On Day Two of the Army’s court-martial of one of it’s finest Green Berets, a prosecution attorney cited a suspect source as he questioned Sgt. 1st Class Kelly A. Stewart about his training. See if you can spot the source in the excerpt from the Record of Trial that appears below:
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TC: At the SERE course you’re taught how to resist violent captors, is that correct? Stewart: Again, sir, unless I’m authorized by the SOCEUR Public Affairs Officer, I can’t discuss the training that I received at the SERE-level C School.
TC: You’re taught how to resist torture? Stewart: Again, sir–
TC: We’re going to go through this, so, that’s fine– Stewart: No, again, sir, I don’t know what I’m authorized to discuss with you because I’m not the releasing authority of my training.
TC: I got this off of Wikipedia.com.
[Legend:SERE = Survive, Evade, Resist and Escape; TC = Trial Counsel; SOCEUR = Special Operations Command Europe; CDC = Civilian Defense Counsel; and MJ = Military Judge.]
That’s right! He said, “I got this off of Wikipedia.” Unbelievable!
How would you feel if you were found guilty by a court-martial panel (i.e., the military equivalent of a jury) that sided with a prosecutor who cited Wikipedia.com as a source during your cross-examination?
FYI: I shared the piece above for the first time four years ago today. Since then, I’ve covered many other military justice cases. I hope you’ll read and share this story as well as the others I’ve written and published. Thanks in advance!
Four years ago today, the paperback version of my first nonfiction book, Three Days In August: A U.S. Army Special Forces Soldier’s Fight for Military Justice, went on sale for the first time. Little has changed, however, when it comes to the Pentagon’s relentless campaign of political correctness (a.k.a., “witch hunt”) to convict any and all men accused of sexual assault, regardless of whether such crimes actually occurred.
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In Three Days In August, I not only chronicled the life story of former Army Green Beret Sgt. 1st Class Kelly A. Stewart, but I dissected the events leading to the false sexual assault allegations made against him by a German woman, the military trial that followed and his conviction in what can only be described as a “kangaroo court-martial.”
Still on sale at Amazon.com, Three Days In August is, in my biased opinion, a must-read book for active-duty, retired and former members of the U.S. military. Likewise, I believe it should be read by anyone who knows someone in the military or who cares about those who serve.
“Lies, damned lies, and statistics” is a phrase popularized by Mark Twain and used to describe the persuasive power of numbers and, particularly, the use of statistics to bolster weak arguments. Especially during the past few years, lies, damned lies and statistics have been used in tandem with bogus sexual assault claims to end the careers and ruin the lives of military men.
More often than not, the folks dealing in lies, damned lies and statistics are members of the national news media, politically-active filmmakers and attorneys willing to overlook facts in order to promote an agenda. They’ve become so successful in spreading their misinformation that someone unfamiliar with military life might believe any woman who survives a single day in uniform has done the equivalent of surviving 24 hours inside a third-world prison.
For a stellar example of such biased reporting, one needs only turn to an ABC News Nightlinesegment about the Oscar-nominated documentary, “The Invisible War,” that aired Feb. 22, 2013. Featuring correspondent Cynthia McFadden, it includes mentions of a handful of cases purported to be representative of the so-called sexual assault “epidemic” in the military. Because I’m not privy to the facts of the individuals cases highlighted during the five-and-one-half minute segment, I won’t dwell on them in this piece. Instead, I’ll focus on the lies, damn lies and statistics pitched as truths.
McFadden begins by talking about sexual assault in the U.S. military:
“It has long been a shameful secret inside the U.S. military — the widespread epidemic of rape and sexual assault, where our countries defenders find themselves defenseless and, often, without a way to seek justice,” she begins. “Now, many of them are telling their stories in a powerful and moving Oscar-nominated documentary.”
McFadden continues speaking as images of aircraft and women in uniform flood the screen:
“Women have reached some of the highest echelons in the military. They are fighter pilots. Sit at the controls of Marine One. Have earned Silver Stars for courage under fire. As well as a general’s four stars. While they may be succeeding on the front lines, there is an invisible battle that is taking its toll. Listen to these women.”
The faces on the screen change as each woman has her say:
“Everything changed the day that I was raped,” says one woman;
“He hit me in the head and knocked me out,” says another; and
“I remember holding the closet thinking, ’What just happened?’” says a third.
McFadden’s voice returns to accompany slow-motion video of marching Soldiers, replaced seconds later by a logo for the documentary:
“Their stories are the heart of the Oscar-nominated documentary, ‘The Invisible War.’”
A quick dissolve brings the image of a fourth woman into focus, and the woman says, “If this is happening to me, surely I’m not the only one,” before McFadden’s voice returns to accompany more moving images of Soldiers on the march:
“A film that shines a light on a hidden epidemic. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, some 30 percent of women in the military have been raped or sexually assaulted while serving their country.”
