Friday, January 27, 2012

I Will Fight No More Forever.

America's fighting men have come in many guises, shapes and sizes. They have had to fight all of America's enemies, both foreign and domestic. Cadet Webster Smith had to fight his own senior officers, friends, and mentors. In the end he was proud. He had fought the good fight. Even TIME magazine carried the quote of the first cadet in Coast Guard history to be tried by a General Court-martial.,26174,1209244,00.html

Less than 60 days after the verdict was rendered in the Webster Smith case, I predicted that the case would make it all the way to the Supreme Court.

Supreme Court justices are not elected. They are appointed with the advice and consent of the Congress. The Nine Justices of the Supreme Court are the least democratic branch of the federal government. They have no constituency. They do not have to conform to the biases of the majority. They are the Court of Last Resort; so, they are infallible. With few exceptions, they have dealt with evenhandedly with all of America's citizens.

They do not have to sit for re-election. They are appointed for life. They are totally isolated from busy bodies on the Right or Left Side of the political spectrum. With one stroke of the pen, they may act to curb injustices, correct unsavory attitudes, and breathe new life into a living Constitution.

Historically we have looked to them to solve our most vexing social problems. They are America's ultimate arbiters of justice; and, that includes military justice.

Aside from the Webster Smith Case, I cannot think of any case or incident in Coast Guard history that affected more directly the hearts, minds, and daily lives of all members of the United States Coast Guard.

The U.S. Coast Guard Court of Criminal Appeals had to review the Webster Smith case. It had no choice. Article 66 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, requires the Coast Guard Criminal appeals Court to review all cases of trial by court-martial in which the sentence as approved by the Convening Authority extends to dismissal of a cadet from the Coast Guard, and/or a dishonorable or bad conduct discharge, unless the accused waives appellate review. Webster Smith did not waive appellate review. He appealed his conviction. Oral arguments in the Case of The Appeal of the Court-martial Conviction of Cadet Webster Smith was scheduled for January 16, 2008 in Arlington, Virginia.

A legal brief filed by his lawyers claimed the convictions should have been thrown out because the defense team was not allowed to fully cross-examine one of his accusers during Smith's court martial. They said that meant the jury didn't hear testimony that the accuser, a female cadet, Shelly Roddenbush, had once had consensual sex with a Coast Guard enlisted man and then called it sexual assault. If she lied once, she very well could have lied again.

The Coast Guard Court of of Criminal Appeals is made up of Coast Guard Officers. It has the power to decide matter of both fact and law. Decisions of the Coast Guard Court of Criminal Appeals may be appealed to the Court of Appeals of the Armed Forces (CAAF). It is made up of five civilian judges, appointed to 15 year terms. It decides only issues of law. Its decisions may be appealed to the U. S. Supreme Court. The Webster Smith Case followed this long and winding path all the way to the Supreme Court.

The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear the appeal of Webster Smith. The justices declined to hear the case without comment.

Webster Smith was proud of his decision to fight the good fight all the way to the end of the road. See TIME magazine June 29, 2006.,26174,1209244,00.html

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Crime and Punishment and Military Tribunals.

Staff Sgt. Frank G. Wuterich, 31, a U. S. Marine Corps squad leader in Iraq was charged with war crimes, tried by a military court-martial, found guilty and sentenced to a maximum of 90 days in jail and a reduction in pay and rank.

He will not serve a day in jail. Because of a plea bargain with prosecutors he will avoid brig time all together. The military judge was obligated to abide by the plea bargain between prosecutors and the defense.

The bottom line is that the sentence amounts to a cut in pay and a reduction in rank to private.

As part of his guilty plea, Sgt. Wuterich accepted responsibility for giving negligent verbal instructions to the Marines under his command. He reportedly told them to "shoot first and ask questions later," which resulted in the deaths of innocent civilians.

