred, harassed and subsequently punished for attempting to exercise their Constitutional rights.

Recent studies have shown thousands of victims have come forward, claiming to have been raped, sexually assaulted or experienced other forms of workplace abuse while serving in the military.  This further proves: “When a service member attempts to report a violation of their Constitutional rights each level of their chain of command, leading up to the highest office of the defense secretary, will band together to initiate damage control, rather than afford a veteran equal justice. The hypocrisy of this reality is that an enlisted service member will be the first to sacrifice his life to protect the very same Constitution he is denied.

Similar to the Navy’s tail hook scandal, top brass will go to great lengths to avoid a full blown Congressional inquiry, federal investigation or media blitz.  Nowadays, abused veterans are left feeling traumatized and have been abandoned by the military.  While trying to transition to reestablish what was once a normal life, veterans are experiencing severe symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and are isolating themselves away from their immediate families.  Homeless rates and suicide rates for military veterans have risen drastically since the Post 9/11 war.

While still in uniform, traumatized victims seldom have access to anyone they can trust that will offer neutral advocacy support without fear of becoming a victim themselves. The likelihood of a command conducting an inquiry into a victim’s complaints, at the very least an impartial investigation, is slim to none, especially if it involves a senior member within the victim’s chain of command”….

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Whistle-blower alleges reprisal by Marine brass, says he won't back down

Maj. James Weirick
Last month Marine Corps Times reported – “Maj. James Weirick had seen enough. In March, after months of observing how the Marine Corps was prosecuting eight Marines implicated in war-zone controversy, he sent a six-page complaint to the Pentagon’s investigative agency alleging a variety of malfeasance by the service’s top general and his senior advisers.

The major, a staff judge advocate in Quantico, Va., assigned to the cases, urged the Defense Department inspector general to investigate how the Corps was handling its cases stemming from a video showing four scout snipers urinating on dead insurgents in Afghanistan. He alleges Commandant Gen. Jim Amos, or others working on his behalf, sought to ensure harsh punishment for the Marines facing charges and suppress evidence. To Weirick, this raised questions about the fairness of these legal proceedings.

His complaint also noted that it appeared Amos exhibited preferential treatment toward one of the officers in the scout snipers’ unit: then-Maj. James B. Conway, the son of Amos’ predecessor as commandant, retired Gen. James T. Conway. During the battalion’s deployment, the younger Conway served as executive officer for 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines, out of Camp Lejeune, N.C.

“I lack the power or authority to get the emails and other requested materials in the possession of the Commandant and his staff,” Weirick writes in the complaint. “To ensure a fair proceeding I need the assistance of those with much greater authority. I should have acted earlier, but I truly believed those with the authority to accomplish this would adhere to the Rule of Law and our shared value of due process. This, sadly, has not been the case. Both civilian and uniformed counsel for the Commandant have thwarted my efforts and remained silent, or possibly assisted in, this unlawful command influence.”

The complaint specifically names Amos and five other senior officials: Gen. Joseph Dunford, who was assistant commandant until becoming the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan this year; Maj. Gen. Vaughn Ary, the staff judge advocate to the commandant and director of the Judge Advocate Division at Marine Corps Headquarters; Col. Joseph Bowe, Amos’ deputy staff judge advocate; and civilian legal advisers Robert Hogue and Peter Delorier.

These explosive accusations have received attention in national media, on Capitol Hill and throughout the Defense Department. They’ve also made life difficult for Weirick and Col. Jesse Gruter, his direct supervisor during most of the last year. Both allege they’ve come under fire from senior Marine officials as a result of Weirick’s complaint, according to emails and other documents obtained by Marine Corps Times as part of a months-long investigation into the allegations surrounding the commandant."

Friday, September 27, 2013

Senate Questions IG Report on Secret Service Prostitution Scandal

President's men: Barack Obama with Secret Service agents. reports --"It was a story that made international headlines: 13 Secret Service agents hired prostitutes on a booze-filled night during a presidential trip to Cartagena, Colombia. The incident, which took place in April, 2012, prompted an internal investigation. Recent allegations, though, suggest that the inspector general (IG) in charge intentionally withheld information from his public report and delayed the release of his findings until after the 2012 election.

According to an article published in The Washington Times, a Senate panel including Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) initiated the probe after they received complaints from whistleblowers. Reportedly, Charles Edwards, the acting IG at the Department of Homeland Security, was “susceptible to political pressure” during his investigation from John Sandweg, the former general counsel for the Homeland Security Secretary.

