Today in Military Justice

This is an absolutely absurd sentence. I’m hoping Soonergrunt will discuss this in more detail.

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134 replies
  1. 1
    burnspbesq says:

    No, it’s not all absurd. The case was falling apart, because it became apparent that a key witness might have committed perjury in an earlier hearing in the case. Or did you not read the story you linked?

  2. 2
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    It’s an outrage. Justice has been denied.

    This guy should do the Danny Deever Dance for his actions.

  3. 3
    scav says:

    If the Military Brass are expected to actually live up to their PR as Officers and Gentlemen and supreme and unique Patriots and Leaders, rather than insisting we all instantly defer to their inherently and necessarily superior selves, well, I don’t know what. Terrorists will have won. They apparently had decided to throw a token one of their own to the media and judicial dogs rather than attempting the harder effort of actually addressing any issues. Failed at that too. woo-hoo.

  4. 4
    Belafon says:

    Probably had to do with this:

    But the prosecution’s case started coming apart after military lawyers concluded that their chief witness, the captain, may have lied at a hearing in January. It collapsed last week when Colonel Pohl found that political considerations may have improperly influenced the prosecution.

    Now, he should be thrown out for having an affair with a subordinate, which I was taught was a no-no.

  5. 5
    burnspbesq says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Justice has been denied.

    Perhaps, but as a result of (probably) prosecutorial misconduct and (perhaps) improper political influence. Not because of anything the defense did.

  6. 6
    Belafon says:

    I wonder if the woman in Florida who is being tried again, this time with a longer sentence, for thinking she had a right to stand her ground even though she was black, can use this in her new trial:

    It collapsed last week when Colonel Pohl found that political considerations may have improperly influenced the prosecution.

  7. 7
    JPL says:

    @Belafon: That’s what I thought also.

  8. 8
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Belafon:

    Now, he should be thrown out for having an affair with a subordinate, which I was taught was a no-no.

    The UCMJ is worded in such a way that you can be prosecuted for getting a blow job from your wife.

    Let alone a subordinate.

    However, if the Captain in question was not in the chain of command he was in, the guidance is it’s not a fraternization violation, and it’s not undue pressure. Still, I find it very distasteful at the very least to have a junior officer as a mistress. Generals are supposed to be professionals. Sinclair wasn’t acting very professional with THAT choice.

  9. 9
    JPL says:

    @Belafon: hmmm Now what color is the woman that is being retried in Florida.
    You have to take that into consideration.

  10. 10
    PaulW says:

    While the case was falling apart, there was enough evidence that the general behaved inappropriately and possibly detrimental to the morale and discipline of his command. There should have been more than just a slap on the wrist. I doubt a demotion would have been applicable but his discharge/retirement should reflect his misconduct.

  11. 11
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @burnspbesq: I have to keep reminding myself that “justice” is not really what the “justice system” (military or civilian, for that matter) is really about.

    Agreed with you about prosecutorial and chain of command issues. That certainly played a role in this.

    The “justice system” about maintaining order. If justice happens to be served, great! If not…well, order has been maintained.

    My god, his affair with this Captain was made light of at his farewell party from his command! Everyone knew about this!

  12. 12
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @PaulW: Exactly.

  13. 13
    gnomedad says:

    Though clearly elated, the general said little as he left the courthouse, describing the last two years as “a very difficult time for me and my family.”

    “The system worked,” he said, adding that he was going to go “hug my kids and see my wife.”

    Not little enough.

  14. 14
    JC says:

    Looks like very possible no sexual assault – certainly not provable at least.

    However:

    ” In addition to admitting to mistreating his mistress, he pleaded guilty to adultery, soliciting explicit pictures from female officers, disobeying a commander, possessing pornography in a combat zone and misusing his government credit card.”

    And in the article:

    “General Sinclair had a tendency to make inappropriate comments about women and to make advances toward them, and he sought explicit pictures from female subordinates. ”

    So, shouldn’t the above be firing offenses?

    I can see how, you don’t remove his pension. He served with distinction for many year. And if you were a civilian, who did the above, you don’t lose your 401K.

    But, why keep him in the military? At minimum, discharge him. This would be a firing offense for a civilian, that is for sure.

  15. 15
    Mandalay says:

    @PaulW:

    While the case was falling apart, there was enough evidence that the general behaved inappropriately and possibly detrimental to the morale and discipline of his command. There should have been more than just a slap on the wrist.

    That sounds about right. The actual case against him was certainly falling apart, but the stuff he had already admitted to was mind boggling. From the OP link:

    In addition to admitting to mistreating his mistress, he pleaded guilty to adultery, soliciting explicit pictures from female officers, disobeying a commander, possessing pornography in a combat zone and misusing his government credit card.

    I really resent our government paying that vile fucker a big fat pension for the rest of his life.

  16. 16
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @gnomedad: His wife hasn’t left him and taken the kids with her? Say what you will about Jenny Sanford, she had the integrity and guts to dump Mark publically when the Appalachian Trail walk took place.

    Oh, btw, where area all those scolds who were OUTRAGED over l’affair Lewinsky? Who kept drawing parallels with how military leaders and CEOs would be treated if they did what Clinton did with the zaftig Monica?

  17. 17
    Belafon says:

    @JC: The implied meaning in the agreement was that he would retire very quickly. Firing would have cost him his pension, which I’m not against, but they decided he could keep it.

  18. 18
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @JC:

    disobeying a commander

    WTF?

    He disobeyed orders?

    Why is this motherfucker still in uniform?

    He should have been dismissed for the good of the service for that alone, never mind all the sexual crap.

