Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Crime and Punishment and Military Tribunals.

Staff Sgt. Frank G. Wuterich, 31, a U. S. Marine Corps squad leader in Iraq was charged with war crimes, tried by a military court-martial, found guilty and sentenced to a maximum of 90 days in jail and a reduction in pay and rank.

He will not serve a day in jail. Because of a plea bargain with prosecutors he will avoid brig time all together. The military judge was obligated to abide by the plea bargain between prosecutors and the defense.

The bottom line is that the sentence amounts to a cut in pay and a reduction in rank to private.

As part of his guilty plea, Sgt. Wuterich accepted responsibility for giving negligent verbal instructions to the Marines under his command. He reportedly told them to "shoot first and ask questions later," which resulted in the deaths of innocent civilians.

In a pre-sentencing statement, Sgt. Wuterich said when he gave that order, "the intent wasn't that they should shoot civilians. It was that they would not hesitate in the face of the enemy."

He was accused of being the ringleader in a series of November 19, 2005, shootings and grenade attacks that left two dozen civilians dead in Haditha, a city west of Baghdad.

The killings were portrayed by Iraqi witnesses and military prosecutors as a massacre of unarmed civilians -- men, women and children -- carried out by Marines in anger after a member of their unit was killed by a roadside bomb.

Defense lawyers argued the deaths resulted from a fast-moving combat situation and that the Marines believed they were under enemy fire.

Did the punishment fit the crime?

LT. William Calley was charged on September 5, 1969, with six specifications of premeditated murder for the deaths of 104 Vietnamese civilians near the village of My Lai. As many as 500 villagers, mostly women, children, infants and the elderly, had been systematically killed by American soldiers during a bloody rampage on March 16, 1968. Had he been convicted, Calley could have faced the death penalty.

It was the military prosecution's contention that Calley, in defiance of the rules of engagement, ordered his men to deliberately murder unarmed Vietnamese civilians despite the fact that his men were not under enemy fire at all.

Calley's original defense that the death of the villagers was the result of an accidental helicopter or aerial airstrike was quashed by the few prosecution witnesses. In his new defense, Calley claimed he was following the orders of his immediate superior, Captain Ernest Medina. Twenty-one other members of Charlie Company also testified on Calley's defense corroborating the orders. But Medina publicly denied giving such an order. Medina was acquitted of all charges relating to the incident at a separate trial in August 1971.

Calley was convicted on March 29, 1971, of the premeditated murder of 22 Vietnamese civilians. On March 31, 1971, Calley was sentenced to life imprisonment and hard labor at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Of the 26 officers and soldiers initially charged for their part in the My Lai Massacre or the subsequent cover-up, only Calley was convicted.

On April 1, 1971, only a day after Calley was sentenced, U.S. President Richard Nixon ordered him transferred from Leavenworth prison to house arrest at Fort Benning, Georgia. He served only three and a half years of house arrest.

In 1974, President Nixon tacitly issued Calley a limited Presidential Pardon. Consequently, his general court-martial conviction and dismissal from the U.S. Army were upheld, however, the prison sentence and subsequent parole obligations were commuted to time served, leaving Calley a free man.

Did the punishment fit the crime?

On June 26, 2006 Cadet Webster Smith pleaded not guilty in the first court-martial of a cadet in Coast Guard Academy history. The charges ranged from rape, sodomy, and extortion to assault of four female cadets.

With no physical evidence in the case, defense attorneys had hoped to persuade jurors that the testimony of the women was unreliable. There was no DNA evidence, no forensic evidence, no rape kit and no crime scene photos. It was a classic case of “he-said, she-said”. It was one cadet’s word against another.

On June 28, 2006 after about eight hours of deliberation, the panel found Cadet Webster Smith guilty of indecent assault, extortion in exchange for sexual favors and sodomy, which in military parlance includes oral sex. All those charges involved only one of the four female accusers.

He was acquitted of several charges that stemmed from alleged sexual encounters with the other three female cadets. The defense had argued that the sex was consensual and that the women had colluded against Webster Smith. They were all scorned lovers of one sort or another.

