Posts Tagged With: Judge London Steverson

Vice Admiral Manson K. Brown Has A Thousand Fathers

It is said that success has a thousand fathers but defeat is an orphan.

 

Manson Brown has a thousand fathers. He is a living success story in every sense of the word.

His natural father, the late Manson Brown Junior, was proud of him.

 

His Coast Guard father, London Steverson, recruited him out of St. John’s Prep School in Washington, D.C. and wanted him to become Commandant of the U. S. Coast Guard.

His professional fathers, U.S. Transportation Secretaries Rodney E. Slater and Norman Y. Mineta are challenged him with cutting-edged assignments.

 

In 2003, he was Chief of Officer Personnel Management at the Coast Guard Personnel Command when Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta called, explaining that Ambassador to Iraq PaulBremer needed “a transportation guy” in Baghdad. Bremer was the Administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq from 2003 to 2004. In actuality that made Ambassador Bremer the President of Iraq and Admiral Brown became his Secretary of Transportation.

In Baghdad, Brown was the Senior Advisor for Transportation to the Coalition Provisional Authority, overseeing restoration of transportation systems throughout Iraq.  The air lines were not flying; the trains were not running, and all ports were closed to shipping. In a matter of three months Admiral Brown and his team were able to get Iraqi Airways flying again, and to open all ports for shipping. Moreover, the trains were not only running, but they were running on time.

 

His spiritual father, Admiral Robert Papp is proud of him. Papp means priest in Hungarian; so, his last boss and father confessor came from a family of priests. At Vice Admiral Brown’s retirement ceremony, his Spiritual Father preached to the choir. He told a parable; it was a Parable of Hope. He was describing how any child from any inner city ghetto or poverty hole in America can come into the Coast Guard and rise to the highest level or authority and responsibility that his talent, diligence and initiative will take him.

Manson Brown’s life is a parable; it is a story of hope for Black children every where in America that anyone can make it in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave. America is truly the Land of Opportunity and Hope for anyone who will apply their innate God-given talents to study, to learn, and to excel.

Admiral Papp, the Commandant of the Coast Guard, described Brown as a friend and mentor. Earlier in their careers, the two officers commuted together to their office in Washington. During one conversation on the way to work, they talked about officer promotions and assignments. Papp said he was surprised when Brown pointed out that bias kept some Black officers from advancement.

All of us human beings, whether we admit it or not, have our own biases,” Papp said. “He opened my eyes to those biases and made me look harder to make sure that we are a balanced and diverse service.”

Adm. Robert J. Papp Jr., the Coast Guard Commandant, said that Brown had stood on the shoulders of Black officers before him and that those who follow owe Brown a debt for his service. Brown played a crucial role in developing the careers of minorities in the Coast Guard, Papp added.

“While we still have a long way to go, I credit Manson Brown for speaking truth to power,” Papp said.

 

In recent years, Brown led a Coast Guard effort to improve sexual assault prevention and outreach. A civil engineer by training, he also oversaw recovery operations after Hurricane Sandy wrought $270 million in damage to Coast Guard property, Papp said.

All of the other members of the USCGA Class of 1978 are proud of him.

Every officer and enlisted member of the USCG is proud of him, because had it not been for Manson Brown the USCG may not have a Headquarters in Washington, DC.

The construction of a massive new headquarters for the Department of Homeland Security, billed as critical for national security and the revitalization of Southeast Washington, is running more than $1.5 billion over budget, is 11 years behind schedule and may never be completed, according to planning documents and federal officials.

With the exception of the Coast Guard Headquarters building that opened in 2013, most of the DHS site remains entirely undeveloped. The present estimated completion date of 2026 is being reconsidered with a view towards 2030, or later; and, possibly even never.

 Vice Admiral Manson Brown saved the Coast Guard and the relocation of Coast Guard Headquarters. This was his last major project in the years before he retired. Now, DHS, may wish their agency had a man like Manson K. Brown.


VADM Brown retired on May 14, 2014 as Deputy Commandant for Mission Support and Commander of Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington,DC. Perhaps if he could have been persuaded to stay around for a few more years he could have overseen the transition and move of the DHS Headquarters to the new site. But, they would probably have had to make him Commandant of the Coast Guard to do that.

Instead, on behalf of a grateful Nation, and the entire Coast Guard we wished him fair skies, favorable winds and following seas in his well deserved retirement.

 

 

 

ice Adm. Manson K. Brown, the deputy commandant for mission support, and Master Chief Petty Officer Richard Hooker tour the construction site of the newly constructed Coast Guard Headquarters here June 28, 2012. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Timothy Tamargo – See more at: http://allhands.coastguard.dodlive.mil/2014/05/14/after-36-years-of-service-vadm-manson-k-brown-retires-from-active-duty/dcms/#sthash.XBrxWQcr.dpuf

(Above VADM Manson K. Brown, Deputy Commandant for Mission Support, and Master Chief Richard Hooker tour the construction site for the new Coast Guard Headquarters on June 28, 2012.)

(U. S. Coast Guard photo by Coast Guard Petty Officer  2nd Class Timothy Tamargo)

 

Brown said his achievements would not have been possible without the legacy forged by the first Black officers in the early years of the Coast Guard.

“When I saw him (LT London Steverson) at the front door in full uniform, a Black man, I saw a vision for the future. He convinced my mother to let me visit the (U S Coast Guard) Academy and I was hooked, Brown said.”

At first, Brown’s mother was reluctant to let him join the military as war raged in Vietnam, he said at the ceremony.

 

 

But then London Steverson, the second Black graduate of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy (Class of 1968), visited the Brown family home in Ward 4.

“I convinced his mother that her son would not be taken advantage of and would not be a token” black student at the academy, Steverson said. “He was the best of the best. I knew that he could survive.”

 

After graduating from St. John’s College High School in the District, Brown enrolled in the Coast Guard Academy’s Class of 1978, headed to a life patrolling the seas even though he didn’t know how to swim. As a cadet, one of his first assignments was to learn basic strokes.

He later helped create a campus network for minority students at the school. In 1977, he became the first African American to lead the U.S. Coast Guard Academy corps of cadets, the Coast Guard’s student body.

“The vast majority of my career, people embraced me for my passion and ability,” Brown said. When incidents of racism arose, “I decided to confront it at its face.”

 

Serving aboard the USCGC Glacier (WAGB-4), an icebreaker, during his first assignment as a young officer, Brown said he had to confront racism almost immediately. He noticed that one older white subordinate, a popular chief petty officer, seemed agitated by his presence. Brown decided to settle the matter face to face.

“He said there was no way he was going to work for a Black man,” Brown said. “My head pounded with anger and frustration.”

But other enlisted leaders on the ship rallied behind Brown. Throughout the rest of his career, Brown was recognized for his inspirational leadership and zeal.

Growing up in the inner city

Brown grew up in northwest Washington, DC. “My parents both worked. We were a middle-class family who lived in the inner city. My mother and father promoted strong family values in a very threatening, conflicted environment. My dad worked three jobs to send us to private school.

 

“Most of the guys I grew up with are no longer with us,” he observes. “One friend of mine went into the Air Force and I joined the Coast Guard. The military was our ticket to better opportunities.”

 

Brown attended the academically rigorous St. John’s College High School in DC. His approach to choosing a college was to pick up every brochure on the guidance counselor’s rack. “I got interest cards for whatever was there and mailed them all out. It was a blind draw.”

 

Hooked on the Coast Guard

Brown was personally recruited to the Coast Guard Academy (USCGA, New London, CT) by then Lieutenant London Steverson, the second African American USCGA graduate. “Of all the people courting me, he was the only one who came to the house. When I saw him at the front door in full uniform, a Black man, I saw a vision for the future,” Brown states. “He convinced my mother to let me visit the campus and I was hooked.”

 

Brown entered the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in 1974. “My class started with 400 students and graduated 167,” Brown says. “Of twenty-two African Americans at the beginning, six graduated. A lot of that was academic challenge, but a lot was also cultural challenge. We didn’t realize it at the time, but we were pioneers in a process to transform the Academy culture to become more supportive of diversity.”

 

He continues, “I had gone to a predominantly white high school so I had already been through the acculturation process. That was probably an advantage I had over my African American classmates at the Academy.”

 

His original interest was in Marine Science but he missed the cut. Instead, he got his second choice: civil engineering. Brown admits, “At that time, all I knew was that it was about building buildings, but it turned out to be pretty useful.

 

“I look at system problems like an engineer,” he says. “I found discipline in the engineering profession. Even today, my approach to problem solving uses the FADE process: focus, analyze, develop and execute.”

 

He graduated from the USCGA in 1978. Brown knew that he did not want to go back to DC. “I knew that to survive, I had to leave,” he says. “It was a mature thought at an immature age.”

 

Brown has since earned two masters degrees, in civil engineering in 1985 from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, and in national resources strategy in 1999 from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces (ICAF, now the Eisenhower School at National Defense University, Washington, DC).

 

On being a leader

“I always had a technical inclination. But when I got to the Coast Guard Academy, all the personality profiles said that I was geared toward the soft sciences. Even though I love being an engineer, my passion rests with people so maybe the sociologists were right,” he says with a laugh.

 

Brown mentors “the long blue line,” working hard to help people who are coming up the ranks. “I’m proactive with groups like the civilian advisory board, women’s groups, African Americans, Asians, and Hispanic groups. I’ve shared time with them and stated how important they are to me. From them I get the feedback that when I am visible and successful, they feel empowered.”

 

Exciting assignments mark a career

Brown has enjoyed several challenging, high-profile assignments during his thirty-six-year Coast Guard career.

From 1999 to 2002 he was the military assistant to the secretary of transportation, when the Coast Guard was still part of the Department of Transportation. “I was in that job for 9/11. After that, I became acting deputy chief of staff for that department.”

He assumed positions of responsibility in Florida, Hawaii and California, where he oversaw counter-narcotics trafficking missions and other operations spanning 73 million square miles of the Pacific Ocean. He served as the military assistant to two U.S. secretaries of transportation and spent three months in Iraq in 2004, leading the restoration of two major ports.

 

In 2003, he was chief of officer personnel management at the Coast Guard Personnel Command when Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta called, explaining that Ambassador to Iraq Paul Bremerneeded “a transportation guy” in Baghdad in two weeks. Bremer was the administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq from 2003 to 2004. He was essentially the president of Iraq at that time,” Brown notes, “and I was his secretary of transportation.”

 

In Baghdad, Brown was the senior advisor for transportation to the Coalition Provisional Authority, overseeing restoration of transportation systems throughout Iraq. “I followed the FADE process every step of the way. We got Iraqi Airways flying again the last week I was there. We got the trains running and the ports open. I was there for three months, and three months in a war zone is like three years anywhere else. I was a ‘gap guy’ until they found someone else because I didn’t want to walk away from my Coast Guard career.”

 

Reflecting and learning

“I learned so much about America in a crisis and I respect what we tried to do. I have nothing but respect for the Iraqi people and what they went through,” he reflects.

 

Brown has been married for thirty-two years; he and his wife have three grown sons. He has learned to make his family part of his profession and his profession part of his family. “I wasn’t good at it back in the early innings,” he admits, “but as I’ve matured, I’ve gotten better.”

 

Vice Admiral Brown is the third African American to reach flag rank in the U.S. Coast Guard and the first to become a three-star. He has received many medals, awards and commendations.

Brown’s Coast Guard father, Judge London Steverson, USALJ (Ret.) wanted him to become Commandant of the U S Coast Guard. He began to write about the accomplishments and career advancements of Admiral Brown. He published them in a blog online along with pictures. He chronicled all of Admiral Brown’s noteworthy achievements that would be of public interest. These were things that could persuade a Selection Board for Commandant that the time was right to select the Coast Guard’s first Black Commandant.

After Admiral Brown had reached the highest echelons of the officer corps, his assignments and accomplishments became as important to Steverson as rare paintings would be to an art collector. These were the stuff that could sway a selection board and possibly alter the course of American History.

Every Vice Admiral considered for the position of Commandant has been more than qualified for the job. None of the people in the selection process: President of the United States or Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security would be making a decision based on qualifications, or “best qualified”. They would be making a political decision. They would be looking at not only Admiral Brown, but also at his family, his marital stability, the social marketability of his family, the accomplishments and failures of his children, his brothers and sisters. They would consider his entire social fabric.

So, when Admiral Brown had achieved success at something that did not depend merely on his personal skills as a commissioned officer, it was necessary to chronicle the big picture of him as a family man, a loyal husband, and a devoted father. When the Selection Board met to determine the next Commandant they would also be considering for selection, Admiral Brown’s wife (Herminia) and his three sons (Manson Justin, Robert Anthony, and William Mathew).

Always ready

The Coast Guard motto is semper paratus, Latin for “always ready.” Brown takes that to heart.

 

“There may be a downturn in the perceived value of our services but then something inevitably happens like the Exxon Valdez oil spill, Deepwater Horizon, Hurricane Katrina, or 9/11, and the demand for those services escalates again,” Brown observes. “I tell my people to watch CNN for the next big thing; you’ll know it when you see it. You can’t manage based only on what’s going on today. You have to have a long view.”

 

Categories: American History | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Manson Brown Retirement Marks End Of An Era For Coast Guard

Vice Admiral Manson K. Brown retires from the U.S. Coast Guard as the service’s top-ranking  Black officer

Patrick Kelley/U.S. Coast Guard – Vice Adm. Manson Brown receives a framed collection of mementos during his retirement ceremony Wednesday at Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington.

With three words, Vice Adm. Manson K. Brown brought to a close his 36-year career in the U.S. Coast Guard and his pioneering role as the highest-ranking black officer in the history of the sea service.
“I stand relieved,” Brown said Wednesday, May 14, at a change of command ceremony at Coast Guard headquarters in Southeast Washington. Brown, who grew up in the District’s Petworth neighborhood, joined the Coast Guard in 1978 and rose to become a three-star admiral.

 

Adm. Robert J. Papp Jr., the Coast Guard Commandant, said that Brown had stood on the shoulders of Black officers before him and that those who follow owe Brown a debt for his service. Brown played a crucial role in developing the careers of minorities in the Coast Guard, Papp added.

While we still have a long way to go, I credit Manson Brown for speaking truth to power,” Papp said.

Serving aboard the USCGC Glacier (WAGB-4), an icebreaker, during his first assignment as a young officer, Brown said he had to confront racism almost immediately. He noticed that one older white subordinate, a popular chief petty officer, seemed agitated by his presence. Brown decided to settle the matter face to face.

“He said there was no way he was going to work for a Black man,” Brown said. “My head pounded with anger and frustration.”

But other enlisted leaders on the ship rallied behind Brown. Throughout the rest of his career, Brown was recognized for his inspirational leadership and zeal.

He assumed positions of responsibility in Florida, Hawaii and California, where he oversaw counter-narcotics trafficking missions and other operations spanning 73 million square miles of the Pacific Ocean. He served as the military assistant to two U.S. secretaries of transportation and spent three months in Iraq in 2004, leading the restoration of two major ports.

In recent years, Brown led a Coast Guard effort to improve sexual assault prevention and outreach. A civil engineer by training, he also oversaw recovery operations after Hurricane Sandy wrought $270 million in damage to Coast Guard property, Papp said.

Brown retired as Deputy Commandant for Mission Support and Commander of Coast Guard headquarters in Washington. Dignitaries at the ceremony, including Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.); former U.S. Transportation Secretaries Rodney E. Slater and Norman Y. Mineta; and Merle Smith, the first Black U.S. Coast Guard Academy graduate (Class of 1966), attended the ceremony at the new Coast Guard headquarters in Anacostia.

Brown said his achievements would not have been possible without the legacy forged by the first Black officers in the early years of the Coast Guard.

At first, Brown’s mother was reluctant to let him join the military as war raged in Vietnam, he said at the ceremony. But then London Steverson, the second Black graduate of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy (Class of 1968), visited the Brown family home in Ward 4.

“I convinced his mother that her son would not be taken advantage of and would not be a token” black student at the academy, Steverson said. “He was the best of the best. I knew that he could survive.”

After graduating from St. John’s College High School in the District, Brown enrolled in the Coast Guard Academy’s Class of 1978, headed to a life patrolling the seas even though he didn’t know how to swim. As a cadet, one of his first assignments was to learn basic strokes.

He later helped create a campus network for minority students at the school. In 1977, he became the first African American to lead the U.S. Coast Guard Academy corps of cadets, the Coast Guard’s student body.

“The vast majority of my career, people embraced me for my passion and ability,” Brown said. When incidents of racism arose, “I decided to confront it at its face.”

Papp, the Commandant, described Brown as a friend and mentor. Earlier in their careers, the two officers commuted together to their office in Washington. During one conversation on the way to work, they talked about officer promotions and assignments. Papp said he was surprised when Brown pointed out that bias kept some Black officers from advancement.

All of us human beings, whether we admit it or not, have our own biases,” Papp said. “He opened my eyes to those biases and made me look harder to make sure that we are a balanced and diverse service. “

This marked the end of an era that began in June 1974 when VADM Brown had been sworn in as Cadet 4/c, fourth class, Manson K. Brown.

On 8 May 2008 at the Coast Guard Maintenance and Logistics Command Pacific, Alameda, California, RADM Manson K. Brown was relieved by CAPT Robert E. Day. RADM Brown will take command of the 14th Coast Guard District on 22 May 2008.

 

The Change of Command ceremony is a time-honored tradition which formally symbolizes the continuity of authority as the command is passed from one individual to another. It is a formal ceremony which is conducted before the assembled company of the Command. The Change of Command as traditionally practiced within the Coast Guard is unique in the world today; it is a transfer of total responsibility, authority, and accountability from one individual to another.

 

 

The Change of Command is a big event in any service. It is an opportunity for the unit to look sharp to all the visitors and to put out the welcome mat to the incoming administration. It is hard to not be inspired by the pomp and circumstance of such an event. It is inspiring to watch a Change of Command ceremony.

