Thursday, May 22, 2008

Whistleblower or Adulteress; Military Justice, Racial Discrimination, or Retaliation?

(LCDR Syneeda Penland meets CNO ADM Mike Mullen at 2007 NNOA Banquet in San Diego, CA.)
LCDR Syneeda Penland, a Black female Navy supply officer, formerly with a West Coast-based coastal warfare unit is scheduled to be court-martialed on 21 May in San Diego on charges that she had an affair with a married junior officer and lied about it later.

LCDR Penland, who is Black, says her prosecution is merely retaliation by her command after she made complaints about financial misconduct by military officials and civilian contractors within Navy Expeditionary Combat Command.

LCDR Penland, 36, is charged with adultery, indecent acts, conduct unbecoming an officer and making a false official statement. She could face as many as 16 years in prison and be dismissed from the Navy if convicted on all counts.

Her defense lawyer, Marine Capt. Patrick Callahan, said it is unusual for an adultery case to be taken to a general court-martial, where any finding of guilt, even on a lesser charge, would be a felony conviction that would follow Penland for life. It’s also unusual, he said, that the adultery charge is not accompanied by more serious charges, and because of his client’s rank and nearness to retirement.

LCDR Penland has 19 years of military service. She is the National Outreach Chairman of the San diego chapter of the National Naval Officers' Association.

LCDR Penland is single. The man with whom she is alleged to have had an affair is a married lieutenant junior grade, and is a prosecution witness. LCDR Penland has denied having a sexual relationship with the man.

Wayne Johnson, a retired Navy lawyer, said that since LCDR Penland refused non-judicial punishment, NJP, her superiors had a great deal of discretion as to how they would deal with her, but he also said the general court-martial in an adultery case was unusual but not unheard of.

Johnson said adultery cases frequently are based on witness testimony — usually that of the second person in the relationship, who is often granted immunity in exchange for his or her testimony.

Johnson said that if a sexual relationship were proven, prosecutors would also have to prove that it was prejudicial to good order and discipline in order to win an adultery conviction. Since LCDR Penland and the man were both officers, were not members of the same command, and are not alleged to have carried on the affair in public, that might be difficult to prove, he said.

LCDR Kevin Messer is lead prosecutor in the case. LCDR Messer denied that LCDR Penland’s prosecution had anything to do with command retaliation and said the general court-martial fit the crime. He called allegations of financial problems a “smokescreen and a subterfuge” but did not dispute any of the allegations when talking to Navy Times.
“This case wasn’t about adultery,” LCDR Messer said. “It was about a lieutenant commander who abused her rank to intimidate and coerce an enlisted sailor for the purpose of causing her to divorce her husband. It was about sex, lies and manipulation.”
Neither Callahan nor Penland’s civilian lawyer, Clifton Blevins, returned calls for comment about Messer’s accusations.

LCDR Penland, a supply officer who was commissioned through OCS in 1997 after serving seven years as an enlisted sailor, said she was warned several times by superiors to stop questioning financial practices within San Diego-based Naval Coastal Warfare Group 1 in the months after she arrived at the command in 2006.

She said her command failed to win approval from Naval Installations Command and Naval Facilities Command before completing multimillion dollar construction and renovation projects at the Navy Outlying Landing Field in San Diego; hired contractors in government positions without first advertising those positions to the public; and allowing civilian contractors to supervise military personnel and approve government contracts.

Steve McDonald, director of Business Development for the contractor, Logistics Support Inc., declined to comment on Penland’s allegations. A Navy spokeswoman at the Pentagon was also unable to provide responses to the allegations.

In a separate command investigation completed by NECC officials regarding allegations of racial and gender discrimination — LCDR Penland is Black — by her command, a Navy captain suggested that LCDR Penland raised the allegations only after learning that she was facing adultery charges.

LCDR Penland turned down mast on March 26, and was referred to court-martial on June 5.

She filed a complaint with Rep. Bob Filner, D-Calif., on Feb. 21, a complaint with the NECC inspector general March 30, and a second complaint with the Defense Department inspector general April 10. Her first complaint to Filner occurred more than one month before she went to NJP.

NECC has not responded to requests under the Freedom of Information Act for investigation findings. LCDR Penland produced documents to prove that she requested the investigation. A spokesman for the DoD inspector general’s office said he was unable to provide results because its investigation of LCDR Penland’s allegations is still underway.

