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Brin: General's career ended for criticizing Iraq War

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  • Nick Arnett
    Unceremonious End to Army Career By Tom Bowman The Baltimore Sun Sunday 29 May 2005 Outspoken general fights demotion. Washington - John Riggs spent 39 years
    Message 1 of 9 , Jun 1, 2005
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      Unceremonious End to Army Career
      By Tom Bowman
      The Baltimore Sun

      Sunday 29 May 2005

      Outspoken general fights demotion.

      Washington - John Riggs spent 39 years in the Army, earning a
      Distinguished Flying Cross for bravery during the Vietnam War and working
      his way up to become a three-star general entrusted with creating a
      high-tech Army for the 21st century.

      But on a spring day last year, Riggs was told by senior Army officials
      that he would be retired at a reduced rank, losing one of his stars because
      of infractions considered so minor that they were not placed in his official
      record.

      He was given 24 hours to leave the Army. He had no parade in review, no
      rousing martial music, no speeches or official proclamations praising his
      decades in uniform, the trappings that normally herald a high-level military
      retirement.

      Instead, Riggs went to a basement room at Fort Myer, Va., and signed
      some mandatory forms. Then a young sergeant mechanically presented him with
      a flag and a form letter of thanks from President Bush.

      "That's the coldest way in the world to leave," Riggs, 58, said in a
      drawl that betrays his rural roots in southeast Missouri. "It's like being
      buried and no one attends your funeral."

      So what cost Riggs his star?

      His Pentagon superiors said he allowed outside contractors to perform
      work they were not supposed to do, creating "an adverse command climate."

      But some of the general's supporters believe the motivation behind his
      demotion was politics. Riggs was blunt and outspoken on a number of issues
      and publicly contradicted Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld by arguing
      that the Army was overstretched in Iraq and Afghanistan and needed more
      troops.

      "They all went bat s- - when that happened," recalled retired Army Lt.
      Gen. Jay M. Garner, a one-time Pentagon adviser who ran reconstruction
      efforts in Iraq in the spring of 2003. "The military part of [the defense
      secretary's office] has been politicized. If [officers] disagree, they are
      ostracized and their reputations are ruined."

      Little-Used Punishment

      A senior officer's loss of a star is a punishment seldom used, and then
      usually for the most serious offenses, such as dereliction of duty or
      command failures, adultery or misuse of government funds or equipment.

      Over the past several decades, generals and admirals faced with far more
      serious official findings - scandals at the Navy's Tailhook Convention, the
      Air Force Academy and Abu Ghraib prison, for example - have continued in
      their careers or retired with no loss of rank.

      Les Brownlee, who was then acting Army secretary and who ordered that
      Riggs be reduced in rank, said he stands by the demotion. "I read the [Army
      inspector general's] report and made that judgment. I happen to think it was
      that serious. Maybe I have a higher standard for these things," Brownlee
      said in an interview. "I still believe it was the right decision."

      Rumsfeld's office had no comment for this story, referring all questions
      to the Army, which issued a statement.

      The two contracting infractions "reflected negatively on Lt. Gen.
      Riggs's overall leadership and revealed an adverse command climate," the
      Army statement said. "Based on the review of the investigation and Lt. Gen.
      Riggs's comments, the Acting Secretary of the Army [Brownlee] concluded that
      Lt. Gen. Riggs did not serve satisfactorily in the grade of lieutentant
      general."

      Garner and 40 other Riggs supporters - including an unusually candid
      group of retired generals - are trying to help restore his rank.

      But even his most ardent supporters concede that his appeal has little
      chance of succeeding and that an act of Congress might be required.

      From the Ranks

      Riggs' rise to three-star general was heady stuff for a man who left the
      family's cotton farm in Missouri and enlisted in the Army in 1965, the same
      year America deployed combat troops to Vietnam. After three years as a
      soldier, Riggs went through Officer Candidate School and soon was piloting a
      twin-rotor Chinook above the central highlands of Vietnam.