Before any charges had been filed against him, Cadet Smith had spent about six months at hard labor and pre-trial confinement. He was sentenced to an additional six months in jail at a Navy brig, and dismissal from the Coast Guard Academy. He served five months in jail and was released early because of good behavior as a prisoner.

Webster Smith appealed his conviction all the way to the Supreme Court. The U.S. Coast Guard Court of Criminal Appeals held oral argument on January 16, 2008 in Arlington, Virginia; but the decision of the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces (CAAF) became the final decision in the case because the U. S.Supreme Court, the nation’s court of last resort, denied the appeal without comment.

Did the punishment fit the crime?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Is Bradley Manning A Hero or A Criminal?

Was it journalism or espionage?

In publishing the cables passed on by US soldier, Bradley Manning, was WikiLeaks engaging in journalism or espionage? Can he be convicted under the Espionage Act?

Or is this a case of "Shoot the messenger"?

In setting up WikiLeaks, Julian Assange wanted to bring to light secret agreements between countries. That he succeeded is clear from the number of companies and governments who have tried to shut him down, says

Philippe Rivière

If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.
– George Washington

In order to get to Julian Assange, it appears that the US Justice Department is trying to "flip" Bradley Manning and make his a state's witness against Julian Assange. If Assange is forced to return to Sweden to answer for certain sex charges, he could be snatched off the street and whisked to the USA to stand trial for espionage. That is if he ever gets to trial. Under the new authority granted in the National Defense Authorization Act the military has to detain indefinitely, Assange could disappear into the gulag never to be hear from again.

On 21 January 2010, in an important speech that would not have shamed the founding father of the United States, Hillary Clinton gave her views on the freedom of the internet. She criticised countries that “have erected electronic barriers that prevent their people from accessing portions of the world’s networks [and] expunged words, names, and phrases from search engine results”, and took up President Obama’s credo: “The more freely information flows, the stronger societies become.” In the name of that “faith” in freedom of expression and information networks that “[help] people discover new facts and [make] governments more accountable”, the administration launched a programme to support “the development of new tools that enable citizens to exercise their rights of free expression by circumventing politically motivated censorship” and warned against governments that, like “the dictatorships of the past... are targeting independent thinkers who use these tools”.

Stirring stuff. But rather like someone whose mobile is stolen in the street and then wants to bring back hanging, Clinton found herself the victim of piracy and on 30 November 2010 announced her intention to take “aggressive steps” in order to prosecute Julian Assange’s website, WikiLeaks. His alleged crime was that in revealing, among other things, that Clinton had asked her diplomats at the UN to spy on UN staff and collect as much biometric data and as many passwords and credit card numbers as possible, WikiLeaks was putting the “international community” in danger.

Outrage soon took hold among commentators on all sides, who flocked to the television studios to demand they “illegally shoot the son of a bitch” (journalist Bob Beckel on Fox News), charge him with “terrorism” (Peter King, House Homeland Security Committee), or consider him an “enemy combatant”, like the prisoners in Guantanamo (Newt Gingrich on Fox News). There was more than a whiff of McCarthyism according to one peace activist – a lynch mob fever of the sort that grips the US periodically.

In setting up WikiLeaks, Julian Assange intended to bring to light real “plots” and secret agreements between powers, which were carefully hidden from the public. The proof of his success came with the number of companies and governments who tried to shut his website down. In the days following the publication of the diplomatic memos, China blocked access to WikiLeaks. The US government recommended students not talk about the site on their blogs, and the US Air Force forbade looking at The New York Times, Der Spiegel and The Guardian websites, which had republished the information.

The three main online banking services, Visa, Mastercard and PayPal – which still allow you to make donations to the Ku Klux Klan – refused to handle payments to his organisation. They thereby revealed themselves to be “instruments of US foreign policy”, according to the WikiLeaks frontman. PostFinance, a subsidiary of the Swiss post office, also closed the Australian hacker’s account. Tableau Software, a data visualisation software company, censored not the data itself but a simple summary of the “leaks” on the unconvincing grounds that WikiLeaks didn’t have “the right to make [the data] available”. Amazon, as a site host that was protected from legal liability for content which was not its own, closed WikiLeaks’ account on its own initiative. When WikiLeaks then hired servers from OVH, a French hosting company based in Roubaix, France’s minister for the digital economy, Eric Besson – entrusted a few months earlier with the defence of the national identity of the land of Voltaire – asked the CGIET technology agency to tell him “as quickly as possible how to end the hosting of this site in France”. The judge in chambers to whom OVH referred the case rejected it on the grounds that there had not been a full adversarial hearing.