Callahan said the fact that the NECC investigation was not yet completed more than a year after it was filed was unusual because IG investigations involving complaints of command reprisal are normally completed within six months.

Callahan said he asked that the trial be postponed until the IG investigations are concluded, but trial judge Cmdr. Robert Redcliff denied that request.

LCDR Syneeda Penland was found guilty and sentenced to 60 days in jail on 24 May. She was also fined two months pay after the military jury found that she had been involved in a sexual relationship with a married lieutenant junior grade and lied about it to her superiors.

After deliberating for approximately two hours, five captains and three commanders found LCDR Penland guilty of adultery, conduct unbecoming an officer, making a false official statement and failing to obey a lawful order.

The Black female officer was taken to the brig immediately after her sentence was announced.

It was very surprising to see an officer given jail time for purely military offenses,” her defense lawyer, Marine Capt. Patrick Callahan, said, adding that it was also unusual to see the case taken to a general court-martial, where a conviction is equivalent to a felony conviction in civilian courts. “These are things where if she was working at the local Sears, she would have been called into the office and yelled at, and at worse, fired.”

LCDR Penland said earlier that she believed her court-martial was part of a command reprisal for her questioning what she said was financial misconduct within the Navy Expeditionary Combat Command. That misconduct, she said, included improper funding of a multimillion dollar building construction project at the Navy’s Outlying Landing Field in San Diego, NECC commanders allowing civilian contractors to supervise military personnel and make procurement decisions, and illegal hiring practices within the command.

An investigation into Penland’s allegations by the Defense Department Inspector General has not been completed. The NECC IG has not responded to queries concerning the status of its investigation into similar allegations raised by LCDR Penland in a complaint more than a year ago. On June 15, 2008 that IG investigation has not been completed.

During the two-day court-martial, LCDR Penland, who is single and has nearly 19 years of service, and the lieutenant junior grade both denied having a sexual relationship. The prosecution presented no witnesses to the affair.

Callahan said the prosecution’s only evidence of an affair were close-up pictures of sexual activity between two people whose faces were not visible, and several e-mails purportedly between the husband and wife that the husband denied writing.

The husband, Lt. j.g. Mark Wiggan, testified that the photos were of sexual activity between him and his ex-wife. He said that she gave the photos and e-mails to Navy prosecutors while the couple was going through divorce proceedings in civilian court.

Callahan said there was no proof that the e-mails had been sent by Wiggan and said they could have been sent by anyone with access to his e-mail account.

Callahan said the case was unusual because LCDR Penland was court-martialed while Wiggan was given a good fitness report and a Navy commendation after he allegedly confessed to his superiors. He also said there have been recent cases where married officers in more compromising situations have not been court-martialed and been allowed to retire.

Callahan said most officers convicted by court-martial are ordered to show cause why they should be retained in the service after the conviction. Those who cannot do so are processed for administrative separation, which would force Penland to lose all retirement benefits.

Justice is supposed to be fair and equal, and this is far from that,” he said.

Callahan said Penland would appeal the verdicts.