 

The colors have been posted.

 

The Honor Guard is ready for inspection.

 

All present and accounted for, Sir.

 

Sempter Peratus. Always ready. Ready; Willing; and Able.

 

Reading of Citation to accompany The Legion of Merit.

 

Admiral Brown awarded the Legion of Merit.

 

Admiral Brown recieves his personal flag.

 

Sir, I stand relieved.

 

A 2-star promotion.

 

Admiral and Mrs. Manson K. Brown ready for duty, Sir.

 

The Maintenance & Logistics crew thanks you.

 

From the CPO Association a hat box for your Honorary CPO cap.

 

The National Naval Officers’ Association thanks you.

 

The Navy League thanks you.

 

 

 

The Change of Command ceremony for RADM Manson K. Brown signaled a PROMISE of what can be, or what might be, and how great the Coast Guard can be. I experienced a sense of promise and a sense of hope in the future of the Coast Guard. My hope is inspired by RADM Brown’s promotion, transfer, and the fact that he is on track to become the Coast Guard’s first African American Commandant.

 

As I sat in the audience at the Change of Command ceremony I saw what had become of the braniac high school senior that I had recruited out of Saint John’s Prep School in Washington, DC in 1973. What I saw surpassed my wildest expectations. I saw a Coast Guard admiral of cosmopolitan intellectualism and oratorical eloquence. With his image and the power of his words, he embodies the type of leader that the Coast Guard will need in the next few years. RADM Brown projected a youthful vigor and indescribable charisma. There was an inherent decency and sincerity in his pleasant face and smile.

 

I like to read Alexis de Tocqueville. He was a 19th Century French statesman and writer who liked to travel around America and make comments about what he observed in the American body politic. On one occasion he noted a characteristic in the American spirit that he felt boded well for America; that is, America’s “capacity for self-correction”.

 

I believe that the Coast Guard also has a capacity for self-correction. It is time for a change. Change is in the air. It is time to move on. It is time for healing. It is time to embrace change. I pray that the Americans occupying the most senior positions in the United States Coast Guard will exhibit that sense of self-correction and get back on course.

 

A mid-course correction could be accomplished by a change at the top, by a single act of bold and daring leadership. Selecting Manson K. Brown as the next Coast Guard Commandant would be such an act of bold and daring leadership.

 

Admiral Brown presents Maintenance & Logistics Command Pacific Domain’s Enlisted Person of the Year Award (CAPT Belmondo, YN2 Rocklage, RDML Brown, CMC Cale-Jones).

 

 

 

NOW HEAR THIS! NOW HEAR THIS!! Change is inevitable no matter who is selected to be the next Commandant. Thad Allen came in with such high expectations, but he has not delivered. His superb job during and after Hurricane Katrina led many to expect more from ADM Allen, but his tenure has been marked by a series of blunders and missteps. He has not provided the moral leadership the Coast Guard has needed at one of its darkest hours. As the supreme leader of the Nation’s only humanitarian service, he has abandoned the moral high ground. In retrospect his performance during Hurricane Katrina appears to have been motivated more by a desire to upstage, Michael Brown, the former Director of FEMA than to render aid and comfort to the tragic victums of a natural disaster.

 

From the Cadet Webster Smith court-martial to the Deepwater fiasco and his failure to provide proper supervision of the Coast Guard Office of Civil Rights, ADM Allen’s performance has earned him unflattering comments from the Congressmen and Senators who oversee his areas of responsibility.

 

The “noose incidents” occurred on his watch. He appears to have done nothing about them. The investigations were ineffectual. It was left to the Governor of Connecticut to take decisive action. The Connecticut State General Assembly was taking the lead in an area where initiative and strong leadership are drastically needed.

On 25 March 2008, the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee voted 43-0 in favor of a bill that makes it a hate crime to hang a noose on public or private property, without permission of the property owner, and with the intent to harass or intimidate.

 

GOOD EVENING, MR AND MRS AMERICA AND ALL THE SHIPS AT SEA. THIS JUST IN FROM HARTFORD, Conn. (9/29/08) If a person tries to intimidate
someone by hanging a noose, he or she could face
criminal penalties in Connecticut
. A law making it a

crime to display nooses will takes effect Wednesday, 1 October.

 

The law was passed after five nooses were discovered

in the state last year. In summer 2007, someone left

nooses for a Black Coast Guard Academy cadet and an

officer conducting race relations training at the United States Coast Guard Academy, New London,Connecticut.

 

The cadet in question was not Cadet Webster Smith, a Black cadet, who was the first Coast Guard Academy cadet ever to receive the Draconian punishment of a General Court-martial under circumstances that indicated racism was the motivating fator.

 

Three nooses were found in West Hartford last fall. In

July, a Bridgeport judge presiding over a murder trial

dismissed an entire jury after the drawing of a noose

was found in the deliberation room.

 

 

Govovernor M. Jodi Rell said they are symbols of racism. The

state’s hate crimes law already includes similar

language for cross burnings.

 

(Halloween or theatrical displays are allowed under the

law but people caught using a noose to threaten or

intimidate could face up to five years in prison).

 

As Thomas Jackson said at the time, “The noose story is not the epicenter of Coast Guard Civil Rights issues. Equal Civil Rights are the story. The Coast Guard must and we think they will come to terms with this issue and others confronting the service. Leadership is the key to unlocking binds that hold progress in Equal Civil Rights back. Admiral Thad Allen is searching for the key with all his energy, but his staff expends ten times the energy hiding the key in a new location each time he gets close.

 

When asked about the Webster Smith court-martial, ADM Allen replied that the “process” had worked just as it was supposed to and just as he expected. On the otherhand, in an attempt to remove the albatross from the neck of the Coast Guard, it was ADM Robert Papp who took steps to remove ADM James Van Sice from office. ADM Van Sice and CAPT Doug Wisniewski were the architects of the Webster Smith travesty. It would appear that while ADM Thad Allen has his head in the clouds, it is ADM Robert Papp who has his feet on the ground. It kind of reminds one of the differences between George Patton and Omar Bradley. One was all talk and the other was mostly silent action.

 

With his new job as Atlantic Area Commander, VADM Papp is a step closer to the top job, but Manson Brown would be a better choice. His experience is broader, and he preceeded Barack Obama to Iraq by several years. The details of that duty are classified. There was a time when he was the special envoy of SEC-DOT Norman Mineta. The Selection Board for Commandant will have all of the relevant facts. While either Brown or Papp would be a better Commandant than Allen, VADM Manson K. Brown would be the wiser choice. History would smile on such a choice.

Admiral Brown at Lei-cutting ceremony to celebrate opening of the CG Clinic at Tripler Army Medical Facility in Hawaii; at right with Major General Hawley-Bowland (Commanding General, Tripler Army Medical Center), and RADM Brice-O’Hara (CG D14 Commander).

 

 

RDML Brown meets major league catcher, Travis Buck, before throwing out the first pitch at the Oakland Athletics’ annual Coast Guard Day game.

 

 

Admiral Brown, 14th CG District Commander answered questions about its downed HH-65C Dolphin helicopter. “The work the Coast Guard does is hazardous,” said Brown. “We do dangerous jobs in dangerous environments. We employ training and standard operating procedures to minimize the risk to our people. Losing a fellow ‘Coastie’ is like losing a child; it is an indescribable feeling,” said Brown, who has been in the service for 30 years. He said he met with the three spouses at the hospital earlier. “We have thrown our cloak of comfort and concern around these families as if they were our own. We are going to take care of them in the absence of their loved ones.”

 

 

The U.S. Coast Guard’s fight against minor maritime law violations may be a precursor to terrorism activities, according to one of its district commanders. Rear Adm. Manson K. Brown, USCG, commander, 14th Coast Guard District, described how fishing violations in U.S. exclusive economic zones may be laying the groundwork for terrorist actions in the same manner that piracy and terrorism have become linked.

 

Solving the problem of illegal fishing in the 14th Coast Guard District—which spans vast areas of the Pacific near many small island nations—may also position the Coast Guard to deal with emerging terrorist threats in the region. Tight federal budgets preclude the possibility of the Coast Guard adding large numbers of ships and crews, the admiral said. Instead, the Coast Guard must rely on technologies to fill the gap.

 

And, just as with conventional military operations, international collaboration is another key to success. Fish poachers can flee into waters of another sovereign island nation and grab fish there, which effectively defeats U.S. efforts to curb illegal fishing that threatens to deplete stocks. Adm. Brown described how the U.S. Coast Guard has a cooperative agreement with the Cook Islands that allows that country’s officials to use U.S. vessels as platforms for chasing poachers in their own waters. The admiral is pursuing similar agreements with other small island nations, and this collaboration can serve to help combat terrorism if it emerges in the region.

 

Feburary 2009 , the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) honored Coast Guard District Fourteen Commander Rear Adm. Manson K. Brown for his leadership and commitment to service with a Thurgood Marshall Flag Officers Award.

 

 

(In Picture) Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle and Rear Adm. Manson Brown at the Coast Guard District Fourteen Ball last year.

“I am pleased and privileged to be linked with a statesman such as Thurgood Marshall,” said Brown, a civil engineer who has risen through the ranks of the U.S. Coast Guard to command the service’s largest geographic district. “This is truly a humbling experience and I am honored to build upon Justice Marshall’s legacy by furthering his commitment to leadership.”

 

“I have thoroughly enjoyed my years in the United States Coast Guard and I recommend a career in our service to any young person looking for adventure and opportunities for professional growth,” said Brown, a 1978 graduate of the Coast Guard Academy. “Officer or enlisted, the Coast Guard offers opportunities to grow and learn in a dynamic environment

 

Governor Linda Lingle is the sixth elected Governor of Hawai‘i. She is the first mayor, first woman and first person of Jewish ancestry to be Governor. She is also the first Republican to lead the Aloha State in more than 40 years. In November 2005, she was awarded the Diversity Best Practices Award for Leadership in Government – the first such award for a state’s chief executive.

 

Rear Adm. Manson Brown, at podium, commander of the 14th Coast Guard District, officiated at a change of command ceremony in which Lt. Cmdr. Bob Little, second from right on stage, took command of the cutter Kukui from Lt. Cmdr. Stephen Matadobra, third from right on stage. (Apr2009)

 

(Galveston, TX June 20, 2009)

Free At Last; Free At Last, Thank God Almighty, We are Free At Last.

 

Rear Adm. Manson K. Brown painted a picture of the African-Americans who stood in the yard of Ashton Villa on June 19, 1865, to hear the news that they were free.

 

Admiral Brown, the third African-American to reach the rank of admiral in the U.S. Coast Guard, invited the audience at the annual reading of the Emancipation Proclamation to think about those who first heard the proclamation read, informing them that they were free.

 

Their thoughts might have focused on working their own land, rather than some else’s, Admiral Brown said. Perhaps they were thinking about the ability to raise a family without fear of violence or of separation, he said.

 

Admiral Brown invited the audience to wonder whether any of those who heard that first reading of the proclamation in Texas could envision a day when the U.S. Armed Forces would be led by African-American generals and admirals — and when the nation would be led by an African-American president, Barack H. Obama.

 

This is hallowed ground, not just for this community, but for the nation,” Brown said.

 

For the 30th year, Al Edwards, the Texas state representative who wrote the legislation to make Juneteenth a state holiday, organized the reading of the proclamation at Ashton Villa.

 

Doug Mathews, assistant vice president at the University of Texas Medical Branch, led the audience through an event that included music, prayers and comments from Mayor Lyda Ann Thomas, council members Tarris Woods, Dr. Linda Colbert and Danny Weber, County Commissioner Stephen Holmes and State Rep. Craig Eiland.

 

Later Friday, crowds watched the Juneteenth Parade, joined in a picnic at Wright Cuney Park and heard gospel music at Mount Olive Baptist Church.

 

On the Texas mainland, residents marked the day with gospel music, dominoes and softball tournaments, concerts, beauty pageants and the readings of the Emancipation Proclamation. Some of the festivals stretched on into the evening.

 

At Texas City’s festival, organizers honored Jasper Victoria, one of the founders of the Southside Juneteenth Celebration.

 

Mr. Victoria, a deacon at New Macedonia Church in Hitchcock, grew up in south Texas City, said Lynn Ray Ellison, one of the festival organizers.

 

“He’s always been a good civic and community worker,” Ellison said.

 

In Hitchcock, the Stringfellow Orchard House displayed artwork by League City artist Ted Ellis. The exhibit, “American Slavery: The Reason Why We’re Here,” depicts the transportation of slaves, the industry of slavery and crop production and the abolition of slavery.

 

KAPOLEI, Hawaii — In a ceremony scheduled for 10 a.m., Thursday, July 16, 2009 command of U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point will be transferred from Capt. Bradley Bean to Capt. Anthony “Jack” Vogt.

 

The 14th Coast Guard District Commander, Rear Adm. Manson K. Brown, will preside over the ceremony, which celebrates time-honored traditions associated with the transfer of command. Guests invited include Coast Guardsmen stationed on Oahu and in Hawaii, service members from other branches, government and industry partners and community members.

 

Coast Guard Day, 4 August 2009.

With this week’s 219th birthday of the U.S. Coast Guard, I’d like to share with Honolulu Star-Bulletin readers the commitment of America’s fifth armed service to provide maritime safety, security and stewardship in and around Hawaii.

 

As America’s maritime shield of freedom, the men and women of the Coast Guard in Hawaii stand the watch every day, ready to respond at a moment’s notice to those in peril on the sea and perform our multiple missions. Our air, cutter and small boat crews collaborate with other federal, state, and local maritime partners, as well as the maritime industry, to accomplish these missions.

 

In the past year, we’ve partnered many times with NOAA and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on marine debris recovery and marine mammal relocation missions in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. While patrolling the pristine waters of the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, we’ve documented several boats fishing illegally and worked with the U.S. Attorney’s office to ensure those fishermen were held accountable. Earlier this summer, Coast Guard law enforcement personnel embarked aboard a U.S. Navy frigate and extended our service’s ability to curb illegal fishing in the Pacific – a first for both services.

 

For many of our “guardians,” service in the U.S. Coast Guard has provided a way forward to achieve America’s dream. Whether military or civilian, active duty or reserve, or selfless volunteers in the Coast Guard Auxiliary, we are proud to serve as members of “Team Coast Guard.” Being a part of Hawaii’s ohana makes our service here all the more special.

 

Mahalo, Hawaii, for your support.

Rear Adm. Manson K. Brown is the 14th Coast Guard District commander in Honolulu

 

Obama Administration Officials to Hold Ocean Policy Task Force Public Meeting in the Pacific Islands on September 29, 2009

 

 

HONOLULU, HI – Obama Administration officials will hold an Ocean Policy Task Force Public Meeting in the Pacific Islands on Tuesday, September 29, 2009. The Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force, led by White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley, and Rear Admiral Manson Brown, Commander 14th Coast Guard District, consists of senior-level officials from Administration agencies, departments, and offices.

 

 

The Task Force, established by President Obama via presidential memorandum on June 12, is charged with developing a recommendation for a national policy that ensures protection, maintenance, and restoration of oceans, our coasts and the Great Lakes. It will also recommend a framework for improved stewardship, and effective coastal and marine spatial planning. The meeting in the Pacific Islands will be the fourth regional public meeting held since the Task Force was created.

 

STOP THE PRESSES. WE INTERRUPT FOR AN EMERGENCY MESSAGE.

 

(Sept 29) PAGO PAGO, American Samoa — A powerful Pacific Ocean earthquake spawned towering tsunami waves that swept ashore on Samoa and American Samoa early Tuesday 29 Sept, flattening villages, killing at least 39 people and leaving dozens of workers missing at devastated National Park Service facilities.

 

 

Cars and people were swept out to sea by the fast-churning water as survivors fled to high ground, where they remained huddled hours later. Signs of devastation were everywhere, with a giant boat getting washed ashore and coming to rest on the edge of a highway and floodwaters swallowing up cars and homes.

 

American Samoa Gov. Togiola Tulafono said at least 50 were injured, in addition to the deaths.

 

The U.S. Coast Guard planned sent a C-130 plane to American Samoa to deliver aid and assess damage after the powerful earthquake and tsunami hit the U.S. territory.

Rear Adm. Manson Brown, Coast Guard commander for the Pacific region, said the Coast Guard is in the early stages of assessing what resources to send to American Samoa.

 

“We’re going to assume, because a tsunami of this sort is probably going to wreak havoc in the port, we’re going to have to get additional personnel and supplies down through the airport,” Brown told reporters.

 

A tsunami creates the risk of pollution if the waves damaged port refueling facilities, Brown said.

 

We need to make sure we mitigate any hazard to human beings or hazards to the environment,” he said.

 

The U.S. Pacific Command, which is responsible for all U.S. forces in the Asia-Pacific region, hadn’t received any requests for help and wasn’t considering sending, spokesman Maj. Brad Gordon said.

 

Quote of the Day:

There is no warfare area more important than cyber.”—Vice Adm. Richard W. Hunt, USN, commander of the U.S. Third Fleet

 

The challenges of the Pacific region and cyberwarfare issues dominated discussion on the second day of TechNet Asia-Pacific 2009 in Honolulu, Hawaii November 2-5. The new J-6 of the Pacific Command (PACOM), Brig. Gen. Brett T. Williams, USAF, began the day by calling for a new relationship between communicators and operators.

 

“What happens in cyberspace doesn’t stay in cyberspace; it affects the real world,” he declared. The U.S. military doesn’t need a cyber planning tool; it needs an integrated warfare planning tool. Information as a weapon and as a tool to further the commander’s capabilities will be much more powerful as a result, he said.

 

The Pacific theater of operations is providing new challenges to the U.S. Coast Guard, said the commander of the 14th Coast Guard District. Rear Adm. Manson Brown, USCG, told a luncheon audience that the Coast Guard increasingly is dealing with national security aspects as it carries out traditional missions deep into the Pacific.

