Earlier today, I shared news about what appears to be a war being waged against men who wear the uniforms of the Armed Forces of the United States. In this post, I reveal more details about Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), one of three liberal United States senators on the wrong side of the battlefield.
Below is the full text of the scathing letter Senator McCaskill sent March 5 to Secretary of the Air Force Michael B. Donley and Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, Chief of Staff of the Air Force after Lt. Gen. Craig Franklin, commander of Third Air Force and the convening authority for the case of alleged sexual assault involving Lt. Col. James H. Wilkerson III:
Dear Secretary Donley and General Welsh:
As a former prosecutor who tried many challenging rape and sexual assault cases, I was appalled to learn of Lt. Gen. Craig Franklin’s decision to dismiss the charges in the Air Force case United States vs. Wilkerson, charges that had resulted in a conviction. As you are no doubt aware, the defendant in the case had been convicted and sentenced by a duly-appointed military jury, and had begun to serve his sentence. It has now been reported that Lt. Gen. Franklin, as the Convening Authority in the court martial, subsequently decided to dismiss the charges against the defendant, doing so, according to reports, contrary to the advice of his legal team. As a result of Lt. Gen. Franklin’s action, the defendant was reinstated to the Air Force and made eligible for promotion. This stunning decision demonstrates a total disregard for the survivors of sexual assault and for the findings of the military justice system at a time when holding sexual predators accountable is critical to our military.
As the Air Force and other military organizations are redoubling efforts to erase a culture that has often turned a blind eye on sexual assault, Lt. Gen. Franklin’s conduct undermines this important shift. His decision shows ignorance, at best, and malfeasance, at worst. I strongly urge you to undertake an immediate review of his conduct and consider removing him from his leadership position.
As the commander of the 3rd Air Force, Lt. Gen. Franklin has the responsibility to set an example for the men and women under his command. His actions contribute to a command culture. In this instance, Lt. Gen. Franklin’s actions send the unacceptable message that the United States Air Force specifically, and the U.S. Armed Forces as a whole, do not take seriously holding accountable perpetrators of sexual assault.
I have held the hands of survivors of sexual assault. I have comforted them about their fears in testifying against those who attacked them. I know how difficult it is for a survivor to come forward under the best of circumstances. When they see a dismissal like that carried out by Lt. Gen. Franklin in this case, the message to a survivor of sexual assault is clear: do not bother coming forward. I know you join me in finding this message unacceptable. Survivors must be encouraged to report the assaults against them, justice must be pursued and survivors must receive the care they need.
The Uniform Code of Military Justice empowers commanders like Lt. Gen. Franklin with extensive authorities, but if they are not executed with sound judgment it becomes our responsibility, as Congress, to rein them in. As the leaders of the Air Force, it is likewise up to you to take the appropriate actions to restore confidence to the airmen under your authority. In light of this case, I will be reviewing whether formal legislative actions need to be taken to limit the authorities of military commanders to undo the work of military courts martial.
I expect to be fully informed of any actions you take, as well as any investigation and findings you make in this case. I expect your review will be immediate and the actions you take will be swift. I look forward to hearing from you in the near future.
United States Senator
Senator McCaskill is apparently ignorant of what’s really going on in the military justice system and has not kept up with my coverage of this issue, so I’ll revisit some of the important areas:
• My article published Sept. 13, revealed a prominent military defense attorney’s contention that 90 percent of military sexual assault cases would be thrown out of civilian courts due to lack of evidence;
• My article published April 17, exposed DoD’s crackdown on sexual assault as being more of a witch hunt than a law-based effort to combat a serious problem; and
• My book, Three Days In August, chronicles the life and wrongful conviction of Army Green Beret Sgt. 1st Class Kelly A. Stewart on sexual assault-related charges and shows in exacting detail how the military justice system, lacking any evidence upon which to base a conviction, can ruin a man’s life and career.
Apparently, ignorance is bliss in Senator McCaskill’s world. And that’s bad news for everyone.
UPDATE 3/12/2013 at 7:39 p.m. Central: The insanity continues.