In a letter to Edwards dated June 27, 2013, Senators McCaskill and Johnson write that they “have been alerted by numerous whistleblowers to allegations of misconduct and abuse.” The accusations include that he “shared confidential whistleblower information with agency officials” and “used administrative leave to penalize employees who questioned or brought attention to [his] actions and instructions.” Edwards, in response, denies any wrongdoing and says the probe may get in the way of his job.

In The Washington Times article, James Carafano, senior defense and homeland security fellow with the Heritage Foundation, says an even larger concern raised by this case is the degree to which inspector generals may be susceptible to political pressure.

Part of our system of liberty is creating mechanisms to sort out wrongdoing. This is the canary in the mine shaft, and if investigators become politically susceptible, the system is failing. It's like judges making up their own laws.

POGO also reported on the concerning number of IG vacancies in its report, Where Are All the Watchdogs? The page points out that many important IG positions– like Edwards’–are held by acting or interim officers who may lack independence and effectiveness."

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Three retired generals get behind Gillibrand's military sexual assault bill

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand reports -- The military leadership's view of sexual assault in the military is roughly this: It's a problem, we've failed to fix it, but we should be allowed to keep doing the same things that have failed to fix it. That means fierce resistance to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand's bill taking decisions about sexual assault prosecutions out of the hands of military commanders and putting them in the hands of people with legal training. But now, Darren Samuelsohn reports that three retired generals are getting behind Gillibrand's plan:

“After carefully thinking about this issue, I believe the Defense Department’s time to solve the problem on its own has expired,” [retired Lt. Gen. Claudia] Kennedy wrote. “Civilian and uniformed military leaders have had absolute discretion and power to make changes, but have not fixed the problem and have not stopped retaliation suffered by survivors who report the crimes committed against them.”

“Failure to achieve these reforms would be a further tragedy to an already sorrowful history of inattention and ineptitude concerning military sexual assault,” [retired Brig. Gen. Loree] Sutton added.

[Retired Brig. Gen. David] McGinnis, who served during Obama’s first term as acting assistant secretary of defense for reserve affairs, told Gillibrand her approach would help address “the historic lack of sincerity within the Department of Defense on issues relating to women in the military.”

"Sorrowful history of inattention and ineptitude," "historic lack of sincerity." Those are some strong words, but accurate ones. All three get to the heart of the need for change: The military has been told many times to prevent and respond to sexual assault more effectively and to stop retaliation against the victims of crimes. That hasn't happened, completely undercutting the claims that no, for real, seriously, this time things will be different.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Audit Finds Serious Flaws in Navy Security Screening reports -- "In a sad coincidence, the day a contractor employee named Aaron Alexis killed 12 people at the Washington Navy Yard was the day the Department of Defense Inspector General (DoD IG) released an audit report slamming security screening at U.S. Navy installations.

News accounts of the Navy Yard tragedy have focused on just one finding in the DoD IG report: that in recent years a total of 52 convicted felons were given access to Navy installations. While we understand the mainstream media’s fondness for quick and simple numbers, the public should also be made aware of the report’s other astonishing findings.
DoD IG reviewed the Navy Commercial Access Control System (NCACS), a process used to screen and register contractors and suppliers seeking unescorted access to Navy installations and facilities." 

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Gunman's employer sought Navy consulting work day after rampage

Navy Times reports — “A little more than 24 hours after an IT contractor shot a dozen workers at the Washington Navy Yard, the company’s CEO told the Navy secretary he had the experience to help improve military security.

The email from The Experts chief Thomas Hoshko, which included descriptions of his background and expertise, stunned some Navy leaders in the wake of the shootings Monday that left 13 people dead, including the gunman, former Navy reservist Aaron Alexis.

The correspondence also fueled concern about what defense officials believe may have been failures by the company to alert the military about Alexis’ apparent mental health problems.

In the email, which The Associated Press obtained, Hoshko said he was “dramatically” affected by the shootings and wrote that “my heart and prayers go out to the families and friends of those innocent victims.”

But the email quickly moves on, with Hoshko laying out his work experience and offering his services. He wrote that he was “confident that I can provide valuable input and solutions to the process that will provide better security for the military, contractors and civilians.”

Navy officials confirmed that email was sent to Secretary Ray Mabus. They declined to characterize its contents.”

