• Another Navy CO is relieved, see San Diego Union Tribune here and Navy press release here. Commander, Destroyer Squadron ONE was reportedly relieved “from command while an investigation into an alleged inappropriate relationship is conducted. . . . DESRON 1 [is] embarked on USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) conducting support for Operations Enduring Freedom and New Dawn, as well as maritime security operations in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility” as part of the VINSON carrier strike group.
• President Obama released his long form birth certificate, see here and press release here. Hopefully this prevents any further officer career flame outs over this mess–though it is unlikely to end the birther question because, as CAAFlog readers know, each time a birther argument gets shot down, 5 new arguments grow in its place.
• This report from Ft. Hood suggests that the delay in the MAJ Hasan court-martial should be at an end now that the change of command at Ft. Hood has occurred. The reports states that, “It was announced in late March that [Ft. Hood CG LTG Robert Cone] granted a request by the accused shooter’s attorney to delay Maj. Nidal Hasan’s court-martial proceedings until late April, waiting for [his relief, LTG Donald M. Campbell, Jr], to take command. Hasan’s attorney, retired Col. John Galligan, said Cone couldn’t be impartial because he was at Fort Hood during the incident and ‘received information about the case early on that may not have been accurate,’ according to an Associated Press report.” See bio for the new CG, here.
• According to this report from the Seattle Weekly blog, an Army 706 Board has apparently deemed Sgt. John M. Russell “competent by a board of medical specialists to stand trial. ‘Coordination is under way to transfer Sgt. Russell from Butner to an Army confinement facility,” [an Army spokeswoman said.] ‘The next step in the judicial process will be an Article 32 hearing which is currently scheduled for 8 August 2011.'” See prior coverage of SGT Russell’s shooting spree at Camp Liberty here.
• COL (ret) Morris Davis writes an op-ed, here, for the LA Times comparing the cases of KSM and PFC Manning. He writes:
[A] video is circulating of President Obama, the commander in chief of the armed forces, in conversation at a California fundraiser last week. “He broke the law,” Obama says of Manning. No need to secure a courtroom or endure a protracted trial; the commander in chief rendered his extrajudicial verdict. And military justice meets its mortal enemy once again.
In 1949, Gerald Ford, then a congressman from Michigan, described his firsthand experience with command influence when he served as a Navy officer in World War II. He said: “Too often a court-martial board does not determine the guilt or innocence of the accused.” Instead, he recalled military jurors retiring to the deliberation room to ponder, “What does the Old Man [the commander] want us to do?”
When the jurors retire to the deliberation room at the Manning court-martial, they will not have to speculate on the answer; arguably the most important “Old Man” of them all has spoken, and he said Manning is guilty.
. . . . In November 2009, Obama defended his decision to prosecute Mohammed in federal court (a decision he subsequently abandoned), saying no one would question it “when [Mohammed is] convicted and when the death penalty is applied to him.” Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. made similar remarks, telling the Senate Judiciary Committee: “Failure is not an option. These are cases that have to be won. I don’t expect that we will have a contrary result.”
All participants in the military commissions are accountable to the commander in chief. Many, in addition to their status as uniformed military reserve officers, are career employees of the Department of Justice. When the attorney general says that only a guilty verdict is acceptable, and the commander in chief endorses the death penalty for an accused who has not been convicted, they undermine confidence in justice by injecting the appearance of undue influence.