In a pre-sentencing statement, Sgt. Wuterich said when he gave that order, "the intent wasn't that they should shoot civilians. It was that they would not hesitate in the face of the enemy."

He was accused of being the ringleader in a series of November 19, 2005, shootings and grenade attacks that left two dozen civilians dead in Haditha, a city west of Baghdad.

The killings were portrayed by Iraqi witnesses and military prosecutors as a massacre of unarmed civilians -- men, women and children -- carried out by Marines in anger after a member of their unit was killed by a roadside bomb.

Defense lawyers argued the deaths resulted from a fast-moving combat situation and that the Marines believed they were under enemy fire.

Did the punishment fit the crime?

LT. William Calley was charged on September 5, 1969, with six specifications of premeditated murder for the deaths of 104 Vietnamese civilians near the village of My Lai. As many as 500 villagers, mostly women, children, infants and the elderly, had been systematically killed by American soldiers during a bloody rampage on March 16, 1968. Had he been convicted, Calley could have faced the death penalty.

It was the military prosecution's contention that Calley, in defiance of the rules of engagement, ordered his men to deliberately murder unarmed Vietnamese civilians despite the fact that his men were not under enemy fire at all.

Calley's original defense that the death of the villagers was the result of an accidental helicopter or aerial airstrike was quashed by the few prosecution witnesses. In his new defense, Calley claimed he was following the orders of his immediate superior, Captain Ernest Medina. Twenty-one other members of Charlie Company also testified on Calley's defense corroborating the orders. But Medina publicly denied giving such an order. Medina was acquitted of all charges relating to the incident at a separate trial in August 1971.

Calley was convicted on March 29, 1971, of the premeditated murder of 22 Vietnamese civilians. On March 31, 1971, Calley was sentenced to life imprisonment and hard labor at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Of the 26 officers and soldiers initially charged for their part in the My Lai Massacre or the subsequent cover-up, only Calley was convicted.

On April 1, 1971, only a day after Calley was sentenced, U.S. President Richard Nixon ordered him transferred from Leavenworth prison to house arrest at Fort Benning, Georgia. He served only three and a half years of house arrest.

In 1974, President Nixon tacitly issued Calley a limited Presidential Pardon. Consequently, his general court-martial conviction and dismissal from the U.S. Army were upheld, however, the prison sentence and subsequent parole obligations were commuted to time served, leaving Calley a free man.

Did the punishment fit the crime?

On June 26, 2006 Cadet Webster Smith pleaded not guilty in the first court-martial of a cadet in Coast Guard Academy history. The charges ranged from rape, sodomy, and extortion to assault of four female cadets.

With no physical evidence in the case, defense attorneys had hoped to persuade jurors that the testimony of the women was unreliable. There was no DNA evidence, no forensic evidence, no rape kit and no crime scene photos. It was a classic case of “he-said, she-said”. It was one cadet’s word against another.

On June 28, 2006 after about eight hours of deliberation, the panel found Cadet Webster Smith guilty of indecent assault, extortion in exchange for sexual favors and sodomy, which in military parlance includes oral sex. All those charges involved only one of the four female accusers.

He was acquitted of several charges that stemmed from alleged sexual encounters with the other three female cadets. The defense had argued that the sex was consensual and that the women had colluded against Webster Smith. They were all scorned lovers of one sort or another.

Before any charges had been filed against him, Cadet Smith had spent about six months at hard labor and pre-trial confinement. He was sentenced to an additional six months in jail at a Navy brig, and dismissal from the Coast Guard Academy. he served five months in jail and was released early because of good behavior as a prisoner.

Webster Smith appealed his conviction all the way to the Supreme Court. The U.S. Coast Guard Court of Criminal Appeals held oral argument on January 16, 2008 in Arlington, Virginia; but the decision of the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces (CAAF) became the final decision in the case because the U. S.Supreme Court, the nation’s court of last resort, denied the appeal without comment.

Did the punishment fit the crime?