  19. 19

    Military justice is more of an oxymoron than military intelligence. Unless we are in the movie A Few Good Men.

  20. 20
    Amir Khalid says:

    Brigadier Sinclair isn’t getting off scotch-free: he’s being made to retire two ranks down as a lieutenant-colonel, and give up $20k in pay. (Is that technically different from a fine?) It seems a light punishment for so senior an officer, given his long-term misconduct, but it’s more than nothing.

  21. 21
    Elizabelle says:

    @JC:

    He will put in retirement papers soon.

    I wish they could pull his security clearance, somehow make him less appealing to defense contractors.

    And it would serve him right if his pension got busted down to the rank of Major or less.

  22. 22
    John Cole says:

    @burnspbesq: Don’t ever change, Burns:

    As part of the plea deal, Sinclair’s sentence could not exceed terms in a sealed agreement between defense lawyers and military attorneys. The agreement, unsealed Thursday, called for Sinclair to serve no more than 18 months in jail, but Col. James Pohl’s punishment was much lighter.

    Prosecutors did not immediately comment. Capt. Cassie L. Fowler, the military lawyer assigned to represent the accuser’s interests, had a grim expression after the sentence was imposed and declined to comment.

    Sinclair’s fine breaks down to $5,000 each month for four months. He earns about $12,000 a month, according to testimony earlier in the week.

    Retired Lt. Col. Gary D. Solis, who teaches law at West Point and Georgetown University, called Pohl’s ruling lenient.

    “I can’t believe it,” said Solis, who served 26 years of active duty in the Marine Corps and tried hundreds of cases as a military judge. “I know Judge Pohl to be one of the best judges in the Army judicial system, but … this is an individual who should not be a general officer. He should have gone to jail and dismissed from the Army.”

    No punishment whatsoever. You have no idea how much carnage and fallout this is going to create. Notwithstanding the women who have been raped in the past and have to deal with this, or who will be raped in the future and look at this and think there is nothing that can be done, but every single enlisted man in the military, and quite a few officers, are all looking at this as “brass taking care of brass.” What this man did was unspeakable as far as conduct from a general officer goes:

    When Brig. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sinclair left command of the 172nd Infantry Brigade in 2010, soldiers put on a raunchy skit at his farewell party.

    One soldier wore a wig and dressed as a female officer, knelt in front of a seated soldier who was portraying then-Colonel Sinclair, and “offered to do something for him,” recalled Lt. Col. Benjamin Bigelow, who attended the party.

    “There was no question” what the skit was about, Colonel Bigelow testified in a Fort Bragg courtroom on Tuesday. “She was offering to give him oral sex.” The spouses of some officers who were in the audience, including General Sinclair’s wife, were “shocked, angered and dismayed.”

    There also seemed to be little question about whom the male soldier in the wig was parodying: a female captain who was having an affair with General Sinclair at the time.

    The judge didn’t even reduce him in rank, as the DEFENSE team agreed to in the plea.

  23. 23
    catclub says:

    @ranchandsyrup: “Unless we are in the movie A Few Good Men. ”

    Then it is just fiction.

  24. 24
    Calouste says:

    @JC:

    I see at least three things in there that on their own would be, and have been, cause for (almost) immediate dismissal at the Fortune 500 company where I work.

  25. 25
    scav says:

    The 1% CEOs come in Uniform too. All that matters is the chain-of-command and, apparently, some technicalities of legalistic veils.

  26. 26
    JC says:

    @Belafon: Ah, okay. Thanks, I didn’t see that.

    If so, then I suppose it makes sense. Whether it is retired or fired, he needs to be out of uniform now.

  27. 27

    @catclub: heh indeedy. always fiction then.

  28. 28
    cmorenc says:

    @Belafon:

    I wonder if the woman in Florida who is being tried again, this time with a longer sentence, for thinking she had a right to stand her ground even though she was black, can use this in her new trial:

    Since the woman in Florida in fact spent some considerable amount of time in jail before winning a right to a new trial, why exactly does the female prosecutor who’s pushing for a re-trial have such an um….hard-on…oh, youknowhatImean to put the woman in jail for a much longer sentence, when she didn’t actually hit (or aim anywhere close) to the alleged victim when she fired a shot?

    And Zimmerman walks a free man after fatally shooting a teen boy who was armed with nothing but a soda and skittles, which this same prosecutor apparently tried for the state…am I correct about that? Does she have no sense whatever of the optics of Zimmerman going free while she seeks an extremely long prison sentence for someone who came nowhere close to actually shooting or killing the person in question?

  29. 29
    Elizabelle says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Didn’t Jenny Sanford have the money (not to mention, brains) in that marriage?

  30. 30
    Sherparick says:

    @gnomedad: If the system had worked, this guy would never had made 1Lt, little lone becoming a GO. Besides the sexism and corruption, there is also a perfidious class bias in the military justice system. If BG Sinclair had been a Command Sergeant Major, I expect he would have gone to jail, or a minimum kicked out of the military. But military judges and military court martial panels, made up of senior officers, empathize with defendants who are senior officers, and are loathed issue a penalty that will take away the 30 year investment of time in that retirement pension from both the officer and his spouse.

    That civilian courts also have a hard time with sex crimes, you can check out this case which was also a rather famous arrest last year. http://www.washingtonpost.com/.....story.html

  31. 31
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @John Cole: Agreed, John. I’m outraged at this. It does indeed seem to be brass taking care of brass.

    Disgusting. The Army’s officer corps has a serious corruption problem.

    Fucking Bush. He set this up. He drove the good officers and NCOs out with his bullshit war.

  32. 32
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @cmorenc: Don’t forget the hoodie. That’s damning apparel, you know.