 

Protecting precious fisheries are a national security issue, particularly as small island nations depend on fishing for food and commerce, he noted. If commercial concerns brazenly break rules and overfish, the well-being of these nations is threatened. Food security is a top issue with each of these countries.

 

Because it can be hard to get multiple nations to agree on something, the Coast Guard is entering into bilateral agreements to pursue joint interests in the vast region. Adm. Brown cited as an example how U.S. Coast Guard surveillance and reconnaissance information passed to its counterpart in Kiribati helped that small island nation catch illegal fishing in its waters. Apprehending the illegal fishers both stopped them and generated $4.7 million in fines’ revenue for Kiribati.

 

 

(Rear Adm. Manson Brown, commander, 14th U.S. Coast Guard District, thanks the crew of the guided-missile frigate USS Crommelin (FFG 37) for supporting the Coast Guard in locating and investigating vessels suspected of illegal fishing in June.)

SANTA RITA, Guam.- The commander of 14th U.S. Coast Guard District awarded special operations ribbons to USS Crommelin (FFG 37) Sailors while in Guam Dec. 4.

 

Rear Adm. Manson Brown, commander, 14th U.S. Coast Guard District, presented the award in honor of Crommelin’s support of a Coast Guard mission to protect natural resources from June 15-29.

 

Crommelin, along with law enforcement officers from 14th U.S. Coast Guard District, searched for illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing vessels operating along 16 million square miles of ocean near Hawaii, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia and other areas in the Western Pacific.

 

The fight-for-fish mission and the improvement of a persistent presence with respect to fisheries enforcement were the main objectives of the operation.

 

The importance of the fish there is not only in terms of economy, but also for feeding the people of the islands,” said Brown, who was in Guam to visit U.S. Coast Guard Sector Guam. “It’s truly a national security issue for the United States.”

 

Brown said the mission proves that partnerships between the Navy and Coast Guard can provide positive results as the nation promotes a Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower. Also known as the nation’s Maritime Strategy, the concept aims to protect and sustain the United States and its allies’ interests and assets around the world.

 

Cmdr. Kevin Parker, commanding officer of Crommelin, said the mission was a win-win situation for everyone involved. He said the mission exercised and refreshed his crew’s skills. The training and detection equipment used throughout the mission was similar to the training and equipment used to locate pirates, warships and other hostile forces. During this mission, they investigated eight vessels, one of which did not have proper licensing.

 

Parker said the mission was successful in areas other than strengthening operability with the Coast Guard.

 

In Pohnpei, one of the four states of the Federated States of Micronesia, Crommelin’s crew hosted a luncheon for the island’s dignitaries and sent Navy volunteers to paint bleachers at a baseball field.

 

“The people from town poured out, and it became a cooperative effort with the people and the Sailors,” said Parker.

 

 

Nomination: PN1324-111

Date Received: December 22, 2009 (111th Congress)

Nominee: One nomination, beginning with Vice Adm. Robert J. Papp Jr., and ending with Vice Adm. Robert J. Papp Jr.

Referred to: Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation

 

 

Legislative Actions

Floor Action: December 22, 2009 – Received in the Senate and referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.

Organization: Coast Guard

 

List of Nominees:

The following named individual for appointment as Commandant of the United States Coast Guard and to the grade indicated under title 14, U.S.C., Section 44:

 

To be Admiral

 

 

Vice Adm. Robert J. Papp , Jr.

 

 

Control Number: 111PN0132400

 

December 22, 2009

 

For Immediate Release

Office of the Press Secretary

Contact: 202-282-8010

 

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano today applauded President Obama’s intent to nominate Vice Admiral Robert J. Papp, Jr., as Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard. If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Vice Admiral Papp would relieve Admiral Thad Allen in May 2010.

 

“The Coast Guard plays a vital role in protecting our nation—securing America’s borders, protecting our ports, and providing critical aid during disasters,” said Secretary Napolitano. “Vice Admiral Papp’s extensive knowledge of the Coast Guard’s operations and broad mission will strengthen our efforts to ensure the nation’s maritime security.”

 

As Coast Guard Commandant, Papp will lead one of the Department’s largest components-comprised of approximately 42,000 Active Duty men and women and more than 7,000 civilian employees-and oversee Coast Guard functions as a branch of the armed services and a federal law enforcement agency.

 

Biography.

 

Papp currently serves as Commander of the Coast Guard Atlantic Area (LANTAREA) and Defense Force East—functioning as the operational commander for all Coast Guard missions within the eastern half of the world. Prior to assuming command of LANTAREA, he served as the Chief of Staff of the Coast Guard in Washington.

 

Papp served as Ninth Coast Guard District Commander from 2004-2006, and was previously promoted to Flag rank in October 2002 and appointed Director of Reserve and Training. His Coast Guard career includes extensive tours on both land and sea including service on six Coast Guard Cutters and posts such as Chief of the Capabilities Branch in the Defense Operations Division; Chief of the Fleet Development Team; and Chief of the Coast Guard’s Office of Congressional Affairs.

 

Papp graduated from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy Class of 1975, three years ahead of ADM Manson K Brown. He holds a master’s in national security and strategic studies from the U.S. Naval War College and a master’s in management from Salve Regina College.

 

Vice Admiral Papp concurrently serves as Commander, Defense Force East and provides Coast Guard mission support to the Department of Defense and Combatant Commanders.

 

Before assuming command of LANTAREA Vice Admiral Papp served as the Chief of Staff of the Coast Guard in Washington, DC, overseeing all management functions of the Coast Guard. From 2004 to 2006 he served as Commander, Ninth Coast Guard

 

District, with responsibilities for Coast Guard missions on the Great Lakes and Northern Border.

 

Vice Admiral Papp was promoted to Flag rank in October 2002 and appointed the Director of Reserve and Training. He was responsible for managing and supporting 13,000 Coast Guard Ready Reservists and all Coast Guard Training Centers.

 

He served in six Coast Guard Cutters and commanded the Cutters RED BEECH, PAPAW, FORWARD, and the Coast Guard’s training barque, EAGLE. He has also served as commander of a task unit during Operation ABLE MANNER off the coast of Haiti in 1994, enforcing United Nations sanctions. Additionally, his task unit augmented U.S. Naval Forces during Operation UPHOLD DEMOCRACY.

 

Vice Admiral Papp’s assignments ashore have included the Commandant of Cadets staff at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy; Aids to Navigation staff in the Third Coast Guard District; Chief of the Capabilities Branch in the Defense Operations Division; Chief of the Fleet Development Team; Director of the Leadership Development Center; Chief of the Coast Guard’s Office of Congressional Affairs; and Deputy Chief of Staff of the Coast Guard.

 

He is a 1975 graduate of the United States Coast Guard Academy. Additionally, he holds a Master of Arts in National Security and Strategic Studies from the United States Naval War College and a Master of Science in Management from Salve Regina College.

 

Vice Admiral Papp is the 13th Gold Ancient Mariner of the Coast Guard which is an honorary position held by an officer with over ten years of cumulative sea duty who is charged with keeping a close watch to ensure sea-service traditions are continued and the time-honored reputation of the Coast Guard is maintained.

 

WASHINGTON(AP)- President Obama’s pick to lead the Coast Guard wants to make major cuts to the agency’s counterterrorism mission over the next five years.

 

An internal memo from Vice Admiral Robert J. Papp Jr., Obama’s nominee to become Coast Guard commandant, says that starting in 2012, he would slash funding for programs in the agency’s homeland security plan, including patrols and training exercises.

 

The memo, marked “sensitive — for internal Coast Guard use only,” was obtained by The Associated Press.

 

Papp’s outline is significant because it could mean major changes for the more than 200-year-old agency that took on substantial homeland security duties after Sept. 11, 2001. Obama’s 2011 proposed budget cuts for the Coast Guard have already caused outrage from some lawmakers.

 

According to Papp’s memo, he would scale back the Coast Guard’s counterterrorism priorities in favor of running traditional search-and-rescue operations that save people in imminent danger on the water and maintaining the maritime transportation system.

 

In the memo, Papp said he wants to eliminate teams that are trained to respond to and prevent terror attacks. These teams also train other Coast Guard forces on counterterrorism operations.

 

Papp said the strike teams were created after Sept. 11 “to fill a perceived void in national counterterrorism response capability.” He says in the memo that other federal agencies are better at this type of mission.

 

He also calls for cuts to the Coast Guard’s largest homeland security operation, which patrols critical infrastructure and other sensitive security structures on or near waterways. And he would decrease the number of specialized units stationed in key coastal areas where an attack could be devastating.

 

Obama has already proposed closing five of the 12 specialized units in 2011.

 

“In view of the fiscal horizon, we must make bold and systematic strategic decisions,” Papp wrote in the memo, dated Nov. 10, 2009. Obama announced his intention to nominate Papp on Dec. 22.

 

Coast Guard spokesman Ron LaBrec said the memo was written in response to a Coast Guard headquarters request to identify potential areas for budget cuts down the road. LaBrec said it is part of a department-wide review of homeland security missions leading to spending proposals for 2012. But he said the memo does not represent Papp’s own preferences or priorities.

 

Tom Gavin, the spokesman for the administration’s Office of Management and Budget, said the White House is not involved in the internal budget considerations for 2012.

 

Papp also wants to cut back on the number of ships doing daily counternarcotics operations in the Caribbean. Currently, about six ships carry out that mission daily, according to Papp’s memo.

 

He wants to trim the number back to an average of 4 1/2 ships a day, while keeping the Coast Guard cutters that perform anti-narcotics operations in transit zones to respond to specific intelligence about drug trafficking.

 

“What I offered above is just a fraction of what is needed, and I’m prepared to go further,” Papp wrote in the memo.

 

After reading the memo, Rep. Pete Olson, R-Texas, said Papp’s proposals would gut an agency critical to national security. Olson said he is “pretty scared” that Papp is the administration’s pick to run the Coast Guard.

 

Obama himself proposed cutting 1,100 active duty personnel this year – a move that is meeting resistance from some Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill. Congress ultimately decides how federal agencies are funded.

 

“It’s up to the Coast Guard to help protect our ports and our maritime industry, and it cannot do that without adequate funding,” Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., said in a statement.

 

Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky., said Obama’s homeland security proposal is “dead on arrival.” Rogers is the top Republican on the appropriations committee that overseas homeland security spending.

 

Responding to criticism about the proposed Coast Guard cuts in the 2011 budget, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said, “I think the Coast Guard is one of the most under-appreciated assets of this country.”

 

The Coast Guard was transferred from the Transportation Department to the newly created Homeland Security Department in 2003. In times of war, the Coast Guard may be transferred to the Department of the Navy. It has 42,000 active-duty volunteers.

 

 

Washington (03 Feb 2010)– Coast Guard Commandant Thad W. Allen announced today the members of the services leadership team that will take over when he is relieved as Commandant by Vice Admiral Robert Papp on May 25.

Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano has forwarded and President Obama has approved the new leaders. The President has forwarded the nominations to the Senate for its consideration.

 

The new leadership team will consist of:

 

■Rear Admiral Sally Brice-O’Hara – promoted to Vice Admiral and assignment as Vice Commandant;

■Rear Admiral Robert C. Parker – promoted to Vice Admiral and assignment as Commander, Atlantic Area;

Rear Admiral Manson K. Brown – promoted to Vice Admiral and assignment as Commander, Pacific Area.

■Vice Admiral John P. Currier will continue to serve as the Chief of Staff.

■Rear Admiral Brian M. Salerno will be assigned as the Deputy Commandant for Operations, a position that does not require Senate confirmation.

 

(8 Feb 2010)

 

U.S. Coast Guard admiral named chair of Federal Executive Board for 2010 HONOLULU– The incoming chair of the Honolulu-Pacific Federal Executive Board, U.S. Coast Guard Rear Adm. Manson K. Brown (right), congratulates outgoing chair U.S. Marine Corps Col. Kirk Bruno in an official hand-off of duties, Monday, Feb. 8, 2010. The Federal Executive Board (FEB) was an initiative in 1961 by President Kennedy to improve inter-agency coordination and communication among federal departments outside of Washington, D.C. The Honolulu-Pacific FEB is comprised of more than 120 senior officials on Oahu, Maui, Kauai and the Big Island. Federal workers in Hawaii include more than 40,375 Department of Defense employees, more than 30,000 non-DoD employees and more than 302,780 military members. Under Bruno’s leadership, the FEB policy committee assisted the FEB on several important training exercises (one in November for the stockpile of medicine, another simulating a hurricane in June and another concerning a chemical or biological incident in June). The committee also helped in the planning for an annual FEB luncheon in May and the planning for a “continuity of operations” training session in May, when federal agencies reviewed emergency preparedness issues. Brown will chair the FEB for 2010 and Daryl Ishizaki of the U.S. Postal Service will serve as vice chair.

 

 

Coast Guard selects new three star admirals.

U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Thad Allen, has announced the selection of new three star admirals who will serve under Vice Adm. Robert J. Papp, when he becomes the Coast Guard’s twenty-fourtth commandant May 25, upon Senate confirmation.

 

Secretary of Homeland Security Napolitano and President Obama approved the nominations of Rear Adm. Sally Brice-O’Hara for promotion to vice admiral and assignment as Vice Commandant; Rear Adm. Manson K. Brown for promotion to vice admiral and assignment as commander of the Coast Guard’s Pacific Area and Rear Adm. Robert C. Parker for promotion to vice admiral and assignment as commander of the Coast Guard’s Atlantic Area. Vice Adm. John P. Currier will continue to serve as the chief of staff. Appointment to these billets and promotion as appropriate will occur following confirmation by the Senate.

 

Brice-O’Hara graduated from Goucher College where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology in 1974. She received her Coast Guard commission from Officer Candidate School (OCS) in the Class of 1975 She is a native of Annapolis, Md., is currently deputy commandant for operations in Coast Guard Headquarters, Washington, where she is responsible for the strategic integration of operational missions. As the service’s second in command, Brice-O’Hara will be in charge of executing the commandant’s strategic intent, managing internal organizational governance and also serving as the Coast Guard’s acquisition executive.

 

Manson K. Brown, U.S. Coast Guard Academy Class of 1978, is a native of the District of Columbia, serves as commander for the Fourteenth Coast Guard District in Honolulu, where he is responsible for the safety and security of nearly 12.2 million square miles of the Central Pacific Ocean, an area more than two and a half times larger than the Continental United States. Brown will be the Coast Guard’s first African American three star admiral. At Pacific Area, Brown will command all Coast Guard missions in a 74 million square mile area ranging from South America, north to the Arctic Circle and west to the Far East.

 

Rear Adm. Manson K. Brown was recognized by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in a ceremony at the PJKK Federal Building, Feb. 10, 2010. Brown is the 14th Coast Guard district commander and was recognized for the Coast Guard’s contributions in marine mammal response, conservation, and assistance provided on such missions as Hawaiian monk seal relocations and whale disentanglements and strandings. NOAA and the Coast Guard routinely work on such missions throughout the main Hawaiian Islands. Presenting the award was Bill Robinson, director of NOAA’s Pacific Islands Regional Office.

 

The Coast Guard Foundation, a non-profit organization committed to the education, welfare and morale of all Coast Guard members and their families, announced today that its 8th Annual Tribute to the United States Coast Guard’s Fourteenth District will take place on Thursday, March 11, 2010 in Honolulu, Hawaii. Honoring local Coast Guard members who protect coastline shores from the Hawaiian Islands to Guam, the gala’s Chairman is Mr. Vic Angoco, vice president—Pacific of Matson Navigation and the Keynote Speaker is ADM Thad Allen, United States Coast Guard Commandant. Remarks will also be given by RADM Manson Brown, commander of the Fourteenth Coast Guard District, and Anne B. Brengle, president of the Coast Guard Foundation.

 

 

 

At this year’s tribute, the United States Coast Guard will honor two award recipients. Governor Linda Lingle will be presented with the Distinguished Public Service Award for her unwavering support of the Hawaii-based Coast Guard heroes.

 

(In Picture) Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle and Rear Adm. Manson Brown at the Coast Guard District Fourteen Ball 2009.

 

Petty Officer William Horne will receive the Coast Guard Medal for the heroism he demonstrated while off duty with his family by rescuing five people from a pickup truck involved in an automobile accident in Guam on February 8, 2009.

 

 

(Left to right,Rear Admiral Manson K. Brown, COMCOGARD Dist 14, with Lt. David Shook, an Air Station Barbers Point pilot, and with his wife, after receiving the Air Medal, March 22, 2010.)

 

Shook was awarded the high honor for his performance of duty during a rescue mission off the French Frigate Shoals, an atoll in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, Oct. 20, 2009.

 

The Air Medal is awarded to any person who, while serving in any capacity with the Armed Forces of the United States, distinguishes him or herself by heroic or meritorious achievement while participating in aerial flight.

 

(Rear Admiral Robert Parker, U.S. Coast Guard Academy Class of 1979, is a native of Portland, Ore., serves as the U.S. Southern Command’s first director of security and intelligence in Miami, where he directs U.S. military operations and intelligence efforts, and coordinates interagency operations in Southern Command’s area of responsibility. He is the first Coast Guard officer to serve as a director in a Department of Defense command. In his new position at Atlantic Area, Parker will command an area of responsibility that ranges from the Rocky Mountains to the Arabian Gulf and includes five Coast Guard Districts, 42 states and over 14 million square miles.

 

A Vice Admiral must be an Academy graduate in order to become Commandant.

 

(WEST POINT, 12/21/2010) And speaking of change, the Coast Guard will have the first woman superintendent of a military service academy at the helm of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy when classes convene next summer. The commandant of the Coast Guard, Adm. Bob Papp, has selected Rear Adm. Sandra L. Stosz, Coast Guard director of reserve and leadership, for the superintendent position. Rear Admiral Stosz graduated from the Coast Guard Academy in 1982 with a bachelor of science degree in Government.