EveryDNS, a domain name system management service whose function is to enable users to find sites on the net, simply dropped WikiLeaks.

org from its entries. All the weaknesses of the net (its centralisation, its dependence on the US) and all the methods of coercion that web libertarians have been warning against for years (sometimes crying wolf) came into play. The demonisation of WikiLeaks’ spokesman went a stage further with an accusation of sexual misconduct and rape, charges that Assange rejects as “politically motivated”. A bizarre chase then ensued in order to get the Australian – by now in the south of England – to testify. If the UK extradited him to Sweden over the sex charges, would Sweden send him on to the US over the publication of State Department documents? The diplomatic and legal soap opera became frontpage news, catapulting WikiLeaks to the top of the list of the world’s best-known websites and Assange onto Time magazine’s list of personalities of the year, just behind Mark Zuckerberg, the creator of Facebook (see Facebook: the magic mirror).

Now that the powers-that-be had identified the WikiLeaks organisation as simply one man, they just had to convince us that he was not worthy of exercising his freedoms. Which leads to the crucial question: in publishing the cables passed on by a US soldier (probably the analyst Bradley Manning, who has been locked up for 23 hours a day since May 2010 at Quantico base in Virginia, and who faces a 52-year prison sentence if found guilty), was WikiLeaks engaging in journalism or espionage? “To convict [him] under the espionage Act, a trial must prove bad faith on the part of the accused. With WikiLeaks, that’s easy,” claimed an article in The Wall Street Journal on 9 December by Gabriel Schoenfeldt, the author of a book on secrets, national security and journalism. The great care with which the State Department representative Philip J Crowley asserted that WikiLeaks “isn’t a media organisation” then prepared the legal ground for bringing him to book. For if WikiLeaks is just a receiver of stolen goods, a spy, indeed a terrorist organisation, its condemnation would not be a violation of the First Amendment, which grants freedom of expression under the US constitution. “Assange obviously has a particular political objective behind his activities,” Crowley added, “and I think that, among other things, disqualifies him as being considered a journalist.”This strange concept of apolitical journalism was tested in the past in the Pentagon Papers trial. In 1971, the military analyst Daniel Ellsberg revealed to The New York Times and 17 other papers 7,000 pages of a secret study that he had photocopied and smuggled out of the Pentagon, which showed that “the Johnson Administration had systematically lied, not only to the public but also to Congress, about a subject of transcendent national interest and significance” – the Vietnam war. The government’s attempts to prevent publication went all the way to the Supreme Court, which in the end found in favour of freedom of the press.

Since then the lies have resumed. False premises were the basis for the US invasion of Iraq. According to The Washington Post, the number of documents classified as secret in the US has rocketed since 1996 (5.6m), reaching 54.6m by 2009.

(From The Diplomatic World by Philip Rivers)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Journalist Sues Obama in New York Federal Court to Stop Indefinite Detention of American Citizens

Here is a story you will not find in the mainstream media. You will not read it in the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, or hear about it on CNN, MSNBC, or anywhere else.

Less than a month after the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) was signed into law, President Barack Obama faces a lawsuit because of its highly controversial provisions regarding the detention of suspected terrorists.

Attorneys Carl J. Mayer and Bruce I. Afran filed a complaint against Obama and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta Friday in the Southern U.S. District Court in New York City on behalf of journalist Chris Hedges. The complaint states that the law violates the First and Fifth Amendments.

The $662 billion defense spending bill contained a controversial section that required terrorism suspects to be detained by the military without trial, regardless of where they were captured.

Despite language in the law that states it does not affect existing authorities relating to the detention of U.S. citizens or others captured within the U.S., Hedges claims that it still allows the government to detain Americans indefinitely without trial.