  33. 33
    Belafon says:

    @cmorenc: Of course she knows what the optics are. As someone said above, this justice system is about keeping order. If a black woman gets away with firing a gun in the air to scare her ex, she might point it at a white person next time.

  34. 34
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    You know, upon reflection, my outrage isn’t that the Captain wasn’t believed, or that she may have lied, or even that she was sexually assaulted with no recourse. Not that I’m pleased with any of that mind you.

    It’s that the system, which is supposed to be about maintaining military discipline so that the Army can do its job under the most trying of circumstances, has utterly failed. Things that rate prison time for enlisted should rate something more for officers. They’re supposed to be setting the fucking example, not the example of fucking.

  35. 35
    scav says:

    @John Cole: cont.

    “There was no question” what the skit was about, Colonel Bigelow testified in a Fort Bragg courtroom on Tuesday. “She was offering to give him oral sex.” The spouses of some officers who were in the audience, including General Sinclair’s wife, were “shocked, angered and dismayed.”

    So it’s probably just not his own wife and female subordinates and comrades that will be dealing with the after-effects of effectively legitimizing this, there are all the wives, girlfriends, partners and fellow soldiers that will be coping with men that think this sort of behavior is a laughing matter suitable for public consumption in front of the injured parties.
    But, of course, General whatzit is glad the difficult time of his fucking trial is over for his poor family. Permanently clueless.

  36. 36
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @John Cole: Given that the article says his retirement is likely to be as a LTC, it is effectively a demotion of two ranks.

    The case fell apart. The prosecution came to doubt the credibility of its primary witness. I am not saying that this result is good for the service, but given a collapsing case, it is about what could be expected.

  37. 37
    Eric U. says:

    Generals are almost never serving at their permanent rank. I’m sure there is a reason for that. I assume a BG has a permanent rank of 06 though. Congress almost always promotes them to their terminal rank after they have safely retired

  38. 38
    Someguy says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Oh, btw, where area all those scolds who were OUTRAGED over l’affair Lewinsky? Who kept drawing parallels with how military leaders and CEOs would be treated if they did what Clinton did with the zaftig Monica?

    I figured you were one of them morality types based on your railing about the General’s behavior. Or is it only military folk you expect to behave in a manner consistent with old testament moral rules? Or is your point that nobody should be held to any moral principles and the unwanted advances and posession of pornography justify a harsh sentence, while the long term affair is off-limits? Your argument is sort of descending into incoherence here.

  39. 39
    WaterGirl says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Omnes, don’t you think that they could have added other charges once the case started to fall apart on the rape? I am not military, but it seems to me there were plenty of things he could have been charged with, just from what I read in the linked article.

    edit: This just feels like more of the boys club to me; boys will be boys.

  40. 40
    MikeJ says:

    @WaterGirl: I would guess that almost everything would hang on the testimony of the witness who had already perjured herself.

  41. 41
    WaterGirl says:

    @MikeJ: That is probably true for some things, but what about:

    ” In addition to admitting to mistreating his mistress, he pleaded guilty to adultery, soliciting explicit pictures from female officers, disobeying a commander, possessing pornography in a combat zone and misusing his government credit card.”

  42. 42
    catclub says:

    Notice that this case was concluded AFTER the senate decided that ONLY the chain of command, which has done such a sterling job all along, should be the only way such accusations are handled.

  43. 43
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @WaterGirl: He was charged with other things and pleaded guilty to a number of them. He was fined $20,000 and is effectively being reduced two ranks. Whether this is adequate punishment for the UCMJ violations to which he pleaded guilty is a matter of opinion.

  44. 44
    Tommy says:

    you know I grew up in a military family. I was taught to follow orders. I have never been told to harm a women. I was told do the opposite, I don’ tthink his guy guilt. I find the organization guilty.

  45. 45
    Belafon says:

    @catclub: Considering that the start witness seems to have lied, I’m not sure this case would have fared any better in a civilian court.

  46. 46
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Tommy: Sinclair is supposedly a very bright guy. The institution may have problems but that does not absolve Sinclair from his obligation to behave decently.

  47. 47
    Eric U. says:

    @Belafon: since there appears to have been a consensual relationship at some point, it seems likely that he could have gotten off in a civilian court given a good enough lawyer. And in civilian court a lot of the ancillary bad behavior probably would not have been admissible.

  48. 48
    srv says:

    I just don’t understand why Slick Willie isn’t a hero to these general officers.

  49. 49
    MikeJ says:

    @WaterGirl: He pled guilty to it because that was the price of getting a plea bargain. It doesn’t mean they could have proved it had it gone to trial, and has been pointed out, there wasn’t really any penalty for it. If they had said, hey, we’ll drop this whole thing in return for 4 months pay if you just admit you personally drove the nails into Jesus, he would have gone along with it.

  50. 50
    Schlemizel says:

    As is too often the case this end badly because the woman may not have told the whole truth when it probably would have been better if she had just gone ahead and admitted the relationship continued after the assault because she feared retribution.

    For what it is worth they probably cot the bastard for the most they could. He will be forced to retire & reduce to Lt Colonel so he will “pay” with a poorer retirement, maybe a million dollars depending on how long he lives – and assuming his wife does not decide she is sick of his shit.

    The only real positive out of this hot mess is that it does cast a shadow on the military & they do seem to care about it once they have reached a certain level of embarrassment. It is a shame that the fine young men and women (particularly the women) have to suffer these outrages but I bet the Army starts doing a better job FINALLY. In this shitty world some days that is the best you can hope for.

  51. 51
    MikeJ says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Whether this is adequate punishment for the UCMJ violations to which he pleaded guilty is a matter of opinion.