Navy officer convicted of adultery gets chance to clear her name

Lt. Cmdr. Syneeda Penland was convicted of adultery and conduct unbecoming, and was forced out of the Navy months shy of her retirement. But Penland swears she was victimized by her command for reporting waste and fraud.
Now, Penland will have a second chance to prove whether she was the victim of whistleblower retaliation by leaders at Navy Expeditionary Combat Command in the 6-year-old case.
A federal judge on April 20 ruled that the Board for Correction of Naval Records (BCNR) must take a second look at Penland's case to determine whether her substantiated claims of waste, fraud and abuse against her command confer whistleblower status, as she claims — and if they do, whether the Navy should compensate her for forcing her out months before her 20-year retirement mark because of a felony conviction.
"From the day that I blew the whistle, which was April 4, 2007, everything that happened from that point forward — they have to consider, what did [the command]  do?" Penland told Navy Times in a phone interview Friday.
BCNR has the power to expunge the results of her Board of Inquiry, which was the basis of her 2009 discharge, and may allow her to regain the benefits she would have received if she had been allowed to retire.
The BCNR cannot unilaterally overturn her conviction, the federal judge in the case noted, and Penland did not ask for that in her filing. She chose to focus on the BOI decision to streamline her case, she told Navy Times last year, because the process is more straightforward than overturning a criminal conviction.
A Navy spokeswoman declined to comment on the April 20 ruling that sends the whistleblower review back to BCNR.
"The Board of Correction of Naval Records will reconsider their prior decision in accordance with the federal court's order," Lt. Jackie Pau, a Navy spokeswoman, told Navy Times.
Penland, a former supply officer who had earned her commission after several years as an enlisted cryptologic technician, began asking questions about Naval Coast Warfare Group 1's procurement practices almost as soon as she took the comptroller job in 2006.
Her superiors didn't appreciate her informal investigation of some of their contracts and transactions, she said, so when a former colleague's estranged wife contacted the command with allegations of an affair, they had what they needed against her.
The investigation into her relationship with then-Lt. j.g. Mark Wiggan began in April 2007, based on sexual photos of her with a man. She claims those photos are of an ex-boyfriend, not her friend and coworker.
At that point, Penland decided to formally file her concerns about NWSG-1 with the (IG) inspector general.
Three of her allegations were later substantiated by the IG, which Penland hopes is enough to grant her whistleblower status, and solidify the definition for others who have gone through similar retaliation.
"Her ruling opened up the doorway for me, as far as where I want to go, making sure that our veterans are protected," she said.
Penland was convicted in 2008 of adultery, making false official statements and conduct unbecoming an officer, for which she spent two months in a San Diego brig. Since this was a court-martial, she is a convicted felon — which legal experts say is very unusual for adultery cases.
She first filed a BCNR case to have her BOI overturned in 2009, which moved to dismiss her from the Navy for misconduct and poor performance. It was denied.
After exhausting Navy channels, she filed a claim in federal District of Columbia court against Navy Secretary Ray Mabus to overturn the BCNR's decision, choosing to represent herself.
"The BCNR denied clemency, in part, because Ms. Penland was not a whistleblower under the Military Whistleblower Protection Act," Judge Rosemary Collyer wrote in her decision. "In this respect, the BCNR erred. The case will be remanded for reconsideration of whether Ms. Penland’s eligibility as a whistleblower and claims of retaliation entitle her to clemency."
Penland kept meticulous records of her case, including every filing and bit of communication from her criminal investigation, as well as her fraud and retaliation complaints.
"What was key, I believe, is when I gave [Collyer]  the outline of these dates, I gave her also when I was in contact with the Department of Justice," she said.
Now it's a waiting game, she said. Penland's case would technically grant her back-pay for the five months she had left until retirement eligibility, in addition to the past six years of retirement pay, but it's more of a means to the end of clearing her name.
"I never thought of myself as a convicted felon," she said.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Adam and Eve or Adam and Steve?

Marriage isn't just the chief underpinning of society or, for that matter, a raunchy comedy routine. In the minds of easily the great majority of Americans, marriage is an institution reflective of divine intent concerning human relationships and duties.

The California Supreme Court doesn't seem to mind, having ruled by the margin of a single vote that California can't constitutionally ban same-sex marriage.

Only in California. Or Massachusetts. Or certain other cutting-edge American addresses not worth the trouble of naming. There's a tendency to laugh aloud at the sheer presumption of people with law school educations in lecturing fellow citizens on their outmoded modes of belief, and, correspondingly, on the need — Now! No back talk! — to get with the new program.

If no judicial decree can make marriage anything other than an institution reflective of the large realities in which humans participate, there's no cause for alarm. Two people of the same sex holding hands before a judge or clergyman is ... two people holding hands before a judge or clergyman, nothing more.

Marriage it ain't. That's between people of opposite but complementary attributes and physiologies. The merger, so to speak, of those attributes and physiologies is what we call marriage. Flap your arms and attempt to try an aerial passage across the Grand Canyon: You'll have as much luck at that as at same-sex marriage. Can't do it. Period.

The problem, in California, isn't that you can't do it. The problem is that the state's highest court has attempted this metaphysical heavy lifting in defiance both of logic and popular sentiment.

As one dissenting justice, Marvin R. Baxter, wrote in the gay marriage case, "[A] bare majority of this court, not satisfied with the pace of democratic change, now abruptly forestalls that process and substitutes, by judicial fiat, its own social policy views for those expressed by the people themselves."