 

“Rear Adm. Stosz has dedicated her career to developing professional Coast Guard men and women,” said U.S. Coast Guard commandant, Adm. Robert J. Papp. “We are also extremely proud to be the first service with a woman at the helm of our academy.

 

The Coast Guard has always led by allowing men and women equal access to all career fields and assignments.”

 

In her current position, Stosz is responsible for policy affecting the recruitment and training of more than 8,000 Coast Guard reserve members. She has also commanded the Coast Guard’s only recruit training center in Cape May, N.J. She will be the first and only female commander to head any of the nation’s five military academies.

 

“I am humbled by the prospect of taking over such an important position in our service and honored to be following Rear Adm. Burhoe,” said Stosz. “The school and officer corps have benefited in so many ways from Scott’s outstanding leadership and vision.”

 

Under the command of the current superintendent, Rear Adm. J. Scott Burhoe, the school was ranked as a top college by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges and listed as the number one college in the northeast by U.S. News and World Report. The school had five Fulbright and three Truman scholars during his tenure. Burhoe also improved the school’s diversity record, doubling the percentage of minority admissions from 12 percent in 2008 to 24 percent in 2010.

 

“Rear Adm. Stosz is an excellent choice to succeed me as superintendent,” said Burhoe, “She has a distinguished record of service, and as a member of the board of trustees understands the importance of continuing to move the academy forward on its current track.”

 

Burhoe is scheduled to retire July 1.

 

The Coast Guard Academy was established in 1876. The oldest service academy is West Point which was established in 1802.


(Vice Adm. Manson K. Brown speaks to U.S. Coast Guard Academy cadets, staff, and faculty during the Eclipse Week Keynote Dinner April 4, 2014. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Cory J. Mendenhall.) Pictured with VADM Brown is CDR Merle James Smith Academy Class of 1966. First African American Academy graduate. 2016 will be the 50th Anniversary of his historic accomplishment.

 

 

Categories: American History | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Travesty? Mockery? Justice? Was It Worth It?

 (Brig Gen. Jeff Sinclair as he arrives to the Fort Bragg courthouse, for his sentencing hearing, Wednesday, March 19, 2014, in Fort Bragg, N.C. Sinclair, who was accused of sexually assaulting a subordinate, plead guilty to lesser charges in a plea deal reached with government prosecutors.)

Disgraced Army general, Jeffrey A. Sinclair, gets $20,000 fine, no jail time.

 (FORT BRAGG, NC – MARCH 17: Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair leaves the Fort Bragg Courthouse after sexual assault charges against him were dropped after he plead to lesser charges March 17, 2014 in Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Sinclair, a former deputy commander with the 82nd Airborne Division, has admitted to an extramarital affair with a junior officer. “Unlawful command influence” caused a delay in the trial last week.) (Photo by Davis Turner/Getty Images)

 

Army Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair carried on a three-year affair with a captain and had two other inappropriate relationships with subordinates. He was reprimanded and fined $20,000 in pay. He will not serve any jail time.

 

 Coast Guard Academy Cadet Webster Smith had consensual sex with a confidant and girl friend; he received six months jail time and a bad conduct discharge. Is it fair? Is that what we call “equal protection of the law”? It was an American Tragedy. It was a mockery of justice. It was a case that will live in infamy. It was a travesty!

(Read all about The Webster Smith Case at http://www.amazon.com/CONDUCT-UNBECOMING-Officer-Lady-Conviction/dp/1460978021/ref=la_B006WQKFJM_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1395709342&sr=1-1)

Admiral Thad W. Allen, Commandant of the Coast Guard, speaking at the Academy on 8 September 2006 did not mention the Webster Smith Case. But, talking with reporters afterward, Allen said THE PROCESS used to deal with the issue worked as it should.

Apparently, Commandant Allen did not know that the System was stalled. He did not seem to be aware that his fellow Admiral, the Superintendent, was stonewalling the System.

(Read more at http://cgachasehall.blogspot.com/2006/10/admiral-van-sice-has-no-respect-for.html)

 

 

 

 

 Army Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair admitted carrying on a prolonged, turbulent affair with an officer under his direct command and having improper relationships with two other women was reprimanded and fined $20,000 by a military judge Thursday March 20th.
To his visible relief, however, Brig. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sinclair was spared a jail sentence. The decorated combat veteran hugged his lawyers and friends after his sentence was imposed by Col. James Pohl, the military judge who oversaw his court-martial at Fort Bragg, N.C.

 

The system worked. I’ve always been proud of my Army,” Sinclair told reporters. “All I want to do now is go north and hug my kids and wife.”

 

 

Yes, the System worked. That sounds awfully like what Admiral Thad Allen said about the court-martial of Cadet Webster Smith when he was interviewed at the United states Coast Guard Academy after the first court-martial of a cadet in Coast Guard history.
The big question is “for whom’? For whom did the System work? It works a lot better for some than for others.
The Defense Department’s failure so far to change the military’s male-dominated culture is driving a vocal group of mainly female lawmakers led by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., to advocate aggressive reforms.

(Senator Kirsten Gilllibrand, D-N.Y.)
Tinkering at the edges, they argue, won’t produce the seismic shift needed to send the message that sexist attitudes and behaviors will no longer be tolerated. Victims need to be confident that if they report a crime their allegations won’t be discounted and they won’t face retaliation.

For two years, Sinclair’s court-martial had made him the public face of the military’s struggle to prevent and police sexual misconduct in the ranks. He was only the third Army general to face court-martial in 60 years, a measure that critics called emblematic of the military’s reluctance to hold senior commanders accountable for all kinds of wrongdoing.
Although Sinclair was pleased with the outcome, his chief accuser and some advocacy groups for sex-crime victims expressed deep disappointment. Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) called the sentence “a mockery of military justice” and a “laughable punishment.
Sinclair was originally charged with crimes that could have landed him in prison for life.
His accuser, a much younger female captain who served on his staffs in Iraq and Afghanistan, reported in March 2012 that she had been the married general’s lover for three years. She also said that he had sexually assaulted her on two occasions and once threatened to kill her and her family if she told anyone about the affair.
The Army prosecuted Sinclair for those offenses for nearly two years, but suddenly dropped the charges this month and cut a plea deal with the general after prosecutors admitted they had doubts about the reliability of the general’s mistress. Their hand was also forced after the judge ruled that there was evidence the Army had allowed politics and external considerations to influence its handling of the case.
In the end, Sinclair pleaded guilty to adultery, maltreatment of his accuser and two other improper relationships. He also admitted to making derogatory comments about women and, when challenged by his staff, replying: “I’m a general, I’ll say whatever the [expletive] I want.”
The accuser’s attorney, Jamie Barnett, a retired Navy rear admiral, said she was “obviously devastated” that Sinclair’s sentence wasn’t more severe.
“It’s a terrible outcome, and by failing to render justice today, the Army’s going to face the reality that this could happen again,” said Barnett, now a lawyer in private practice. “It’s really beyond disappointing. It’s a travesty for the Army and military justice in general.”

Coincidentally, Sinclair was sentenced on the same day that another high-profile sexual assault prosecution in the military collapsed.
In that case, a military judge at the Washington Navy Yard found a former Navy football player not guilty of sexually assaulting a female classmate at an April 2012 party. The Navy had originally charged two other midshipmen in the same incident but later cleared both as the case slowly crumbled.
In the past, military leaders have been criticized for not taking sex abuse allegations seriously and for mistreating victims. But in the courts-martial that culminated Thursday, the evidence of sexual assault rested largely on the testimony of the accusers, both of whom struggled to give a consistent and clear account.
Advocacy groups for sexual-assault victims were quick to seize on the outcomes as another sign that the military justice system is ill-equipped to handle such cases.
Nancy Parrish, the president of Protect our Defenders, said the results would discourage other members of the military from coming forward to report sex crimes.
“The military’s promises of ‘zero tolerance’ for sexual offenses continues to ring hollow as yet another high ranking official is let off the hook,” she said of the Sinclair case. “It has been long known within the military that General Sinclair conducted himself in outrageous and inappropriate, even unlawful ways. His behavior was not addressed until this victim came forward.”
Sinclair’s attorney, Richard Scheff, retorted that people who thought the general got away with a light sentence were ignoring the facts. “Critics of this ruling who weren’t in court and haven’t seen the evidence have no idea what they’re talking about.”
Sinclair admitted the affair but vigorously denied assaulting or threatening the woman. His lawyers portrayed her as a jealous mistress who spoke out after she read suggestive e-mails he had sent to other women, and because he refused to divorce his wife.
He could be punished further financially. His attorneys have said they expect he will have to retire from the Army at a lower rank, which would diminish his pension benefits.
Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon’s chief spokesman, declined to comment on Sinclair’s sentence. But he acknowledged that the military needed to do more to deter and prosecute sex crimes.
We know we need to get better. We know that there are changes that need to continue to be made,” Kirby told reporters. “Our focus is on making sure victims have the confidence to report and that those who are proven guilty of a crime are held accountable.”

(By Craig Whitlock. Ernesto Londoño contributed.)

APPENDIX I. Background on the handling of this case.

FORT BRAGG, N.C. — It was an illicit and volatile love affair that spanned two war zones and four countries. The married general couldn’t stay away from a captain on his staff. She fell hard for her boss and called him “Poppa Panda Sexy Pants.” The three-year entanglement ended disastrously for both, at a time that could not be worse for the Army.
All the raw and sordid details are spilling out in an austere military courthouse here, where the Army is girding — for only the third time in half a century — to court-martial one of its generals.

(Uncredited/AP) – Brig. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sinclair faces court martial on charges that include forcible sodomy and adultery.

Video

<caption> Brigadier General Jeffrey Sinclair is accused of sexually assaulting a female captain and inappropriately communicating with three others. </caption>

Brigadier General Jeffrey Sinclair is accused of sexually assaulting a female captain and inappropriately communicating with three others.

 

Brig. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sinclair, an Army Ranger and paratrooper, stands accused of forcible sodomy, adultery and other charges that could land him in prison. Prosecutors say he abused his command authority by sleeping with a subordinate officer, a taboo in the armed forces and a violation of military law.
They charge that the relationship turned violent on two occasions, when he allegedly forced her to perform oral sex.
In addition, Sinclair faces charges that he had inappropriate communications with three other female officers.
Sinclair has pleaded not guilty to all charges. Besides the rare spectacle of a general in the dock, however, the case poses a critical test of how the U.S. military handles allegations of sexual assault and misconduct, crimes that have long bedeviled the armed forces.
Congress and President Obama have demanded a crackdown, alarmed by a recent string of scandals and frank admissions by military leaders that they have systematically failed to address the problem.
A growing faction of lawmakers is pushing to rewrite the underpinnings of military law by giving power to uniformed prosecutors, instead of commanders, to oversee investigations of sexual abuse and other serious crimes. The Pentagon is resisting, arguing that commanders must retain the authority to enforce order and discipline in their units.
The last Army general to face court-martial was Brig. Gen. Roger B. Duff, who pleaded guilty in June 2012 to making false official statements and wearing unauthorized decorations. The Army did not publicly disclose that Duff had been court-martialed until months later, when Sinclair was charged.
In 1999, Maj. Gen. David R.E. Hale pleaded guilty at court-
martial after he was accused of committing adultery with the wives of four subordinates. He was fined and demoted. Before that, no Army general had faced court-martial since 1952, when Maj. Gen. Robert W. Grow, a military attache in Moscow, was suspended and reprimanded on charges of dereliction of duty.
Given the intense debate in Congress over possible far-reaching changes to military law, all sides are intently watching how Sinclair’s court-martial plays out. It is scheduled to begin Sept. 30 after months of evidentiary hearings and pretrial wranglings that have foreshadowed what is at stake.
Last week, the Army finished selecting a jury of five major generals, all men, who will determine Sinclair’s fate. Under military law, each juror must be senior in rank to the defendant. More than 40 generals were summoned to Fort Bragg from around the world to be interviewed. Most were rejected because they knew Sinclair or other key potential witnesses.
During jury selection, lawyers for both sides acknowledged the heavy political pressures swirling around the case.
They asked the potential jurors if they were worried that they might be passed over for promotion if they reached an unpopular verdict. They also questioned whether the generals could resist outside influences, such as Obama’s angry comments in May, when he demanded that military sex abusers be “prosecuted, stripped out of their positions, court-martialed, fired, dishonorably discharged — period.”
Virtually all the generals said that sexual assault is a serious problem in the ranks and that they had previously heard about the charges against Sinclair. One revealed that he had attended an Army-mandated training session on sexual assault prevention in which Sinclair was depicted as a case study in bad behavior.
Another commander, Maj. Gen. Kendall W. Penn of the 1st Army, candidly recalled what he thought when he first read news accounts of the case. “My general reaction was, this is going to be a black eye on the Army,” he said. He was later culled from the jury pool.
Retired Maj. Gen. Charles J. Dunlap Jr., a Duke University law professor and a former deputy judge advocate general for the Air Force, said the atmosphere surrounding sexual assault cases in the military has become “hyper-politicized.”
He said that Sinclair could receive a fair trial but that the five jurors will have to “exercise moral courage in a way they’ve perhaps never been asked to do before in a military justice setting.”

Final straw
Although Sinclair has pleaded not guilty, his attorneys acknowledge that he carried on an affair with a subordinate officer 17 years his junior. The Washington Post generally does not name alleged sex-crime victims.
During a pretrial hearing last year, the woman testified that the pair had sex in the general’s quarters in Iraq, in her car in a German parking lot, in plain sight on a hotel balcony in Arizona and in her cramped office in Afghanistan, among other places. Some soldiers wondered and snickered about their relationship, but nobody reported it.
The depth of their passion might have remained hidden if the general and the captain hadn’t bombarded each other with explicit text messages. Defense attorneys have read many out loud in court.
“You are my heart and world you beautiful magnificent man,” the captain texted the general in September 2011, during one of their tamer exchanges. “I need you and I mean really deeply profusely need you.”
Many of the text messages betray a dark side to the affair — angry accusations from the unmarried captain, as well as threats to kill herself or expose the affair to Sinclair’s superiors. During an evidentiary hearing at Fort Bragg, she testified that they fought continually but usually made up afterward.
“You are going to make me do something really stupid,” she wrote early last year in a typo-filled text. “How about I just [expletive] call [Sinclair’s commander] and have him resolve this, Im sure he will take the time to keep me from being suicidal. I well not let yoy continue to screw me over.”
The final straw came in Kandahar, Afghanistan, in March 2012. The captain was snooping through Sinclair’s e-mail in his office and discovered tender messages to his wife, as well as love notes to another female Army officer.
“I felt so stupid,” the captain testified. “I finally had something to slap me in the face and say, ‘See, he never loved you. He was just using you for sex.’ ”
By her own admission, she flew into a jealous rage. First, she fired off an e-mail to the other female officer, saying, “I hope you don’t think you’re the only girl that he’s sleeping with.”
Later that night, she burst into the office of Maj. Gen. James L. Huggins, then the commander of the 82nd Airborne Division and leader of all U.S. forces in southern Afghanistan. Tears streaming down her face, she spent two hours confessing to the affair, according to court testimony.
That set off a flurry of phone calls and e-mails among senior Army brass, who were stunned but immediately ordered a full investigation that eventually roped in more than 100 witnesses.
The case grew more serious when the captain gave a formal statement accusing Sinclair of sexual assault by forcing her to perform oral sex against her will on two occasions in Afghanistan.
She also asserted that he had once vowed to kill her and harm her family if she ever told his wife about the affair. Sinclair’s attorneys deny that he made the threat.

‘It’s tearing me up’
The Army charged Sinclair with forcible sodomy because of the oral sex allegations. The captain testified that the assaults occurred between December 2011 and February 2012 but said she cannot recall the exact dates.
During an evidentiary hearing in November, she said that she still had feelings for Sinclair and that she had not wanted the Army to charge him with forcible sodomy or a violent crime.
“It’s tearing me up, and in a [expletive] way I still love him, and I don’t want him to be upset with me,” she said. “I know it’s very messed up, but there’s a part of me that wants to believe that he really did love me and that I just misinterpreted his actions.”
Defense attorneys have accused her of making up the assault allegations to save her Army career. They said she first told one confidant that the relationship was entirely consensual but gave investigators a different version after she realized that she, too, could be kicked out of the Army for adultery.
Richard L. Scheff, an attorney for Sinclair, noted that the woman has since been granted immunity by the prosecution. “The evidence in this case is paper-thin,” he said. The captain, he said, has “changed her story again and again.”
Legal representatives for the woman did not respond to a request for comment placed through Army public affairs officials at Fort Bragg.
In an unusual move in the button-down world of military justice, Sinclair has hired four civilian defense lawyers and a national public relations firm, MWW Group. They have created a Web site — sinclairinnocence.com — to dissect the case and challenge the Army.
In an interview, Scheff said the Army “grossly overcharged” his client. Given Washington’s marching orders to the military to get tough on sexual assault, he said, he doubts that any jury could render a fair verdict for Sinclair.
“They’re in the spotlight on this,” he said. “They’re under such enormous pressure to change the culture on sexual assault.”
A Fort Bragg spokeswoman said prosecutors are not permitted to comment on a pending case.

‘It’s draining’
Sinclair also is charged with having inappropriate relations with three other female junior officers.
In combing through his e-mails, investigators found nude photos and flirtatious messages from two of the women but no evidence that he had sex with them. One of those officers testified that she repeatedly avoided meeting him in person, however, because she assumed he wanted to have a tryst.
At the same time, each of the three female officers testified that they admired Sinclair, considered him a mentor and didn’t want to cut off contact. Instead, they frequently sought out the general for career advice and professional favors.
In November, Sinclair’s wife, Rebecca, stunned many in the Army when she wrote an op-ed column in The Washington Post to declare that she was sticking by her husband and that she blamed his infidelity on “the stress of war.”
In an interview this month, Rebecca Sinclair said her husband may be a cheater but not a violent abuser. “I don’t excuse my husband’s bad behavior or bad judgment,” she said. “I never said it’s okay. I said I understand how it could happen.”
Although she has not attended most of the court proceedings, she said she’s still living with the general. “We’re doing the best we can,” she said. “It’s draining.”
 