    It’s almost certainly not adequate punishment, but that’s usually the tradeoff you make for a guilty plea. Nobody pleads guilty in return for the death penalty. The prosecution may have given away too much, but on the other hand they may not have gotten anything had they gone to trial.

  52. 52
    Belafon says:

    @Eric U.: I’m all for putting trials like this in civilian hands, because I do think the military is not doing these right, but no one should use this case as an example of why.

  53. 53
    Barry says:

    @cmorenc: “Since the woman in Florida in fact spent some considerable amount of time in jail before winning a right to a new trial, why exactly does the female prosecutor who’s pushing for a re-trial have such an um….hard-on…oh, youknowhatImean to put the woman in jail for a much longer sentence, when she didn’t actually hit (or aim anywhere close) to the alleged victim when she fired a shot?”

    Defendant black, prosecutor white, right-wing Florida maggot.

  54. 54
    Scott says:

    I’ve seen airmen discharged for abusing the credit card so, yes, Sinclair got off easy. I don’t know whether this played a role in the punishment thinking but Sinclair is still married. His wife will most likely divorce him and get half his pension. If pension was taken away, she may not get anything. Not enough in my mind to not punish him though.

  55. 55
    Soonergrunt says:

    I’ll get into this later. I’m in the middle of something tonight, so I’ll deal with this tomorrow.

  56. 56
    WaterGirl says:

    @MikeJ: That makes logical sense, but I still don’t think he lost nearly enough. So much for officers setting the example a good example. I’m still pissed.

  57. 57
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Someguy: It’s not the sex, per se, it’s the undermining of the chain of command and the mistreatment of subordinates, to the point where the entire fucking command of an infantry brigade apparently knew this guy was screwing a junior officer. Who was not his wife. And they joked about it in front of his wife and the other wives of officers of the command.

    This sort of thing is a corrosive that destroys the respect that must exist between those who lead and those who are led.

    Who Sinclair fucks on his own time, off base, is his own business. But someone else in uniform and the knowledge is common that he’s doing it throughout his command? Absolutely appalling. Soliciting junior female officers for intimate photos? Come on.

  58. 58
    Elizabelle says:

    Penalty is inadequate, but I am distrustful of civilian juries too. Shouldn’t be, but the Zimmerman and Dunn jurors (among others) have schooled me.

    Do you think the public would better be served by a jury of the first 12-15 jurors whose numbers are pulled out of a hat, rather than those selected for their views on guns or respect for the military?

    I’m not sure where being guaranteed a “jury of your peers” segued into “let the defense cherry-pick the jury” — certainly by the OJ Simpson murder case ….

  59. 59
    Elizabelle says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Yes.

    And that’s what this case was about. Even without the “star witness”, the other stuff Sinclair has copped to is dreadful.

    Military brass: Justice for thee, but not for me.

  60. 60
    Chris says:

    @ranchandsyrup:

    Military justice is more of an oxymoron than military intelligence. Unless we are in the movie A Few Good Men.

    Yeah, always wondered how… interesting it must be trying to enforce laws of war/codes of conduct in the military, for those who’re actually trying.

    When I read about My Lai, the thing that stuck out to me the most (as with the Catholic child abuse scandals) isn’t that it actually happened, it’s how the institution responded to it. The original reaction was to cover it up, nothing was done until the story broke in the national media, and even then there was a firestorm of anger on the part of Congress and the Pentagon towards Hugh Thompson for having the impudence to speak up about it, with even an attempt at having him court-martialed.

    How many times things like My Lai have happened and gone completely unpunished for lack of a big media scoop is a rather disturbing thing to speculate about.

    (Just to kick it up a notch from a general’s sexual misconduct…)

  61. 61
    WaterGirl says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Could not agree more!

  62. 62
    MomSense says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    His wife hasn’t left him and taken the kids with her? Say what you will about Jenny Sanford, she had the integrity and guts to dump Mark publically when the Appalachian Trail walk took place.

    While I do agree generally with the point you are making here, I do think it is important to remember that a lot of women do not seek divorce solely because they don’t have the money.

  63. 63
    srv says:

    @Chris: And yet, Colin Powell is a hero.

  64. 64
    Sloegin says:

    Wasn’t the Air Force booting out officers just for adultery not too long ago?

  65. 65
    Elizabelle says:

    LA Times: Robin Abcarian: Is anyone really surprised that Brig. Gen. Sinclair got off easy?

    So what charges did the Army dismiss? Sinclair was originally accused of sexual assault, threatening to kill his accuser and her family, forcing her to perform oral sex and engaging in “open and notorious sex” in a parked car and on a hotel balcony.

    And what were the charges that stuck? According to my colleague David Zucchino, Sinclair pleaded guilty to adultery, mistreating the captain, misusing his government charge card in order to pursue the affair, disobeying an order not to contact the captain, making sexist comments about other female officers, impeding an investigation by deleting sexually explicit emails to and from a civilian woman, possessing pornography in a war zone, conducting inappropriate relationships with two other female officers and improperly asking a female lieutenant for a date.

    How does an officer who has done all that receive only a reprimand and a $20,000 fine?

    Well, Sinclair got busted down 2 ranks, but he’s got excellent benefits including full medical and commissary, and he’s youngish and he and his wife (or ex-wife) may be collecting a healthy pension from Uncle Sam for 30 to 40 years.

    But still …

  66. 66
    Elizabelle says:

    @Sloegin:

    Never mind those dread homosexual Arabic speakers. Be gone, sirs.

