Sunday, December 17, 2006

The Man Who Perverted Justice at The Coast Guard Academy.

The Case of Webster Smith has spawned investigations, a task force, and the Case of James Van Sice. The Case of Admiral James Van Sice may prove to be a most unusual case. It might be unusual because he could be charged with crimes committed in the name of the Law; that is to say, the Legal PROCESS. Admiral Van Sice and Captain Douglas Wisniewski have definitely misused the Legal PROCESS.

This is all the more ironic because these men were the embodiment of what passed for Justice, integrity, and authority at the Coast Guard Academy (CGA). A Task Force appointed by the Commandant, Admiral Thad Allen, and a Special Investigating Flag Officer in the 5th Coast Guard District are investigating Admiral Van Sice. This is altogether fitting and proper. This is just as it should be, because only another Flag Officer, admiral, knows the level of trust and the awesome amount of power that is bestowed upon a man in that position. Only another officer with that many years of experience who has convened courts-martials knows how much more a court-martial is than just a panel of officers sitting in judgement on a cadet, or how much more a court is than simply a court room.



Blogger ichbinalj said...


By Patricia Kime
Navy Times Staff writer.

The Coast Guard has launched a civil rights investigation into the case of a former Coast Guard Academy cadet who was court-martialed in June on sexual assault charges.

H. Jerry Jones, the service’s director of the Office of Civil Rights in Washington D.C., authorized an inquiry Dec. 7 into whether former cadet first class Webster Smith, who is black, was treated differently during the investigation into his case than whites who had committed similar offenses.
Smith filed a discrimination complaint in July against academy officials, including Superintendent Rear Adm. James Van Sice and former commandant of cadets Capt. Doug Wisniewski.

In his complaint, Smith contended he was court-martialed for the same kinds of offenses that had previously garnered administrative punishment for white cadets.

After reviewing Smith’s complaint, Jones dismissed 16 separate claims but authorized an investigation into the alleged inequity of treatment, headquarters spokesman Cmdr. Jeff Carter said Dec. 15.

The Coast Guard has hired JDG Associates Inc., a San Antonio-based consultant company that specializes in equal opportunity and civil rights issues, to examine the complaint, Carter said.

Carter explained that the Coast Guard does not maintain a large Equal Employment Opportunity Commission staff and needed to hire the firm to ensure fairness.

According to Carter, JDG has 45 days to complete its investigation. It is expected to turn findings over to Jones in late January.

In June, Smith was convicted on charges of extortion, sodomy and indecent assault. He was sentenced to six months in prison, forfeiture of pay and dismissal from the service.

He was released in November from the Charleston Consolidated Navy Brig in South Carolina after five months, having earned time for good behavior.

Smith’s conviction and sentence was upheld Nov. 10 by superintendent Van Sice, the senior official authorized to sign off on the proceedings.

But because Smith was dismissed from the service, Coast Guard Headquarters officials also are required to review the PROCESS and decide whether to uphold the proceedings and sentence.

Carter said Dec. 15 that the case is pending before the Coast Guard Court of Criminal Appeals, but briefs have yet to be filed.

The case has spawned a number of inquiries into leadership, training and culture at the 130-year-old school.

In September, the Coast Guard appointed a task force to examine the academy’s procedures and policies, and determine whether they are adequate for training future officers.

That group is expected to report its findings in January.

Another investigation is underway involving Van Sice. Service officials have released few details into the nature of the inquiry but have said information surfaced during the task force’s review that involved Van Sice and warranted further review.

The review is being conducted by Coast Guard 5th District Commander Rear Adm. Larry Hereth.

Van Sice is leaving his post as superintendent Jan. 5 to become director of personnel management at Coast Guard Headquarters.

In a statement earlier this month, Carter said Van Sice’s reassignment is not related to the ongoing inquiry.

From 1993 until the spring semester of 2005, the Coast Guard had 10 reported incidents of sexual misconduct, according to information provided by the school. Of those, six incidents resulted in dismissal of the accused and two ended in resignation from the school. In the remaining two cases, there was insufficient evidence to pursue charges.