      On March 17, 1971, Riggs flew the lumbering, troop-carrying helicopter
      on a voluntary medevac mission to a base at Phu Nhon which had been under
      heavy attack from a battalion of North Vietnamese soldiers, according to
      Army records. On his first approach to the base he was forced back by enemy
      fire, but he tried another flight path and was able to set down on a small
      and dusty landing zone.

      The young officer flew out 59 wounded soldiers, 30 of whom "probably
      would have died if Captain Riggs and his crew had not acted as they did,"
      said Riggs' citation for the Distinguished Flying Cross, a top medal awarded
      for "exceptionally valorous actions."

      After the war, Riggs worked his way up through the ranks in the Army,
      serving in Korea and Germany as well as a stint with NATO headquarters in
      Brussels. He commanded troops from the platoon level to the First U.S. Army,
      which is based in Georgia and is responsible for training National Guard and
      Reserve troops east of the Mississippi.

      Among Riggs' accomplishments with the First Army was the largest
      rotation of part-time troops since World War II, when the Guard's 29th
      Infantry Division, which includes troops from Maryland and Virginia,
      deployed to Bosnia for a peacekeeping mission in 2001.

      In 2001, Gen. Eric K. Shinseki, the Army's top officer, asked Riggs to
      take over the Army's transformation task force. The group was organized to
      create an Army for the 21st century, centered on the Future Combat System, a
      series of armored vehicles, drone aircraft and sensors that would give
      soldiers greater control over future battlefields.

      Those who worked with Riggs, as well as his endorsement letters, say the
      general worked hard at trying to turn the Army into a high-tech force.

      The December 2002 Scientific American magazine singled him out as one of
      the country's top 50 technology leaders for his work. Riggs, the magazine
      said, was "leading the often contentious, even acrimonious debate among
      military planners about how to transform today's ground divisions into
      high-tech fighting units of the future."

      But documents and interviews reveal that some of those who worked with
      Riggs chafed at the constant pace of work and the authority he gave to
      private contractors, whom he said he relied on heavily.

      Riggs himself and investigation documents say he was the subject of
      anonymous allegations that he was violating the Pentagon's contracting
      regulations and having an affair with one of the contractors.

      The Army inspector general's office opened a probe in the spring of
      2003. At the same time, a criminal investigation also looking at the issue
      of contractors was launched by the Army's Criminal Investigation Command.

      Only the inspector general came back with findings of fault. An October
      2003 letter from Lt. Gen. Paul Mikolashek, the inspector general, found two
      violations of contracting rules but concluded that the allegation of "an
      adulterous affair with a female contractor was not substantiated."

      Memo of 'Concern'

      The report prompted Gen. John M. Keane, the Army's No. 2 officer, to
      write a disciplinary "memorandum of concern" to Riggs. The memo found that a
      female contractor was allowed to draft congressional testimony, respond to
      congressional correspondence and communicate with Capitol Hill staffers.

      Allowing a contractor to perform functions that should have been
      undertaken only by government employees was improper, Keane wrote.

      Also, since the contractor was serving in a role similar to that of a
      deputy director or executive officer, that amounted to an improper "personal
      services contract" that should have been filled by a government employee.
      Riggs was put on notice "to comply with all regulatory requirements," but
      Keane wrote that the memo would not be filed in Riggs' personnel records.

      Riggs was also questioned in the related criminal investigation, he and
      his attorney said. It produced no charges and, said Rigg's attorney, Army
      Lt. Col. Vic Hansen, "The investigation's dead, and it's not going
      anywhere."

      A spokesman for the Army's Criminal Investigation Command said he could
      not comment on the status of any investigation.

      Now retired, Keane said demoting Riggs based on a penalty that
      represents the "minimum administrative punishment" at his disposal was a
      "tragic mistake."

      "It is outrageous that John Riggs was reduced in rank for such a minor
      offense, which should never outweigh his 30-plus years of exemplary service
      to the Army and the nation," Keane wrote in a letter to Army officials
      supporting Riggs' restoration as a lieutenant general.