  67. 67
    Dave says:

    @scav: I think that in many ways the officer corp is actually far worse about these attitudes than enlisted soldiers; and I was shocked that there was actually the impression this guy would get jail time. And then of course he didn’t but I’m sure that there are many General Officers that feel for him never mind what the outcome would have been for someone not in the boys club.

  68. 68
    Chris says:

    @srv:

    Good cop, bad cop.

  69. 69
    Elizabelle says:

    Can a higher officer overturn the deal?

    Because this might not be in the best interests of the Army and armed services.

  70. 70
    Elizabelle says:

    Can a higher officer overturn the deal?

    Because this might not be in the best interests of the Army and armed services.

  71. 71
    Mandalay says:

    @srv:

    And yet, Colin Powell is a hero.

    Really? To whom? I think that myth died a long time ago. In a way I find him even more contemptible than Cheney and Rumsfeld.

  72. 72
    Hal says:

    “The system worked,” he said, adding that he was going to go “hug my kids and see my wife.”

    Nice. Hey kids, give Dad a big hug! Honey? What’s for dinner?

  73. 73
    JustRuss says:

    I especially enjoyed this line:

    …with some male officers struggling to view female counterparts as anything more than sexual objects.

    Yes, pity those poor officers as they “struggle”. You keep using that word, I do not think you know what it means…

  74. 74
    scav says:

    @Dave: Mmm, I’d hope so, but it wasn’t the brass that thought adultery a suitable joke for a party in front of the wives. That fish has rotted past the head.

  75. 75
    JGabriel says:

    NY Times:

    Bringing to an end the most closely watched sexual misconduct trial in the military, a judge on Thursday morning reprimanded Brig. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sinclair for mistreating an Army captain who was his mistress, among other offenses, but did not sentence him to jail time and allowed him to remain in the military. …

    General Sinclair, 51, hugged his lawyers after the judge made his ruling from the bench. Though clearly elated, the general said little as he left the courthouse, describing the last two years as “a very difficult time for me and my family.”

    Right. Well, whose fault is that, jackass?

  76. 76
    Elizabelle says:

    @Mandalay:

    I disagree. Colin Powell is remorseful for his actions, and not out braying advice or insulting President Obama for lack of leadership skills. He knows he lied, to terrible effect, in the runup to Iraq.

    He in no way belongs in the Rumsfeld and Cheney cesspool.

    Under your system, a true sociopath gets off lightly — he’s the scorpion, it was his nature — and those who are better people are damned all the more for their failings.

    I don’t subscribe to that.

  77. 77
    Dave says:

    @scav: Oh I wouldn’t say that the enlisted ranks are a font of enlightened thought either but, personal experience so anecdotal, it’s just the Officer corp seems to be worse about it but also more concerned with appearances so less honest about it. I’m not a disinterested observer here and am running a little in the John Cole emotional response mode (something I actually find likable about him more than not) so my opinions are probably a little colored.

  78. 78
    Elizabelle says:

    Look out John Cole:

    [Lead defense attorney] Scheff said the general hoped to appear as soon as possible – perhaps Thursday – before the ranking commander at Ft. Bragg, Maj. Gen. Clarence K.K. Chinn, to be reprimanded in person. Then he intended to drive to his home state of West Virginia, where he and his wife have bought a house.

    http://www.latimes.com/nation/.....z2wXvI00s2

    ETA: No word whether the lucky Mrs. Sinclair will be in the car, and if so, if even heated seats will make that drive more comfortable.

  79. 79
    Violet says:

    Am I the only one old enough to remember the Tailhook convention scandal?

    The Tailhook scandal refers to a series of incidents where more than 100 U.S. Navy and United States Marine Corps aviation officers were alleged to have sexually assaulted at least 83 women and 7 men, or otherwise engaged in “improper and indecent” conduct at the Las Vegas Hilton in Las Vegas, Nevada.

    This kind of crap by officers has been going on a long time.

  80. 80
    JPL says:

    @Elizabelle: Do they own a Subaru?

  81. 81
    Hal says:

    @Elizabelle: Did Powell lie, or was he lied to? I thought there was still some debate as to just how much he knew of what he was saying was false.

  82. 82
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Elizabelle: Apparently, and I’m no expert on this aspect of UCMJ…my knowledge is pretty much limited to what I personally experienced as a junior officer, and never with a court-martial, the judge made the call on the sentencing. There are maximum sentences for various offenses, and these are pretty much written in stone, but sentencing lighter is at the discretion of the judge or the commander.

    The judge in this case really fucked up if this was about maintaining good discipline, which is supposed to be at the very heart of the UCMJ, because if junior officers felt they could get away with skits that depict their commander getting oral sex from a junior officer, it’s pretty obvious that good discipline is shot in that command.

  83. 83
    Mike in NC says:

    This guy will probably never get a third star. Getting booted out is reserved for peons.

  84. 84
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Violet: Oh, that one pissed me off too…and the attempted coverup only made it far worse.

    Sinclair was behind me by a few years in the ranks, and I would have hoped that officers of my particular era would have had far more discretion in their sex lives, and treated female officers with the respect their rank endowed them with, but apparently there are still a few pricks about (so to speak).

  85. 85
    Elizabelle says:

    @Hal:

    I honestly don’t know if Powell knew what he was saying was false. I think he did.

    Since he seemed to take himself off the world stage after, I took that for remorse.

    Yeah, the Iraq warmongers would have lied to Powell too. To anyone they could. Whether Powell knew or not the actual situation; cannot say but I suspect he realized he was puffing up the evidence.

    Do you recall?

  86. 86
    Elizabelle says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    In Zucchino’s LATimes story, he says the Ft. Bragg commander can lessen the sentence, but not increase it.