7:01 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

Dec 18, 2006 4:14 pm US/Eastern
(CBS/AP) NEW HAVEN, Conn. The investigative arm of Congress will look at how the military and its academies deal with sexual assaults after allegations that such cases were not properly handled, officials said.

The investigation follows the first court-martial in the 130-year history of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in Connecticut. Cadet Webster Smith was acquitted of rape in June but served five months in prison for extorting a female classmate for sexual favors.

The nation's military academies have faced more scrutiny since 2003, when women at the Air Force Academy in Colorado alleged that they had been sexually assaulted by fellow cadets over the previous decade and were either ignored or ostracized by commanders when they came forward.

The review is expected to start in January and take about a year.

"I think it's a wonderful thing," said Susan Stopper, whose daughter, former cadet Caitlin Stopper, testified before a congressional panel that academy administrators suggested she was to blame when she accused another student of assaulting her in the barracks. "It's somebody who should be impartial. That's the only way you're able to make changes."

U.S. Rep. Chris Shays, a Connecticut Republican, asked for the review after holding a congressional hearing last summer. Shays asked the Government Accountability Office to determine the number of sexual assault cases in the military and at the Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard academies over the past five years and to assess the disposition of the cases.

"We still don't have a handle on it," Shays said. "It's not the problem it was, but there is still a lot of room for improvement."

Nearly 10 sexual assault cases have been referred to the national security subcommittee that held the hearing, Shays said.

He asked the GAO to contact them for the investigation.

Shays also asked the GAO to look at how the military decides whether to use administrative hearings or court-martials to resolve abuse claims. He questioned why there had been a delay in appointing members to the Defense Task Force on Sexual Assault in the Military Services.

The GAO agreed in October to Shays' request for the review, but said it did not plan to interview the assault victims who contacted the committee, citing privacy rights and legal issues.

Former Air Force Academy Cadet Elizabeth L. Davis, who told the hearing she was "raped and assaulted repeatedly" while at the academy, said women who report crimes are often threatened, degraded and driven out.

Shays said the military needs to own up to past mistakes.

"Their records need to be totally cleared and they need to receive an apology," Shays said.

A telephone message was left with a defense department spokeswoman Monday.

U.S. military academy officials said last summer they have made solid progress in curbing sexual assaults on campuses. Military officials said they have worked hard to improve critical areas such victim support and confidentiality while providing training for all cadets to prevent sexual harassment and assault.

According to the Defense Department, the military services have set up sexual assault program offices at all major installations and trained more than 1,000 response coordinators and victim advocates.

In Connecticut, a task force has been looking into the climate and culture among cadets at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy after Smith was court-martialed.

Reports of sexual assaults in the military increased by nearly 40 percent last year, the Pentagon said in March, attributing the increase at least partly to a new program that encourages victims to come forward.

The military has also come under fire for repeated problems with sexual abuse in units stationed abroad in Iraq, Kuwait, Afghanistan or Bahrain, and at military installations. Detainee abuse allegations have also included sexual assaults.

A survey by the Veterans Affairs Department showed that six in 10 women who served in the National Guard and Reserves say they were sexually harassed or assaulted.

(© 2006 CBS Broadcasting Inc.)

7:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You say it best...

6:45 AM  
Anonymous energioso said...

Letters should be sent to JDG Associates to let them know the entire picture, not letting the Coast Guard hierarchy perform a song and dance around this issue.

I would hope that there would be no winks and nods during this investigation.

JDG Associates needs to uncover every stone, study previous cases, and current ones in order for them to determine that the CG judicial military process is flawed, and that court martial and sentencing decisions should not be upheld in cadet first class Webster Smith's case.

Discrimination within the Coast Guard Academy runs silent and deep. There were personal vendettas involved. They took this case personal and wanted to teach this black "boy" a lesson.

Van Sice and Wisniewski should be court- martialed.They are a disgrace to their uniforms,and to the entire Academy.

Shame on the Academy and shame on Coast Guard hierarchy for perpetuating this behavior and betraying the public trust of the nation.

When will justice ever be done?