Monday, January 23, 2012

The White House Still Stands Today Because A Black Pilot Would Not Fly His Plane Into It.

Retired Air Force Lt. Col. Luke Weathers Jr. was buried Friday January 20, 2012 at Arlington National Cemetery, Washington, D.C..

His son, Luke Weathers III, 61, said his father and other Black Americans who fought in World War II did so to prove they were men, "and then they wanted their country to love them, but that didn't happen, either." Friday's ceremony, however, finally delivered recognition of his father as a national hero, Weathers said.

This kind of attention to the Tuskegee Airmen is what Lt. Col. Weathers wanted throughout his life, said his daughter, Trina Weathers Boyce. Lt. Col. Weathers was not vain, but he wanted to share the lessons of the airmen's courage in war, their struggles for equality and their victory over a wartime enemy and over racism, she said.

"We are still educating people on the Tuskegee history," Trina Weathers Boyce said, "because it's a big part of American history, not African American or Black history, but American history."

That is equally true of another Black American hero, Captain LeRoy W. Homer Jr.. The victorious do not always live to celebrate their victories. In some cases it is for us the living to celebrate their achievements for them. The world may little note nor long remember what the officers, crew, and passengers of United Flight 93 did for America and western civilization on September 11, 2001, but I urge all Americans to pause and thank God that he gave us a real hero like LeRoy W. Homer Junior.

But for Captain LeRoy W. Homer Jr and the other brave souls on United Flight 93, the White House could very well have been one big black hole on Pennsylvania Avenue on that fateful day. The White House is still there in large measure because Captain LeRoy Homer would not fly his United Airlines Flight 93 into this symbol at the heart of the American Dream.

United Airlines Flight 93 was en route to San Francisco from Newark, N.J., when the hijackers took over, apparently planning to crash the plane into the White House or the Capitol. Conversations from the plane's final minutes indicate the passengers had some idea of what was happening to them and, on the words "Let's roll," stormed the cockpit in an effort to wrest control shortly before the crash.

Not much has been said in the mainstream media about LeRoy W. Homer Jr.

At an early age, LeRoy W. Homer Jr knew that he wanted to be a pilot. As a child, LeRoy assembled model airplanes, collected aviation memorabilia and read books on aviation. LeRoy was 15 years old when he started flight instruction in the Cessna 152. Working part-time jobs after school to pay for flying lessons, he completed his first solo at 16 years old, and obtained his private pilot's certificate in 1983.

In the fall of 1983, LeRoy entered the Air Force Academy, and graduated with the Class of 1987, 31st Squadron. After completing pilot training in 1988, he was assigned to McGuire AFB in New Jersey, flying the C-141B Starlifter. While on active duty, LeRoy served in Desert Shield and Desert Storm, and later supported operations in Somalia. He received many commendations, awards and medals during his military career. In 1993, he was named the 21st Air Force Aircrew Instructor of the Year. LeRoy achieved the rank of Captain before his honorable discharge from active duty in 1995.

LeRoy continued his military career as a reservist, initially as an instructor pilot with the 356th Airlift Squadron at Wright Patterson AFB, Ohio, then subsequently as an Academy Liaison Officer, recruiting potential candidates for both the Air Force Academy and the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps. During his time with the Reserves, he achieved the rank of Major.

LeRoy continued his flying career by joining United Airlines in May 1995. His first assignment was Second Officer on the B727. He then upgraded to First Officer on the B757/767 in 1996, where he remained until September 11, 2001.

On September 11, 2001, LeRoy was flying with Captain Jason Dahl on United Flight 93. Based on information from several sources that day, we know LeRoy and Jason were the first to fight against the terrorist threat to the airplane. LeRoy has received many awards and citations posthumously, for his actions on Flight 93, including the Congress Of Racial Equality - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Award, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference - Drum Major for Justice Award and the Westchester County Trailblazer Award.