    I don’t know about those higher in the chain of command. But this does not seem to be justice, and it’s poison to have different sets of rules for officers and enlisted, particularly when you’re in a business where junior officers and enlisted can die at the direction of their officers.

  87. 87
    Mandalay says:

    @Elizabelle:

    Under your system, a true sociopath gets off lightly — he’s the scorpion, it was his nature — and those who are better people are damned all the more for their failings.

    There’s no need to put words in my mouth. I said nothing about systems, sociopaths or scorpions.

    My Lai made Powell soiled goods long before Iraq happened, and his failure to resign or condemn those who set him up as a patsy after the UN debacle spoke volumes about his (lack of) character. He was even willing to stay on and serve a second term as SoS until Bush fired him.

    Some hero.

  88. 88
    Violet says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:
    Also from the Wikipedia article on the Tailhook scandal:

    John Lehman, in 2011, lamented what he considered to be a negative legacy from Tailhook on the navy’s aviation culture. Lehman felt that the scandal had removed the necessary swagger and confidence from the navy’s aviation culture and replaced it with a focus on integrating women and, more recently, homosexuality.

    Those poor naval aviators. No longer able to swagger around swinging what they wish were their giant dicks. And if you can’t swing your dick, how can you ever have any confidence? Note this was 2011.

  89. 89
    JPL says:

    @Mandalay: IMO and I’m only speculating but Powell always played the good soldier and did as he was told. Although a soldier is not suppose to support a particular party, he was always assumed to be a Republican and when he retired, he admitted he was one. What changed him, in my opinion, was Bush and Fox news.

  90. 90
    Mandalay says:

    @Elizabelle:

    Since he seemed to take himself off the world stage after

    Nonsense. He stayed on as SoS after being used by the Administration, until he was fired. He could have resigned after lying to the world at the UN, but he chose to continue working with those who had set him up. (And that’s making the charitable assumption that he didn’t know he was spewing bullshit at the UN.)

  91. 91
    srv says:

    @Elizabelle: Powell is only remorseful because he got caught fibbing in public.

    As for My Lai, Iran-Contra and others, he’s opined no guilts. He’s the guy who signed the paperwork (on different occassions) for St. Ronnie’s shell game with 4000 TOW missiles to Iran and kept his mouth shut, when there was this thing called the Boland Ammendment.

  92. 92
    JPL says:

    @Mandalay: How do you feel about Jane Fonda? Should she be forgiven?
    My opinion, since I’m old enough to remember, is she was a fool who allowed herself to be used by Hanoi. Since then she has been an amazing talent in Hollywood and has done outstanding work with teens.

  93. 93
    srv says:

    @JPL: Both sides do it.

    A teen actress is the same thing as a military officer, Army Chief of Staff and Secretary of State serially involved with conspiracies.

  94. 94
    Mandalay says:

    @JPL:

    IMO and I’m only speculating but Powell always played the good soldier and did as he was told.

    Yes, you may have a good point in explaining his behavior, and playing the good soldier when you are in the military is fine. But he wasn’t in the military during the Iraq debacle. He was SoS, and entrusted to be looking after the national interest, so justifying Powell’s “good soldier” behavior in that context is another matter entirely.

    As far as I’m concerned Powell’s hands are soaked in blood, and the idea that he should be portrayed as a hero to anyone is repulsive.

  95. 95
    JPL says:

    @srv: It had nothing to do with both sides do it. Rather it had to do with the fact that he changed. He definitely should have walked away from Bush but didn’t and we will never know why. All I’m trying to point out is who do you forgive. I know many who will not forgive Jane and that’s stupid. I don’t want to be one of them.

  96. 96
    Mandalay says:

    @JPL:

    How do you feel about Jane Fonda? Should she be forgiven?

    Jane Fonda said of her photo with the Vietcong: “I will go to my grave regretting the photograph of me. … It hurt so many soldiers. It galvanized such hostility. It was the most horrible thing I could possibly have done. It was just thoughtless.” and “an unforgivable mistake”.

    And here’s what Colin Powell said of his speech at the UN: it was “painful” for him personally and would be a permanent “blot” on his record.

    Even when he reflects on what he did, it’s still all about poor old Colin Powell, and there’s not even the hint of an apology. Some hero.

    I can understand why some will never forgive Jane Fonda for what she did. She wasn’t young and naive at the time (she was 34), but at least she is saying the right things now. What more can she do?

  97. 97
    srv says:

    @Mandalay: As you can see, a lot of people want to believe Colin has a good heart and would be great to have a beer with.

  98. 98
    Judge Crater says:

    Good God, has anyone mentioned “Conduct unbecoming an officer.” This guy should have his epaulets ripped off and his sword broken and thrown on the ground. Unbelievable!

  99. 99
    Elizabelle says:

    @Judge Crater:

    I know. Simple, but true.

  100. 100
    Keith G says:

    @Mandalay:

    As far as I’m concerned Powell’s hands are soaked in blood, and the idea that he should be portrayed as a hero to anyone is repulsive.

    I quite often agree with where you are coming from, but part of the above might be a bit shrill.

    Yes his hands are stained by mis-spent blood. But while I was playing with Matchbox cars, Powell was humping around the hinterlands of South Vietnam getting shot at while performing honorable service in one of our most unfortunate wars. What were you doing then?

    He says he was lied to by Tenet at al. and I see no evidence to the contrary. I do wish he would have spoken up loudly with condemnation when he realized the deceit, but I understand his reasons why he did not.

    His role in that horrible act will always be an important part of his biography.