Food for thought:  It’s appalling how defense contractors view tragedy as an opportunity to generate more business.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Veterans dying from overmedication

(CBS News) Veterans by the tens of thousands have come home from Iraq and Afghanistan with injuries suffered on the battlefield. Many of them seek treatment at Veterans Affairs hospitals. Now a CBS News investigation has found that some veterans are dying of accidental overdoses of narcotic painkillers at a much higher rate than the general population -- and some VA doctors are speaking out.

Food for thought:   Military doctors and VA doctors have been over medicating veterans for decades, as long as you numb a person’s senses from feeling pain, you can get more physical use out of them.  This method also allows for major corporations to profit from years of ongoing war.  

Instead of paying disabled veterans more compensation benefits for their injuries the VA would rather overdose them with "drug interacting" medications. They figured as long as they are giving the veteran what they want (pain meds) the veteran would not demand to be compensated for his injuries.  This is why the military does not thoroughly inform veterans of their eligibility for disability compensation prior to discharging the member from active duty service. 

The problem with over medicating a person with too many drugs is that the drugs will eventually begin to interact with one another, causing adverse side effects to major organs which oftentimes leads to death.  

In the end, the pharmaceutical industry has made a huge profit from the Department of Defense/Veterans Affairs who will continue to allow for over medicating our veterans.  Meanwhile, this puts the pharmaceutical industry in a more lucrative position to donate more money to our lawmakers (Congress) campaign funds who are obviously not too concerned for the overall health and welfare of our veterans.

Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive!

Learn more about your disability compensation benefits here:


Thursday, September 19, 2013

Nothing is as it seems...

Navy commander, 2 others charged in bribery scheme

Navy Times reports -- A Navy commander, a Naval criminal investigator and a defense contractor have been charged with conspiracy in a bribery scheme to gain millions in international port contracts, federal prosecutors said.

Leonard Francis was arrested this week in San Diego, Cmdr. Michael Misiewicz was arrested in Colorado, and NCIS Supervisory Special Agent John Beliveau II was arrested in Virginia, the U.S. attorney’s office said in a statement Tuesday night. Each faces up to five years in prison if convicted of conspiracy to commit bribery.

An email seeking comment from an NCIS spokesman wasn’t immediately returned Tuesday evening.

Francis, a Malaysian national who lives in Singapore, is the president and CEO of Singapore-based Glenn Defense Marine Asia Ltd., which has had “husbanding” contracts for Navy ships at ports worldwide for 25 years. The contracts — one of which was worth up to $125 million — involve providing services for ships and submarines in port, such as providing tugboats, security and transportation, paying customs fees, supplying food, fuel and water, and removing trash.

Prosecutors contend that Francis conspired to bribe the other men with luxury travel, prostitutes and gifts in exchange for information that allowed him to overcharge on port contracts by millions of dollars.

An email message to th seeking comment was not immediately returned Tuesday night.
Misiewicz is assigned to U.S. Northern Command at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colo. However, he previously was deputy operations officer for the commander of the 7th Fleet.

Documents filed in San Diego federal court contend that in 2011, Misiewicz provided Francis with confidential ship movements and helped arrange to have some 7th Fleet ships moved to certain Asian ports that were considered more lucrative and where the company faced less scrutiny for potential fraud.

In one case, according to an affidavit filed by a federal investigator, Misiewicz worked to have the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln sent to the port in Laem Chabang, Thailand, where during a 2012 visit the Navy was overbilled $500,000 for port services.

Prosecutors contend Beliveau provided Francis with information about an NCIS investigation into alleged overcharging by his company.

Food for thought:  There are many more crooks in our Navy, they just haven't gotten caught!

Sugar Is 'The Most Dangerous Drug Of The Times,' Senior Health Official Says: Head Of Amsterdam Health Services Calls For Warning Labels, Tighter Regulations reports -- "A Dutch health official is demanding tighter regulations on sugar, calling it “the most dangerous drug of the times.” Paulvan der Velpen, head of Amsterdam’s health services, believes that products containing sugar should be held to the same standards as products containing alcohol and tobacco. The proposed safety measures include warning labels, special taxes, and legal limits in processed foods.

"This may seem exaggerated and far-fetched, but sugar is the most dangerous drug of the times and can still be easily acquired everywhere," Van der Velpen wrote on GGD, an official public health website.  "Just like alcohol and tobacco, sugar is actually a drug. There is an important role for government. The use of sugar should be discouraged. And users should be made aware of the dangers.”

Previous research indicates that sugar does not induce the satiety of other foods. Whereas an appetite for other fat, other carbohydrates, and protein eventually wears off, an appetite for sugar only perpetuates itself. Van der Velpen argues that for this reason, it should be treated as an extremely addictive substance.