      Keane said the Army was partly to blame for Riggs' predicament because
      the service downsized its support personnel and forced officers to hire
      private contractors. "I believe we blurred the lines of contractors and
      department employees, so much so that many of the supervisors just saw it as
      one team," Keane wrote. "While John Riggs did blur those lines, we, the
      Army, contributed directly to that without a clear policy and clear command
      guidelines."

      Candid Assessments

      Riggs, long known for offering blunt, unvarnished opinion, wasn't
      chastened by the contractor probe.

      He stepped on the toes of other generals in pressing for a modernized
      Army and advocated the planned Comanche helicopter, which he viewed as vital
      to the future Army. Riggs was instructed by the Army not to make a speech
      supporting the Comanche, which the Army decided to kill to save money.

      "John Riggs had the moral courage to stand and be counted on the tough
      issues concerning [the Army's modernization efforts] when his contemporaries
      took the easy approach of agreeing with their seniors," wrote retired Army
      Gen. Larry Ellis, a Morgan State graduate who is supporting Riggs' return to
      three-star rank.

      In a January 2004 interview with The Sun, Riggs said the Army was too
      small to meet its global commitments and must be substantially increased.

      The interview made him the first senior active-duty officer to publicly
      urge a larger Army - and the first to publicly take on Rumsfeld and Army
      Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Schoomaker, who had repeatedly told lawmakers that
      such increases were not necessary.

      After the interview appeared, Pentagon sources said, Deputy Defense
      Secretary Paul Wolfowitz stormed into the office of the Army's vice chief of
      staff, Gen. George W. Casey Jr., and demanded an explanation for Riggs'
      views. Riggs said Casey called him that day and ordered him not to talk
      about troop increases but to "stay in your lane."

      Casey, Riggs said, then asked him when he was planning to retire.

      "I did become sort of a persona non grata," said Riggs.

      Several days after Riggs' remarks on troop strength, Rumsfeld and other
      officials asked for a temporary increase of 30,000 soldiers for the Army,
      although they continue to argue that a permanent increase was not needed.

      Handled Differently

      What's striking about the Riggs case is the comparison with how the Army
      and the other services have handled even more serious cases.

      Seven years ago, Maj. Gen. David Hale, the Army's inspector general, was
      allowed to hastily retire after allegations that he pressured the wife of a
      subordinate into a sexual relationship. An Army investigation uncovered
      other affairs with subordinates' wives, and Hale was later put back on
      active duty and court-martialed. But it took an Army review panel another
      six months after his conviction to determine that Hale should be reduced by
      one star to a brigadier general.

      Two Navy rear admirals were given letters of censure for not stopping
      lewd behavior at the 1991 Tailhook Association convention in Las Vegas,
      where dozens of women were groped and fondled by Navy and Marine Corps
      aviators. Both admirals retired at their two-star ranks.

      More recently, the Air Force removed the four top officers at the U.S.
      Air Force Academy as part of a housecleaning after a sex scandal in 2003.
      While the superintendent was demoted from a three-star to a two-star rank,
      the other officers went on to jobs with similar responsibilities.

      In March 2004, with his mentor Shinseki gone and his own future clouded,
      Riggs said, he saw the "handwriting on the wall" and put in his retirement
      papers.

      Under Army rules, a general officer must complete the retirement process
      within 60 days or risk reverting to previous rank. By April 3, Riggs still
      had heard nothing so he sent an e-mail to Casey to remind him that time was
      running out.

      "We are very conscious of time," Casey responded, according to a copy of
      the e-mail kept by Riggs. "Discussed with [the assistant secretary of the
      Army] yesterday. I expect some movement next week."

      Eleven days later, Riggs got a terse letter from Casey, saying that the
      acting secretary of the Army, Brownlee, was embarking on a "grade
      determination" of Riggs.

      He had just five days to respond because Brownlee was leaving on a trip.

      A couple of weeks later, on April 29, Riggs said, Casey told him in a
      phone conversation that Brownlee had determined that his time as lieutenant
      general "had not been satisfactory" and that he would retire at a two-star
      rank. Riggs was told to sign his retirement papers the next day so he could
      leave the Army by the weekend.