“I spent many years in countries where the military had the power to arrest and detain citizens without charge,” Hedges explains. “I have been in some of these jails. I have friends and colleagues who have ‘disappeared’ into military gulags. I know the consequences of granting sweeping and unrestricted policing power to the armed forces of any nation. And while my battle may be quixotic, it is one that has to be fought if we are to have any hope of pulling this country back from corporate fascism.”

While signing the bill, Obama issued a signing statement in which he pledged that the new laws would not violate Americans’ constitutional rights. But human rights advocates said that did not prevent future administrations from abusing the law.

The complaint alleges that Hedges could fall within the scope of the law. As part of his job as a journalist, he has direct communications with persons who are likely to be deemed engaged in hostilities with the United States. The detention provisions cover anyone who has “substantially supported” or “directly supported” “al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners.”

Hedges says that the controversial bill passed “because the corporations, seeing the unrest in the streets, knowing that things are about to get much worse, worrying that the Occupy movement will expand, do not trust the police to protect them. They want to be able to call in the Army. And now they can.

This will render null and void the Writ of Habeas Corpus, that is, Latin for "you have the body" Prisoners often seek release by filing a petition for a writ of habeas corpus. A writ of habeas corpus is a judicial mandate to a prison official ordering that an inmate be brought to the court so it can be determined whether or not that person is imprisoned lawfully and whether or not he should be released from custody. A habeas corpus petition is a petition filed with a court by a person who objects to his own or another's detention or imprisonment. The petition must show that the court ordering the detention or imprisonment made a legal or factual error. Habeas corpus petitions are usually filed by persons serving prison sentences. In family law, a parent who has been denied custody of his child by a trial court may file a habeas corpus petition. Also, a party may file a habeas corpus petition if a judge declares her in contempt of court and jails or threatens to jail her.

In Brown v. Vasquez, 952 F.2d 1164, 1166 (9th Cir. 1991), cert. denied, 112 S.Ct. 1778 (1992), the court observed that the Supreme Court has "recognized the fact that`[t]he writ of habeas corpus is the fundamental instrument for safeguarding individual freedom against arbitrary and lawless state action.' Harris v. Nelson, 394 U.S. 286, 290-91 (1969). " Therefore, the writ must be "administered with the initiative and flexibility essential to insure that miscarriages of justice within its reach are surfaced and corrected." Harris, 394 U.S. at 291.

The writ of habeas corpus serves as an important check on the manner in which state courts pay respect to federal constitutional rights. The writ is "the fundamental instrument for safeguarding individual freedom against arbitrary and lawless state action." Harris v. Nelson, 394 U.S. 286, 290-91 (1969). Because the habeas process delays the finality of a criminal case, however, the Supreme Court in recent years has attempted to police the writ to ensure that the costs of the process do not exceed its manifest benefits. In McCleskey the Court raised barriers against successive and abusive petitions. The Court raised these barriers based on significant concerns about delay, cost, prejudice to the prosecution, frustration of the sovereign power of the States, and the "heavy burden" federal collateral litigation places on "scarce federal judicial resources," a burden that "threatens the capacity of the system to resolve primary disputes." McCleskey, 499 U.S. at 467.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Cadet Used Honor Code To Obtain Sexual Favors.

Cadet Robert M. Evenson Jr. is alleged to have forcibly raped a female cadet in the spring of 2010. He's also charged with breaking cadet regulations by having an ongoing relationship with a female freshman. He also is suspected of abusing his power position as a "cadet non-commissioned officer for honor cases" to extract sexual favors from a female fellow cadet. This is serious. He was charged with enforcing the Honor Code. He may have used it to supply gris for his mill. As one of the cadets entrusted with enforcing the Academy's Honor Code, he would have been in a very coveted position. He was expected to punish those who lie, cheat, steal or tolerate others who do. Those who violate the Honor Code face a maximum punishment of expulsion from the Academy. Allegations of corruption in the Honor Code enforcement system will likely send shock-waves through the Cadet Corps and the Academy alumni. The Honor Code is the very touchstone of the Academy's culture.

