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Army Ranger-Aviator Fights Uphill Battle to Prove Innocence as Military Court Denies Vast Majority of Witness Requests

Over the weekend, I shared three new articles about some of the testimony that took place before Col. Andrew Glass at Fort Campbell, Ky., early last week. In short, the military judge heard arguments from attorneys on both sides about whether unlawful command influence and prosecutorial misconduct had surfaced in the prosecution of Army Maj. Christian “Kit” Martin. Today, I share details about witnesses who were prevented from appearing and ask “Why?”

This graphic tells Maj. Christian "Kit" Martin's story in a nutshell. If justice doesn't prevail, he faces the possibility of spending 58 years in prison for something he did not do.

This graphic tells Maj. Christian “Kit” Martin’s story in a nutshell. If justice doesn’t prevail, he faces the possibility of spending 58 years in prison for something he did not do.

First, some background: Major Martin, 47, is an Army Ranger and attack helicopter pilot with a distinguished 29-year military career — including three combat tours in Iraq — under his belt. Soon after telling his “wife” he wanted a divorce, he found himself the target of serious allegations and multiple criminal investigations followed during the next three years. Today, he faces the possibility of 58 years in prison if convicted on the most recent charges stemming from his ex-wife’s allegations of sexual assault and abuse. Because there is much more to it than I can share in one paragraph, I recommend you read the overview article about the case published Sept. 4 before you read any further.

Now, I’ll briefly recap what I shared over the weekend:

• The headline of the first article, Officer’s Accuser Described as ‘Untruthful Since Childhood’, neatly summed up the testimony of a California woman who is the sister of Major Martin’s accuser;

• The headline of the second article, Local Prosecutor Says Fort Campbell Counterparts Tried to Pressure Her to Drop Charge Against Army Officer’s Accuser, did the same; and

• In the third article, Prosecutors Accused of Misconduct, Breach in Controversial Sexual Assault Case Against Army Officer at Fort Campbell, I focused on the testimony of Army lawyers and whether they were being honest with the court.

While important testimony was spotlighted in the articles above, several other witnesses were prevented from testifying during the Article 39A hearing — essentially a pre-trial hearing during which the parties hashed out details in advance of having panel members (i.e., jurors) present. In fact, prosecutors objected to 19 out of 21 witnesses requested by the defense, and only a handful of those witnesses ended up being allowed to testify.

SENIOR OFFICERS DENIED AS WITNESSES

Among those prevented from testifying were Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, the recently retired Army chief of staff shown in the center of the graphic above. If you’re thinking he might have been called as a means for the defense to bring in “star power,” think again. Back when Odierno was a mere lieutenant colonel at Fort Lewis, Wash., Martin was a young lieutenant AND his executive officer. In fact, in an officer evaluation, then-LTC Odierno described then-1LT Martin as a “top of the line” officer of “unquestionable integrity.”

Also deemed “off limits” by the court was Maj. Gen. Mark R. Stammer, the man shown at right in the graphic above. A brigadier general (a.k.a., “one-star general”) at the time he made the decision to prosecute Major Martin, he soon earned a second star and a slot as commander of Africa Command’s Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa. It would have been interesting to hear his take on why he decided to pursue a conviction of Major Martin after investigations by multiple civilian and military agencies had found no substance in any of the accusations against the 29-year Regular Army officer.

In addition, it would have been interesting to hear General Stammer respond to the testimony of Major Martin’s letter-writing sister, Juliet Andes, whose name also appeared on the list of witnesses initially denied by the prosecution. Email evidence shows General Stammer alerted prosecution attorneys about her email within hours of receiving the electronic letter she had written to him. According to Andes, those prosecutors badgered her for days afterward.

I suspect courtroom observers would have salivated over the testimony of LTC Ryan P. O’Connor, a man who served as Major Martin’s brigade commander at the time allegations surfaced. The lieutenant colonel was denied as a witness, defense sources tell me, because he’d conducted his own investigation into the allegations and was known to have been appalled at the poor excuse for military justice he’d seen taking place before his eyes. Since being transferred from Fort Campbell to Fort Hood, Texas, he has steadfastly refused to reply to Major Martin’s investigators’ repeated attempts to contact him. Can’t blame him. He probably wants to safeguard his own career, too.

CIVILIAN PROSECUTOR DENIED AS WITNESS

Initially denied as a defense witness, Katherine (Garber) Foster, the Commonwealth of Kentucky’s Attorney for Christian County (a.k.a., “the local civilian prosecutor”), was allowed to testify after she showed up in the courtroom on her own accord. Notably, she told the court Army prosecutors tried to pressure her to drop a bigamy charge against Major Martin’s Accuser. Makes one wonder if military prosecutors feared such prosecution might hurt the credibility of their star witness who, by the way, is set to go on trial Oct. 22 in Hopkinsville, Ky.

MILITARY INVESTIGATORS DENIED AS WITNESSES

Also on the list of witnesses who could have shed light on the weakness of the prosecution’s case are several individuals who investigated the allegations against Major Martin while working for civilian and military agencies.