APPENDIX II  

A Wife Responds

Why I Stand By My Man

When the strains of war lead to infidelity

By Rebecca Sinclair, Published: November 15, 2012

 

 

Rebecca Sinclair is married to Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair, a former deputy commander of the 82nd Airborne Division in Afghanistan, who is being tried at Fort Bragg, N.C., on charges including adultery and sexual misconduct.

Like most Americans, I’ve been unable to escape the current news cycle regarding several high-ranking military generals entangled in sex scandals. Unlike most Americans, however, for me the topic is personal. My husband, Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair, is one of the officers.
Spectators will try to make this scandal about many things: the arrogance of powerful men; conniving mistresses; the silent epidemic of sexual assault in the armed services. But these explanations obscure an underlying problem: the devastating influence of an open-ended war — now in its 11th year — on the families of U.S. service members.

 

Gallery

Video

<caption> Ann Telnaes cartoon: Petreaus case reveals reach of nation’s surveillance programs. </caption>

Ann Telnaes cartoon: Petreaus case reveals reach of nation’s surveillance programs.

 

 

 

Let me first address the elephant in the room. My husband had an affair. He violated our marriage vows and hurt me tremendously. Jeff and I are working on our marriage, but that’s our business.
Jeff also needs to answer to the Army. That is his business, not mine, and he accepts that. I believe in and support him as much as ever.
I wish I could say that my husband was the only officer or soldier who has been unfaithful. Since 2001, the stress of war has led many service members to engage in tremendously self-destructive behavior. The officer corps is plagued by leaders abandoning their families and forging new beginnings with other men and women. And many wives know about their husbands’ infidelity but stay silent.
For military wives, the options are bad and worse. Stay with an unfaithful husband and keep your family intact; or lose your husband, your family and the financial security that comes with a military salary, pension, health care and housing. Because we move so often, spouses lose years of career advancement. Some of us spend every other year as single parents. We are vulnerable emotionally and financially. Many stay silent out of necessity, not natural passivity.
In many ways, ours is a typical military story. Jeff and I married 27 years ago. While he rose through the officer corps, I earned my bachelor’s and master’s degrees and taught at community colleges in the places where we were stationed. We later had children.
Since 2001, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have destabilized our life. We have moved six times in 11 years. On average, our kids change schools every two years. Between five deployments, site surveys and training operations, Jeff has spent more than six of the past 10 years away from his family.
None of this is meant to excuse infidelity. I expected more of Jeff, and I think he expected more of himself. But we’re fooling ourselves if we don’t recognize the larger reality. My friends who are married to other combat leaders have been my anchor during this crisis. We understand that our soldiers may come home disfigured or injured in such a way that we will become lifelong caregivers. We also understand that they may not come home at all, and if blessed with a reunion, they may carry emotional baggage few could understand. My friends know that it could have been their heartbreak as much as mine. This is the only time in U.S. history that our nation has fought a decade-long war with a volunteer Army. Doing so has consequences. Nothing good can come of families being chronically separated for a decade or more.
Jeff’s case has its own complications. He was involved with a woman who confessed to a superior officer. As a servicewoman, she stood to be charged with criminal conduct under the military code of justice. She alleged sexual assault, and no such allegation should ever go unanswered. We are confident that the charges will be dropped. Hundreds of text messages and journal entries came to light in pretrial hearings last week that establish the affair was consensual. The woman in question admitted under oath that she never intended to have Jeff charged, and Jeff has passed a polygraph test. Ironically, if Jeff had decided to leave his family he would be in the clear.
There are many accusations against Jeff, some of which have already fallen apart. Jeff has been charged with possessing alcohol in a combat zone; a visiting dignitary gave him a bottle of Scotch that remained unopened on a bookshelf. His personal computer was used to access pornography; time stamps and Army records show that he was out of the country or city when most of the files were downloaded. We expect those charges, too, to be dismissed.
But the damage has been done. It will take years for Jeff to shed the false image of a hard-drinking, porn-dependent aggressor. The other generals will also struggle to rehabilitate reputations they spent decades building. All of these men are human beings, with strengths and fallibilities, and they have families who are under real strain. How we address this strain will say much about what kind of country we are; it will also determine how stable and strong our military is.

 

Categories: Military Justice | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

It Is Getting Harder To Get Social Security Benefits. The Hearing Backlog Is Growing again.

Social Security Disability Hearing Backlog Growing Again

 Number of people waiting in the hearing backlog approaches 1 million.

If your application was denied and you must appeal your SSDI benefits claim, it’s important to avoid waiting to file and get help.  The Back Log of people waiting to attend a hearing for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits is growing closer to 1 million.

As of December 2013, there were 903,720 people who had filed an appeal and were waiting for a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ). , according to  data released by the Social Security Administration (SSA).

This is a nearly 7 percent increase from 847,984 hearings pending at the end of fiscal year 2013, and a 17 percent increase from 771,318 hearings pending in FY 2011.

As the waiting time grows longer, more and more people are enduring significant financial hardship to receive SSDI benefits through a program they paid into through FICA taxes while they were working.

The first-quarter FY 2014 data also shows that the time it takes to get a Hearing has increased to 393 days from 382 days in FY 2013.

Click here to see a state-by-state ranking of pending hearings, based on an analysis of SSA data.

 

The growing Social Security disability Backlog illustrates the challenges of meeting the SSA’s goals outlined in its FY 2008-13 Agency Strategic Plan.

Social Security had planned to reduce the hearing Backlog to 466,000 claims and the average processing time to 270 days, but a number of factors have worked against this.

Restricted funding has led Social Security to cut the hours its Hearing Offices are open to the public. In addition, the average wait time for calls going to the SSA’s national 800-number have increased. Since September 2010, the SSA has lost more than 7,400 employees from its workforce, according to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM).

At the same time that waiting times are growing to get a Hearing, it’s becoming much more difficult to receive SSDI benefits.

For example, the SSA reported that 89,332 people were granted benefits in December 2012. A year later, that number was reduced to 61,983 in December 2013, a 30 percent decline.

SSDI is a federally mandated insurance program that provides monthly benefits to individuals who are under full retirement age (65-67) and who can no longer work because of a severe, long-term or terminal disability. FICA payroll taxes paid by workers and their employers fund the program, which is administered by the SSA.

You Need Help When Filing An SSDI Appeal

Things To Consider When Applying for SSDI benefits.

1.    Consult An Attorney. Those who applied for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits without a representative have the opportunity to get help with a disability appeal. At the hearing level of the SSDI program, nearly eight in 10 applicants have a representative.

2.    Appeal Every Thing. When people apply for SSDI and are denied benefits, they may decide to give up on their application. It’s important to pursue a disability appeal because delaying or missing important dates can hurt someone’s claim. For instance, those who decide to wait and apply later may wait too long and become uninsured. The SSA requires individuals to be fully and currently insured in order to receive SSDI benefits. Generally, this means having a work history of five out of the last 10 years—and waiting too long could mean missing this window.

3.    Provide documentation and details. It may take the SSA two years or longer to review an SSDI claim through the appeals process, which points to the importance of good documentation. Continue to work closely with your doctors to document updates, new tests and test result. It’s also important to correct any errors, explain changes and provide more detail with your SSDI appeal.

More than 168,000 people applied for SSDI benefits in December 2013 and entered the growing line for review of their disability insurance claims.

It is important for new SSDI applicants to realize they need expert help with their application. That expertise and attention to your claim can result in benefits as early as your initial application. That means avoiding disability appeals altogether.

 

Find more information about SSDI disability appeal see http://www.amazon.com/socialNsecurity-Confessions-Social-Security-Judge/dp/1449569757

 

(Statistics Source: ALLSUP) ABOUT ALLSUP :

Allsup is a nationwide provider of Social Security disability, veterans disability appeal, Medicare and Medicare Secondary Payer compliance services for individuals, employers and insurance carriers. Allsup professionals deliver specialized services supporting people with disabilities and seniors so they may lead lives that are as financially secure and as healthy as possible. Founded in 1984, the company is based in Belleville, Ill., near St. Louis. For more information, go to Allsup.com or visit Allsup on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/Allsupinc.

 

Categories: Social Security Benefits | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Judges Stripped Of Judicial Independnce At SSA

SSA increases oversight of judges in disability determinations

The Social Security Administration (SSA) recently announced plans to increase its oversight of judges (ALJs) in the disability determination process.
February 25, 2014 /24-7PressRelease/ — In an effort to improve consistency in the disability determination process (SSDI), the Social Security Administration (SSA) recently announced plans to step up its oversight of the administrative law judges (ALJ) who are responsible for awarding or denying disability benefits. The Social Security Disability Insurance program provides financial benefits to people who are unable to work because of a mental or physical disability. 
The program has increased substantially in the years since the U.S. economy took a downturn in 2008, and there are now approximately 11 million people receiving disability benefits nationwide. New job descriptions for judges To expand its oversight of the eligibility determination process, the SSA is rewriting the job descriptions of approximately 1,500 judges, who in the past have been given broad discretion over the outcome of eligibility hearings. In recent years, these eligibility hearings have yielded notoriously unpredictable results.
According to a 2011 report by the Wall Street Journal, an applicant’s likelihood of being awarded disability benefits can vary dramatically depending on the judge; while a handful of judges award benefits in nine cases out of ten, others deny benefits nearly as often.  
The new job descriptions will include language stating that the judges are subject to supervision and will remove the words “complete individual independence,” the WSJ reported. It is hoped that the changes will increase accountability among the judges and allow the SSA to take corrective measures when judges award or deny benefits inappropriately.
 Disability benefit determination 
Before becoming eligible to receive SSDI benefits, an applicant must first establish that he or she meets the SSA’s requirements for being considered “disabled.” To do so, the applicant must demonstrate that each of the following is true: – The individual cannot work because of a medical condition. – The condition has lasted or is expected to last for a year or more, or is expected to result in death.
 While the process of applying for SSDI benefits may seem relatively straightforward, in practice it can be cumbersome, time consuming and often frustrating. Not only is it necessary to submit medical records and other evidence of disability, but in most cases applicants are also required to attend an eligibility hearing before an administrative law judge.
Benefits often available after initial denial
Overall, first-time disability applicants are denied benefits as much as, according to some estimates, but a majority of denied applicants who pursue an appeal are eventually awarded benefits.
 In many cases, working with an experienced Social Security Disability lawyer can significantly improve an applicant’s chances of being awarded benefits, whether it is a first-time application or an appeal.
(Article provided by The Berkley Law Firm Visit us at www.berkleylaw.net — Press release service.)
Categories: Social Security Judges | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How To Fix The Social Security Courts

Fixing Disability Courts

A Social Security hearing is not a trial; it is a fact finding inquiry. The system is not even an adversarial system as defined by the judicial process. In an adversarial system, both sides are represented. In the present Social Security Disability Claims System the claimant can bring an attorney, but the system does not provide the government (SSA) with one. The taxpayers have no advocate on their behalf to ask questions, challenge medical evidence or review the 500 to 700 pages of materials that make up a typical case file.

The (Social Security Administration) judicial system is not run by anyone with real judicial experience. It is at the mercy of unelected bureaucrats whose only concern is how many cases each judge can churn out and how fast he or she can do it. An adversarial system with both sides represented and all evidence on the table is the best way to root out fraud and ensure that legitimate claims are paid.

(See http://www.amazon.com/socialNsecurity-Confessions-Social-Security-Judge/dp/1449569757)

An Interview of Judge D. RANDALL FRYE, President Association of Social Security Administrative Law Judges (AALJ) JAN. 19, 2014

(Above pictured is D. Randall Frye, on the right, with Marilyn Zahm)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — (QUOTE) IT’S hard to imagine a more cynical fraud. According to an indictment unsealed last week by the Manhattan district attorney’s office, post-9/11 phobias of airplanes and skyscrapers were among the fictitious ailments described by retired New York City police officers and firefighters who, in a scheme involving as many as 1,000 people, are accused of ripping off the Social Security disability system by filing false claims.

As an administrative law judge (ALJ) responsible for hearing Social Security disability cases (SSDI), I’m more familiar than most people with the system. But everyone has a right to be outraged by the recent charges. Officials estimate that the fraud cost the federal government $400 million. If true, it is the largest theft in the history of Social Security.

According to court papers, the fraudsters claimed to be so ill that they could not leave their homes to work, but many posted photographs on Facebook of themselves on motorcycles and water scooters, fishing and playing sports. How did they expect to get away with it?

Well, here’s a little-known fact. Neither the staff members of the Social Security Administration, who review initial claims, nor judges like myself, who hear disputed cases, are allowed to look at Facebook in the context of a case. Even if something in the case file suggests a claimant is not telling the whole truth, Social Security Administration policy prevents us from looking at social media, for fear that we cannot be trusted to properly assess the information gathered there. No Facebook, no Pinterest, no Twitter, no Tumblr. None of the sources that most employers routinely use to check the credibility of potential employees are available to us.

It gets worse. When a disputed case comes before an administrative law judge, a vast majority of claimants bring an attorney. After all, the average claim, if successful, will yield a payout of some $300,000 in lifetime benefits. With so much at stake, it’s only reasonable that a person who believes that he has wrongly been denied benefits would hire a lawyer. But isn’t it equally reasonable that the taxpayers should have an attorney present to challenge a claim that might be false?

Sorry, no luck. When I conduct a hearing (which occurs with no members of the press or public present, because of privacy concerns), the claimant can bring an attorney, but the system does not provide the government (SSA) with one. The taxpayers have no advocate on their behalf to ask questions, challenge medical evidence or review the 500 to 700 pages of materials that make up a typical case file. Not only that, but because of Social Security Administration policy, I am no longer allowed to order independent psychological testing to help determine whether a claimant is telling the truth.

Social Security disability courts have millions of claimants and constitute one of the world’s largest judicial systems. But the (Social Security judicial system) system is not run by anyone with real judicial experience. Instead, we are at the mercy of unelected bureaucrats whose only concern is how many cases each judge can churn out and how fast we can do it. The Social Security Administration is currently run by an acting commissioner; President Obama should appoint a permanent leader with recognized professional experience in the field of social insurance.

The Association of Administrative Law Judges AALJ), for which I serve as president, favors modernizing disability hearings so that we can give claimants a fair hearing while also protecting taxpayers. Our courtrooms ought to look more like what you see on “Law and Order” or “The Good Wife.” Each side should have an advocate, allowing judges to narrow the facts in dispute and apply the law in a neutral manner. And judges and their staff members should be able to use social media, including Facebook.

Though it is not clear from the Manhattan district attorney’s indictment if any of the claims in question ever wound up before an ALJ, it is clear than the current antiquated system handicaps the effective review of cases and encourages brazen behavior.

The system needs to be made more trustworthy and fully transparent. The actions of a few crooks must not be allowed to threaten the disability payments of millions of people who are genuinely disabled, many of whom paid into the disability insurance fund during their working lives. An adversarial system with both sides represented and all evidence on the table is the best way to root out fraud and ensure that legitimate claims are paid.(UNQUOTE)

D. Randall Frye is an administrative law judge for the United States Social Security Administration and the President of the AALJ, Association of Administrative Law Judges.

EXTRACT from the book ( “socialNsecurity, Confessions of a Social Security Judge”, published 2010, Introduction, p. 17)

..

Social Security Disability hearings are not trials. They are more in the nature of fact finding inquiries. They are presided over by an administrative law judge (ALJ), who is trained in the law. At a hearing only one side of the case is present and represented by an attorney or a paralegal. That is the claimant’s side.
If only one side of a controversy is present for the hearing, then why does the claimant need to have a judge presiding? When the Government wants to win a case, Congress designs a system that provides it with an advantage. In Immigration Hearings, the Government is represented by an attorney. When the Government is a party to a hearing before the Supreme Court, it is represented by the Solicitor General. In any other federal judicial forum where the Government has an interest, the Attorney General will ensure that the Government is adequately represented.
In Social Security Disability hearings the Government is not represented. The Government is not even present. That is probably because the system was designed to give the claimant an advantage. The case is the claimant’s case, to win or to lose. A judge is not needed to collect the medical records and listen to testimony that is not really cross-examined. The presiding officer is forced to accept the claimant’s testimony, no matter how farfetched it may be. The only evidence available to impeach the testimony of the witnesses is the evidence that the claimant provides. This could hardly be considered cross-examination.
In a trial there are usually two sides to a controversy. Each side is required to be present but may or may not be represented. A judge acts as referee to ensure that the rules of evidence and procedure are followed. There may or may not be a jury to determine the facts.
In a Social Security hearing only one side is present; that is the claimant, and his or her representative. The case is against the Government, but the Government is not present. Neither is the Government represented. That is because the system was designed to ensure that the claimant wins. After all, he is only asking for what is rightfully his. He has a social contract with the Government. He has paid his premiums in the form of payroll taxes and he is fully insured. Instead of honoring its obligations under the contract the Government first tries to delay or deny the claim. This is just plain bad faith.
(socialNsecurity, Confessions of a Social Security Judge”, published 2010, Amazon.com, Introduction, p. 17)
Categories: Social Security Cases | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

Honor, Deception and Betrayal. How Air Force Cadets Are Used As Informants, Then Betrayed and Expelled.

 

Honor and Deception
A secretive Air Force program recruits Academy students to inform on fellow cadets and disavows them afterward.

Facing pressure to combat drug use and sexual assault at the Air Force Academy, the Air Force has created a secret system of cadet informants to hunt for misconduct among students.