LeRoy was able to accomplish much in his short life. He was able to do so because of the support of his family and friends, and the encouragement of his teachers and mentors. We hope that LeRoy's life will continue to be an inspiration to those who also share the dream of flying.

LeRoy married Melodie Thorpe on May 24, 1998 in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. From that union, their daughter Laurel Nicole was born October 25, 2000.

LeRoy was known for his kind, caring disposition. He was the type of person that truly listened when you spoke. He was an exceptional individual with a wonderful sense of humor.

CAPT LeRoy Homer, United Airlines Flt. 93 on 9/11/01.

9/11 had a huge impact on United States foreign policy, on the way the Western world views Islam and on the Islamic world.

Since the crash, a group of volunteers known now as the Flight 93 ambassadors point visitors to the crash site on a previously barren wind swept field in Pennsylvania and describe what happened aboard the plane on Sept. 11, 2001. Some months they guide more than 25,000 visitors.

On that terrible day in 2001, it didn't take first responders long to realize there would be no survivors. Combing the site, all they could find at first were small pieces of aircraft — and bits of a United Airlines in-flight magazine.

"It was a pretty scary time," says a former assistant fire chief, Rick King, whose truck was the first to arrive. "I just remember driving down the road, wondering what we were about to see."

Searchers recovered only about 8 percent of the potential human remains but were able to identify everyone from the fragments they did find, said Somerset County Coroner Wallace Miller.

"Most of the material was vaporized," he says.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Journalist Sues Obama in New York Federal Court to Stop Indefinite Detention of American Citizens

Here is a story you will not find in the mainstream media. You will not read it in the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, or hear about it on CNN, MSNBC, or anywhere else.

Less than a month after the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) was signed into law, President Barack Obama faces a lawsuit because of its highly controversial provisions regarding the detention of suspected terrorists.

Attorneys Carl J. Mayer and Bruce I. Afran filed a complaint against Obama and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta Friday in the Southern U.S. District Court in New York City on behalf of journalist Chris Hedges. The complaint states that the law violates the First and Fifth Amendments.

The $662 billion defense spending bill contained a controversial section that required terrorism suspects to be detained by the military without trial, regardless of where they were captured.

Despite language in the law that states it does not affect existing authorities relating to the detention of U.S. citizens or others captured within the U.S., Hedges claims that it still allows the government to detain Americans indefinitely without trial.

“I spent many years in countries where the military had the power to arrest and detain citizens without charge,” Hedges explains. “I have been in some of these jails. I have friends and colleagues who have ‘disappeared’ into military gulags. I know the consequences of granting sweeping and unrestricted policing power to the armed forces of any nation. And while my battle may be quixotic, it is one that has to be fought if we are to have any hope of pulling this country back from corporate fascism.”

While signing the bill, Obama issued a signing statement in which he pledged that the new laws would not violate Americans’ constitutional rights. But human rights advocates said that did not prevent future administrations from abusing the law.

The complaint alleges that Hedges could fall within the scope of the law. As part of his job as a journalist, he has direct communications with persons who are likely to be deemed engaged in hostilities with the United States. The detention provisions cover anyone who has “substantially supported” or “directly supported” “al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners.”

Hedges says that the controversial bill passed “because the corporations, seeing the unrest in the streets, knowing that things are about to get much worse, worrying that the Occupy movement will expand, do not trust the police to protect them. They want to be able to call in the Army. And now they can.

This will render null and void the Writ of Habeas Corpus, that is, Latin for "you have the body" Prisoners often seek release by filing a petition for a writ of habeas corpus. A writ of habeas corpus is a judicial mandate to a prison official ordering that an inmate be brought to the court so it can be determined whether or not that person is imprisoned lawfully and whether or not he should be released from custody. A habeas corpus petition is a petition filed with a court by a person who objects to his own or another's detention or imprisonment. The petition must show that the court ordering the detention or imprisonment made a legal or factual error. Habeas corpus petitions are usually filed by persons serving prison sentences. In family law, a parent who has been denied custody of his child by a trial court may file a habeas corpus petition. Also, a party may file a habeas corpus petition if a judge declares her in contempt of court and jails or threatens to jail her.