For instance, it would have been interesting to hear Army Counter-Intelligence investigators testify about their investigation into allegations that Major Martin had been some kind of international spy. They could have told the court several things, including the following:

1) They could have told the court about how cooperative Major Martin had been during their six-month investigation which included surveillance and wiretapping as well as an extensive search of his off-post home;

2) They could have told the court about how the laptop allegedly stolen by Major Martin was inoperable and had been out of the Army inventory for seven years before his accuser and her new male friend, a former Army Supply officer, turned it over to the FBI; and

3) They could have told the court about how Major Martin had passed a three-hour polygraph exam they had administered.

Likewise, it would have been interesting to hear Army Criminal Investigation Command agents testify about how they had confirmed that the man who had fathered the first child of Major Martin’s accuser had, as she had long claimed, been decapitated in a logging accident in Oregon almost 20 years ago. Immediately after CID agents testified, it would have been interesting to see the shocked look on their faces when the reportedly-decapitated man walked into the court-room to testify as told investigators working on Major Martin’s behalf he is willing to do.

Finally, it would have been interesting to hear Military Police investigators explain why, during their investigation of allegations against Major Martin, they refused to accept documents and evidence he tried to deliver to them in an effort to further prove his innocence.

Stay tuned for more details. Meanwhile, be sure to read my other articles about Major Martin’s case.

Thanks in advance for reading and sharing the article above and those to follow, and please show your support by buying my books and encouraging your friends and loved ones to do the same.  To learn how to order signed copies, click here.

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Political Strategy Offered to Defeat ‘The Left’ in 2016

By Paul R. Hollrah

To be elected president or vice president of the United States requires a total of at least 270 votes in the Electoral College. Through the strategic spending of other people’s money, especially among minority populations in our major urban areas, Democrats have fashioned an electoral map that gives them a relatively firm base of 22 blue states with a combined total of 257 of the needed 270 electoral votes. Of the remaining 281 electoral votes, they only have to pick up 13 in order to elect a president and a vice president.

Editorial cartoon courtesy David Donar at http://politicalgraffiti.wordpress.com.

Editorial cartoon courtesy David Donar at http://politicalgraffiti.wordpress.com.

Republicans, on the other hand, have a firm base of 23 red states with a combined total of 191 electoral votes, leaving a total of six swing states… Colorado, Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia… with a combined total of 90 electoral votes. In order for a Republican to win in 2016 and beyond, he/she must carry all 23 of the red states, plus at least five of the six swing states. They could afford to lose either Colorado’s nine electoral votes or Iowa’s six electoral votes, but not all 15. To lose both Colorado and Iowa, while carrying Florida, Ohio, North Carolina and Virginia, would leave them with a total of just 266 electoral votes, four short of an electoral majority. It appears to be a nearly-insurmountable obstacle for Republicans, but is it?

With a bit of foresight and strategic planning, Republicans could do a great deal between now and November 2016 to mitigate the Democrats’ electoral advantage. In a December 2012 column, Real Electoral College Reform, I analyzed what would happen to the political balance of power in the United States if all 50 states were to adopt the Maine-Nebraska method for allocating electoral votes.

In the Electoral College, each of the 50 states are allotted two at-large electoral votes, one for each of their two U.S. senators, and one vote for each of the state’s congressional districts. With the exception of Maine and Nebraska, the winner of the popular vote in each state takes all of the state’s electoral votes. In Maine and Nebraska, however, the candidate who wins the statewide popular vote is allotted that state’s two at-large electoral votes, while the remainder of the electoral votes are allocated based on the winner of the popular vote within each of the state’s congressional districts.

If the Maine-Nebraska formula had been in effect in all 50 states in 2012, and assuming that the vote for the presidential candidates of each party would roughly approximate the votes for the congressional candidates of the respective parties in each congressional district, Obama would have lost 115 of his 332 electoral votes to Mitt Romney in the 26 states, plus D.C., in which he won a majority of the popular vote. On the other hand, in the 24 red states carried by Romney-Ryan, they would have lost only 39 electoral votes to Obama-Biden.

The end result?  In 2012, instead of a 332 to 206 vote victory for Obama-Biden in the Electoral College, the Maine-Nebraska system would have produced a comfortable 282 to 256 vote victory for Romney-Ryan, an outcome that would have been far closer to expressing the will of the people than the present winner-take-all system.

To understand this phenomenon, one need only look at the county-by-county electoral map of the United States with the counties colored either red or blue. It is reflective of: a) the preference for Republican principles among a substantial majority of the people, and b) the overwhelming size of the vote for the Democratic “sugar daddy” in the inner city precincts. The electoral process is disproportionately skewed by the fact that, in the heavily-populated inner-city precincts, the vote is nearly always 95 percent to 110 percent for Democratic candidates, while in the suburbs and the rural areas the vote is nearly always within the 60-40 range, one party over the other.

If it is true that “all politics is local,” as the late House Speaker Tip O’Neill once remarked, then to replace the current winner-take-all system with the Maine-Nebraska electoral system would help to bring political decision-making much closer to the people because of the increased interest generated in local and congressional elections.