Cadets who attend the publicly-funded academy near Colorado Springs must pledge never to lie. But the program pushes some to do just that: Informants are told to deceive classmates, professors and commanders while snapping photos, wearing recording devices and filing secret reports.

(Coast Guard Academy Cadet London Steverson in 1966 on a Summer Exchange Program with the Air Force Academy)

It was a great honor for me to spend the Summer of 1966 training with the cadets from the United States Air Force Academy. They were highly motivated and very disciplined. I made one of the best friends I have had in my life while visiting the Air Force Academy at Colorado Springs, Colorado. He was Cadet Kenneth Little from Washington, D.C.

                                                                                                                   (Former Air Force Academy Cadet Kenneth Little.)

None of the service academies had started to admit female cadets in the 1960s. The male cadets were gung ho and macho. Drugs and binge drinking were not yet a part of the academy culture. I am fairly certain that there was no program of confidential cadet informants at that time. It is highly repugnant to use cadets in such a way. It betrays everything that we stood for as cadets and future officers.
For one former academy student, becoming a covert government operative meant not only betraying the values he vowed to uphold, it meant being thrown out of the academy as punishment for doing the things the Air Force secretly told him to do.

eric in p coat

“It was like a spy movie. I worked on dozens of cases, did a lot of good, and when it all hit the fan, they didn’t know me anymore.” – Eric Thomas

Eric Thomas, 24, was a confidential informant for the Office of Special Investigations, or OSI — a law enforcement branch of the Air Force. OSI ordered Thomas to infiltrate academy cliques, wearing recorders, setting up drug buys, tailing suspected rapists and feeding information back to OSI. In pursuit of cases, he was regularly directed by agents to break academy rules.

“It was exciting. And it was effective,” said Thomas, a soccer and football player who received no compensation for his informant work. “We got 15 convictions of drugs, two convictions of sexual assault. We were making a difference. It was motivating, especially with the sexual assaults. You could see the victims have a sense of peace.”

Through it all, he thought OSI would have his back. But when an operation went wrong, he said, his handlers cut communication and disavowed knowledge of his actions, and watched as he was kicked out of the academy.

“It was like a spy movie,” said Thomas, who was expelled in April, a month before graduation. “I worked on dozens of cases, did a lot of good, and when it all hit the fan, they didn’t know me anymore.”

The Air Force’s top commander and key members of the academy’s civilian oversight board claim they have no knowledge of the OSI program. The Gazette confirmed the program, which has not been reported in the media through interviews with multiple informants, phone and text records, former OSI agents, court filings and documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.

The records show OSI uses FBI-style tactics to create informants. Agents interrogate cadets for hours without offering access to a lawyer, threaten them with prosecution, then coerce them into helping OSI in exchange for promises of leniency they don’t always keep. OSI then uses informants to infiltrate insular cadet groups, sometimes encouraging them to break rules to do so. When finished with informants, OSI takes steps to hide their existence, directing cadets to delete emails and messages, misleading Air Force commanders and Congress, and withholding documents they are required to release under the Freedom of Information Act.

The program also appears to rely disproportionately on minority cadets like Thomas.

“Their behavior in (Thomas’s) case goes beyond merely disappointing, and borders on despicable,” Skip Morgan, a former OSI lawyer who headed the law department at the Academy, said in a letter to the Superintendent of the Academy in April. Morgan is now Thomas’s lawyer. The Superintendent did not reply.

The Air Force also has not replied to a letter sent by Thomas’ senator, John Thune of South Dakota, in September asking officials to meet with Thomas.

While the informant program has resulted in prosecutions, it also creates a fundamental rift between the culture of honesty and trust the academy drills into cadets and another one of duplicity and betrayal that the Air Force clandestinely deploys to root out misconduct.

The Gazette identified four informants. Three agreed to speak about their experience with OSI. All had been told they were the only informant on campus, but eventually learned of more, including each other. Because of the secretive nature of the program, The Gazette was unable to determine its scope, but the informants interviewed by The Gazette said they suspect the campus of 4,400 cadets has dozens.

“It’s contradictory to everything the academy is trying to do,” said one of the informants, Vianca Torres. “They say we are one big family, and to trust each other, then they make you lie to everyone.”

Academy commanders declined multiple requests for interviews. OSI also declined requests for comment, saying in a statement it could neither confirm nor deny the existence of the program.

Gen. Mark Welsh, the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, the service’s top officer and only commander with authority over both the academy and OSI, said he was unfamiliar with the cadet informant system.

“I don’t know a thing about it,” he said in an interview in October.

Members of the academy’s civilian oversight board, which includes members of Congress, also said they had not heard of the program.

Records show, for a time, Thomas was at the center of it. He worked major operations that netted high-profile prosecutions. OSI documents said he was “very reliable” and “provided OSI with ample amounts of vital information.”

Legal experts say informants are useful and commonly employed in fighting crime. But informants on college campuses are exceedingly rare, and other experts warn they have a corrosive effect on individuals and institutions.

It changes everyone’s relationship to the whole institution because it erodes the moral authority of the law,” said Loyola University professor Alexandra Natapoff, who studies informants and the law. “There are rules — unless you snitch. People begin to question the fairness of the system. And it sets cadets against their fellow cadets. It can really change their lives, sometimes in ways that can be very harmful.”

The three informants who spoke to The Gazette said the system needs reform.

“I hate it,” said a third cadet who said he became an informant in 2011. The cadet, who graduated in May and is now an officer, did not want to be identified because he feared retribution by the Air Force. He said being an informant was the worst thing he has ever done. “It puts you in a horrible situation: Lying, turning on other cadets. I felt like a rat. OSI says they will offer you protection, have your back. Then they don’t. Look what happened to Eric.”

Integrity first

Thomas said his life as an informant started after an off-campus cadet party in 2010.

The Air Force Academy is hardly known as a party school. Incoming cadets face a barrage of rules. For the first several months, they can’t wear civilian clothes or even civilian eyeglasses. They must run at attention to class and sit at attention at meals, setting forks down before chewing each bite seven times. They live in dorms where TVs, microwaves, and even unauthorized pillows are forbidden until senior year. These long-held traditions, used at all military academies, are designed to strip students of former identities and instill the collective identity of the Air Force.

Cadets at the Air Force Academy must meet rigorous standards. (Courtesy U.S. Air Force)

Any slip-up earns a cadet punishment and demerits. A cadet who amasses 200 demerits gets expelled. Any illegal drug use is grounds for immediate dismissal. About 70 cadets each year are kicked out.

Cadets are made to repeat the core values of the Air Force: “Integrity first, service before self, and excellence in all we do.”

They pledge to an honor code: “We will not lie, steal or cheat, nor tolerate among us anyone who does.” Telling a lie can get a cadet expelled. Even telling misleading truths, known as “quibbling,” can land a cadet in hot water.

The idea is to forge the integrity future officers need.

Even so, some cadets throw illegal parties off base, usually at houses rented for the weekend by a third party.

In fall 2010, Thomas, a sophomore, went to a house party near Divide. It was a typical college bash, he said, with pounding music, beer and cadets on the back porch smoking pot and a synthetic marijuana called spice.

The party was busted by civilian police. About two weeks later, the then 21-year-old said he was ordered to report to OSI for questioning.

OSI, formed in 1948, has about 2,300 personnel at bases around the globe who investigate terrorism threats, espionage, fraud, and other major crimes. Its motto is “eyes of the eagle.” Agents wear no rank or uniform. They answer not to the commanders where they are based, but to a central OSI office near Washington, D.C.

The Academy has about 12 agents, but cadets say few students know OSI exists.

Thomas, left, began informing on other cadets, including close friends.

An OSI agent named Mike Munson brought Thomas into a small interrogation room with a one-way mirror and a microphone, Thomas said. Munson did not respond to The Gazette’s email requests for an interview.

Thomas said he wasn’t nervous. He was a straight-laced athlete from a strict home who had never done drugs and drank very little. The agent told him he was there only as a witness. He wanted to know who did what at the party. At first, Thomas gave vague answers, but Munson pressed harder, Thomas said, grilling the cadet for more than three hours: OSI had witnesses. They had proof Thomas knew more than he was saying. It was the cadet’s duty to tell the truth. Under the honor code, not turning in spice smokers was the same as smoking spice.

The academy teaches cadets not to question superiors, Thomas said. When OSI asked him to do things, he thought he had little choice.

“Eventually I told them everything I knew,” Thomas said.

Thomas’s experience mirrors that of Vianca Torres. At age 20, when she was a junior, she said, OSI called her in as a potential witness because she had gone to a party where other women had reported being sexually assaulted. OSI interrogated her for six hours, she said, grilling her not only about the assaults but about drug use and other crimes among her friends going back years. At first the cadet with a clean record said she resisted, but they pressed harder.

“They called me a disgrace to my country. They called me a disgrace to my family,” she said.

Sobbing, she said, she eventually told on friends and admitted to smoking spice two years before.

Vianca Torres

OSI charged her for the crime, then promised to make the charge go away if she became an informant. She worked for OSI for 10 months, she said. OSI tried to plant a video camera in her alarm clock to bust a friend, she said.

She balked at the camera, she said, but did everything else OSI asked. Even so, she was kicked out in November, 2012 for her admission of drug use years before.

Before she was expelled, Torres said, OSI ordered her to delete all texts and emails showing the existence of her handler. In retrospect, she said, OSI just dragged out her dismissal so she could do more work as an informant.

You just get used,” said Torres. “OSI gets what they want and kicks you to the curb.”

OSI has used similar informant programs at other bases for decades. But at the Academy it has been using cadet informants for about 10 years, documents show.

“You just get used.

OSI gets what they want

and kicks you to the curb.” -Vianca Torres

Top leadership in the late 1990s told The Gazette they were not aware of an informant program. Then in 2001,  the academy was rocked by high profile cases of drug use that resulted in Congressional investigations. That year an OSI officer named Keith Givens, who is now vice commander of OSI, wrote in the Air Force’s official legal journal, The Reporter, that the Air Force should use “a web of undercover agents and informants to detect drug abuse.” In 2003 the academy was hit by more scandals over drugs and sexual assaults that resulted in the removal of top brass. By 2004, court documents show, OSI was recruiting cadets as informants. Documents show that at least some academy leaders have knowledge of the program, but it is not clear if they know who is involved and what they do.

At the end of Thomas’s interrogation, Munson told him that the Air Force wanted him to become a confidential informant.

“What would I have to do?” Thomas asked.

Just get in with everyone,” he remembers Munson saying. “Go to parties, flirt with females, be friends with everyone. That’s how you start.”

Thomas asked if it would mean breaking the cadet honor code. He said Munson told him there was no cadet honor code in this line of work.

Trust is at the heart of any honor code, said Laurie Johnson, a Kansas State University professor who specializes in ethics and honor codes. “By introducing spying I would think the cadets would believe there’s no trust,” Johnson said.

Worse, she said, if the Air Force encourages cadets to break the honor code as informants, it shows leaders have little use for the rules cadets are expected to follow.

Asked about the apparent contradiction between demanding honesty and using informants, an academy spokesman said: “A cadet has the responsibility to not only live by the honor code, but report those who don’t.”

Many people would find snitching on classmates shady, Thomas said. But he saw it differently. All cadets pledge to uphold academy rules. But some of his fellow cadets, who might someday lead the Air Force, seemed to have little respect for the pledge.

“I took that very seriously,” he said. “If we are not accountable to that standard, who is? But it was hard. You had to choose between your friends and what’s right.

What tipped the balance for Thomas was a friend who had been sexually assaulted. He said he had watched her struggle when the investigation ended in a “he said, she said” stalemate. A confidential informant might have helped.

Thomas agreed to help OSI.

Agents made him sign non-disclosure papers and told him he could be thrown in a military prison if he talked about his work. He could not even tell his commanders, they said. OSI would notify them instead. As Thomas left that life-changing meeting with OSI, he remembers the agent saying, “Wait to be contacted. And remember, don’t tell anybody.”

Thomas worked his way in with the party kids, troublemakers and other cadets OSI called “targets.” OSI gave him training on how to pass himself off as one of the “bad crowd.” He got close with football players who OSI knew were the focus of several confidential sexual assault accusations. He became tight with a guy from the sky diving team who OSI thought was selling marijuana.

Some cadets, he discovered, kept secret houses in Colorado Springs where they could store motorcycles, throw keggers, hook up with the opposite sex and do other things forbidden on base. He said he started going to house parties almost every weekend, taking photos on his phone, writing down addresses, and noting who was doing what.

“I’m not going there getting hammered, just hoping I’ll see something. I went with a specific intent,” Thomas said. “I’m blending in, not getting drunk, not flirting, just watching.”

He would call OSI to report his findings.

Then Thomas got a new handler late in 2011 and, he said, things got “much more intense.”

afa text boulder house

Thomas started getting texts several times a week from someone called “Briana”:

“Call me as soon as you can.”

“Doing an op tomorrow, call me.”

“Meet me in the bx parking lot.”

“Be sure to keep me updated.”

Briana was actually a stocky blond with a thin beard and glasses named Special Agent Brandon Enos.

Enos texted several times a week, sometimes late at night, telling the cadet to meet at a remote parking lot behind the academy’s B-52 bomber or some other secluded location, Thomas said.

Enos would be waiting in an unmarked black Dodge Durango to drive Thomas off base. OSI reports obtained through the Freedom of Information Act show Enos would discuss findings, plan strategy, and tell Thomas what to do next. At one point, before a planned drug buy, Thomas said, Enos pulled out a pack of cheap cigars and showed him how to roll a blunt and appear to smoke it without inhaling.

“The whole time I was like, ‘OK, I’m getting told how to roll a blunt by a federal agent; this is a different cadet experience that is not in the brochure’,” Thomas said.

Torres said Enos was also her handler.

Enos did not respond to requests for comment sent to an email address he used to communicate with Thomas.

Informing took a toll. Thomas said he often would not get back from meetings until after midnight, leaving little time to do homework. His grades dropped and he was put on academic probation. Because of the company he kept, he said he got a bad reputation.

My chain of command thought I was a dirt bag who didn’t care about the rules, when the truth was the opposite,” he said.

Worst of all, he said, was not being able to tell anyone the truth. In college, when most young adults are forging their identities, his identity was a forgery.

“I’m running in all these different cliques, trying to be different people. It’s lonely, very lonely,” he said. “You put on so many faces that after a while you forget your own.”

The effect this large-scale deception can have on the informant is perhaps the most troubling aspect of the practice, said Martin Cook, a professor of military ethics at the U.S. Naval War College, who taught for years at the academy.

“Is it appropriate for OSI to use these methods in the Air Force? Yes, I think so. It may serve a greater good,” he said. “But is it appropriate to recruit young people into this at a key time when they are trying to form their morality? That could certainly cause problems the rest of their lives. That’s a harder question.”

Thoman, Stephan Claxton and fellow cadet

OSI wanted Thomas to get in with a cadet named Stephan Claxton, Thomas said.

Four female cadets had reported being sexually assaulted by Claxton, Thomas said, but the reports were made using a confidential reporting system designed to protect victims, so the Air Force could not use them to prosecute.

Instead, they used Thomas.

The idea was to track Claxton,” said Thomas. “We know he gets drunk and does this stuff. He’s a time bomb. It’s only a matter of waiting until he does it again.”

Nov. 5, 2011, was a Saturday. That evening, Claxton went out with a bunch of friends, including a civilian woman engaged to a cadet at the academy. Thomas was not allowed to leave base that weekend, but, he said, OSI urged him to tail Claxton, so he broke the rules and tagged along.

The group went drinking in downtown Colorado Springs. What happened next is according to testimony in the court-martial that followed.

The woman got drunk and passed out in the car they were riding in. No one knew where she lived, so the cadets took her back to the academy to find her fiancé.

At about 2 a.m., Claxton, a basketball player who had been out with them, and Thomas carried her down the empty dorm hall and put her in Thomas’ bed.

A drunk female passed out in the room could get them busted, so they went to find her fiancé and have him take her home.

Unbeknownst to them, Claxton stayed behind and locked the door.

Another cadet who had been out with them returned to the room and tried the door.

“Eric, why is your door locked?” he whispered to Thomas, who had started walking down the hall.

Thomas wasn’t sure.

He went back and knocked. After about a minute, Claxton opened the door a crack and asked what they wanted, then started to close the door.

Thomas realized what might be happening and pushed his way in. They found the woman, still passed out, with her shirt up and pants undone.

A fight broke out.

Other cadets who heard the noise burst in. Some pulled Claxton off Thomas. Some carried the woman to another room. Thomas fled and called his commander from down the hall.

Claxton was charged with sexual misconduct and sentenced to six months behind bars. The other cadets, including Thomas, were punished for the other infractions, including sneaking off base and having a female in the dorm.

Thomas said he assumed he would be protected by OSI.

He wasn’t.

Air Force records show the Academy’s vice commandant knew of Thomas’ OSI involvement and ordered a special hearing officer to privately review the case, saying the normal discipline process was “not the right forum to discuss the more sensitive information.”

It never happened.

Thomas’ squadron commander, who Thomas said knew nothing of his involvement with OSI, recommended expulsion.

Thomas was stripped of rank and restricted to base.

Text messages obtained by The Gazette show OSI continued to direct Thomas to leave base to follow targets, even though he was restricted.

He obeyed.

When the academy found out he was leaving despite his restrictions, commanders were outraged at his contempt for the rules.

“I couldn’t tell them what was really going on. I had signed papers. I just had to stand there and take it.” -Eric Thomas

A cadet discipline board and an officer discipline board blasted him for a “history of disregarding the rules” and a “pattern of bad behavior.” The discipline boards recommended that Thomas be expelled. OSI told him not to worry, he said. They were taking care of things behind the scenes. He just had to keep his mouth shut.