In Brown v. Vasquez, 952 F.2d 1164, 1166 (9th Cir. 1991), cert. denied, 112 S.Ct. 1778 (1992), the court observed that the Supreme Court has "recognized the fact that`[t]he writ of habeas corpus is the fundamental instrument for safeguarding individual freedom against arbitrary and lawless state action.' Harris v. Nelson, 394 U.S. 286, 290-91 (1969). " Therefore, the writ must be "administered with the initiative and flexibility essential to insure that miscarriages of justice within its reach are surfaced and corrected." Harris, 394 U.S. at 291.

The writ of habeas corpus serves as an important check on the manner in which state courts pay respect to federal constitutional rights. The writ is "the fundamental instrument for safeguarding individual freedom against arbitrary and lawless state action." Harris v. Nelson, 394 U.S. 286, 290-91 (1969). Because the habeas process delays the finality of a criminal case, however, the Supreme Court in recent years has attempted to police the writ to ensure that the costs of the process do not exceed its manifest benefits. In McCleskey the Court raised barriers against successive and abusive petitions. The Court raised these barriers based on significant concerns about delay, cost, prejudice to the prosecution, frustration of the sovereign power of the States, and the "heavy burden" federal collateral litigation places on "scarce federal judicial resources," a burden that "threatens the capacity of the system to resolve primary disputes." McCleskey, 499 U.S. at 467.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Cadet Used Honor Code To Obtain Sexual Favors.

Cadet Robert M. Evenson Jr. is alleged to have forcibly raped a female cadet in the spring of 2010. He's also charged with breaking cadet regulations by having an ongoing relationship with a female freshman. He also is suspected of abusing his power position as a "cadet non-commissioned officer for honor cases" to extract sexual favors from a female fellow cadet. This is serious. He was charged with enforcing the Honor Code. He may have used it to supply gris for his mill. As one of the cadets entrusted with enforcing the Academy's Honor Code, he would have been in a very coveted position. He was expected to punish those who lie, cheat, steal or tolerate others who do. Those who violate the Honor Code face a maximum punishment of expulsion from the Academy. Allegations of corruption in the Honor Code enforcement system will likely send shock-waves through the Cadet Corps and the Academy alumni. The Honor Code is the very touchstone of the Academy's culture.

Who will watch the watchers? This exploitation of a power position was inevitable. It is as impossible to avoid detection indefinitely as it is to plans your own surprise birthday. This is probably not the first time this cadet has done this. It appears that he had momentum; that is, forward motion fueled by a series of wins.

Just what is the Honor Code. each of our military academies has an Honor Code or an Honor Concept. How do they differ? Read all about it in my book CONDUCT UNBECOMING an Officer and Lady. Read it for free in Kindle format at

The Coast Guard Academy Cadet Handbook (2010) tells the new cadet recruit that when you take the oath of office as a Cadet in the United States Coast Guard you begin your development as a commissioned officer in the Armed Forces of the United States. You will be expected to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States and to selflessly serve the American people.

In the Honor Concept there exists a higher standard of conduct that can neither be delineated by laws nor defined by regulations. It is the concept of Honor. Because Coast Guard cadets are called to a life of public service, and desire to attain that special trust and confidence which is placed in our nation’s commissioned officers, their actions must be straightforward and always above reproach. As future law enforcement officers, each cadet’s word and signature must be regarded as verification of the truth. The Coast Guard Academy’s Honor Concept is exemplified by a person who will neither lie, cheat, steal, nor attempt to deceive. It is epitomized by an individual who places loyalty to duty above loyalty to personal friendship or to selfish desire. While the Coast Guard Academy’s Honor Concept differs from a code, in that failure to report an honor offense is not itself an honor violation, cadets are required to report all activity that does not incriminate themselves. Moreover, the condoning of an honor violation is a Class I offense under the Cadet Regulations. Dis-enrollment is a very possible outcome. The Corps of Cadets are stewards of their Honor Concept.

