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Old 06-18-2013, 08:18 PM  
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Judge: Obama sex assault comments 'unlawful command influence'

Two defendants in military sexual assault cases cannot be punitively discharged, if found guilty, because of “unlawful command influence” derived from comments made by President Barack Obama, a judge ruled in a Hawaii military court this week.

By Erik Slavin


Stars and Stripes

Published: June 14, 2013


Navy Judge Cmdr. Marcus Fulton ruled during pretrial hearings in two sexual assault cases — U.S. vs. Johnson and U.S. vs. Fuentes — that comments made by Obama as commander in chief would unduly influence any potential sentencing, according to a court documents obtained by Stars and Stripes.

On Wednesday and Thursday, Fulton approved the pretrial defense motions, which used as evidence comments that Obama made about sexual assault at a May 7 news conference.
“The bottom line is: I have no tolerance for this,” Obama said, according to an NBC News story submitted as evidence by defense attorneys in the sexual assault cases.

‘I expect consequences,” Obama added. “So I don’t just want more speeches or awareness programs or training, but ultimately folks look the other way. If we find out somebody’s engaging in this, they’ve got to be held accountable — prosecuted, stripped of their positions, court martialed, fired, dishonorably discharged. Period.”

The judge’s pretrial ruling means that if either defendant is found guilty, whether by a jury or a military judge, they cannot receive a bad conduct discharge or a dishonorable discharge. Sailors found guilty under the Uniform Code of Military Justice’s Article 120, which covers several sexual crimes including assault and rape, generally receive punitive discharges.

“A member of the public would not hear the President’s statement to be a simple admonition to hold members accountable,” Fulton stated. “A member of the public would draw the connection between the ‘dishonorable discharge’ required by the President and a punitive discharge approved by the convening authority.

“The strain on the system created by asking a convening authority to disregard [Obama’s] statement in this environment would be too much to sustain public confidence.”

The ruling sets the stage for defense attorneys to use the same arguments in sexual assault cases throughout the military.

Should other judges accept the same line of reasoning, commands would have to consider issuing lesser administrative discharges to servicemembers found guilty of sexual assault. In some cases, this could allow servicemembers found guilty of sex crimes to retain veterans benefits, according to Defense Department regulations.

“I think that as a defense attorney, I would raise this argument in virtually any [sexual assault] case I had,” said Victor Hansen, vice president of the National Institute of Military Justice and former instructor at the Army’s JAG school.

Hansen found Thursday’s ruling surprising, since judges have rejected “unlawful command influence” arguments under the logic that statements by high-level officials lose their effect as they reach the military’s lower levels.

However, in recent months there has been a lot more said — and in overly specific terms — about sexual assault by military and political leaders, Hansen noted. Obama’s call for dishonorable discharges is an example of such specificity, which begins to sound to military juries like a direct order from the commander in chief.

“This is bad lawyering on [Obama’s] advisor’s part,” Hansen said. “It’s certainly not a problem to say that sexual assault is a bad thing and we need to weed it out … that’s innocuous. It’s when they get very pointed that it’s problematic.”

Last year, Marine Corps defendants in more than 60 sexual assault cases filed unlawful command influence claims following comments by Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos, according to a May 9 McClatchy Tribune news report.

In one speech, Amos declared that 80 percent of sexual assault claims were legitimate, according to the report. Judges in nearly all of the 60 disputed cases found the appearance of unlawful command influence, according to the McClatchy report.

When contacted by Stars and Stripes, Navy legal officials in Hawaii deferred comment to the officials at the Office of the Judge Advocate General in Washington, D.C.

JAG officials in Washington said they could not comment because of potential conflicts with any appeals arising from the ruling, but confirmed the court document’s authenticity. The White House had no immediate response when asked for comment.

Obama’s comments came after a Defense Department report stated that 3,374 incidents of “unwanted sexual contact” occurred during fiscal year 2012, a 6 percent increase over the prior year.

A secondary survey reported that if the 6.1 percent of women and 1.8 percent of men who said they experienced unwanted sexual contact are extrapolated to include the entire military, about 26,000 servicemembers may have been victimized in 2012.

The reports led to heightened public and congressional scrutiny of the military’s handling of sexual assault.

On Tuesday, the Senate Armed Service Committee voted down a proposal that would have transferred authority over military sexual assault cases to independent prosecutors. Instead, committee chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., included a clause in a markup of next year’s defense bill that would require high-level review of decisions made by commanders not to prosecute sexual assault cases.

http://www.stripes.com/judge-obama-s...uence-1.225974

slavin.erik@stripes.com
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PDF of court document: http://stripes.com/polopoly_fs/1.225...uci-ruling.pdf

If you skip to the end of the PDF, to "Ruling", it verifies the judges decision.
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Old 06-18-2013, 08:20 PM   #2
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I was stunned when I saw this on my FaceBook feed and checked it out, it was posted by my Tea Party brother in law and he tends to post stupid crap that turns out to be fake. This looks real.
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Old 06-18-2013, 09:54 PM   #3
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I'm not buying it. Thats the stupidest justification for anything in history.

