Each military service has its own court of criminal appeals. This is usually a panel of three uniformed field-grade officers in the rank of lieutenant colonel or colonel, and their job is to review the thousands of courts-martial convictions. They review cases for legal error, factual sufficiency, and sentence appropriateness.
Incredibly, a sitting member of congress, himself a former military judge, told me those courts are “check the block” and “have been for a long time.”
In this case, though, the court stepped up and acted. I was surprised to see these sycophant Army officers do the right thing for once. Anyone who has served in the Army will tell you: senior officers are bureaucratic butt-kissers. The enlisted men and women, and the junior officers, are the ones who suffer. The senior officers care about one thing and one thing only: their careers.
United States Army Staff Sergeant Tony S. Springer was accused and convicted of sexual assault in December 2017. He was sentenced to a bad conduct discharge, confinement for 90 days, and a reduction in rank (which means nothing if you’re going to prison).
The first time his case was sent to the Army Court of Criminal Appeals, Sergeant Springer’s case was denied. They checked the block.
It was only when the higher Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces took note of a peculiar fact of the sergeant’s case: the lieutenant colonel military judge in his case was having an affair with the wife of one of the prosecuting attorneys in this case during the court martial.
To be sure, if that lieutenant colonel had been an enlisted man, he would be the one being court martialed. Adultery is something that is still very much prosecuted in the military, and for good reason. Even same-sex couples are expected to adhere to the vows of marriage while in uniform. That is something I very much endorse. If you’re not willing to take your vows to heart, why take them at all?
When someone shows the lack of moral character it takes to cheat on his spouse with another person’s spouse, that is a clear indicator of what the military courts call moral turpitude. This act “gravely violates the sentiment or accepted standard of the community”. A military man or woman must be a respectable and self-disciplined individual.
And for senior officers to be committing this sort of misconduct and getting away with it to me is the ultimate betrayal of our military men and women who actually do the fighting in combat. The enlisted men and women. The junior officers. These warriors deserve better leadership. They are not getting it.
Even more dangerous: what message does it send to the enlisted and junior officer ranks when a colonel, commander, captain, general or admiral gets away with something like this? It is a clearly a received message to our warfighters. In fact, we in the blue-collar ranks of the military even have a saying for it: “rank has its privileges.”
Your author sees this nonsense as a double standard. If the President of the United States is subject to the laws of the land—as we all just saw with this ridiculous impeachment witch hunt—the senior officers should be held to account as well.
The men and women in the World’s Greatest Military who are deployed to well over 100 countries worldwide fighting to ensure the enemy doesn’t make it anywhere near our homeland deserve better than this.
I do not see any benefit in describing a problem without creating a solution. That is why I call upon the President and the Congress to work together to review the privileges of military senior officers and ensure Lady Military Justice is blind, as the framers of our great republic intended. Justice should not see rank or status in the land of the free and the home of the brave. We set the standard for the rest of the world to follow. We do not have, nor do we constitutionally allow, royalty within the government service of the United States of America. What is going on in our great military’s officer corps is nothing short of American royalty. No repercussions. No standards. It must end today.