      Brownlee still has never talked to Riggs about the decision; Brownlee
      said Casey would do that in his role handling disciplinary matters for
      general officers.

      Casey, who now is the top U.S. commander in Iraq, declined through a
      spokesman to comment or answer e-mailed questions.

      Brownlee did send the decision to reduce Riggs' rank to Rumsfeld, who
      could have reversed it. But he chose not to. "The only thing I heard back
      [from Rumsfeld's office] was that it was noted," Brownlee said.

      The decision cost Riggs $10,000 to $15,000 a year in pension benefits.
      But, he added, "what I've lost is a lot of my personal self-respect."

      In a series of interviews, Riggs said he still wrestles with why he was
      demoted but believes his outspokenness was part of the equation.

      "Do I think it is?" he said. "I thought it must have something to do
      with it. You've got to do it the Rumsfeld way, or you're not going to go
      forward.

      "When you ask a general officer, 'What do you think?' you should be able
      to answer candidly. I think he's politicized the general officer corps by
      making the personal selections of everyone."

      Brownlee dismissed the contention that his actions amounted to a
      political vendetta. "I know that's what some of them will assert," said
      Brownlee, an Army combat veteran in Vietnam who was the top staffer on the
      Senate Armed Services Committee. "It was not political."

      During his 18 months as acting Army secretary, Brownlee could not recall
      any other general that he reduced in rank.

      Praise for Riggs

      Former Army Secretary Thomas White, who was fired by Rumsfeld over
      policy differences and was succeeded by Brownlee, praised Riggs' work and
      said he found the reduction in rank puzzling. But White, a retired Army
      brigadier general, questioned the notion that the officer corps had suddenly
      become politicized.

      "It's always been political," White said. "It operates in a capital
      filled with politicians. I don't know if it's more or less than it was 20
      years ago."

      Nonetheless, several senior officers said they privately fear that
      Riggs' treatment could have a chilling effect on the willingness of other
      officers to provide their candid views, forcing them instead to bend to the
      political winds. Five of the retired officers who wrote letters urging that
      Riggs' rank be restored agreed either to be interviewed or to let their
      letters be quoted.

      One of those was Shinseki, who himself had a stormy relationship with
      Rumsfeld and battled with the secretary over troop levels and spending
      programs. At his retirement ceremony in June 2003, Shinseki warned "our
      soldiers and families bear the risk and hardship of carrying a mission load
      that exceeds the force capabilities we can sustain."

      Neither Rumsfeld nor his top deputies were in attendance.

      In his letter of support for Riggs, Shinseki said, "There was no one who
      was more professional, more honest, more selfless, more dedicated, nor more
      loyal to the Army and to its soldiers than John Riggs."

      An Outcast

      Riggs has become an outcast, saddled with a reduction in rank that is
      one of the harshest and rarest punishments in an institution built on honor
      and rank.

      Hansen, Riggs' military lawyer, said the Army could simply have retired
      the general and not demoted him. "Why do you put that last knife in the
      back? That's petty and mean-spirited," he said. "How do you tell him he
      didn't deserve to be retired at three-star rank?"

      Riggs has filed the paperwork to the Army Board for the Correction of
      Military Records, an appeal process that could restore him to three-star
      rank, Army officials said.

      A hearing officer will review the case and make a recommendation to a
      three-member panel. A final decision, expected this summer, rests with an
      assistant Army secretary.

      "It's a stretch," said Hansen, Riggs' lawyer.

      The investigations have taken both a professional and personal toll on
      Riggs. His marriage of 38 years fell apart. Now, the former general shuttles
      between Washington and Florida, spending his time on consulting and real
      estate work.

      And while he is both saddened and sometimes angry about how his military
      career came to a close, he still has a great deal of respect for the Army.
      "It's the most noble institution we've got," he said.

      But Garner, the retired lieutenant general, has a more hardened view of
      the Army's top brass and is troubled by what happened to Riggs, "this superb
      soldier."