Who will watch the watchers? This exploitation of a power position was inevitable. It is as impossible to avoid detection indefinitely as it is to plans your own surprise birthday. This is probably not the first time this cadet has done this. It appears that he had momentum; that is, forward motion fueled by a series of wins.

Just what is the Honor Code. each of our military academies has an Honor Code or an Honor Concept. How do they differ? Read all about it in my book CONDUCT UNBECOMING an Officer and Lady. Read it for free in Kindle format at

The Coast Guard Academy Cadet Handbook (2010) tells the new cadet recruit that when you take the oath of office as a Cadet in the United States Coast Guard you begin your development as a commissioned officer in the Armed Forces of the United States. You will be expected to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States and to selflessly serve the American people.

In the Honor Concept there exists a higher standard of conduct that can neither be delineated by laws nor defined by regulations. It is the concept of Honor. Because Coast Guard cadets are called to a life of public service, and desire to attain that special trust and confidence which is placed in our nation’s commissioned officers, their actions must be straightforward and always above reproach. As future law enforcement officers, each cadet’s word and signature must be regarded as verification of the truth. The Coast Guard Academy’s Honor Concept is exemplified by a person who will neither lie, cheat, steal, nor attempt to deceive. It is epitomized by an individual who places loyalty to duty above loyalty to personal friendship or to selfish desire. While the Coast Guard Academy’s Honor Concept differs from a code, in that failure to report an honor offense is not itself an honor violation, cadets are required to report all activity that does not incriminate themselves. Moreover, the condoning of an honor violation is a Class I offense under the Cadet Regulations. Dis-enrollment is a very possible outcome. The Corps of Cadets are stewards of their Honor Concept.

At the center of their new world is adherence to a Concept or Cadet Honor Code to which they swear: “A cadet will not lie, cheat, or steal, nor tolerate those who do.” Their whole new world is shaped around these principles. This initially shapeless reality begins to form into principles of rigid honesty, loyalty to their fellow cadets, and respect for their classmates and all with whom they associate.

What is conduct unbecoming an officer and a lady? Does it violate the Honor Concept? Does conduct that violates the UCMJ constitute a higher standard than the Honor Concept? Times are changing so rapidly, one wonders if cadets and officers of today can be held to the same standards of conduct that were intended by the drafters of the UCMJ and the MCM promulgated in 1951? Not everyone can be expected to meet ideal moral standards, but how far can the standards of behavior of cadets and officers fall below contemporary community standards without seriously compromising their standing as officers and ladies? Have the changes in ethics and values of American society been reflected in the military?

Both the United States Military Academy and the United States Air Force Academy have adopted a Cadet Honor Code as a formalized statement of the minimum standard of ethics expected of cadets. Other military schools have similar codes with their own methods of administration. The United States Naval Academy, like the Coast Guard Academy, has a related standard, known as the Honor Concept.

The Cadet Honor Code at the Air Force Academy, like that at West Point, is the cornerstone of a cadet's professional training and development — the minimum standard of ethical conduct that cadets expect of themselves and their fellow cadets. Air Force's honor code was developed and adopted by the Class of 1959, the first class to graduate from the Academy, and has been handed down to every subsequent class. The code adopted was based largely on West Point's Honor Code, but was modified slightly to its current wording:

We will not lie, steal, or cheat, nor tolerate among us anyone who does.

In 1984, the Cadet Wing voted to add an "Honor Oath," which was to be taken by all cadets. The oath is administered to fourth class cadets (freshmen) when they are formally accepted into the Wing at the conclusion of Basic Cadet Training. The oath remains unchanged since its adoption in 1984, and consists of a statement of the code, followed by a resolution to live honorably:

We will not lie, steal or cheat, nor tolerate among us anyone who does.

Furthermore, I resolve to do my duty and to live honorably, so help me God.