The Maine-Nebraska electoral system would deemphasize the key battleground states such as Florida, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia and require candidates to campaign in all fifty states. As matters now stand, presidential candidates spend little time in states such as California, New York, Oklahoma and Texas because the outcome of presidential voting in those states is almost always a foregone conclusion. Had the Maine-Nebraska system been in place for the 2012 General Election, Obama would have found it necessary to defend the 15 votes that Romney could have won in California and the six votes he could have won in New York, while Romney could not have ignored the 12 electoral votes that Obama might have captured in Texas.

Liberals and Democrats are notorious for expressing appreciation for whatever they see as being most “democratic.” But is there a chance that Democrats in the bluest of blue states… such as California, Illinois, New York, Massachusetts and Oregon… would agree to such a reform once they figured out that the Maine-Nebraska system would cause them to lose a significant number of electoral votes to Republicans, and that the Maine-Nebraska system would all but guarantee that no Democrat could be elected president or vice president for many years to come? Among liberals and Democrats, when it come to a choice between what is best for the country and what is best for their party, the country will always come out on the “short end of the stick.”

Image above represents voting for president by county in 2012 presidential election (i.e., Red = Romney, Blue = Obama).

Image above represents voting for president by county in 2012 presidential election (i.e., Red = Romney, Blue = Obama).

So, while we cannot expect to ever see an electoral system in which all 50 states utilize the Maine-Nebraska formula, is there something that can be done now to level the playing field a bit? The answer is yes, and it can easily be accomplished in advance of the 2016 General Election. Here’s what must be done:

At the present time, there are 11 states with a total of 139 electoral votes that were carried by Barack Obama in 2012 which now have Republican governors. Of those 11 states, the states of Florida, Michigan, Nevada, Ohio and Wisconsin now enjoy Republican majorities in both houses of their legislatures. What this means is that, if the governors and legislative leaders in those five states understood what could be accomplished, they would take immediate steps to repeal the winner-take-all electoral system and adopt the Maine-Nebraska system. With Republican majorities in both houses of their legislatures, Democrats would be powerless to stop them.

Even if Democrats should win the popular vote in each of those five states in 2016, as they did in 2012, the Maine-Nebraska formula would create a much different scenario than the winner-take-all system:  Instead of winning all 29 of Florida’s electoral votes, Democrats would win 12 and Republicans would win 17; instead of winning all 16 of Michigan’s electoral votes, Democrats would win seven votes and Republicans would win nine; instead of winning all six of Nevada’s electoral votes, Democrats would win three and Republicans would win three; instead of winning all 18 of Ohio’s electoral votes, Democrats would win six and Republicans would win 12; and instead of winning all 10 of Wisconsin’s electoral votes, Democrats would win five and Republicans would win five.

Applying these totals to the expected blue state and red state totals, the Democrats’ expected advantage would increase from 257 electoral votes to 258, while the Republican disadvantage would move from 191 electoral votes to 237. As matters now stand, Democrats have to take only 13 (14 percent) of the 90 swing state votes while Republicans have to take 79 (8 percent) in order to win the presidency. On the other hand, if Republicans in those five states were to adopt the Maine-Nebraska system in the current legislative sessions, Democrats would have to take 12 (28 percent) of the remaining 43 swing state votes to win, while Republicans would have to take 33 (76 percent) of the remaining 43. Taking 76 percent of 43 votes is easier than taking 88 percent of 90 votes.

But what if many of the low-information Obama voters in Florida, Michigan, Nevada, Ohio and Wisconsin decide to stay home in November 2016, giving Republicans popular vote victories in all five states? After eight years of disastrous Obama-Biden-Clinton-style governance, it is a distinct possibility. Under that scenario, Republicans could put another 10 electoral votes in their column.  Democrats would have 248 electoral votes and Republicans 247 electoral votes before the 43 electoral votes of Colorado (9), Iowa (6), North Carolina (15) and Virginia (13) were won or lost. Democrats would have to win 22 (51 percent) of the remaining 43 swing state votes, while Republicans would have to win 23 (53 percent). The playing field would be substantially leveled.

However, in order to greatly increase their chances of victory, Republicans should not hesitate to target Minnesota, with 10 electoral votes; New Hampshire, with four electoral votes; New Mexico, with five electoral votes; and Pennsylvania, with 20 electoral votes… all winner-take-all states, and all states that Obama carried with less than 53 percent of the vote in 2012. After eight years of Obama-Biden, at least five percent of the good people in those four states should be anxious for a change.

In the meantime, those readers who live in the states of Florida, Michigan, Nevada, Ohio and Michigan might wish to place copies of this analysis into the hands of their governors and their legislative leaders. With seven states utilizing the Maine-Nebraska system we may witness the  beginning of a trend as other blue states follow suit. The question is, do Republican leaders in Washington and in the state capitals have the political sense to recognize the advantage they enjoy? Given their past history, we know that they= are not always quick to act when political advantage falls into their laps.  t may be necessary to lean on them a bit.

Paul R. Hollrah is a resident of Oklahoma who writes from the perspective of a veteran conservative politico and retired corporate government relations executive whose life experience includes having served two terms as a member of the Electoral College. Even if you disagree with him, this piece will make you think long and hard.

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