      "The real tragedy here," Garner said in an interview, "is that none of
      the leadership of the Army has the guts to stand up and say it's wrong."

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    • Dave Land
      ... Am I the only one surprised to find adultery on this list of most serious offenses for which this sanction can be applied? I can see that it s a problem
      Message 2 of 9 , Jun 1, 2005
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        On Jun 1, 2005, at 8:57 AM, Nick Arnett wrote:

        > Little-Used Punishment
        >
        > A senior officer's loss of a star is a punishment seldom used, and then
        > usually for the most serious offenses, such as dereliction of duty or
        > command failures, adultery or misuse of government funds or equipment.

        Am I the only one surprised to find adultery on this list of "most
        serious offenses" for which this sanction can be applied? I can see that
        it's a problem if it leads to a dereliction of duty, command failure, or
        misuse of gov't funds or equipment or so forth. I realize that this is
        just the article author's list, but I suspect that he didn't make it up
        out of whole cloth. I would be willing to bet that other serious
        offenses, such as murder, drug abuse, prostitution and so forth would
        qualify as well.

        Far be it from me to minimize the personal costs of adultery, but I'm
        not sure how that one (serious, but personal) failing rises to the same
        level as, for example, dereliction of duty.

        Thoughts?

        Dave

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      • Dan Minette
        ... From: Dave Land To: Killer Bs Discussion Sent: Wednesday, June 01, 2005 11:47 AM Subject: Re: Brin:
        Message 3 of 9 , Jun 1, 2005
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          ----- Original Message -----
          From: "Dave Land" <dland@...>
          To: "Killer Bs Discussion" <brin-l@...>
          Sent: Wednesday, June 01, 2005 11:47 AM
          Subject: Re: Brin: General's career ended for criticizing Iraq War


          > On Jun 1, 2005, at 8:57 AM, Nick Arnett wrote:
          >
          > > Little-Used Punishment
          > >
          > > A senior officer's loss of a star is a punishment seldom used, and then
          > > usually for the most serious offenses, such as dereliction of duty or
          > > command failures, adultery or misuse of government funds or equipment.
          >

          > Far be it from me to minimize the personal costs of adultery, but I'm
          > not sure how that one (serious, but personal) failing rises to the same
          > level as, for example, dereliction of duty.

          Most of the time that I've seen it applied it has affected the armed forces
          directly. I would rather suspect that a soldier visiting a brothal would
          not be brought up on charges. But, a general having an affair with the
          wife of one of his subordinates strikes directly at the mutual trust needed
          in the armed forces. I'm not in an armed forces community, but I would
          guess that it could seriously harm the readiness of the unit.

          I also think that generals who commit murder are not nearly as common as
          those who commit adultry, have command failures, misuse funds and
          equipment, etc. I'm sure they exist, but I'd guess that, when the book is
          thrown at them, the loss of a star is such a small part of the penelty that
          it is "lost in the noise" , or (more likely) the demotion in rank is far
          bigger. Is anyone familiar enough with the military to know what demotions
          in rank, loss of pension, etc. are associated with capital crimes, such as
          murder?

          Dan M.
          Dan M.


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        • David Brin
          ... The utter hypocrisy of so-called conservatives who are unable to grasp that the GOP has been seized (again) by monsters, is simply staggering. For eight
          Message 4 of 9 , Jun 1, 2005
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            --- Nick Arnett <narnett@...> wrote:

            > Unceremonious End to Army Career
            > By Tom Bowman
            > The Baltimore Sun
            >
            > Sunday 29 May 2005

            The utter hypocrisy of so-called "conservatives" who
            are unable to grasp that the GOP has been seized
            (again) by monsters, is simply staggering.

            For eight years they hounded a DLC moderate who
            offered his hand in negotiation during his entire
            presidency and ran a trim, efficient and transparent
            administration, reducing govt payrolls, deficits and
            secrecy. Why? Fundamentally, out of a deep inner
            yearning to give the other side a "Watergate".