It's what they do in North Korea and Iran, in case we've forgotten: Decide in the People's name what the People need — then give it to them, to choke on, as often as not.

The California majority said prohibition of same-sex marriage constitutes unconstitutional discrimination. Shocking that no one had noticed before. All this time, the assumption that men and women had been created for each other, not least in order to procreate — and no one raised a finger. Not the old guys in the Bible. Not Plato. Not Aquinas. Not even Norman Mailer! Up pops the California, Supreme Court — I mean, its four-judge majority — to explain what forevermore had been said and thought and believed and practiced. Gosh — aren't judges something?

Well, they are. Which is why Californians are being asked in November to amend their constitution and so prohibit as a legal matter marriages between Californians of the same sex. California's highest court is causing Californians a lot of unnecessary bother and expense, while stirring up intramural ill will and setting an unwholesome example of judicial arrogance and intellectual disconnectedness.

Why don't judges get it? Legislators write law. Judges interpret what others have written. Anyway, a national election coming up.(By William Murchison )

Wheels of Justice Grind to a Halt at $4/gallon Gas.

Gas prices seem to be affecting everyone's wheels — even the wheels of justice.

A hearing that had been scheduled for 19 May in a lawsuit over Texas' presidential primary and caucus system was canceled by a federal judge who mentioned high gasoline prices as one reason for his order.

U.S. District Judge Fred Biery noted in his order that the State of Texas and the state Democratic Party had recently filed documents in the case, and that the plaintiffs would presumably want to respond to them.

Judge Biery wrote that he would need time to review the "already voluminous" documents, and that there was no need for a hearing.

"Moreover, numerous gallons of $4.00 a gallon gasoline would be expended for a significant number of persons to appear with the result being an oral presentation of the already written arguments," Judge Biery wrote.

The League of United Latin American Citizens of Texas, the Mexican American Bar Association of Houston and others sued the State of Texas and the Democratic Party earlier this month, contending the complicated system used in the March 4 primary election unfairly diluted Latino votes.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Thinking Dirty Thoughts Is Not Illegal.

The Supreme Court on 19 May upheld a law aimed at preventing child pornography, ruling a provision dealing with "pandering" illicit material does not violate constitutional protections on free speech.

Justice Antonin Scalia wrote for the majority, calling Internet child porn a "threat."

The 7-2 ruling rejected suggestions the law is overly broad, and will stifle a range of expressive or artistic material that is not obscene.

The case involves Michael Williams, convicted in a Florida federal court for promoting child pornography on the Internet.

A 2003 federal law made it a crime not only to produce and possess child porn, but also to "pander" material, conveying the belief that material contains minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct. The pandering provision covers anyone who "advertises, promotes, presents, distributes, or solicits" this material.

Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for the majority, said Congress' latest attempt to deal with this "threat" was legally "successful."

The "Protect" Act was Congress' latest attempt to control graphic images on the Internet. Previous efforts were struck down by the high court on First Amendment issues.

As part of a 2004 sting operation, an undercover Secret Service agent (using the screen name "Lisa--n--Miami") communicated with Williams in an Internet chat room. Williams allegedly wrote, "Dad of toddler has 'good' pics of her an (sic) me for swap of your toddler pics, or live cam." He posted nonpornographic photos of a young girl and claimed he had "hc," or hard-core, kiddie pictures, prosecutors contend.

The man then allegedly posted photos of youngsters involved in "sexually explicit conduct," according to court records. Twenty-two other child porn images were found on his home computer.

A federal appeals court upheld a possession conviction against Williams, but threw out the separate soliciting charge, which carried a five-year mandatory minimum sentence. A three-judge panel concluded the provision was "substantially overbroad and vague," and that "non-commercial, non-inciteful promotion of illegal child pornography, even if repugnant, is protected free speech." In other words, the judges said merely talking about child porn is not necessarily criminal.

Scalia said judges had proper discretion to decide when anti-pornography laws should be properly applied, but he noted that such illicit material has increased in recent years.

"Child pornography harms and debases the most defenseless of our citizens," he said. "This court held unconstitutional Congress' previous attempt to meet this new threat, and Congress responded with a carefully crafted attempt to eliminate the First Amendment problems we [earlier] identified."

The Bush administration urged the high court to accept the case, saying the overall impact of the law was being held "hostage to a few hypothetical scenarios."