11:37 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

Thank you for your comments and observations. "Run Silent, Run Deep" is a great movie.Are you a military retiree, or even a Coast Guard Academy graduate?
You asked a profound question. I believe you were not just being rhetorical, when you asked "When will justice be done?".
In the Case of Webster Smith, justice can take many forms. As you can see, it may also take some time. However, everything must start with the first step. For Webster Smith, justice could start with a recommendation from the Task Force that he be reinstated as a cadet. Then Admiral Allen would be on solid ground to reinstate him and to expunge his entire record.
Or if Admiral Allen wants to show himself to be decisive leader, he does not need a Task Force report to stand on. If he is looking beyond his Coast Guard career, and has political aspirations, he could show himself to be a new breed of Harvard trained leader and take this action on his own because it is right.
The Webster Smith case could launch his second career as a politician or as a high level Government appointee. He could be remembered as much for reinstating Webster Smith as Gerald Ford was for pardoning Richard Nixon, a move hated by millions at the time, but that has been shown by History as the right thing to do.
Also, justice could come in the form as a favorable decision by the Coast Guard Court of Criminal Review. Moreover, a Final Report from JDG Associates demonstrating that the case was a prima facie case of racial and sexual discrimination.
One thing Justice cannot give him back is the 6 months of confinement that he spent in the Navy Brig; nor, can anyone restore unto him the many months he spent at hard labor working on the boat docks, or the humiliation and shame of being forced to endure the rigors of accusation, trial, and condemnation. Then he was required to register as a sexual offender in Texas.
As an American citizen, he lost even more. When Van Sice, and Wisniewski and CWO David French sent his cadet photo around the world with the label of Sexual Predator, they robbed him of his good name. As Shakespeare said, he who takes my purse robs me of trash; but, he who robs me of my good name takes my most precious treasure.
So, no one, not even Justice, can give Webster Smith back his anonymity, or his privacy. He had been marked and scarred for life.
When will justice be done, indeed? It is in the hands of a few Coast Guard officers.

2:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a pair Van Sice and Wisniewski must have been. They sound like the kind of men who come onto the battle field after the battle is over and shoot all the wounded. And they never take credit for their work. Usually they say, "I was just following orders"; or, "she made me do it". Are they typical of the officer corps; if not, what aberation in the system produced them and let them rise to the level of their incompetence? As George W. Bush would say, "We misunderestimated them".

4:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When short men begin to cast a long shadow, we know that the sun is going down. They don't have to be short in stature only; they can also be shortsighted. Van Sice and Wisniewski were shortsighted. They could only see as far as the next promotion board or the next DOD study on sexual assault at the Service Academies. Court-martialing a cadet was shortsighted and unwise.
Vice Admiral Charles Wurster was shortsighted also when he let the Co, XO, and Ops Officer from the Cutter Healy off with only a mild slap on the wrist. Giving them non-judicial punishment and suspending the forfeitures of one month's pay was shortsighted and unwise.
Coast Guard officers no longer seem to take the long view.
“We’ve been repeatedly reassured that the worst is behind us, and it seems like it never ends,” Rep. Frank LoBiondo, R-N.J., said.
Will Rodgers was right when he said, "The bend in the road is not the end of the road, unless you fail to make the turn".
The Coast Guard has missed a few turns lately. This is surely not the end of the road for the Nation's oldest continuous seagoing armed force, but the days of an unblemished reputation, and a sterling reputation as the "can-do" service apparently are over. Sempter Peratus or simply good enough?

3:13 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

International Herald Tribune - France
(The Associated Press) WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 28, 2007
Lawyers for a former cadet who was the first student court-martialed in the 130-year history of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy's are seeking to reverse his convictions for sexual misconduct.
Oral Arguments before the Coast Guard Court of Military Appeals is set for 16 January 2008 in Arlington, Va.

10:53 AM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

The Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces (CAAF) will hear the WEBSTER SMITH case. Oral Argument has been scheduled for September 2009!

9:31 AM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

This entry was posted by on June 11, 2009 at 6:26 pm and is filed under Uncategorized.
QUOTE: "We were notified today that Webster Smith, the first cadet to ever be courts-martialed at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy has had his site blocked by the U.S. Coast Guard. Smiths website “Friends of Webster” is not accessible inside the Coast Guard domain. We reviewed the site and couldn’t find anything in our cursory review that would warrant being blocked."

5:11 PM  

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