Save our Heroes Forwards Military Justice Concerns to DOJ/The Honorable Jeff Sessions – Attorney General of the United States
25 Apr 2018
The Honorable Jeff Sessions – Attorney General of the United States
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001
Dear Attorney General Sessions,
I’m honored to write you this letter as the Chairman of the Board of the non-profit organization; ‘Save Our Heroes Project,’ (SOH). SOH was formed in 2015 to advocate and support service members and their families who have faced wrongful military justice actions, false allegations, and wrongful convictions.
The military justice system is in a state of disarray as basic constitutional norms, due process protections, and common-sense military legal practices have been replaced by special interest group influences, unlawful command influence, and political interference. SOH respectfully requests a reform of the military justice system to restore constitutional protections, due process, and the presumption of innocence.
Unlawful command influence and prosecutorial misconduct have reached pandemic levels. Almost every week, several military criminal convictions are reversed on appeal due to these issues. After two years of research, visits with those falsely incarcerated, hearing the pleadings of thousands of family members, and multiple trips to Congress, SOH strongly believes a DOJ investigation is required. An investigation with resulting changes would hold military legal leadership accountable and set a foundation for re-aligning this ‘kangaroo court’ style legal system back to basic Constitutional protections. Most importantly an investigation would destroy what SOH believes has become a home-grown threat to national security.
You may be asking yourself why the Department of Justice should become involved with a military specific issue. There is one simple answer. Military leadership in many of the cases attached have demonstrated they are neither morally or ethically equipped. Moreover, many of those involved in violations of State Bar standards and/or military leadership guidelines have been promoted rather than censured. Today, many Americans state their interest in supporting our troops, but tragically that support does not extend to military justice. It is my hope the Department of Justice applies lessons its learned from the prosecution of Senator Ted Stevens to help the military justice system correct its course. Justice requires no less than this.
SOH is providing the following recent examples of military justice dysfunction to justify our strong belief in a requirement for a DOJ investigation:
Tab 1 – A copy of the report from the Subcommittee of the Judicial Proceedings Panel (JPP) on Barriers to the Fair Administration of Military Justice in Sexual Assault cases. This JPP report documents the military’s middle management belief of the system’s divergence from Constitutional norms and is a strong testimony for the SOH argument. The military’s own belief the system is not fair is by itself a reason for a DOJ investigation.
Tab 2 – An opinion written by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals detailing how Air Force legal officers conspired to remove a military judge who they thought was strictly following the law and rule of evidence in previous cases so they could insure a conviction of Air Force Airman Frank Vargas. This unbelievable example of military judicial corruption, was the subject of an article written in the Washington Times (Military pressure to punish sex crimes pushes airman’s conviction over the brink, March 20, 2018, Rowan Scarborough).
Tab 3 – A United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces opinion detailing how the United States Coast Guard was guilty of jury stacking with biased victim advocates, a violation of being judged by a jury of your peers, to insure a conviction for Boatswain Mate Second Class John Riesbeck. (Argued October 25, 2017 – January 23, 2018)
Tab 4 – A copy of an official SOH complaint to the North Carolina State Bar Association against the Judge Advocate General of the U.S. Navy, Vice Admiral James Crawford who was found guilty of Unlawful Command Influence (UCI) in a recent post-conviction Dubay hearing. This was a clear violation of Article 37 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, (UCMJ). New SOH research has shown this is not the only incident of UCI by Admiral Crawford.
Tab 5 – Five ‘one page’ condensed stories of military heroes our organization has supported who have been falsely accused, or wrongfully convicted. This is just a small example of the over 230 cases SOH has received in the last two years. All SOH’s 230+ cases have similar circumstances. Please read with special interest the ‘one pager’ on Maj Clarence Anderson. Maj Anderson was a constituent of yours in Alabama. In fact, your Staff personally called me to investigate his case while you were in your quarantine period awaiting Senate confirmation as Attorney General.
Tab 6 – A one-page synopsis of a woman who falsely accused a servicemember of horrific crimes; allegations so blatant and egregious in nature that military investigators and prosecutors determined that the allegations were entirely manufactured. In response, SOH filed an official formal complaint with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. This woman’s actions are typical of the majority of SOH followed cases, but her actions were exposed in a court of law.
Tab 7 – A research paper on the major differences between the military and civilian judicial processes, which highlights how the military system has become disengaged with basic Constitutional and due process protections. Please read closely about the military justice system’s Special Victims Counsel (SVC). The SVC is unique to the military system and has turned out to be very damaging to insuring a fair trial.
Tab 8 – A passionate letter written by military defense attorney William Cassara concerning Army Major Eric Burris. This is a very powerful statement and should tear at the heart of anyone who wants to protect American justice.
Tab 9 – A one-page synopsis of how three Army Field Grade officers lied to get on a jury to convict an Army E-7. The Court of Appeals in its opinion took the extraordinary step of identifying these three officers by name because of their egregiousness. Again, another example of the legal system’s ‘deep state’ and the great lengths taken to maintain political favoritism.
Tab 10 – A series of E-mails asking for evidence of why a case was terminated two weeks before a Court Martial. The falsely accused was told through these E-mails evidence did not exist, but a FOIA fulfilled two months later outlined how Public Affairs Guidance (PAG) was written and staffed at the highest levels of the USAF in preparation for questions from the Press and Congress. Unfortunately, this shows the great lengths military leadership will travel to protect themselves from political influence. Interestingly, the Prosecutor quoted in the E-mail as saying, “nothing exists”, is now a sitting judge at Travis AFB. One of many examples where the military legal ‘deep state’ is entrenched and growing!
Tab 11- A copy of the letter SOH sent to the Senate Judiciary committee requesting hearings on the military judicial system. This letter was never answered, even though it was hand-carried and personally shared with multiple Congressional offices. When SOH talked to Congressional staffers from both the Senate and House, they all agreed there were problems with the military judicial system, but declined to offer to help correct it.
Tab 12 – The last attachment is my personal resume. I attached this because I represent just a small portion of the well-rounded SOH Board of retired military, retired police, attorneys, and civilian professionals.
SOH understands the political sensitives associated with today’s politically charged issues, but we strongly believe this is a systematic problem which is a threat to national security. Yes, this is a strong statement, but SOH has had personal confirmation of this belief by high level staffers within the current administration. Military leadership must be held accountable for turning a legal system into a weapon for self-preservation due to political pressure.
In closing, SOH respectfully requests a DOJ investigation into the military judicial system. SOH is prepared to give all our organization’s research to support an investigation when requested.
Thank you again for your time. I am very passionate about this subject because I have seen first-hand how the first, second, and third order effects destroy lives and families. Just two months ago I talked a young Airman out of suicide because of the false allegation against him. I’m proud to say not only did our organization save his life, but shockingly last week all charges were dropped against him. This is yet another reason leadership should be held accountable. There would have been blood on those prosecutors’ hands!!!
I look forward to further discussion.
Doug James, Col USAF (Ret)
Chairman of the Board, Save Our Heroes Project