Monday, June 16, 2014

No Court-martial For Coast Guard Academy Cadet

Coast Guard cadet won't be court-martialed

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) 12 June 2014 — A U.S. Coast Guard Academy cadet accused of entering a classmate's room and touching her leg will not face a court martial, the Academy said June 12, 2014.
Coast Guard Academy Superintendent, Rear Adm. Sandra Stosz, agreed with the recommendations of an Article 32 Investigating Officer that reasonable grounds did not exist to support the charge of abusive sexual contact against cadet Alexander Stevens. Rear Adm. Sandra Stosz, also agreed with a recommendation to impose nonjudicial punishment (NJP) on Cadet Stevens for unlawfully entering a cadet barracks room while drunk and touching another cadet on the leg, Coast Guard officials said.
The academy did not disclose details of the punishment, citing Stevens' privacy rights. Nonjudicial punishment may include a reprimand, arrest in quarters for up to 30 days, pay forfeiture or expulsion from the academy.
"The Academy has remained committed to providing all needed support to the victim, ensuring a full and fair proceeding in compliance with the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) and holding those who commit misconduct accountable for their actions," said Capt. James McCauley, the Commandant of Cadets at the U S Coast Guard Academy, New London, CT..
In September 2013, Stevens said, he went into the fellow cadet's room by mistake, believing it was his girlfriend's room, an investigator testified.
He was drunk at the time and made a mental mistake, Lt. John Cole, who represented Stevens, said during the Article 32 Pre-trial investigation at the Academy in April 2014.
The female cadet classmate testified that a man entered her room in the middle of the night, touched her on her thigh and moved his hand up her leg before she screamed and kicked him. The cadet said she found it hard to sleep and concentrate after the encounter, and her grades suffered.
A Government appointed prosecutor, LT Tyler McGill, at the Article 32 Investigation argued that Stevens was on a mission for sexual gratification. The room Stevens went into was about 300 feet from his girlfriend's room, Lt. Tyler McGill said, and noted that the classmate was lower in rank.
"Cadet Stevens did not walk into the room right next door," McGill said.
But the government failed to prove sexual intent, Cole argued.
"Just because he accidentally touched the wrong cadet's leg doesn't mean he should go to court martial," Cole said.
Stevens did not testify.
A conviction in a court martial can lead to prison time.
The only cadet ever court-martialed at the academy, Webster Smith, was tried in 2006 and convicted on extortion, sodomy and indecent assault charges.
(By John Christoffersen, AP)

Friday, June 6, 2014

Why I Believe the Department of Homeland Security Is Doomed

 Most American do not feel as secure today as they did on 9/10/2001, nor do they feel as free. We have sacrificed freedoms, but we have not gained security. We have spent millions of dollars to fight a so-called War on Terror and have few tangible results to show for it. Much of the money has gone to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
Why do we do not need a Department of Homeland Security (DHS)? Most of its work is wasteful and duplicated by other government agencies.  Most of DHS's efforts appear to be oriented toward domestic law enforcement and not towards foreign terrorists. The activities being performed by DHS agents would not have prevented the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center on 9/11/2001.
It appeared to be a good idea at the time President George Bush proposed forming it, because the public needed to be reassured that Government was doing something to protect us. Our national leaders assure us that Osama bin Laden is dead and Al-Qaeda is on the run. Today the DHS appears to be a bloated  and mismanaged bureaucracy of marginally qualified civil servants
All of the various components should be broken up and sent back to the Government Agencies they came from.

The Coast Guard is and was the lead agency. Other agencies; such as, the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE),  Defense,  Interior, and Health and Human Services have contributed components. At last count there were an estimated 15 to 20 spy agencies in the DHS.
 Why I Believe the Department of Homeland Security is Doomed
Moreover, as of May 21, 2014 according to a Washington Post article by Jerry Markon, the DHS is homeless. The construction site in Southeast Washington, DC on the grounds of the old Saint Elizabeth's Hospital is over-budgeted by billions of dollars and may not be completed before 2016, if ever. The site is completely undeveloped except for the Coast Guard Headquarters building.
As events have unfolded, it seems to me that the underfunding of the project may not be entirely accidental. A great way to kill a project is to underfund it. That is just what Congress has done to DHS. Congress funded the Coast Guard Headquarters move from Buzzard Point to Saint Elizabeth's, but had not appropriated sufficient funds to move DHS. That means the Coast Guard was considered essential but DHS was not.
The Coast Guard has been around since 1790, but DHS came into existence in 2002. The Coast Guard has a proven track record and enjoys favorable public support.
Homeland security is not the top priority item with most Americans anymore. The DHS has succeeded in curtailing many civil liberties that American are not happy about. Privacy rights have been eroded. Air line security is cumbersome and intrusive. Immigration enforcement has not managed to curb the flood of illegal immigrants coming into the country. Phone calls and Emails are being monitored at an alarming rate. We are practically in a police state. Since the establishment of the DHS and the Patriot Act, Americans have given up freedoms and civil liberties for security, but most American do not feel any more secure than they did before 9/11/2001.
At the rate that Congress is approving funding to move DHS Headquarters to the new Saint Elizabeth site, some lawmakers are urging that plans for such an ambitious headquarters complex be scrapped.
“Sometimes you just have to drop back and punt,” said Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.), whose oversight subcommittee has criticized federal management of the project. “At what point in time does the government just cut its losses and look for a better way of doing things?”
Former DHS secretary Michael Chertoff, who had called a consolidated headquarters essential for his department’s mission to protect the homeland, acknowledges that the project has become a victim of Washington’s budget wars.
 Republicans are calling for a reevaluation of the project, suggesting for instance that private developers could build a more modest office complex and lease it to the government. The proposal to raise the kind of headquarters envisioned after Sept. 11 is now practically an orphan in Congress.
“It’s just not going to happen,” said a Republican congressional aide. “The money doesn’t exist.”
 ( Markon, J. and Crites, A.; Washington Post, May 21, 2014, p. A1)