“Whoever uses sugar wants more and more, even when they are no longer hungry. Give someone eggs and he'll stop eating at any given time. Give him cookies and he eats on even though his stomach is painful,” he explained. "Sugar is actually a form of addiction. It's just as hard to get rid of the urge for sweet foods as of smoking.

“Thereby diets only work temporarily. Addiction therapy is better," he said.

To prevent food companies from exploiting the addictive capacity of sugar, Van der Velpen recommends that lawmakers impose harsh restrictions. In addition, he believes the nation would benefit from warning labels similar to those on cigarette packs. He hopes that these measures will help citizens realize that the saccharine substance actually poses a threat to public health, The Telegraph reported.

 “Health insurers should have to finance addiction therapy for their obese clients,” he added. “Schools would no longer be allowed to sell sweets and soft drinks. Producers of sports drinks that are bursting with sugar should be sued over misleading advertising, and so on."

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Obama: ‘The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam’

President Barack Obama addresses the 67th session of the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 25, 2012. (AP)

A year ago the Washington Post published a quote from President Obama while addressing the 67th session of the United Nations General Assembly, speaking out against violence towards the Islamic faith.

Fast forward… A year later he’s deciding to wage war (commit violence) against Syria?!  I don’t get it?!  Either you are for violence (war) or against it, plain and simple!

 Here's an excerpt from his speech:  The impulse towards intolerance and violence may initially be focused on the West, but over time it cannot be contained. The same impulses toward extremism are used to justify war between Sunni and Shia, between tribes and clans. It leads not to strength and prosperity but to chaos. In less than two years, we have seen largely peaceful protests bring more change to Muslim-majority countries than a decade of violence. And extremists understand this. Because they have nothing to offer to improve the lives of people, violence is their only way to stay relevant. They don’t build; they only destroy. [...] The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam. But to be credible, those who condemn that slander must also condemn the hate we see in the images of Jesus Christ that are desecrated, or churches that are destroyed, or the Holocaust that is denied.”

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

North Carolina officer charged with shooting unarmed FAMU player

Jonathan Ferrell is seen in an undated photo provided by Florida A&M University. Ferrell, 24, was shot and killed Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013, by North Carolina police officer Randall Kerrick after a wreck in Charlotte, N.C. Ferrell was unarmed. Police called the Ferrell and Kerrick's initial encounter "appropriate and lawful. But in their statement late Saturday, they said "the investigation showed that the subsequent shooting of Mr. Ferrell was excessive" and "Kerrick did not have a lawful right to discharge his weapon during this encounter." Police said Kerrick was charged with voluntary manslaughter.
(AP Photo/Florida A&M University reports -- "A North Carolina police officer accused of shooting and killing an unarmed man who had apparently been in an automobile wreck was scheduled to appear in court Monday to face a voluntary manslaughter charge.

Jonathan A. Ferrell, 24, a former Florida A&M University football player, was killed early Saturday.

He had sought help at a nearby house, according to a statement from Charlotte-Mecklenburg police. A woman answered the door and, when she didn’t recognize the man, called 911.

Officers responding to the breaking and entering call found Ferrell nearby. Ferrell ran toward the officers, who tried to stop him with a Taser. Police said he continued to run toward them when officer Randall Kerrick fired his gun, hitting Ferrell several times. Ferrell died at the scene.

A police statement Saturday said the investigation showed the shooting was excessive and “Kerrick did not have a lawful right to discharge his weapon during this encounter.”
FAMU Interim Athletic Director Michael Smith said Ferrell played the safety position for the school’s football team during the 2009 and 2010 seasons.

In describing the accident, Police Chief Rodney Monroe has said Ferrell was driving a vehicle that crashed into trees off a northeast Charlotte road early Saturday, and the wreck was so severe he would have had to climb out of the back window to escape.

Monroe said he did not know what caused the crash and did not say whether Ferrell suffered injuries.

Ferrell apparently walked about a half-mile to the nearest house and was “banging on the door viciously” to attract attention, Monroe said. Thinking it was her husband coming home late from work, the woman who lives there opened the door. When she saw Ferrell, she shut it and called police about 2:30 a.m., Monroe said.

Monroe said he didn’t think the unarmed Ferrell made threats or tried to rob the woman."