            That trauma (highlighted today by the Deep Throat
            revelations) has embittered the Right since the 70s.
            Deep down, it is the root of Limbaughism. And the
            fact that THIRTEEN YEARS AND A BILLION WASTED DOLLARS
            have resulted in one indictment and zero convictions
            will never be perceived as evidence that they were
            wrong.

            It is only seen as evidence that "evidence" does not
            matter.

            Hence the more recent neconservative campaign against
            science itself. Featuring the staggering sight of
            grown men actually saying "we need more research" in
            order to confirm Global Warming... while savagely
            cutting the research budget.

            What will it take? The worst political purge of the
            US Officer Corps in three generations? Skyrocketing
            deficits & oil prices and plummeting military
            readiness? A grotesquely divided nation and alliances
            in ashes?

            The appointment of screeching maniacs as "diplomats"
            and SaudFamily bodyguards as head of Homelandsecutity?

            What will it take?

            A few bright men like George F. Will - true
            conservatives with that old Goldwater-libertarian tilt
            and a grounding in Locke-Burke-Hume-Hayek - are
            capable of seeing these facts. They complain about
            them individually, one at a time, frantically trying
            not to see the pattern. Peering closely at smoldering
            spots in order not to realize that they are standing
            in a conflagration.

            One that will do to the GOP what Watergate did. What
            The Depression did.

            Men like Will have got to stand up. If they do it
            now, BEFORE the hanchmen and new Deep Throats start
            emerging, then conservatism will have its voice and
            men with clean hands to pick up the pieces.
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          • David Brin
            ... Actually, I am not surprised. The military is a hothouse environment. Mariages are its bedrock. What is unfair, of course, is uneven enforcement. But
            Message 5 of 9 , Jun 1, 2005
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              --- Dave Land <dland@...> wrote:

              > Am I the only one surprised to find adultery on this
              > list of "most
              > serious offenses"

              Actually, I am not surprised. The military is a
              hothouse environment. Mariages are its bedrock. What
              is unfair, of course, is uneven enforcement. But if
              you are a general, you should have learned to keep
              your pants zipped.

              As Clinton should have.

              As should the majority of GOP "prosecutors" who
              hounded him during impeachment, whose messy divorces
              made BC look like a choir boy.


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            • Ronn!Blankenship
              ... Have you ever been in the US military? -- Ronn! :) _______________________________________________ http://www.mccmedia.com/mailman/listinfo/brin-l
              Message 6 of 9 , Jun 1, 2005
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                At 11:47 AM Wednesday 6/1/2005, Dave Land wrote:
                >On Jun 1, 2005, at 8:57 AM, Nick Arnett wrote:
                >
                >>Little-Used Punishment
                >>
                >>A senior officer's loss of a star is a punishment seldom used, and then
                >>usually for the most serious offenses, such as dereliction of duty or
                >>command failures, adultery or misuse of government funds or equipment.
                >
                >Am I the only one surprised to find adultery on this list of "most
                >serious offenses" for which this sanction can be applied? I can see that
                >it's a problem if it leads to a dereliction of duty, command failure, or
                >misuse of gov't funds or equipment or so forth. I realize that this is
                >just the article author's list, but I suspect that he didn't make it up
                >out of whole cloth. I would be willing to bet that other serious
                >offenses, such as murder, drug abuse, prostitution and so forth would
                >qualify as well.
                >
                >Far be it from me to minimize the personal costs of adultery, but I'm
                >not sure how that one (serious, but personal) failing rises to the same
                >level as, for example, dereliction of duty.
                >
                >Thoughts?


                Have you ever been in the US military?