Cadets are considered the "guardians and stewards" of the Code. Cadet honor representatives throughout the Wing oversee the honor system by conducting education classes and investigating possible honor incidents. Cadets throughout the Wing are expected to sit on Honor Boards as juries that determine whether their fellow cadets violated the code. Cadets also recommend sanctions for violations. Although the presumed sanction for a violation is di-senrollment, mitigating factors may result in the violator being placed in a probationary status for some period of time. This "honor probation" is usually only reserved for cadets in their first two years at the Academy. (Cadet Honor Code, from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Friday, January 13, 2012

WikiLeaks Leaker Receives Friday The 13th Surprise. Court-martial Recommendation.

An Army Article 32 Investigating Officer has recommended that the charges against Bradley Manning be referred to a general court-martial. An article 32 Investigation is the equivalent of a civilian grand jury. In the military it is convened under the authority of Article 32 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ).

So, it is official. A military tribunal will be convened in this case. This is the Friday the 13th Double Whammy for Bradley Manning. These military tribunals will probably become more common under the Imperial Presidency of Barack Obama now that he has the legal authority to detain indefinitely without trial anyone considered a terrorist.

It would be wise for most American to become acquainted with the UCMJ and its procedures. This is the same type of forum that was used to convict Cadet Webster Smith at the U. S. Coast Guard Academy for alleged sexual assault. And it is the same type of forum that will be used to try the cadets at the U. S. Air Force Academy who were charged earlier this week with alleged sex crimes.

A book about the Webster Smith case describes the UCMJ procedure from pre-trial investigation all the way to the U. S. Supreme Court. It is entitled "CONDUCT UNBECOMING an Officer and Lady". It is available in Kindle format from and can be read for free on a Kindle reader.


The charges against Private Manning include aiding the enemy, wrongfully causing intelligence to be published on the Internet knowing it is accessible to the enemy, theft of public property or records, transmitting defense information and computer fraud.

If convicted, Manning, an army private before the WikiLeaks furor erupted, could be sentenced to life in prison. Webster Smith was sentenced to 6 months in prison, a bad conduct discharge, and separation form the armed forces. He was also required to register as a sex offender in the State of Texas.

The recommendation followed a seven-day Article 32 Investigation to determine if there was sufficient evidence to try the 24-year-old private from Oklahoma. The IO found that there was probable cause to proceed to a trial.

Manning is accused of giving WikiLeaks a massive trove of US military reports from Iraq and Afghanistan, 260,000 classified State Department cables, Guantanamo detainee assessments and videos of US air strikes.

Trained on various intelligence systems, Manning served in Iraq from November 2009 until his arrest in May 2010.

The anti-secrecy website began releasing the military documents in July 2010. It dumped the entire archive of diplomatic documents in September 2011, causing huge embarrassment to U.S. Government.

It is alleged that contact information for WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, military reports, cables and other classified material had been found on computers and storage devices used by Manning.

Our commander-in-chief, President Barack Obama, has publicly declared Manning guilty before he has had his day in court. One would have expected a former Constitutional law professor to show more respect for the presumption of innocence that an accused is afforded under the U. S. Constitution. This could sure taint any potential jury pool.

In his closing argument at the Article 32 hearing, Manning's civilian defense attorney David Coombs said the government "overcharged in this case". He begged the IO to reduce the charges to just three counts that would carry a total of 30 years in prison.

The defense portrayed Manning as suffering during his deployment near Baghdad from emotional problems stemming from his homosexuality, which his superiors did nothing to remedy.

Cadet Webster Smith was placed in pre-trial confinement and forced to work at hard labor for 6 months before he was taken to a trial. Bradley Manning was jailed for more than a year and a half. He complained of being placed in solitary confinement, of bullying by guards, and of being subjected to an ultra restrictive regime at the US military prison at the Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia just outside of Washington,DC.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Sexual Assault Returns To Military Academies. Boys Will Be Boys. Girls Just Want To Have Fun.

To start the New Year with a bang, commanders at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs on 5 January 2012 charged three Air Force Academy cadets with sexual assault in cases that occurred over the past 15 months.

The cases involve acts allegedly committed at the Academy, and involve civilian women as well as female cadets.

In November 2011, Cadet Stephan H. Claxton is alleged to have unzipped the fly of a female cadet while she was "substantially incapacitated" -- a phrase the military has used in the past to describe intoxication.