Monday, September 16, 2013

A look at shootings at other military posts

Navy Times reports — "A former Navy man opened fire Monday at the Washington Navy Yard, leaving at least 13 people dead, including the gunman. It was the deadliest shooting rampage at a U.S.-based military installation since Maj. Nidal Hasan killed 13 people and wounded more than 30 others in 2009 at Fort Hood in Texas."

Here is a look at other shootings at military installations in recent years:

July 21, 2013: Grand Forks Air Force Base, N.D. Tech. Sgt. Matthew Hullman dies following a shooting incident.

April 2013: Fort Knox, Ky. Lloyd Gibert, a civilian employer at a Fort Knox parking lot, was shot to death outside the post's Army Human Resources Command building. Sgt. Marquinta E. Jacobs, was arrested in the killing.

March 21, 2013: Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va. Corp. Jacob Wooley, 23, of Guntown, Miss., is killed by Sgt. Eusebio Lopez, 25, of Pacifica, Calif., military officials said. Lopez also shoots Lance Cpl. Sara Castromata, 19, of Oakley, Calif., to death before he kills himself.

June 4, 2012: Offutt Air Force Base south of Omaha, Neb. Zachari Johnson, 21, of Lincoln, dies at an Omaha hospital after being shot by an Air Force security contractor. Authorities say Johnson was shot when he crashed a car through a base entrance. Air Force officials have said the guard followed procedure when he shot Johnson.

Sept. 18, 2011: Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz. Lance Corporal Daryl Adams, 22, an avionics technician is shot and wounded in Yuma. The shooting is accidental and the suspect is also a local Marine.

May 19, 2010: MacDill Air Force Base, Tampa, Fla. The FBI says military veteran Ronald J. Bullock, 61, of Hanson, Mass. is fatally shot by one of its agents at MacDill Air Force Base. The FBI says Bullock was involved in an altercation at the campground that led to a pursuit by base police. When the FBI agent confronted him, Bullock pulled a knife and the agent shot him.

Feb.22, 2010: Luke Air Force Base, Glendale, Ariz. Gabriel Aguilera, 19, is charged with first-degree murder, aggravated assault and unlawful flight from law enforcement. Aguilera drove a stolen car into Luke Air Force Base, which resulted in the fatal shooting of his 16-year-old passenger.

Dec. 11, 2009: Near Offutt Air Force Base, Neb. Airman 1st Class Corey Hernandez, 21, fatally shoots Senior Airman Michael Garvia, 23, of San Benito, Texax in a game of "trust." Hernandez is later sentenced to five years of confinement and given a dishonorable discharge. 

Nov. 5, 2009: Fort Hood Army Base, Fort Hood, Texas. Army Maj. Nidal Malik Nadal Hasan, 39, was convicted in August 2013 for killing 13 people and wounding more than 30. 

Oct. 13, 2005: Fort Campbell, Ky. Pvt. Nicholas D. Mikel, 21, is accused of firing shots into a group of soldiers; no one is injured. Mikel is later sentenced to 25 years in jail.

Prayers for the victims and their families

Read full article: 

Saturday, September 14, 2013

How the Recall Filner Effort Landed a Women Vets Group in the Hot Seat

National Women's Veterans Association of America President Tara Jones (right)
Voice of San Diego recently reported --"Tara Jones, who leads the National Women Veterans Association of America, made a dramatic about-face during the sexual harassment scandal that took down Bob Filner’s mayorship. She went from leading a group set to celebrate Filner’s life work at a big fundraiser to publicly calling for his resignation, and selling “Please Resign!” T-shirts on the organization’s website.

But in actively working to oust one man from his job, Jones may have stepped outside the bounds of her own as the leader of a tax-exempt charity.

A La Mesa-based grant-writing firm has severed ties with the NWVAA and filed three complaints with the California attorney general’s office, including one alleging that the veterans group violated federal law by engaging in overtly political acts aimed at removing Filner from office.

The Internal Revenue Code prohibits 501(c)(3) nonprofits from participating in efforts to elect or defeat a candidate for public office. In a recall election, Filner would have been a candidate for his own office.

“I consider us to be required reporters,” said Penny Goforth, senior associate for Grant Writing Specialists. “If someone is acting bad, it’s the nonprofit community’s responsibility to let the AG know.”