                -- Ronn! :)


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              • Dave Land
                ... I was in the US Coast Guard Academy in 1976. Class of 80 -- the first one that included women cadets. I lasted about four months before I processed out,
                Message 7 of 9 , Jun 1, 2005
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                  On Jun 1, 2005, at 3:22 PM, Ronn!Blankenship wrote:

                  > At 11:47 AM Wednesday 6/1/2005, Dave Land wrote:
                  >> On Jun 1, 2005, at 8:57 AM, Nick Arnett wrote:
                  >>
                  >>> Little-Used Punishment
                  >>>
                  >>> A senior officer's loss of a star is a punishment seldom used, and
                  >>> then
                  >>> usually for the most serious offenses, such as dereliction of duty or
                  >>> command failures, adultery or misuse of government funds or
                  >>> equipment.
                  >>
                  >> Am I the only one surprised to find adultery on this list of "most
                  >> serious offenses" for which this sanction can be applied? I can see
                  >> that
                  >> it's a problem if it leads to a dereliction of duty, command failure,
                  >> or
                  >> misuse of gov't funds or equipment or so forth. I realize that this is
                  >> just the article author's list, but I suspect that he didn't make it
                  >> up
                  >> out of whole cloth. I would be willing to bet that other serious
                  >> offenses, such as murder, drug abuse, prostitution and so forth would
                  >> qualify as well.
                  >>
                  >> Far be it from me to minimize the personal costs of adultery, but I'm
                  >> not sure how that one (serious, but personal) failing rises to the
                  >> same
                  >> level as, for example, dereliction of duty.
                  >>
                  >> Thoughts?
                  >
                  >
                  > Have you ever been in the US military?

                  I was in the US Coast Guard Academy in 1976. Class of '80 -- the first
                  one that included women cadets. I lasted about four months before I
                  "processed out," but I did get to spend a week on the Eagle during the
                  tail end of the Bicentennial "Operation Sail" program of tall ships
                  visiting US ports.

                  It *almost* made all the other BS of being in a military academy worth
                  it. Almost.

                  But, in direct answer to your question, no, I haven't.

                  After asking the above question, I realized that people lose their
                  security clearance for things like adultery, because it makes them
                  susceptible to blackmail and such-like. And I guess you don't get to
                  have any stars at all if you don't have pretty solid clearance.

                  Dave

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                • Ronn!Blankenship
                  ... That s okay. My point was just that the military is different in many ways from civilian society, even to the point of having a different set of laws for
                  Message 8 of 9 , Jun 1, 2005
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                    At 06:05 PM Wednesday 6/1/2005, Dave Land wrote:

                    >On Jun 1, 2005, at 3:22 PM, Ronn!Blankenship wrote:
                    >
                    >>At 11:47 AM Wednesday 6/1/2005, Dave Land wrote:
                    >>>On Jun 1, 2005, at 8:57 AM, Nick Arnett wrote:
                    >>>
                    >>>>Little-Used Punishment
                    >>>>
                    >>>>A senior officer's loss of a star is a punishment seldom used, and then
                    >>>>usually for the most serious offenses, such as dereliction of duty or
                    >>>>command failures, adultery or misuse of government funds or equipment.
                    >>>
                    >>>Am I the only one surprised to find adultery on this list of "most
                    >>>serious offenses" for which this sanction can be applied? I can see that
                    >>>it's a problem if it leads to a dereliction of duty, command failure, or
                    >>>misuse of gov't funds or equipment or so forth. I realize that this is
                    >>>just the article author's list, but I suspect that he didn't make it up
                    >>>out of whole cloth. I would be willing to bet that other serious
                    >>>offenses, such as murder, drug abuse, prostitution and so forth would
                    >>>qualify as well.
                    >>>
                    >>>Far be it from me to minimize the personal costs of adultery, but I'm
                    >>>not sure how that one (serious, but personal) failing rises to the same
                    >>>level as, for example, dereliction of duty.
                    >>>
                    >>>Thoughts?
                    >>
                    >>
                    >>Have you ever been in the US military?
                    >
                    >I was in the US Coast Guard Academy in 1976. Class of '80 -- the first
                    >one that included women cadets. I lasted about four months before I
                    >"processed out," but I did get to spend a week on the Eagle during the
                    >tail end of the Bicentennial "Operation Sail" program of tall ships
                    >visiting US ports.
                    >
                    >It *almost* made all the other BS of being in a military academy worth
                    >it. Almost.
                    >
                    >But, in direct answer to your question, no, I haven't.