"I'm sorry the president doesn't like it so we have to let you go"

I call shenanigans.

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High Tech is Sorcery and the people who are really powerful are literally telling people to commit crimes using the psychic interspace created by the WWW and Wireless. They are controlling peoples actions like drones . The two things are deeply intertwined. The more man's brain interfaces with machines the creepier it gets. They use brains separate from a human body in a supercomputer and you have The Image of the Beast. The military has been doing this since the 50s
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Old 06-18-2013, 10:02 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Dave Lane View Post
I'm not buying it. Thats the stupidest justification for anything in history.

"I'm sorry the president doesn't like it so we have to let you go"

I call shenanigans.

Evolution?
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Old 06-18-2013, 10:08 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Dave Lane View Post
I'm not buying it. Thats the stupidest justification for anything in history.

"I'm sorry the president doesn't like it so we have to let you go"

I call shenanigans.

If the story is in fact true, what it is saying is that they can't be punished with a discharge if convicted. It's not saying that they will be let go.
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Old 06-18-2013, 10:09 PM   #6
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But yeah it does seem bizarre to me. I don't think I've heard of anything like this before.
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Old 06-18-2013, 10:21 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Lane View Post
I'm not buying it. Thats the stupidest justification for anything in history.

"I'm sorry the president doesn't like it so we have to let you go"

I call shenanigans.

I call primary document

http://www.stripes.com/polopoly_fs/1...uci-ruling.pdf

Basically, the specificity of Obama's call for consequences, coupled with his role as CiC, reasonably creates an appearance of executive control of a specific legal proceeding if the consequences are the ones Obama called for. So those specific consequences were taken off the table.
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Old 06-18-2013, 10:22 PM   #8
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Here's a link to a pdf discussing "unlawful command influence."

http://library.enlisted.info/field-m..._10_5/APPB.PDF
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Old 06-18-2013, 10:24 PM   #9
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Does that look legit to you? The story is being reported by a lot of different media sources, but they all seem to refer back to the Stars And Stripes story and that pdf.
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Old 06-18-2013, 10:30 PM   #10
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Does that look legit to you? The story is being reported by a lot of different media sources, but they all seem to refer back to the Stars And Stripes story and that pdf.
That's a shit ton of work to put into something that could be so easily debunked. This isn't a case of 'see that blip in the corner, it's aliens' on a piece of video. This has a court, a judge, a signature, references to case law, and scholarly writing.

I haven't personally verified with the signator, but I'd say legit unless subsequently expressly denied or debunked.
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Old 06-18-2013, 10:32 PM   #11
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That's a shit ton of work to put into something that could be so easily debunked. This isn't a case of 'see that blip in the corner, it's aliens' on a piece of video. This has a court, a judge, a signature, references to case law, and scholarly writing.

I haven't personally verified with the signator, but I'd say legit unless subsequently expressly denied or debunked.
OK. I was wondering because it looked pretty good to me, but I'm not a lawyer and I don't see very many court documents.
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Old 06-18-2013, 10:40 PM   #12
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OK. I was wondering because it looked pretty good to me, but I'm not a lawyer and I don't see very many court documents.
I haven't practiced before the Hawaii Courts Martial, obviously. And haven't verified the citations. But at a cursory glance the form and polish look appropriate. If a similar work was produced in the private sector by a licensed attorney, it'd probably be about $4-5 Grand in billables, and as it is it would be a good week's work for a court intern.

Given that the details make it so easily debunked at the source, it wouldn't seem worth the effort to fake.
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Old 06-18-2013, 10:40 PM
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Old 06-18-2013, 10:42 PM   #13
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I haven't practiced before the Hawaii Courts Martial, obviously. And haven't verified the citations. But at a cursory glance the form and polish look appropriate. If a similar work was produced in the private sector by a licensed attorney, it'd probably be about $4-5 Grand in billables, and as it is it would be a good week's work for a court intern.

Given that the details make it so easily debunked at the source, it wouldn't seem worth the effort to fake.
Wow. I had no idea. Thanks.
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Old 06-18-2013, 10:51 PM   #14
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Wow. I had no idea. Thanks.
I mean it's possible that the citations are nonsense references that happen to have the proper form.

ie, I cite Chiefsplanet Volume 12, page 23 to support 'Cassel is an asshat' and the info at that citation spot is about chili recipes.

Looks good on the surface, but totally pulled out one's ass.

And it's also possible that the quotations of case law and statute are total BS as well.

And finally it's true that a lot of the work going into a brief/ruling of this nature would be in getting those details correct.

It's still a lot of work for, and this is my central point, something so easily debunked.

And by debunked I mean erased as a talking point completely. This isn't like some spoofer posting a fake press release on the WH web page, where people could continue to muse about ineptness, anarchism and whatever message said spoofer sought to convey. If the signator denies this or doesn't exist, and the rest of the doc turns out to be fabricated, that's the end of the discussion. It doesn't reflect poorly on Obama at all if its false.
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