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Barbara Lee's Rebellion: The Making of the Left's Antiwar Voice on Syria recently reported -- "There was a time when Rep. Barbara Lee was accused of treason and got so many death threats for her antiwar politics she needed around-the-clock police protection. Now, a decade and two unpopular wars later, the congresswoman who cast the only vote against the war in Afghanistan has moved from the fringe to the forefront, becoming a preeminent voice in the president's own party against his effort to bomb Syria.
Lee is an influential member of both the Congressional Progressive Caucus and the Congressional Black Caucus—two groups President Obama desperately needs on his side. Inside Congress, she has helped spearhead the lobbying effort against a Syria strike, and she was among the more prominent members of the CPC briefed by the White House last week. "They've been very persuasive about the intelligence and the fact that we must do something," she told The Washington Post's Greg Sargent. What was less persuasive, she said, was the idea that the only option right now is a military option.
"I'm not a pacifist," Lee told National Journal in an interview. "I think we need to hold those accountable for any types of crimes against humanity, weapons of mass destruction, chemical attacks on our country. This is a given. We've got to do that. But you also have to understand what you're doing and the context."
The story of how Lee emerged as one of Congress's most powerful antiwar voices on Syria is one that's well told by numbers. In 2001 when she voted against the use of force in Afghanistan, she acted alone. In 2003, when she sponsored legislation to repeal the congressional authorization of war in Iraq, herlegislation received 72 votes. In August of 2013, a demand that Obama seek authorization from Congress before taking any action against Syria garnered the support of more than 150 lawmakers and from both sides of the political aisle."
Food for thought:  It was announced yesterday that President Obama nominated Congresswoman Barbara Lee to be Representative to the United Nations.  In a recent press release she stated, "It will be my goal as Representative to the U.N. to help foster stronger ties, deeper bonds, and increase commitment to the vision of the United Nations:  a better world for all."  Congratulations on her appointment!!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Thought for the day...

Celebration of Life
© 2013  Syneeda Penland

In your womb I shall grow,
To later sprout like splendid grass,
My remnants will be left behind
As evidence of my past;

Oh Mother Earth, nourish me,
Give me your strength and courage,
Protect each layer of my core,
To grow and never be discouraged;

Intertwine my roots within your heart
So we will never grow apart,
I will grow taller than the highest mountain top
When I reach Father God’s heaven I will not stop;

Bless me with your humble spirit
To spread my seeds upon your earth,
Let this be my gift to you
Upon celebration of my re-birth.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Naval academy midshipman alleges bias in sexual assault case

MSNBC recently reported –“The female midshipman at the center of a case against three former Naval Academy football players has filed a lawsuit asking the Superintendent of the Naval Academy to recuse himself from deciding whether the case goes to court martial, arguing he is too biased to make the decision.

The suit, filed by the 21 year old Naval Academy senior’s lawyer Susan Burke, alleges that Vice Admiral Michael Miller, who has the final authority over whether or not the case against the three accused men goes forward, “engaged in abusive and retaliatory treatment of the Midshipman,” and that Miller is “biased and conflicted because his own personal self-interests in career advance merit and reputation have been harmed” because of the case.

The suit says that in the wake of the alleged assaults, Miller fostered an environment at the school that did not discourage harassment and retaliation against the young woman. It also argues that the long days of questioning “Midshipman Jane Doe” endured during a preliminary hearing last week were procedurally unnecessary and meant to punish Doe for going forward with the case.

During the Article 32 hearing, the woman was required to report to court as early as 7:30 am, and on one day was not released until 9:30 pm. During the course of the defense attorneys’ cross examination, the midshipman was repeatedly asked detailed questions about her sexual history, what she was wearing the night she was assaulted, how many times a day she lies, and other highly personal questions. The officer presiding over the hearing sent the woman home on Saturday in order to allow her to rest, but she was required to appear again on Sunday.

Lieutenant Commander Sarah Flaherty, a Navy Spokeswoman, said that the Navy will work with the Department of Justice on the case but declined to offer further comment due to the pending litigation.

The issue of whether commanders can fairly adjudicate sexual assault cases, and whether concern for their own careers and those of their subordinates overrides concern for victims of sexual violence, has been at the heart of the Congressional debate over how to reform the military’s approach to such cases. New York Democrat Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand wants to take cases out of the military chain of command, while Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill has proposed reforms that would not take that step.

A survey released earlier this year by the Department of Defense found that only a small percentage–3,374 of an estimated 26,000–of survivors of unwanted sexual contact reported the incidents. Of those who did not report assaults, 47% cited fear of reprisal as a reason for staying silent, and of those who went through the process, 62% of them reported suffering some sort of reprisal.”

Food for thought:  Once again, proof of how senior military officials will dishonor their oath of office to protect their reputation and careers instead of adhering to a moral code and preserving the laws of our country.  And they call themselves an officer and a gentleman!?