“I couldn’t tell them what was really going on. I had signed papers. I just had to stand there and take it,” he said.

As punishment, the academy gave Thomas 309 demerits — more than 100 more than are required for expulsion. Commanders also ordered him to serve 186 confinements and 94 tours. Each confinement meant two hours of sitting silently in a room. Each tour meant one hour of marching with a heavy rubber rifle in a tight square in the center of campus. Thomas said he spent many weekends in dress blues marching from sunup to well past sundown.

The discipline board recommended that Thomas be expelled. OSI told him not to worry, he said. They were taking care of things behind the scenes. He just had to keep his mouth shut.

OSI targeted football players suspected of drug use, including star tailback Asher Clark. (Gazette file)

Operation Gridiron

Thomas’s work with OSI didn’t stop when he got in trouble. It intensified.

Phone records and OSI documents show he was in constant contact with OSI in the winter and spring of 2012.

OSI wired him up to record parties, he said. It had him delve into suspicions that football players got special treatment from professors, and gave him pens and lighters that were actually recording devices to take on drug buys.

He was pivotal in a major bust that made headlines and led to the expulsion of one of the football team’s star players, he said. OSI called it Operation Gridiron.

At 5 a.m. Jan. 12, 2012, academy officers swept into the dorms, banging on the doors of about 50 cadets, confiscating their phones and ordering them to get dressed, and report immediately to OSI.

It was the first phase of an operation to bust cadets using information gathered by Thomas during the previous year, Thomas said.

They had planned the operation for weeks and even made Thomas take a polygraph test to ensure his information was accurate, OSI records show.

The main target was a group of about 10 football players thought to be involved in drugs including the star tailback. OSI also brought in a handful of suspected partiers from the basketball team, soaring team and sky diving team. But most of the cadets called in had done nothing wrong and were simply there as decoys, Thomas said.

Thomas sat in the group wearing a hidden recording device.

asher clark mug

Over the next 11 hours OSI agents took cadets one by one from a waiting room to interrogation rooms, using information from Thomas to get confessions. One of them was a former fullback named Ryan Williams, Thomas said. Agents told Williams that his teammate Asher Clark, the team’s star tailback, had already told OSI that Williams had smoked spice at a party. OSI seemed to know every detail down to what he had been wearing the night of the party. Seeing he was caught, Williams confessed, then implicated Clark, Thomas said.

In fact, Clark had said nothing to OSI. The information had come from Thomas, who had been at the party.

Next, agents interrogated Clark and did the same thing. Clark confessed and implicated Williams.

Back in the waiting room, the two players started yelling and shoving one another, Thomas said, furious that they’d sold each other out.

Clark, Williams and five other cadets were kicked out or left the academy as a result of Operation Gridiron. Others were disciplined.

“My freshman roommate got wrapped up in it, too,” Thomas said. “He was caught with a house off base and almost kicked out. That really sucked, seeing a friend get in trouble and knowing I had a part in it.”

 

Terminated

Thomas testified at the court-martial of Claxton, who was convicted.

Documents show he also fed information to OSI that led to the 2013 sexual assault conviction of another cadet, linebacker Jamil Cooks.

Those were the first convictions for sexual assault at the academy since 1997,” Thomas said. “What we were doing was working.”

Cadets with as many demerits as Thomas are kicked out in a matter of weeks. But Thomas kept going to classes through the spring and summer of 2012. Officially, he was told a computer crash had delayed his expulsion. Privately, he assumed OSI was helping behind the scenes.

At the end of August 2012, Thomas’ case went to a closed hearing with the vice commandant and other leaders — the final stop on the way to expulsion.

“I will come speak on your behalf about Claxton,” his handler texted a few days before the meeting. “You need people to see the positive and not hone in on negative.”

With this assurance, Thomas arrived in dress blues at the commandant’s office, ready to finally have someone explain his work.

He looked around the room. His handler was not there.

Thomas sat down and waited.

“Are you still coming?” he texted.

The agent never showed up.

Thomas went into the hearing alone.

“I got completely destroyed in there — perceived as a cadet who doesn’t know right from wrong, with no foundation of integrity, the polar opposite of what I have tried to be,” he said. “And I could say nothing.”

The board voted unanimously to expel him.

Thomas texted and called OSI during the next few days but agents stopped responding.

In one of the last texts Thomas sent to his handler, he wrote: “Is everything OK?”

No response.

Files obtained through the Freedom of Information Act show OSI “terminated” Thomas on Sept. 10, 2012, because he “no longer had access to targets.”

“He was instrumental in drug investigations and sexual assault investigations. His reward was for OSI to abandon him.” -Skip Morgan, Eric Thomas’s attorney

Thomas eventually realized he was on his own. Desperate to prove his case, he requested his case records from OSI through the Freedom of Information Act. OSI said there were no records. He requested them again and got the same response. Nine months later, after a third request from Thomas’ congressional representative, Randy Neugebauer of Texas, OSI released 86 pages detailing the cadet’s deep involvement with OSI. By that time, though, Thomas had been kicked out of the academy.

They lied to him. They lied when they said they would be there and they lied when they said there were no records,” said Skip Morgan, the former OSI lawyer who became Thomas’ attorney.

In the letter to the superintendent in April, Morgan said text records clearly show Thomas was working for OSI on the days he was being punished for sneaking off base, adding, “He was instrumental in drug investigations and sexual assault investigations. His reward was for OSI to abandon him.”

The academy did not reply.

Morgan, a retired colonel, told The Gazette that in his years representing Air Force cadets he has never seen such a case.

“This is a young man who really tried to do the right thing. It takes tremendous moral conviction. And they left him in the lurch,” he said. “They lied to him on several occasions. I thought that was shabby. I don’t care who hears that, it was shabby treatment unbecoming of a commissioned officer.”

Informants are a useful tool for the Air Force, Morgan said, but they must be treated fairly.

“If you don’t treat them fairly, you are not going to have informants. Word gets out real fast; don’t trust OSI,” he said.

The types of abuses Thomas describes are common in informant systems because there is almost no oversight, said Alexandra Natapoff, the Loyola professor, who is author of the book “Snitch: Criminal Informants and the Erosion of American Justice.”

The deals that law enforcement makes with informants lack the checks and balances of the rest of the American justice system, she said. “All kinds of things happen without public scrutiny: lying, corruption, and continued criminal behavior.”

Informants can be abused or lied to with little recourse, she said because law enforcement “holds all the cards. And in the end it’s the law of the jungle.”

Another concern, she said, is that informant programs tend to disproportionately target minorities and poor people with less access to legal defense.

The four Academy informants The Gazette identified are Black or Hispanic.

Once Thomas realized OSI had cut him loose, he started telling anyone who would listen — his squadron commander, his master sergeant, his group commander, the vice commandant of culture and climate, the deputy commander, even his mother.

His mother, Rosita Perez Walker, was furious OSI had used her son as an informant.

“These kids are so young, so naive,” she told The Gazette. “They have been trained to obey orders. They are taught how to eat, how to sit, how to walk, everything. You say jump, they jump. To expect them to have enough judgment to question federal agents?”

She called OSI’s central office in Virginia to complain.

Soon after, Thomas got a call from his OSI handler, saying he wanted to meet at the OSI office and sort things out. When Thomas arrived, he said, the handler was not there. Instead, he said, the OSI detachment commander, Lt. Col. Vasaga Tilo, took Thomas in an interrogation room and yelled at him, warning him to keep his mouth shut.

afa vasaga tilo crop

In an interview with The Gazette, Tilo refused to talk about the confidential informant program, other than to say, “We use informants in the same way any other law enforcement does.”

Thomas kept talking.

Randy Neugebauer and John Thune both ordered Congressional inquiries.

John_Thune,_official_portrait,_111th_Congress

He told Rep. Neugebauer. He told Sen. Thune of South Dakota. Both ordered inquiries. The Air Force responded to Neugebauer in June, saying that Thomas had worked as an informant, but not until after he got in trouble in his dorm room — a year later than Thomas claims. At no point, OSI said, was Thomas “directed or influenced in any way to break any rules.” The Air Force responded to Thune in August, saying while there were what it called “administrative errors” in Thomas’ dismissal, the academy “stands by their decision that disenrollment is both appropriate and in the best interest of the Air Force.”

Thune then sent a letter to the secretary of the Air Force and the superintendent of the academy in September, asking them to meet with Thomas. Thomas has not heard from either.

Despite OSI’s claims to a Congressman that it told Thomas to keep clean, OSI documents clearly show agents repeatedly directed Thomas to sneak off base to go after targets and buy drugs while lying to commanders to cover it up.

While his expulsion was pending, Thomas kept going to class, hoping things would work out. He was accepted to Air Force pilot school and looked forward to flying after graduation.

He was kicked out of the academy in April, six weeks before graduation.

He no longer thinks the process took so long — 16 months from when he got in trouble — because OSI was working back channels to help him. Now he thinks he was strung along so he could work longer as an informant.

On his way out of the academy, Thomas got a tacit acknowledgement of his work. Cadets expelled in their senior year typically must repay almost $180,000 for their education. Thomas does not.

“Someone did him a favor,” said his lawyer. “Someone realized what he said was true and tried to repay him to some extent.”

Betrayed

Thomas moved back in with his family in South Dakota. He has appealed to the office of the Secretary of the Air Force, Eric Fanning, saying he was wrongfully dismissed. He is waiting for a response. In the meantime, he helps disabled children, mentors the youth group at his church, and does odd jobs for neighbors.

Only about half of his academy credits will be accepted at other schools, so he may have to repeat years of college, but he can’t apply to other schools because he remains in the Air Force until the matter is settled.

“In the meantime, I’m in limbo,” he said.

Looking back at the three-year ordeal, he is angry. He is angry because he loves the Air Force and feels betrayed by how OSI treated him. And angry because he knows that OSI is probably recruiting new informants it can later toss aside. Most of all, he said, he is angry the academy is allowing it to happen by failing to create guidelines for the treatment of cadet informants and adequately tracking the system.

“It needs to change,” he said. “I am not saying people shouldn’t work for OSI. We did a lot of good work. But they need protection. They need guidelines. Someone needs to be watching this. Otherwise, look what happens.”

By Dave Philipps

dave.philipps@gazette.com

The Gazette

Gazette reporter Tom Roeder contributed to this report.

Contact Dave Philipps

dave.philipps@gazette.com

LT. GEN. Michelle General Johnson, the top general of the Air Force Academy, said Wednesday, 4 December, that the use of confidential cadet informants (CI) at the academy has ceased for the time being and vowed to oversee “any operations involving cadet confidential informants” in the future.

But many academy graduates and parents are voicing concern that the academy stands by a practice they see as corrosive to the institution’s core values of trust and honesty.

As previously stated the Air Force uses a system of cadet informants to spy on other cadets. The students are instructed to inform on classmates, professors and commanders while helping the Air Force Office of Special Investigations gather information on drug use, sexual assault and other cadet misconduct.

Honor and deception: A secretive Air Force program recruits academy students to inform on fellow cadets and disavows them afterward

It is unclear how many informants operate among the 4,400 cadets, but informants say their efforts have helped lead to several high-profile convictions and expulsions.

In a letter to graduates Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson defended the confidential informant program as “vital” and pledged her personal oversight.

“The CI program has rarely been used at USAFA, and when employed it is deliberate, judicious and limited to felony activity; there are no ongoing operations,” she wrote in her letter. “I will exercise oversight of any operations involving cadet confidential informants.

Air Force Academy defends use of student informants, challenges reliability of ex-cadet

“Many of you have voiced concerns regarding inconsistencies between a CI program and the Cadet Honor Code. I want you to know that the chain of command does not condone lying, cheating or any violation of the Honor Code in support of CI investigations.”

She was scheduled to address the Association of Graduates board of directors about the issue on Friday, 6 December, at their office on the academy grounds.

Some parents and graduates say the academy has not addressed the key issues surrounding the secret informant program. In various Internet forums, they noted that the academy’s statement defending the program Tuesday focused on trying to discredit Eric Thomas, one of the cadets featured by The Gazette in it’s groundbreaking expose’ of the story.

(Former Air Force Academy Cadet, Eric Thomas says he was used, abused, and abandoned.)

“They are missing the point,said a parent who did not want to be identified because he feared it could affect his cadet’s career. “They went after Thomas but never addressed the merits of the program. They are just trying to kill the messenger.”

Cadet First Class Eric Thomas was expelled this spring, weeks before graduation, for misconduct he said was incurred in the service of OSI.

The parent said larger issues need to be discussed. “And they have yet to address how it affects the cadet culture.”

He said most parents he has spoken to are concerned, and cadets are “deeply dismayed.” He added that he was not assured by Johnson’s statement that there are no “ongoing operations.”

Air Force officers, graduates of the Academy,  posting on Internet forums were generally critical of the program.

One local graduate said in a group email, which included several current and former top Air Force commanders, that the Academy’s response ducked the main controversy.

“Is USAFA, or the OSI at USAFA, asking some cadets to do things that are inherently against the principles of honor and integrity that were ingrained in us when we were at USAFA?” said the email. “We need to know what OSI did or did not do in this case. I believe this is too big to trust to the USAFA leadership.”

January 15, 2014. Now Hear This! Further developments in the USAFA scandal.

 

WASHINGTON — Members of Congress are sharply criticizing a recently revealed program to recruit U.S. Air Force Academy cadets to serve as informants on other cadets suspected of drug use and sexual assault.

“I’d just like to go on the record as saying I don’t see how being an informant is compatible with living out the honor code,” said Rep. Doug Lamborn, a Colorado Republican who represents the Colorado Springs congressional district where the academy is located.

“I think we need to take a hard look about whether this is appropriate for an academic institution, because after all, you are an academic institution,” said Rep. Niki Tsongas, D-Mass. “This raises to me a lot of questions that are very hard for you to explain.”

Lamborn and Tsongas serve on the Air Force Academy’s (USAFA) Board of Visitors, a 15-member oversight board that held a special meeting Tuesday on Capitol Hill in response to the controversy. The informant program was first reported by the Colorado Springs Gazette on Dec. 1.

The Gazette highlighted the case of Cadet Eric Thomas, who said he was recruited by the Air Force’s Office of Special Investigations after being suspected of attending an off-campus party at which drugs were used. Thomas agreed to serve as an informant on fellow cadets, but told the paper he became increasingly uncomfortable that he was being asked to disobey academy rules in order to get closer to his targets.

STORY: Reports of sexual assault dip at military academies

When Thomas was brought up on disciplinary charges, the OSI agents disavowed the operation and Thomas was expelled, the Gazette reported.

Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson, the USAFA Superintendent, and Brig. Gen. Gregory Lengyel, disputed that version of events Tuesday. They said Thomas already had enough demerits to be expelled before he was recruited, and that his expulsion was for disciplinary and academic reasons unrelated to his work as an informant.

STORY: Air Force Academy gets 1st female superintendent

Academy commanders also defended the informant program, saying it was used rarely and was always subject to the oversight of the academy’s top brass. While Johnson said she couldn’t imagine a situation where she would approve the use of an informant in the future, she said she couldn’t rule it out as a tool to investigate serious offenses. And she noted that the legalization of marijuana in Colorado could pose a challenge for the academy, where any drug use on or off campus is still a violation of Defense Department regulations.

Johnson said the Air Force is investigating whether Thomas’s OSI handlers acted appropriately, and a report is expected by the end of the month. She conceded that the affair had given the academy was a black eye, but said the Air Force was constrained by privacy laws from defending its actions more vociferously.

“We’ve revealed a lot here that the general counsel is not going to be comfortable with,” Johnson said. “If you want to go point counterpoint, it has to be in a public forum. I agree with a free press, but it’s not always a 100% accurate press.”

 

 

Categories: Military Justice | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Balboni Case Was A Precursor Of Today’s Military Toxic Environment

United States Coast Guard Seal, in correct PMS...

United States Coast Guard Seal, in correct PMS colors. This emblem shall only be used in accordance with the Coast Guard Heraldry Manual, and is not to be reproduced commercially without prior approval of the U.S. Coast Guard. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

(LTJG Christine D. Balboni and her attorney, LCDR London Steverson at her hearing on sexual harassment allegations at Coast Guard Base Alameda California in 1984)

 

Today Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, (Dem,N.Y.) said  “Commanders can’t always be objective, nor can all of them distinguish between a “slap on the ass” and more serious cases such as rape.

 

Lawmakers in the Senate and House of Representatives led by Senator Gillibrand, who serves on the Armed Services panel, have introduced legislation that would remove sexual-assault cases from the military chain of command.

 

“After speaking to victims, they have told us that the reason they do not report these crimes is because they fear retaliation,” Gillibrand, a New York Democrat, told the military leaders at the hearing. “You have lost the trust of the men and women who rely on you that you would actually bring justice” in their cases.

 

Victims’ advocacy groups say service members who are attacked often are reluctant to step forward in a system in which commanding officers decide whether to bring charges, choose the military jury and can reduce or overturn a sentence.

 

The Sexual Harassment case of LTJG Christine D. Balboni was a harginger of today’s military environment.  In that case the military was treated to a preview of the toxic environment that the Senators are hearing about today. The Coast Guard did not take the warning that the Balboni Case presented them with. The military did not accept it as an omen.

 

The uniformed leaders of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard, in a Senate hearing room with dozens of other military officers, admitted to lawmakers that the Defense Department had failed to effectively prevent or respond to sexual assaults despite years of trying.

 

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., grew heated in questioning military leaders during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing Tuesday.

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., grew heated in questioning military leaders during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearingtoday, June 4, 2013.

 

The Pentagon doesn’t know how many members are raped or sexually assaulted because surveys don’t distinguish between “predatory” behavior and an “unhealthy” working environment, she said at the hearing.

 

The military has “sexual predators who are not committing crimes of lust,” she said. “This isn’t about sex.” Rather it’s about “domination” and violence, she said.