Solicitor General Paul Clement argued to the justices that not only is promoting real child porn against the law, but "speech that falsely proposes an unlawful transaction is likewise unprotected." Clement announced last week that he is stepping down from his post next month.

But during oral arguments, six justices offered specific examples they said might unfairly target someone who was engaged in lawful, artistic or editorial free speech. Among them were mainstream movies such as "Lolita," "Traffic," and "Titanic," all of which depicted scenarios in which underage girls were engaging in simulated sex.

Justices David Souter and Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissented.

Souter wrote that a double standard exists since those pandering images not involving minors engaging in simulated sex could now be prosecuted, but possession of those images would not be subject to prosecution.

"I believe that maintaining the First Amendment protection of expression we have previously held to cover fake child pornography requires a limit to the law's criminalization of pandering proposals," Souter said.

The justices five years ago struck down a 1996 federal law dealing with child porn, giving legal protection to youthful sexual images that were nether obscene nor involved sexual abuse. In its ruling, the high court said thinking dirty thoughts is not necessarily criminal, and the government cannot "suppress lawful speech as the means to suppress unlawful speech."

Most of the 2003 Protect Act's provision have survived judicial scrutiny.

A coalition of free speech and commercial interests were supporting Williams' constitutional claims, including the Free Speech Coalition, online media retailer and National Coalition Against Censorship.

On the other side, 27 states backed the United States, as well as a range of child advocacy groups.

Blame The Victim.

Darren Jacksch, center, a retired Coast Guard veteran was sentenced to 20 years in prison Tuesday, 29 April 2008, after pleading guilty to sexually assaulting a 12-year-old boy at a church camp in the spring of 2007. He later paid the victim $300 to keep him from reporting the crime.

Jacksch, 42, was also convicted for sexually abusing a 10-year-old child in his home in 2004, while on active duty in the Coast Guard.

Court records show Jacksch was employed at the Ketchikan Charter School at the time of his December 2007 arrest.

Superior Court Judge Philip Pallenberg suspended 12 years of Jacksch's sentence and ordered the 42-year-old to serve eight years in prison beginning 29 April. He entered Lemon Creek Correctional Center on 30 April.

Jacksch is the second career military man in two years to be convicted of sexually abusing children in Juneau. CMDR Robert Schetky was sentenced to four years for attempted sexual abuse of a 12-year-old. At the time of his crimes, Schetky was the highest-ranking Navy officer in Alaska.

For 10 years after his release, Jacksch must register as a sex offender and not have contact with anyone under 18 without written approval. Pallenberg said pedophiles have a high recidivism rate and that Jacksch "posed a risk to minors."

"I'm truly sorry for the events that occurred, its effect on the families, and its effect on the school," Jacksch said. "I can say from my Coast Guard career, I can follow rules. This will not happen again."

Judge Pallenberg said Jacksch showed no serious acceptance of responsibility for his actions. It's difficult to assess whether or not Jacksch gained any insight into the crimes he committed, Pallenberg said. His apology letters were form mail, he said.

"I'm troubled by the fact that he blamed a 12-year-old," Judge Pallenberg said. "You can't blame a 12-year-old."

Jacksch molested his victim the first time at about 8 p.m. on May 27, 2007, as the child lay in a tent at a church camp with nearly a dozen others. After the child returned from a trip to the bathroom, he zipped "his sleeping bag around his face in an attempt to keep the defendant (Jacksch) from touching him again," according to documents filed by Assistant District Attorney David Brower.

"The defendant (Jacksch) again engaged in extensive sexual abuse," Brower said.

"I was raised in the faith, and it's always been the safest place on Earth," the victim's father said.

No documents in court named the church camp, and Brower said he didn't know the name of the camp. Brower said police intended to follow up with the church retreat. There were never any other complaints so officials didn't follow up, Brower said.

Jacksch's wife, Bonnie, said the camp was out the road on private property.

According to court documents, the child's father called Jacksch on May 28 to say he heard "very disturbing things." Troopers were listening when Jacksch told the father he "would probably not understand."

"He grabbed my hand," Jacksch said. "It was comforting."

The child's father said his son would never start a sexual encounter as Jacksch fully described.

"We're into motor sports and 'hoorah stuff,' you know what I'm saying," the father said.