                    That's okay. My point was just that the military is different in many ways
                    from civilian society, even to the point of having a different set of laws
                    for its members (the UCMJ), and some of the differences are hard to explain
                    to someone who's never been part of it and who may think that it is just
                    like civilian life except that everyone wears the same years-out-of-style
                    suit every day (and some of them get to fly really hot planes and shoot
                    really big guns). I expect you had some taste of the difference during
                    your time at the USCGA . . .



                    >After asking the above question, I realized that people lose their
                    >security clearance for things like adultery, because it makes them
                    >susceptible to blackmail and such-like.



                    The same argument has been made about homosexuals: that, particularly if
                    they were still "in the closet", they could be subject to blackmail by
                    anyone who discovered their secret and threatened to reveal it. And even
                    today when that is more acceptable to many in society in general, there are
                    many who in particular do not want their parents or someone like that to
                    find out, and so are thought to be susceptible to blackmail



                    > And I guess you don't get to
                    >have any stars at all if you don't have pretty solid clearance.



                    And a few other things. People who don't care about it put in their 20 and
                    retire as O-5s (Lt. Col. in the Army, Air Force, or Marines, Cmdr. in the
                    Navy). Those who make O-6 then are concerned with whether they will get
                    stars or not, so they are really concerned with what their superiors think
                    about them. And then one-stars worry about getting a second star, and
                    two-stars worry about getting a third, and so on . . . People who want to
                    rise as far as possible in the Pentagon start early on worrying about what
                    their superiors think of them and what goes into their records folders.

                    (Me? As I've said before, when I determined that remaining in the Air
                    Force was not likely to get me any higher than the troposphere or at best
                    the lower stratosphere, I decided to go a different way. As it turned out,
                    even if I'd been successful in getting into the astronaut program, I would
                    probably have only gotten started by the time my health decided to go
                    downhill . . . though I suppose that had I been in Houston or Florida at
                    that time rather than where I was, maybe I wouldn't have caught whatever it
                    was. Or not . . . )


                    -- Ronn! :)


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                  • David Brin
                    Dave s point about blackmail is hugely significant. For many years discrimination against homosexuals was defended based upon their susceptibility to coercion
                    Message 9 of 9 , Jun 1, 2005
                    • 0 Attachment
                      Dave's point about blackmail is hugely significant.
                      For many years discrimination against homosexuals was
                      defended based upon their susceptibility to coercion
                      vs being outed.

                      To this day, SECRET homosexuality is considered
                      worrisome by the State Dept. Alas, that is the only
                      kind allowed in the military, a really weird decision.

                      In a more general sense, of course, this is about the
                      cleansing power of Transparency. When it is mixed
                      with a general rise in tolerance of non-harmful human
                      eccentricity and diversity.

                      Darkness and skulking favor our civilization's enemies
                      over the long run. (The SHORT run can feature many
                      advantages to short term secrecy, of course. I am not
                      a fanatic and I want our side always to have the
                      tactical advantages that information superiority
                      provides.) Alas, the temptation that lures ALL human
                      leaders is to rationalize why THEY should be allowed
                      to evade accountability.

                      Clinton benefited us - and himself - when he reduced
                      overall secrecy. When he lied, he harmed us and
                      himself.

                      None of which compares to today's lie and secrecy
                      fest.

                      The deep scandal is subbornation. How many officials
                      are subborned by enemies of the republic? How high
                      does it go? What methods were used? Blackmail.
                      Pictures from wild parties?

                      This was NOT considered an unreasonable question
                      during our adversarial relationship with the soviets
                      and nazis, so why is it so today?

                      Can anyone come up with another explanation for Bolton
                      and Kerrick? Any other even REMOTELY possible
                      explanation for the appointment of a shrieking
                      hysteric as a diplomat and a saudfamily bodyguard to
                      head homelandsec?

                      Really. Is Limbaughism so far along that college
                      educated and supposedly patriotic americans cannot
                      even see their country being sold out from under them?



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