 

When asked by Levin, only the chiefs of the Coast Guard and Army said that leaders have been relieved of command as a result of a climate of sexual assault and harassment. (Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Papp relieved a Captain of command in 2010 because of inappropriate relationships. It is too bad he was only a junior officer and was not in a position of senior leadership in 1980 when LTJG Balboni filed her case against three senior Coast Guard officer aboard the USCGC Rush WHEC in Alameda, California.)

 

 

BALBONI v. DOT; USCG; L. Telfer, P. Keyes, A. Cascardi.

 

United States Coast Guard Civil Rights Hearing, DOT Case No. 82-177.

 

Case was heard February 6, 1984 and following at U.S. Coast Guard Base Alameda, Ca. before The Honorable Paul E. Weil, Administrative Law Judge for the Department of Transportation.

 

APPEARING for the United States Coast Guard;

LCDR Gary Heil, 12th Coast Guard District, Government Island, Alameda, Ca. 94501

 

APPEARING for Captain Larry Telfer; an Alleged Discriminating Official (ADO)

LCDR Tom Barrett, Commandant (G-L)

 

APPEARING for Commander Phil Keyes; an Alleged Discriminating Official (ADO)

Lcdr. Robert Allard, Commandant (G-L)

 

APPEARING for LT Andrew Cascardi; an Alleged Discriminating Official (ADO)

Lcdr. Michael Kudalis Commandant (G-L)

 

APPEARING for the COMPLAINANTS LT(jg) Christine D. Balboni and CWO Charles VanMeter,

Lcdr. London Steverson, Chief, Investigating Officer, MIO, New York, NY.

 

WITNESSES:

LTJG Christine D. Balboni, USCG

LTJG Ann Flamang, aka Gang-bang Flamang, USCG,

LTJG Jodie Turner, aka Diesel Dyke Turner, USCG,

LTJG Margaret Carlson, USCG Communications Officer onboard USCGc RUSH (WHEC)

Mr. Jeremiah Healy, formerly a Coast Guard enlisted man, ST2 Jerry Healy.

MST1 Smith.

CDR Phil Keyes, USCG, Executive Officer onboard USCGC RUSH (WHEC)

LT Andrew Cascardi, USCG Operations Officer onboard USCGC RUSH (WHEC)

CAPT Larry Telfer, USCG, Commanding Officer, USCGC RUSH (WHEC)

CWO Charles Van Meter, USCG.

 

(Regulatory Authority: Pursuant to Department of Transportation (DOT) Order 1000.8A, and the U. S. Coast Guard Civil Rights Manual Commandant USCG Instruction M5350.11B)

 

COMPLAINT: The Complainant, LTjg Christine D. Balboni, alleges and contends that the three Alleged Discriminating Officials (ADO) discrininated against her on the basis of her sex; that they sexually harassed her; that they verbally abused and slandered her; that they created a hostile and intimidating work environment for her onboard the USCGC RUSH (WHEC) that made it impossible for her to do her job; that they circulated rumors and malicious gossip concerning her among the other officers and the enlisted men on the ship; that they memorialized this same gossip and rumors when they reduced it to writing in the form of regular and special officer fitness for duty reports that they swore to and forwarded up the chain of command; and that they did it recklessly and with knowledge of its probable affects upon her Coast Guard career. The Complainant further alleges and contends that this conduct on the part of the ADOs was unbecoming of an officer and a gentlemen, and that it was to the predjudice of good order and discipline.

 

EXCERPTS from the Official Transcript of the Formal Hearing on the record.

 

OPENING STATEMENT: (LCDR L. Steverson, Counsel for the Complainants.)

May it please the Court, Your Honor, the United States Coast Guard is the last bastion of white male supremacy among the Armed Forces of the United States. Discrimination, bias, prejudice, abuse of power, hatred, and harassment have all been employed to keep it that way. These are evils that withstand the winds of logic by the depth and toughness of their roots in the past.

It was inevitable that this case maybe even others would have to be brought to see which way the Coast Guard would go and to see wherein does justice lie.

It is only be happenstance that the Complainant in this case is LTjg Christine D. Balboni, or that the Alleged Discriminating Officials are Captain Larry Telfer, Commander Phil Keyes, and Lieutenant Andy Cascardi. They are all victims of the twin forces of history and destiny.

We believe that the evidence in this case will show that the Complainant, Ms. Balboni, has been greatly wronged. The evidence will show that the workplace onboard the U. S. Coast Guard Cutter RUSH was pervaded with sexual slurs, insults and innuendo; that Ms. Balboni was personally the object of verbal sexual harassment; that this harassment took the form of vulgar and offensive, sexually-related epithets addressed to and employed about her by the ADO’s.

We will show that she was forced to work in a hostile and intimidating environment where the walls were papered with the pictures of nude women; where pornographic movies were were regularly shown on the ship’s videotape T.V. monitors; where a prophylactic was unrolled and taped to her state room door; where male crew members bursted into her room uninvited around midnight; where she could not even close her state room door in privacy whenever a friend or a crew member of the opposite sex was in the room; where she was prohibited, ordered not to associate with the only friend that she had on the ship; where she was accused of compromising acts that had actually been done by other female members of the crew, and other acts that, in one instance, had not even occured; where she was penalized with adverse officer performance ratings, or fitness reports, as you will, because of these incidents where she was falsely accused and where no investigation or verification of the facts had been done; where her pleas to higher authority for help fell on deaf ears, or she was further demeaned by being told that she did not have the right plumbing, an obvious reference to her sex and that she was not a man, all in an atmosphere of motion pictures depicting fellatio, cunnilingus, “menage-a-tois” in the officer’s ward room during the evening meal and Sunday morning breakfast.

The Complainant, Ms. Balboni, was accused of being immoral, unethical, and unprofessional simply because she whispered and giggled with and had a close platonic friendship with a fellow officer who happened to be married.

The evidence will show that LTjg Balboni was never seen holding hands or kissing or anything else with Chief Warrant Officer Van Meter; that she was never seen by Commander Phil Keyes sitting in Chief Warrant Officer Van Meter’s lap with her arms around his neck; that she was never seen by a crew member in a male officers state room naked or with no bra on while a male officer was present. Yet she has been accused of these very acts. She has been reprimanded for these very acts.

The evidence will show that the incidents of harassment in this case were so pervasive that all of the Alleged Discriminating Officials and maybe even their supervisors were aware of them, that they had actual and constructive knowledge of the existence of a sexually hostile working environment and that they took no prompt action or in some cases no action at all to remedy the situation.

Thank you, Your Honor.

 

 

Categories: Coast Guard Cases | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

How Five Steps Became Four In The Disability Determination Process.

English: Baton Rouge, LA, 9/3/05 -- Victims of...

English: Baton Rouge, LA, 9/3/05 — Victims of Hurricane Katrina wait outside the Social Security Administration building in hopes of getting assistance. New Orleans is being evacuated because of flooding caused by hurricane Katrina. Photo by: Liz Roll (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Social Security Administration has finalized the expedited sequential evaluation process, making Step 4 optional for the ALJ.

The Social Security Administration has finalized its rules to expedite the five-step process for evaluating a disability claim by giving adjudicators the discretion to skip step 4 and proceed directly to the fifth step when the Administration has insufficient information about a claimant’s prior work history to make the findings required at step 4. However, if an adjudicator finds at step 5 that a claimant may not be able to adjust to other work existing in the national economy, the adjudicator will then return to step 4 to develop the work history and make a finding about whether the claimant can perform his or her past relevant work. According to the Administration, the purpose of these changes is to promote administrative efficiency since the time the Administration spends in obtaining the work history needed to make step 4 findings frequently delays the processing of claims and requires the Administration to divert its limited administrative resources from processing other claims.

Background

At step 4 of the sequential evaluation process, the Administration determines whether a claimant can perform his or her past relevant work given his or her residual functional capacity (RFC). The Administration will look at the past fifteen years of a claimant’s work history for relevant information. To make a proper evaluation, the Administration needs information about each of the claimant’s jobs during that period, including information about job duties, tools or machinery used, the amount of physical exertion required in terms of the amount of walking, standing, lifting, and carrying during the workday, the length of time that a claimant worked each job, and the physical and mental demands of the job. With this information the Administration compares the claimant’s RFC to the physical and mental demands of these past relevant jobs to determine if the claimant can still perform any of them. If so, the claimant is found to be not disabled. However, if the claimant is currently unable to perform any past relevant work, the adjudicator will proceed to step 5.

At step 5 the adjudicator determines whether a claimant’s impairments prevents him or her from doing any other work that exists in significant numbers in the national economy, considering his or her RFC and vocational factors such as age, education, and work experience. If the Administration finds that the claimant can adjust to other work, the claimant is found to be not disabled.

Why are changes being made?

Because it can be time-consuming to gather all of the necessary information regarding the claimant’s work history during the fifteen-year period that precedes the alleged disability onset date, disability determinations are often delayed. By going directly to step 5, a determination can be expedited if it is determined that a claimant is not disabled under the criteria for step 5. At step 5 the adjudicator would consider if the claimant is disabled based on (1) The special medical-vocational profiles set forth at Reg. §404.1562; (2) the Medical-Vocational Guidelines (Appendix 2 to 20 CFR, Part 404, Subpart P), whether directly or as a framework, or (3) an inability to meet the mental demands of unskilled work. If application of the step 5 rules indicates that a claimant may be disabled or if the adjudicator has any doubt whether the claimant can perform other work existing in significant numbers in the economy, the adjudicator must return to step 4 since the Social Security Act requires the Administration to make a finding about a claimant’s ability to do past relevant work before a determination is made that a claimant is disabled at step 5. The expedited process is reflected primarily in Regs. §404.1520 and §416.920.

The Administration believes that this approach to evaluation could shorten some process times in some cases because there would be no need to collect unnecessary work history at step 4 for claims that can be appropriately denied at step 5 based solely on the claimant’s age, education, and RFC. This process has already been used for the past 12 years in ten “prototype” states. (These states are Alabama, Alaska, California (Los Angeles North and Los Angles West Branches), Colorado, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, New York, and Pennsylvania.) This expedited process will be used in all disability evaluations except for childhood disability claims under Title XVI, since those claims do not use vocational criteria.

Comments result in some minor changes

The regulations, as proposed on September 11, 2011, are adopted with a few minor changes.

The Administration agreed with a comment that adjudicators who do not make findings at step 4 of the sequential evaluation process using the expedited process must consider the potential application of the “special medical-vocational profiles” before proceeding to step 5. Those profiles are sent forth at Reg. §404.1562, SSR 82-63, and POMS DI §25010.001. If a claimant fits one of these profiles, a finding of disability will be made. The profiles include (a) persons not working at substantial gainful activity level who have worked for 35 years or more in arduous physical labor, can no longer perform this work due to an impediment, and have no more than a marginal education; (b) individuals 55 or older who have a severe impairment, no past relevant work, and have no more than a limited education; and (c) persons who are not working at SGA level, and have a lifetime commitment (30 years or more) to a field of work that is unskilled, or is skilled or semi-skilled but with no transferable skills, can no longer perform this past work because of a severe impairment(s), are closely approaching retirement age (age 60 or older), and have no more than a limited education. Accordingly, references to Reg. §404.1562 will be included in some of the regulations being amended, and a similar reminder will be inserted into an electronic tool used at the initial stages of the administrative review process.

The full text of the Administration’s announcement was published in the July 25, 2012, issue of the Federal Register (77 Fed. Reg. 43492).

Categories: Social Security Benefits | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Joint Pains That May Pay Dividends.

Fibromyalgia Awareness

Fibromyalgia Awareness (Photo credit: Kindreds Page)

Not all joint pains can be cured with a miracle healing. If you have joint pains that will not go away, and no miracle healing has been able to cure, then you might be permanently disabled.

It is no secret that most people are likely to have “good days” and “bad days.”If your condition consists mostly of joint pains, there may be days when you feel that you can work. Your pain may fluctuate and may not always be present. You may be suffering from fibromyalgia.  Fibromyalgia is a complex medical condition characterized primarily by widespread pain in the joints, muscles, tendons, or nearby soft tissues. If your pain or other symptoms cause a limitation or restriction that has more than a minimal effect on your ability to perform basic work activities, you could qualify for disability benefits from the Social Security Administration.

 

The Social Security Administration has issued a comprehensive statement that provides guidance on how disability claims based on fibromyalgia should be evaluated. It is contained in Social Security Ruling (SSR) 12-2p.

Rulings are published under the authority of the Commissioner of Social Security and make available to the public a series of precedential decisions relating to Federal old-age, survivors, disability, supplemental security income (SSI), and black lung benefits programs. Social Security Rulings (SSR) may be based on case decisions made at all administrative levels of adjudication, Federal court decisions, Commissioner’s decisions, opinions of the Office of the General Counsel, and other policy interpretations of the law and regulations. Rulings do not have the force and effect of the law or regulations, but they are binding on all components of the Social Security Administration (SSA), and are to be relied upon as precedents in adjudicating other cases.

 

Social Security Ruling (SSR) 12-2p, provides guidance on how the Administration will develop evidence to establish that a person has a medically determinable impairment (MDI) of fibromyalgia, and how it will evaluate this condition in disability claims and in continuing disability reviews under both Titles II (SSDC) and XVI (SSI) of the Social Security Act. The ruling, which was effective upon publication, appears in the July 25, 2012, issue of the Federal Register (77 Fed. Reg. 43640).

The new ruling relies on two alternative sets of guidelines for establishing the presence of fibromyalgia, the 1990 American College of Rheumatology (ACR) Criteria for the Classification of Fibromyalgia or the 2010 ACR Preliminary Diagnostic Criteria. Additionally, particular emphasis is given to longitudinal evidence and a recognition that one suffering from the condition is likely to have “good days” and “bad days.” This clearly increases the role played by a treating physician in establishing the presence of fibromyalgia. The detailed guidance provided by SSR 12-2p should also restrain adjudicators who might be predisposed to deny claims based on fibromyalgia when it is otherwise clearly established in accordance with the Ruling.

How fibromyalgia is to be established

Fibromyalgia is a complex medical condition characterized primarily by widespread pain in the joints, muscles, tendons, or nearby soft tissues that has persisted for at least three months. Generally, an MDI of fibromyalgia can be established through evidence provided by “an acceptable medical source,” i.e., a physician or osteopath. However, the Administration will not rely on a diagnosis without evidence. The evidence must document that the physician reviewed the person’s medical history and conducted a physical examination.

Based on both the 1990 ACR criteria and the 2010 ACR Preliminary Diagnostic Criteria, there are three components to the specific criteria that must be used to determine that a claimant has an MDI of fibromayalgia. Both sets of criteria agree on two of the points, but have different guidelines regarding current symptomatology (point 2, below):

(1) A history of widespread pain. This means pain in all quadrants of the body that has persisted for at least three months, although the pain may fluctuate and may not always be present.

(2) 1990 ACR criteria: At least 11 positive tender points out of a possible 18 tender point sites on physical examination. These points must be both bilateral and above and below the waste. The specific location of these tender point sites are identified with a diagram in the notice. When testing these tender-point sites, the physician should apply at least 9 pounds of pressure to the site; or,

2010 ACR Preliminary Diagnostic Criteria: Repeated manifestations of six or more fibromyalgia symptoms, signs or co-occuring conditions, especially manifestations of fatigue, cognitive or memory problems, waking unrefreshed, depression anxiety disorder, or irritable bowel syndrome. A complete list of symptoms appears in the notice.

(3) Evidence that other disorders that could cause the symptoms or signs have been ruled out.

The Administration will generally request documentation for the 12-month period that precedes the application date. Evidence may also be considered from medical sources who are not “acceptable medical sources” such as psychologists, as well as from nonmedical sources such as neighbors, friends, employers, rehab counselors, teachers, and Administration personnel who have interviewed the claimant. If the evidence is insufficient, the Administration may purchase a consultative examination; however, the Ruling notes that the consultative examiner should have access to longitudinal information about the claimant. However, it is not a necessary requirement.

Once an MDI is established, the Administration will then evaluate the intensity and persistence of the person’s pain or any other symptoms and determine the extent to which the symptoms limit the person’s capacity for work. If objective medical evidence does not substantiate the person’s statements about the intensity, persistence, and functionally limiting effects of symptoms, all of the evidence in the case record will be considered, including the person’s daily activities, medications or other treatments the person uses, or has used, to alleviate symptoms; the nature and frequency of the person’s attempts to obtain medical treatment for symptoms; and statements by other people about the person’s symptoms.

Determination of disability after fibromyalgia is established

Once an MDI of fibromyalgia is established, it will then be considered in the five-step sequential evaluation process. At step two, when determining severity, the ruling states, “If the person’s pain or other symptoms cause a limitation or restriction that has more than a minimal effect on the ability to perform basic work activities, we will find that the person has a severe impairment(s).” Because fibromyalgia is not a listed impairment, the Administration at step three, will determine whether FM medically equals a listing (for example, listing 14.09D in the listing for inflammatory arthritis), or whether it medically equals a listing in combination with at least one other medically determinable impairment.

When determining the residual functional capacity for an individual basing a claim on fibromyalgia, all relevant evidence in the record will be considered. However, the Administration specially notes that it will “consider a longitudinal record whenever possible because the symptoms of FM can wax and wane so that a person may have ‘bad days and good days.’” At steps four and five, the usual vocational considerations apply. However, the Administration states that “[w]idespread pain and other symptoms associated with FM, such as fatigue, may result in exertional limitations that prevent a person from doing the full range of unskilled work in one or more of the exertional categories in appendix 2 of subpart P of part 404 (appendix 2). … Adjudicators must be alert to the possibility that there may be exertional or nonexertional (for example, postural or environmental) limitations that erode a person’s occupational base sufficiently to preclude the use of a rule in appendix 2 to direct a decision.”

Categories: Social Security Benefits | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blog at WordPress.com.