Cadet Claxton faces assault and attempted rape charges, including an allegation that he forcibly kissed one cadet and assaulted another. He is also charged concerning an incident in March 2011, where he is accused of forcing a fellow cadet to touch his genitals and indulge in underage drinking.

Cadet Kyle A. Cressy, a graduating senior and a member of the soccer team, is charged having sex with a woman at the academy who was "substantially incapacitated." It's unclear from the charge sheet whether the alleged victim was a civilian or a female cadet.

Cadet Robert M. Evenson Jr. is alleged to have forcibly raped a female cadet in the spring of 2010. He's also charged with breaking cadet regulations by having an ongoing relationship with a female freshman. He also is suspected of abusing his power position as a "cadet non-commissioned officer for honor cases" to extract sexual favors from a female fellow cadet. This is serious. He was charged with enforcing the Honor Code. he may have used it to supply gris for his mill. As one of the cadets entrusted with enforcing the Academy's Honor Code, he would have been in a very coveted position. He was expected to punish those who lie, cheat, steal or tolerate others who do. Those who violate the Honor Code face a maximum punishment of expulsion from the Academy. Allegations of corruption in the Honor Code enforcement system will likely send shockwaves through the Cadet Corps and the Academy alumni. The Honor Code is the very touchstone of the Academy's culture.

These charges come to light a week after the Pentagon reported a spike in the number of sexual assaults at the air Force Academy. There were 33 reported incidents in the 2010-2011 academic year. This is a four-fold increase in a two year span.

There are about 4,000 cadets at the Air Force Academy. A senior academy spokesman said these charges don't appear to mark a return of the level of incidents of sexual assault of 2003. In 2003 the Academy and the nation were rocked when dozens of female cadets reported incidents of alleged sexual assaults. Many of those cases were mishandled or ignored.

Several senior officers at the Academy were fired in the wake of the 2003 scandal. This resulted in congressional scrutiny to the issue of sexual assaults at all the nation's military academies. There were courts-martial at the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut and the Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland. Three were major reforms at those institutions.

The Coast Guard Academy court-martial of Cadet Webster Smith marked the first time in history that a cadet at the Coast Guard Academy was given court-martial. Some Coast Guard Academy graduates accused the Coast Guard of racial discrimination because the accused, Cadet Webster Smith, was African American and all of the accusers were white females. One of them was his girl friend who had become pregnant, and had an abortion more than six months before the Coast Guard decided to charge Cadet Smith with rape.

In the meantime it was learned that about 11 other cases of confessed rape had been resolved without resort to a court-martial. All of the other cadets were allowed to resign quietly and slip into darkness. All the other cadets were white. This is part of the reason that there were claims of bias and inappropriate command influence in the prosecution of Webster Smith.

The conviction was appealed all the way to the United States Supreme Court. It is interesting to note that there were several 'Friend of the Court' or 'amicus briefs' filed with the Supreme Court by senior military lawyers from other branches of the armed forces in favor of the reversal of the Webster Smith conviction. It set a very bad precedent and there were irregularities in the prosecution and the appellate review of the conviction. The case was thoroughly critiqued in a book available on (See

The Pentagon in a December 2011 report to Congress praised the Air Force Academy's efforts to curb sexual assault in the ranks and gave the school high marks for its programs to encourage sexual assault reporting.

"[The academy] demonstrated commendable practices that should be considered for replication by other military service academies," the Defense Department wrote in the report. The Coast Guard Academy had already implemented a new procedure for reporting and investigating sexual assaults in the wake of the Webster Smith case.

If any of these cadets get convicted, it would mark a reversal of fortunes for air Force prosecutors. Since the 2003 scandal, the academy has prosecuted a string of rape cases against cadets. But none of those cases has resulted in a conviction. Unlike the Coast Guard Academy, where one prosecution in 2006 resulted in one conviction and six months in jail for a graduating senior. (

Recent rape trials at the Air Force Academy have almost always centered on the issue of 'consent'. The defendant always used as a defense that the alleged victim gave her consent. He said she asked for sex. The cases were also marked by a lack of forensic evidence that could help sort out the conflicting claims. One can never be sure what a jury will decide in a case of 'he-said, she-said'.