At the center of their new world is adherence to a Concept or Cadet Honor Code to which they swear: “A cadet will not lie, cheat, or steal, nor tolerate those who do.” Their whole new world is shaped around these principles. This initially shapeless reality begins to form into principles of rigid honesty, loyalty to their fellow cadets, and respect for their classmates and all with whom they associate.

What is conduct unbecoming an officer and a lady? Does it violate the Honor Concept? Does conduct that violates the UCMJ constitute a higher standard than the Honor Concept? Times are changing so rapidly, one wonders if cadets and officers of today can be held to the same standards of conduct that were intended by the drafters of the UCMJ and the MCM promulgated in 1951? Not everyone can be expected to meet ideal moral standards, but how far can the standards of behavior of cadets and officers fall below contemporary community standards without seriously compromising their standing as officers and ladies? Have the changes in ethics and values of American society been reflected in the military?

Both the United States Military Academy and the United States Air Force Academy have adopted a Cadet Honor Code as a formalized statement of the minimum standard of ethics expected of cadets. Other military schools have similar codes with their own methods of administration. The United States Naval Academy, like the Coast Guard Academy, has a related standard, known as the Honor Concept.

The Cadet Honor Code at the Air Force Academy, like that at West Point, is the cornerstone of a cadet's professional training and development — the minimum standard of ethical conduct that cadets expect of themselves and their fellow cadets. Air Force's honor code was developed and adopted by the Class of 1959, the first class to graduate from the Academy, and has been handed down to every subsequent class. The code adopted was based largely on West Point's Honor Code, but was modified slightly to its current wording:

We will not lie, steal, or cheat, nor tolerate among us anyone who does.

In 1984, the Cadet Wing voted to add an "Honor Oath," which was to be taken by all cadets. The oath is administered to fourth class cadets (freshmen) when they are formally accepted into the Wing at the conclusion of Basic Cadet Training. The oath remains unchanged since its adoption in 1984, and consists of a statement of the code, followed by a resolution to live honorably:

We will not lie, steal or cheat, nor tolerate among us anyone who does.

Furthermore, I resolve to do my duty and to live honorably, so help me God.

Cadets are considered the "guardians and stewards" of the Code. Cadet honor representatives throughout the Wing oversee the honor system by conducting education classes and investigating possible honor incidents. Cadets throughout the Wing are expected to sit on Honor Boards as juries that determine whether their fellow cadets violated the code. Cadets also recommend sanctions for violations. Although the presumed sanction for a violation is di-senrollment, mitigating factors may result in the violator being placed in a probationary status for some period of time. This "honor probation" is usually only reserved for cadets in their first two years at the Academy. (Cadet Honor Code, from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Sexual Assault Returns To Military Academies. Boys Will Be Boys. Girls Just Want To Have Fun.

To start the New Year with a bang, commanders at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs on 5 January 2012 charged three Air Force Academy cadets with sexual assault in cases that occurred over the past 15 months.

The cases involve acts allegedly committed at the Academy, and involve civilian women as well as female cadets.

In November 2011, Cadet Stephan H. Claxton is alleged to have unzipped the fly of a female cadet while she was "substantially incapacitated" -- a phrase the military has used in the past to describe intoxication.

Cadet Claxton faces assault and attempted rape charges, including an allegation that he forcibly kissed one cadet and assaulted another. He is also charged concerning an incident in March 2011, where he is accused of forcing a fellow cadet to touch his genitals and indulge in underage drinking.