McFadden tosses out the “30 percent” figure as easily as a scantily-clad 19-year-old girl in short shorts launches free t-shirts into the bleachers at a semi-pro baseball game, prompting me to ask,“Was it a lie, a damned lie or simply a statistic?”
A simple online search leads me to believe it is, at best, a fudge-flavored statistic (i.e., a statistic about which someone “fudged” the truth). At worst, it’s a lie.
I found only two statistical entries offering such estimations. Both appeared on a VA fact sheet for which a more-detailed VA fact sheet is erroneously cited as a source for claims that 23 out of 100 women (or 23 percent) reported sexual assault when in the military and that 55 out of 100 women (or 55 percent) and 38 out of 100 men (or 38 percent) experienced sexual harassment when in the military.
Next, the Nightline segment moved indoors, into a studio, where Kirby Dick, the director whose filmography includes several documentaries on controversial subjects, sits against a black background and begins to gush statistics while unchallenged by the alleged journalist, McFadden.
Kirby goes on to say something I believe is true — “I’m just astounded by the statistics” — before he cites a statistic he declares to be truth: “Nineteen-thousand men and women are being sexually assaulted each year in the U.S. military.”But is that figure a lie, a damned lie or simply a statistic?
To understand what the number does represent, one can turn to an explanation that appears in a one of the report’s footnotes — that the estimate was computed using weighted population estimates of the 4.4 percent of active-duty women and 0.9 percent of active-duty men who indicated they experienced an incident of unwanted sexual contact in the 12 months prior to the 2010 Workplace and Gender Relations Survey of Active Duty Members (WGRA) — but that explanation is not very helpful and might have you rubbing sleep out of your eyes.
At a press conference in January 2012, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta stated that he estimates there were 19,000 sexual assaults in the military in 2011. That number is derived from a statement in the Department of Defense (DOD) Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military, Fiscal Year 2010. The report does not actually explain its methodology for arriving at the number, but it does state the number is based on data from the Defense Manpower Data Center 2010 Workplace and Gender Relations Survey. Perhaps more importantly, the report does not refer to 19,000 sexual assaults, but rather 19,000 reports by individuals of unwanted sexual contact.
The Defense Manpower Data Center 2010 survey never uses the number 19,000. Rather, the document relays the results of a survey of 10,029 Active-duty female Servicemembers and 14,000 Active-duty male Servicemembers. The survey itself is forthright and explicit about the numbers it produces and its methodology. The sample size and sample composition necessarily make extrapolation military-wide problematic. The sample was clearly weighted toward female responses, and the definition of unwanted sexual contact did not align at all with the colloquial understanding or any statutory or legal definition of sexual assault. Nevertheless, the number 19,000 arose as an extrapolation from the numbers in this sampling, and this number has pervaded the media discussion ever since. Most practitioners of justice and criminal investigators throughout the military should agree that the figure cited by Secretary Panetta is unrealistically high.
If you suspect the JFQ article was written by a long-in-the-tooth male military officer eager to please his superiors, then you’re wrong. Instead, it was written by then-Captain Lindsay L. Rodman, a female Marine Corps officer who was serving as a Judge Advocate (a.k.a., “military lawyer”) at Judge Advocate Division, Headquarters Marine Corps, at the time she wrote the piece.
A statement Captain Rodman wrote about the 19,000 figure stands as a sort of indictment of those who deal in lies, damned lies and statistics for personal gain:
“Nevertheless, the number 19,000 arose as an extrapolation from the numbers in this sampling, and this number has pervaded the media discussion ever since. Most practitioners of justice and criminal investigators throughout the military should agree that the figure cited by Secretary Panetta is unrealistically high.”
A telling footnote seems to target lazy journalists:
For the numbers to work out according to their math, this extrapolation necessarily requires that half of those victims (up to about 10,000) would be male, which anecdotally seems questionable.”
Other unsubstantiated figures are tossed out during the Nightline segment. Chief among them is one McFadden included in a statement — “In fact, only 8 percent of assault cases go to trial” — that’s not accompanied by any attribution or source document.
Incredibly, according to Dick, military leaders have made his documentary part of DoD’s sexual assault awareness program. Need I say more about how bent and twisted the military has become due to political correctness?
There are more issues l could tackle, but I think I’ve made a strong enough case without going beyond these lies, damn lies and statistics.
To see the impact the lies, damn lies and statistics associated with the Pentagon’s sexual assault witch hunt are having on honorable military men, I encourage you to read about two Army combat veterans:
Though he might be familiar to those in Army legal circles, Maj. Jacob D. Bashore didn’t become known to me until about four years ago when I began investigating the wrongful prosecution and conviction of Army Sgt. 1st Class Kelly A. Stewart. Much to my surprise, his name surfaced again today — and in a similarly-negative context.
