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Sunday, November 17, 2019

Leavenworth, ep. 4: Perspectives

The following is from my FIU colleague Eric Carpenter.

The timing of this episode is perfect. It covers pardons and the far-right’s efforts to get one for Lorance. The director shows how the right-wing media (primarily Sean Hannity) and Lorance’s supporters in Congress (primarily, Duncan Hunter—yes, the one under indictment) got the facts wrong and repeated these misrepresentations over and over and over again. And remember, this is where President Trump gets his information. The director includes a clip where Duncan Hunter says as much.

When Trump first floated the idea of these pardons before last Memorial Day, the response was overwhelmingly negative and he backed off. This time, when he floated it before Veterans Day, the media did not immediately pick up on the story. After a few days, several outlets did report that the Secretary of Defense went in to talk to Trump, advised him not to grant the pardons, and then told the President that he would send up files for the President to review so the President could get his facts straight.

Really. He expected the President to read about the cases. Surprise. That didn’t work.

This episode starts to approach the question that interests me the most: why did the far-right decide that Lorance (and Golsteyn and Gallagher) are heroes? Some of the talking heads in this episode made a good point: the “support the troops” reasoning that the far-right uses is perverse. Hannity was not supporting the troops in that platoon that were doing the right thing before Lorance came along. Many of them suffered long-term negative consequences because of this incident, and seeing the facts continually misrepresented in the media did not help. Hannity was not supporting all of the honorable service members who have deployed, followed the rules of engagement, and helped advance our missions. Instead, he supported a soldier who violated the rules of engagement and single-handedly lost that particular battle space in Afghanistan to the Taliban.

The producers still don’t give us a firm answer to that question. The author of this New York Times article approaches it (he appears in the episode), and we get some sense that the far right is really just at odds with counter-insurgency doctrine. Maybe we will get more in the finale.

The feature of the military justice system that is in focus in this episode is the appellate process. In the military, almost every court-martial gets an automatic appeal to a service-level appellate court. These courts are made up of three-judge panels, where the judges are judge advocates with three-year tenures. Lorance and others make it seem like these courts aren’t independent but that just isn’t the case. (Lorance and his team also skip over the fact that a panel composed of combat-veterans, not left-leaning hippies, heard his case and convicted him. Those members were independent, too.)

Above the service-level courts is the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces (CAAF). With a couple of minor exceptions, CAAF is a discretionary court. This court has five civilian judges that serve fifteen-year terms. The service level courts and CAAF are Article I courts.

By statute, the Supreme Court can review CAAF decisions except for CAAF’s denials of petitions for review. One of the commentators in this episode thought that was the biggest defect in the military justice system. I’m not so sure that it is. Once CAAF denies a petition for review, the appellant can file a writ in a federal district court. The case can make its way up the Article III channels that way. And, practically speaking, military cases are not high on SCOTUS’s priority list. The Supreme Court rarely grants cert for decided CAAF cases.

Then there is this wrinkle. Remember, CAAF is an Article I court. In 1989, Congress granted the Supreme Court jurisdiction over CAAF decisions (10 USC §867a). The problem is that the Constitution does not grant the Supreme Court original jurisdiction over these cases, just appellate jurisdiction. All of the cases coming out of CAAF should have to go to another lesser Art. III court first (Congress could have sent them to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, for example). That is a pretty straightforward argument, but it wasn’t raised until nearly thirty years after the statute was passed, via an amicus brief in Ortiz v. United States. The Supreme Court did some head-scratching, and in some not particularly persuasive reasoning, said there is nothing to see here and affirmed that it had jurisdiction over direct appeals from CAAF.

 

Posted by Howard Wasserman on November 17, 2019 at 09:31 AM in Criminal Law, Howard Wasserman | Permalink

Comments

Important indeed. Wasserman wonders:

" Why did the far - right decide that Lorance ( and Golsteyn and Gallagher ) are heroes ? "

And of course, not other soldiers, suffering indeed as presented in the attached article, from that apparent falsification in the media and in public opinion, concerning what had happened in that incident with Lorance ( the commander of the platoon in Afghanistan). But the answer is quite simple:

Nationalism Vs. Universalism and humanism. The latter, would be rather biased towards universal and international values and norms, making life and justice equals for all ( whether US soldiers or Afghans). While the former, would be rather biased towards domestic, local, national values or interests ( surly lives of soldiers ). This is very simple. That is why the right oppose immigration (granting priority to local culture, and local citizens etc...) Vs. the left, granting equal treatment to human being, all, from universal perspective. Suffering and misery of human beings, have no boundaries according to the left.

So, let's quote Trump ( in the press release from previous post ):

“when our soldiers have to fight for our country, I want to give them the confidence to fight.”

So, the confidence to fight, let alone for their country, is opposed sometimes to Universal values naturally. Confidence means, that if mistake is committed, your country, your " boss " shall back you whatsoever.They will be there for you, wouldn't fail you.

Thanks

Posted by: El roam | Nov 17, 2019 2:18:57 PM

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