  101. 101
    John Cole says:

    @burnspbesq: Again, don’t ever change, Burns. The rich and powerful always need a knee-jerk advocate, so whether it is Goldman Sachs or serial abusers in the military, there will always be one lawyer out there with their back:

    In a light sentence that stunned even his lawyers, Brig. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sinclair was sentenced to a reprimand and no jail time for mistreating a subordinate with whom he had a three-year adulterous affair, ending a tumultuous court-martial that focused national attention on the military’s uneven response to sexual misconduct in the ranks.

    I know you are a lawyer, but do you ever know what the fuck you are talking about and are you even remotely acquainted with the concept of the “justice” portion of the judicial system, civilian or military?

  102. 102
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Elizabelle:

    and it’s poison to have different sets of rules for officers and enlisted,

    I disagree.

    The rules for officers MUST be much more strict, the punishments more severe. Officers are, by their very definition and the wording of their commissions, much more responsible than enlisted are. Rank may have its privileges, but there is a cost to them.

    The sad fact is that in the US military, the opposite is very apparent, especially when you get to the flag ranks. Then you’re “in the club” and suddenly so many rules no longer apply to you, it seems.

    If I had tried to pull that shit on a female lieutenant under my command when I was a captain, they’d have drummed me out ala Branded.

  103. 103
    Gopher2b says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    I’m really confused by what happened here. Was he charged with sexual assault, adultery, or both. If it’s adultery then they’ll have to jail everyone at the pentagon because that place is a meat market.

    Anyway, there’s nothing stopping Senator Gillibrand from calling him to testify about what he did and juxtaposing that against his punishment.

  104. 104
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Gopher2b: Both. He actually copped to adultery as part of the plea bargain.

    The punishment for those things he did cop to is appallingly lenient, IMHO. His failure to obey an order to avoid contact with the woman should be more than enough to dismiss him for the good of the service, all by itself.

  105. 105
    Mandalay says:

    @Keith G:

    But while I was playing with Matchbox cars, Powell was humping around the hinterlands of South Vietnam getting shot at while performing honorable service in one of our most unfortunate wars.

    Honorable? Were you still playing with Matchbox cars when Colin Powell helped cover up the My Lai massacre? Was that also part of his “honorable service”?

  106. 106
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Someguy: Also, too, your reading comprehension skills need some work.

  107. 107
    Keith G says:

    @Mandalay: Sometime ago, I recall reading a look back article on My Lai. I don’t recall seeing that he took actions to cover up the atrocity. Though a quick click tells me that Wikipedia says.

    Later, Powell’s assessment would be described as whitewashing the news of the massacre

    “Would be described”? A rather noncommittal statement.

    I donno if such an authoritative exposé is the definitive evidence of dishonorable service, though I always like perusing evidence – particularly if it is over something I may have missed. Maybe he is the son of Satan or a lesser demon. Sometime in the future, shoot me a link, but now its off to bed.

  108. 108
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Keith G: Powell was/is a go along to get along type. He has never been actively implicated in the My Lai cover up but he was in one of the people involved in trying to downplay it. And so on through out his career up to and including the UN speech. He was one of those guys who was never embarrassingly and career-endingly wrong about anything, but he was also careful to never be inconveniently right when everyone else was wrong. He had the career of a careerist.

  109. 109
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Gopher2b: Also, too, adultery has its own article in the UCMJ. Technically, any member of the military who has ever engaged in oral sex, giving or receiving, regardless of gender combinations, has violated the UCMJ. Which means every infantry soldier I ever knew was guilty, guilty, guilty as they could not stop telling their buddies about the great head that their girlfriend/wife gives them.

  110. 110
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: As a very new 2LT in my battalion, I got pulled aside by a very senior captain following officers’ PT and informed that the young lady with whom I was sleeping was the estranged wife of one of the soldiers in his battery. I gulped a bit and said, “I see.” As I informed the CO when it trickled up to him a couple of weeks later and he asked to see me, I spoke to the young lady one more time, briefly and in a public place, in order to tell her that I could not see her anymore. The CO said fine and that was it. I did, of course, have an instant reputation in the battalion. Later on, I was XO of the battery in which the now ex-husband served. He was a pretty good soldier.

  111. 111
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Now, I wonder why it was that you figured this out so readily and Sinclair apparently didn’t get the hint when it delivered directly to his face in the form of an order.

    Could it be that Sinclair, unlike you, thinks almost exclusively with the little head?

    My mind reels.

  112. 112
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    Someone in the comments (at the LA Times)referred to Sinclair as “a ringknocker” but from looking him up on Wikipedia, it appears he’s an ROTC product, commissioned in 1985.

  113. 113
    Amanda in the South Bay says:

    I appreciate Burns’ attention to legal detail, but like every veteran on this thread, I’ll have to agree that the verdict was a fucking joke. This type of shit is very corrosive to the moral and well being of the military. Rank has its privileges indeed, fucking general piece of shit.

  114. 114
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: That was the thing. it was obviously a word to the wise. I really had no idea about her marriage, but once I knew… The interview by the CO later, again couched in polite terms ( “I understand you had been seeing a young lady….” [pause]) was the test to see if I was an idiot or not. That is how it was done. Note, also, that I was not married and that I was unaware of the situation. It came up during questioning during my TS/BI investigation. it old the story and the investigator said, “Yeah, that’s what everyone has said. Don’t worry about it.”

    @Villago Delenda Est: WVU.

  115. 115
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Amanda in the South Bay: The verdict is one thing. The prosecution’s case was falling apart. The plea offered and accepted makes complete sense. The sentence was far less than the defense had been willing to accept. That is the part that is problematic.

  116. 116
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: One of the things the defense said it was unwilling to accept was any part of the sentencing that put Sinclair in the “sex offender” category.