Jacksch confessed to his sexual act in detail and said he was similarly abused as a child, but Jacksch said he enjoyed it.

"And then you paid him off like a prostitute," the father said.

Over the phone, Jacksch admitted to paying the child $300 in hush money, according to court documents.

"From our family's point of view, the kid was trying to extort my dad," Jacksch's 17-year-old son, Elliot, said. "It's a case of he said she said. It's my opinion that he's innocent."

Elliot Jacksch said his father pleaded guilty to skip the heavy financial burden legal expenses would put on his family.

"You tell me, who's going to win in a child molestation case?" Elliot Jacksch asked.

At sentencing, Defense Attorney Loren Stanton argued that Jacksch should receive a lesser sentence, saying his client was a decorated veteran of the Coast Guard who was suicidal and deeply depressed over the issue. Stanton said Jacksch was willing to pay for his victims' counseling.

"His remorse is extensive," Stanton said.

Elliot Jacksch said his father was discharged the Coast Guard in October 2006. If true, Jacksch's first crime occurred while he was serving in the Coast Guard.

Brower said the 2004 Ketchikan molestation of a 10-year-old happened in Jacksch's home. After word got out that Jacksch was arrested on a charge of sexual abuse, the other victim was discovered, he said.

Little information is publicly available about the older crime.

"I know less about that one," Elliot Jacksch said.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

That's A More Ray.

Italian judge is keeping Amanda Knox, an American murder suspect in jail.

She is an American student suspected in the slaying of her British roommate in Italy. An Italian judge rules 17 May 2008 that she must remain behind bars.

The judge rejected a lawyer's request to put Amanda Knox, 20, of Seattle, under house arrest.

Knox is being held in Perugia in central Italy in connection with the Nov. 1 stabbing death of 21-year-old Meredith Kercher. Knox has been jailed since Nov. 6, and judges have ruled that she can be held for up to a year while the case is investigated.

Luciano Ghirga, a lawyer for Knox, said Saturday that he had sought to have her placed under house arrest. But the judge in Perugia rejected the request, Ghirga said, without elaborating.

The defense lawyers wanted Knox moved to a shelter operated by Catholic charity Caritas. They had hoped this would persuade the judge to release Knox from jail.

Kercher was found dead from a stab wound to the neck in the apartment she shared with Knox in Perugia, a university town about 110 miles north of Rome. Prosecutors have said she was killed resisting a sexual assault.

Knox and two other suspects have been jailed for months in the case, although no formal charges have been filed against them. All three deny wrongdoing.

The others being held are Knox's former Italian boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito and Ivory Coast national Rudy Hermann Guede.

Justice Delayed is Justice Denied.

Congress is poised to repay 23 Black soldiers wrongfully accused of murder during World War II.

Twenty-three African American World War II soldiers who were wrongfully convicted of murder are a step closer to financial restitution for their dishonorable discharges and jail time.

Following the Senate’s lead, the House Armed Services Committee also asked that cost-of-living and interest adjustments be added to the soldiers’ back pay in the committee’s version of the 2009 defense authorization bill.

In 1944, 43 Black soldiers were tried in the hanging death of an Italian prisoner of war, Pvt. Guglielmo Olivotto, at Fort Lawton, Wash. Of those, 23 were found guilty of either the murder itself, or of participating in a riot after the murder. All 23 were dishonorably discharged, and several served time at the military prison in Fort Leavenworth, Kan.

But according to the research of journalist Jack Hamann, who wrote a book about the case called “On American Soil,” court documents point to a white man, Clyde Lomack, as the real murderer. According to Hamann’s research, Lomack also started the riot to cover up the murder.

Lomack had been upset that the Italian POWs were allowed to roam freely about the base. He was later court-martialed for being unable to account for his time during the riot. He has since died.

Hamann’s research also showed that the prosecutor, Leon Jaworski — later to gain fame as the special prosecutor in the Watergate scandal — withheld evidence from the defense that could have proven the soldiers’ innocence.

After Hamann’s book came out, the Army awarded compensation to the surviving soldiers — only two of the 23 are known to still be living — and their families. But when Sam Snow, now in his 80s, received his check, it was for only $725. Without Congressional action, the Army said could not pay the men or their families more.

If the language in the House version of the defense bill makes it through a floor vote next week, Snow could receive a new check — for $80,000. The other families also would get large payments.