This photo shows an Army depiction of court-martial proceedings in progress, but is unrelated to the individuals mentioned in this article.
Bashore, whose name appears in an early chapter of my first nonfiction book, Three Days In August, was a captain at the time he appeared on my “radar screen” as the trial counsel who led the prosecution effort against Stewart, a highly-decorated Green Beret combat veteran. What troubled me about his work — and became the reason I wrote the book — was that the prosecution was based almost solely on the false claims of rape and kidnapping made by a then-28-year-old German woman with a history of mental illness.
Despite a complete lack of physical evidence and eyewitnesses, and thanks largely to an inept military judge’s decision to proceed with the case after the accuser and German government officials refused to allow her medical records to be introduced to the court, Captain Bashore managed to win convictions on several lesser counts that resulted in Stewart being sentenced to eight years behind bars. Per the book’s title, that military trial took place during three days in August 2009.
Now, fast forward to today when Major Bashore’s name appeared on my radar as the special victim prosecutor assigned to the case of Maj. Christian “Kit” Martin, an Army officer assigned to the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Ky.
Major Martin, who began his military career as an Army private and went on to become an officer and fly a range of attack helicopter missions in combat, is facing dubious allegations that could bring a stunning and disastrous end to his stellar 29-year military career. Moreover, guilty counts on all charges could result in him being sent to prison for 58 years* — a virtual life sentence!
Major Martin, however, is not sitting by idly while the Army constructs the casket inside which his career and freedom might be placed if he’s found guilty during a military trial expected to begin in October. In fact, I learned he’s spent close to $100,000 on lawyers and private investigators so far, and their efforts have turned up some incredible things.
Stay tuned for more details as I review documentation related to this monumental injustice that appears to be taking shape at Fort Campbell.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The article below first appeared on this site Aug. 24, 2012. Almost two years later, it vanished — along with nearly 5,000 others written and published since October 2006 — as detailed in a post eight months ago. Today, I rescued it from where it appears on an alternate site in order to share it below with only minor modifications. Please read and share.
No Easy Day is the title of a book by Matt Bissonnette (alias “Mark Owen”), a former Navy SEAL-turned author of an unauthorized account of the 2011 Navy SEALs raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan. The three-word title could also describe the time former Army Green Beret Sgt. 1st Class Kelly A. Stewart spent testifying during his court-martial in August 2009.
According to The Daily Beast, Admiral William McRaven used a letter to members of his U.S. Special Operations Command to issue a veiled warning to Bissonnette. Then USSOC commander, he wrote the following:
“Every member of the special-operations community with a security clearance signed a non-disclosure agreement that was binding during and after service in the military. If the U.S. Special Operations Command finds that an active-duty, retired or former service member violated that agreement and that exposure of information was detrimental to the safety of U.S. forces, then we will pursue every option available to hold members accountable, including criminal prosecution where appropriate.”
While Bissonnette became the subject of an NCIS investigation, he has not, to my knowledge, faced any formal charges. Instead, he was ordered to pay $4.5 million to the government for publishing the book without first obtaining clearance.
Conversely, Stewart was sentenced to eight years in prison following a kangaroo-court military trial that followed false allegations he had raped and kidnapped a then-28-year-old German woman. During that trial, he refused to violate the terms of his nondisclosure agreement — even while facing a possible life sentence in a military courtroom in Germany.
The government’s cross-examination of Stewart on Day Two of his court-martial began with the trial counsel asking him questions about friendships he had established in Germany since his August 2008 arrival in the Stuttgart area. Before long, however, it turned into a somewhat-heated exchange—something Stewart later described as being similar to a courtroom scene from the movie, A Few Good Men.
In that scene, a Marine colonel (Jack Nicholson) on the witness stand was accused by a young Navy defense attorney (Tom Cruise) of ordering a “Code Red”—an illegal beating of a Marine by members of his platoon that resulted in his death and a subsequent cover-up. Several minutes of heated exchange between the officers resulted in the colonel finally losing his cool and admitting he ordered the attack.
“Every schooling and every assessment that the military has done on me to assess that I’m stable,” Stewart said, “and that I’m trusted with national security issues and that I can be trusted to make the right, conscious decisions, now is being turned around (so that) every one of those (are) predatory skills that I used to go after Miss Heinrich.”
Still, the trial counsel tried to paint Stewart, a man who had risen into the top one percent of the Army, as a master manipulator whose SF training helped him know how to control a person like his accuser, Greta J. Heinrich*.
After seeing his sentence reduced from eight to three years, Stewart was released from prison March 31, 2011. Four years later — after he had spent his life savings on legal fees and lost all pay and allowances as a result of the trial outcome — he received a letter from the Department of the Treasury and was told he owes the Department of Defense more than $35,000 as repayment for, among other things, a reenlistment bonus he received prior to being court-martialed. See details here.