    It’s pretty obvious this guy can’t stop thinking about nookie, even after he’s very bluntly told to knock it off. To me, this is a pretty strong signal that he NEEDS to be categorized as a “sex offender” for the protection of society as a whole.

    “Pornography in a combat zone”? WTF is up with THAT?

  117. 117
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: We had a porn file in our FDC when I was an FDO. My chief would send the junior private out to get a new stash every once in a while (he reimbursed the kid out of his own pocket). Porn in a combat zone is fine with me. Stress relief is stress relief. Of course, I am a well known slut, so that comes into play.

  118. 118
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Any combat arms bivouac that doesn’t have porn in it would raise my eyebrows.

  119. 119
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Aha, I misinterpreted your comment.

  120. 120
    dww44 says:

    @Amir Khalid: Love this,

    Brigadier Sinclair isn’t getting off scotch-free:

  121. 121
    dww44 says:

    @JPL: Thanks for the laugh. Good way to end the evening.

  122. 122
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: I thought you might have. I’m wondering why they tacked on a charge like that which PALES in comparison to blowing off an order. I mean, the adultery article is in and of itself a questionable remnant of a bygone moral age, but by gosh, he definitely was guilty of that one. I suppose (haven’t seen the charge sheet) that a lot of things were covered by the “everything but the kitchen sink” general article.

    “General, stay away from this woman. Do I have to say the words “direct order” to you? Do I? I hope not.”

    How obvious can you fucking get?

    My first battalion commander said something that has always stuck with me, that using the words “this is a direct order” means that you MUST follow through if it’s disobeyed, and there are consequences for making that choice that you might want to consider before uttering those words. In short, he said, don’t use it lightly, don’t use it casually, don’t use it at all if you can avoid it and use some other means of getting done what needs to get done.

  123. 123
    notorious JRT says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:
    The plea deal may have been expected. The sentencing should have been more reflective that the behaviors to which this effing SOB copped are utterly unacceptable. His attorney crowed that Sinclair had been exonerated. Christ, it makes me want to puke. He got a soft landing, and he should have been made an example because he demeaned his command in every possible respect.

    I agree with those who suspect that lower ranking individuals would have been whacked a helluva lot harder. And I resent paying him a pension while he likely will double dip, too. I wish this creep everything but well.

  124. 124
    Elizabelle says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    You misunderstand me, because I was sloppy in my writing.

    I am saying it is poison when the rules for officers are less strict or enforced than those for enlisted/junior officers.

    I totally agree that officers and leaders need to be held to a higher standard, and especially in the armed forces.

    It is poison for Sinclair to get a slapped wrist, a penalty that surprised even his defense team (they’d brought a black raincoat to the hearing, the better to disguise his leaving in handcuffs!), when junior officers and enlisted get draconian sentences or dishonorably discharged for way less than that which Sinclair admitted to, in court.

    Sorry my comment was not more clear; we are actually in agreement here.

    Elizabelle
    daughter of an officer

  125. 125
    Elizabelle says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    The sentence was far less than the defense had been willing to accept. That is the part that is problematic.

    Yes, and I hope this can be reviewed and changed. Justice was not done, and the military judge left military justice open to scorn.

  126. 126
    NorthLeft12 says:

    @scav: This is exactly what it is.

    If people do not understand by now that there are three levels of justice in the world then they are deliberately deluding themselves.

    Level One – For the ELITE [rich, powerful, authority].
    These people are too important to be punished.

    Level Two – For the middle class, generally caucasian.
    Almost arbitrary. Depends on contributing factors. Probably how a real justice system would operate.

    Level Three – For the poor, minorities, social outcasts, anyone who challenges authority or the establshed order.
    Harsh.

    NOTE: I have absolutely no data to back up this opinion. Just the constant barrage of anecdotes and incarceration rates for different groups of people.

  127. 127
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Elizabelle:

    daughter of an officer

    Who very obviously was a good one who inculcated the what I think are the right set of values for an officer in his daughter.

  128. 128
    Joey Giraud says:

    @Mandalay:

    In 2000 when Powell came on with the Bush Gangsters I remember thinking “well this will wipe away that halo.”

    There was a time when centrist liberals were essentially praying for Saint Powell to save us all. I guess some are still kneeling at that altar.

    Even without considering My Lai, I suspected Powell’s too-fast rise through the ranks. Looks good, kisses ass.

  129. 129
    Joey Giraud says:

    @Mandalay:

    Not to mention that Jane Fonda is an actress, not Secretary of State.

  130. 130
    Paul in KY says:

    @JC: He certaimly should be busted back to Colonel, at least.

    (a big blow to anyone who has got to O-7 or above)

  131. 131
    Paul in KY says:

    @Amir Khalid: Busting him to LTC is abiggie, for a General.

    I would have liked Captain (non-Navy version).

  132. 132
    Paul in KY says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: I agree. Many fine oficers left tghe Army when it bacame apparent what a clusterfuck Iraq was & how crazy their civilian leaders were.

  133. 133
    Paul in KY says:

    @JPL: Ms. Fonda should certainly be forgiven. She was very young then & idealistic & dumb too (I guess). She was trying (in her own way) to end the war & get our troops the fuck out of there.

  134. 134
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Paul in KY: MGens who had been division commanders retired early.

    Officers who are selected to command divisions are probably certain to get a third star after a successful command, and are being groomed for the top positions in the organization. If you lose them, you’re in trouble. Then there’s the exodus of senior captains/majors and mid to upper range NCOs. Devastating for the future of the organization.

    You’re left with guys like Sinclair who can’t control their little soldiers.

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