Cadet Kyle A. Cressy, a graduating senior and a member of the soccer team, is charged having sex with a woman at the academy who was "substantially incapacitated." It's unclear from the charge sheet whether the alleged victim was a civilian or a female cadet.

Cadet Robert M. Evenson Jr. is alleged to have forcibly raped a female cadet in the spring of 2010. He's also charged with breaking cadet regulations by having an ongoing relationship with a female freshman. He also is suspected of abusing his power position as a "cadet non-commissioned officer for honor cases" to extract sexual favors from a female fellow cadet. This is serious. He was charged with enforcing the Honor Code. he may have used it to supply gris for his mill. As one of the cadets entrusted with enforcing the Academy's Honor Code, he would have been in a very coveted position. He was expected to punish those who lie, cheat, steal or tolerate others who do. Those who violate the Honor Code face a maximum punishment of expulsion from the Academy. Allegations of corruption in the Honor Code enforcement system will likely send shockwaves through the Cadet Corps and the Academy alumni. The Honor Code is the very touchstone of the Academy's culture.

These charges come to light a week after the Pentagon reported a spike in the number of sexual assaults at the air Force Academy. There were 33 reported incidents in the 2010-2011 academic year. This is a four-fold increase in a two year span.

There are about 4,000 cadets at the Air Force Academy. A senior academy spokesman said these charges don't appear to mark a return of the level of incidents of sexual assault of 2003. In 2003 the Academy and the nation were rocked when dozens of female cadets reported incidents of alleged sexual assaults. Many of those cases were mishandled or ignored.

Several senior officers at the Academy were fired in the wake of the 2003 scandal. This resulted in congressional scrutiny to the issue of sexual assaults at all the nation's military academies. There were courts-martial at the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut and the Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland. Three were major reforms at those institutions.

The Coast Guard Academy court-martial of Cadet Webster Smith marked the first time in history that a cadet at the Coast Guard Academy was given court-martial. Some Coast Guard Academy graduates accused the Coast Guard of racial discrimination because the accused, Cadet Webster Smith, was African American and all of the accusers were white females. One of them was his girl friend who had become pregnant, and had an abortion more than six months before the Coast Guard decided to charge Cadet Smith with rape.

In the meantime it was learned that about 11 other cases of confessed rape had been resolved without resort to a court-martial. All of the other cadets were allowed to resign quietly and slip into darkness. All the other cadets were white. This is part of the reason that there were claims of bias and inappropriate command influence in the prosecution of Webster Smith.

The conviction was appealed all the way to the United States Supreme Court. It is interesting to note that there were several 'Friend of the Court' or 'amicus briefs' filed with the Supreme Court by senior military lawyers from other branches of the armed forces in favor of the reversal of the Webster Smith conviction. It set a very bad precedent and there were irregularities in the prosecution and the appellate review of the conviction. The case was thoroughly critiqued in a book available on (See

The Pentagon in a December 2011 report to Congress praised the Air Force Academy's efforts to curb sexual assault in the ranks and gave the school high marks for its programs to encourage sexual assault reporting.

"[The academy] demonstrated commendable practices that should be considered for replication by other military service academies," the Defense Department wrote in the report. The Coast Guard Academy had already implemented a new procedure for reporting and investigating sexual assaults in the wake of the Webster Smith case.

If any of these cadets get convicted, it would mark a reversal of fortunes for air Force prosecutors. Since the 2003 scandal, the academy has prosecuted a string of rape cases against cadets. But none of those cases has resulted in a conviction. Unlike the Coast Guard Academy, where one prosecution in 2006 resulted in one conviction and six months in jail for a graduating senior. (

Recent rape trials at the Air Force Academy have almost always centered on the issue of 'consent'. The defendant always used as a defense that the alleged victim gave her consent. He said she asked for sex. The cases were also marked by a lack of forensic evidence that could help sort out the conflicting claims. One can never be sure what a jury will decide in a case of 'he-said, she-said'.