Monday, October 28, 2013

Sexual Assault At Coast Guard Academy, The Webster Smith Case Chap 7

The Man Who Perverted Justice At The USCGA

The Case of Webster Smith spawned investigations, a task force, and the Case of Admiral James Van Sice. The Case of Admiral James Van Sice could have proven to be a most unusual case. It would have been unusual because he could have been charged with crimes committed in the name of the Law; that is to say, the Legal PROCESS. Admiral Van Sice and Captain Douglas Wisniewski  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 investigated Admiral Van Sice. This was altogether fitting and proper. This was just as it should have been, because only another Flag Officer, such as an admiral, could know 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 had convened courts-martial could know how much more a court-martial is than just a panel of officers sitting in judgment on a cadet, or how much more a court is than simply a court room.
It is a PROCESS; it is a spirit. It is the Palace of Justice. It is where men expect to be judged fairly because true Justice is blind.
These men distorted and perverted justice at the Coast Guard Academy. They hijacked the legal PROCESS. They used the military justice system as an instrument of their personal vengeance. When they sailed into uncharted waters and convened a court-martial to try a cadet, they torpedoed Justice and shattered the illusion of fairness at the Academy. This was a horrendous crime against humanity.
This was nothing less than dereliction of duty and malfeasance in office. This was a conscious betrayal of the oath that they took to defend and to protect the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, both foreign and domestic.

Van Sice and Wisniewski are, themselves, Coast Guard Academy graduates. Between them they have almost 60 years of experience as Coast Guard officers. They reached maturity over 2 generations ago. They are well educated adults in positions of public trust. They, most of all, should have valued Justice, Honor, Truth, and Fairness. They should have been capable of being entrusted with the responsibility for the administration of the PROCESS.
The United States and much of the world watched and waited to see what would be the outcome of this case. This was truly a case without precedent. It is a case that will live in infamy.

Justice was ravished by Admiral Van Sice. We have to re-consecrate the Temple of Justice at the Academy and in the entire U. S. Coast Guard.

The entire Coast Guard was placed on trial when cadet Webster Smith was charged. The character of every Coast Guard officer and Academy graduate was placed in issue when the Academy Superintendent accused a man of raping his girlfriend 6 months after she had aborted their child and continued a meaningful relationship with him.
Webster Smith was at the beginning of a process that had produced Van Sice and Wisniewski. They were at opposite ends of the pipe line that turns out Commissioned Coast Guard officers. So, the goals and the accomplishments of the Academy were called into question when the two most senior officers at the Academy chose to court-martial a cadet. Even more so, when they chose to ignore the advice of the law specialist they detailed to investigate the charges. That was the Article 32 Investigating Officer who reported to them that the facts would not sustain a conviction for rape. They chose to accept the advice of the Academy staff legal officer over that of the Article 32 Investigating Officer.

A General Court-martial was not necessary to get an accused sent to jail for 6 months. A Special Court-martial could have done that. This was over-kill. Even a Summary Court-martial would have been able to send Webster Smith to jail for 30 days. One has to ask what was it that drove these two senior, experienced officers almost mad; so mad, in fact, that they placed their own careers in jeopardy to punish a cadet.
Was it the fact that Webster Smith's girlfriend was the first female Regimental Commander in over 7 years? Or, was it the fact that Doug Wisniewski had handpicked her? Was he secretly in love with her, and had he picked her for Regimental Commander to curry favor with her? Was the fact that she became pregnant by a Black man the ultimate act of infidelity and betrayal to him? Was that why he ordered Webster Smith out of the barracks at Chase Hall to prevent him from being able to talk to her? Was that why he placed him under a restraining order and forced him to work on the boat docks at hard labor many months before a charge sheet was even drafted or a court-martial was even convened?
The Webster Smith case gave the world a microscope to see into the character of these senior Coast Guard officers. It gave all of us a chance to look into the character and the values of the men who are charged with the security of the American Homeland. The Coast Guard is the lead agency in the Department of Homeland Security. Are these officers capable of sound judgment? Or do they betray the public trust; or take appropriated funds and buy beer brewing equipment or bar-b-que pits and party while people are suffering?
The big question is HOW! A good start would be to conduct a thorough honest investigation and evaluation of the culture and climate at the Academy. A Task Force has rendered its findings. Regrettably, it did not give a critique of the actions and judgments of all those responsible for the Webster Smith fiasco. The reinstatement of former Cadet Webster Smith and the expunging of his record would be a good start would have been a good start.
Webster Smith has moved on with his life. He is married and has a child. However, he has bad paper that will follow him for the rest of his life. He must register as a sex offender in the State of Texas. A grant of clemency and a Presidential Pardon would be a giant step towards remedying the wrong that has been done.
However, that will not be enough. The re-consecration of Justice at the Academy will not be found in a Task Force Report. It will not be found in the Uniform Code of Military Justice, or in the Academy cadet regulations, or in any written documents that no one fully understands or denies. It will have to be found in the character of the officers and cadets in the Coast Guard and at the Coast Guard Academy.




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