Locals have no love for occupying armies, whether in Bagdad or Ferguson

NEWS ANALYSIS After the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, by a white cop, in the middle of a street in broad daylight — and the unexpected global outrage it provoked More »

National Lawyers Guild Submits Comments for Improving Military Justice System to Department of Defense Military Justice Review Group

NEW YORK — The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) today submitted comments to the Defense Department’s Military Justice Review Group as part of its comprehensive review of the military justice system. Recommendations to improve More »

Report exposes mistreatment of GIs by Fort Hood leadership

Testimonies in ‘Fort Hood Report’ recount unethical health care practices, disregard of medical advice, violations of policy This Memorial Day a national group of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans marked the solemn holiday More »

MLTF’s James Branum interviewed by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!

MLTF member (and past co-chair) James M. Branum, an attorney in Oklahoma City, was a guest on Democracy Now! to talk about Bowe Bergdahl and the legal rights of war resisters. “There Were More »

 

Phone number changes for MLTF office

MLTF is discontinuing one of its phone numbers effective September 20. If you are using our old number, 619-233-1701, please update your records to our main phone line, 619-463-2369. Calls to the former get forwarded, so be sure to check which number you are dialing and make any necessary changes to your listing for MLTF. Calls will no longer be forwarded starting September 20.

Additionally, another phone number published years ago as a contact for MLTF, 415-566-3732, should also be replaced by the current number.

Either of these two previous numbers may appear on very old printed material or outdated web pages. If you have such literature or links, please search our site for more current resources on the topic.

MLTF’s correct phone number:
619-463-2369.

September 2014 issue of On Watch now online

The latest issue of MLTF’s quarterly newsletter, On Watch, released to members and subscribers about a month ago, is now available to the public.

On Watch September 2014 xxv No. 3  (PDF)

Titles in bold indicate that the article is published online in addition to in the PDF version of On Watch linked above.

Career Ender: Sexual assault or sexual harassment complaints still prevent advancement

By Jim Klimaski

Punishing the transgressor addresses half the problem. Where is meaningful assistance for the victim? 

The Tailhook scandal occurred over 20 years ago. At least 83 women and seven men were identified as having been sexually assaulted at the Navy/Marine Corps Tailhook Association Convention held in Las Vegas in September 1991. There were over 4,000 active, reserve and retired service members in attendance, including several Flag officers.  What occurred at this gathering soon became public knowledge and calls by members of Congress for an investigation started a long battle between those in the military who wanted to sweep the matter under the rug and senior officials at the Department of Defense who wanted a thorough and complete investigation leading to changes in the military’s attitude toward women in uniform. This struggle still continues with some success, but the victims of the harassment and assault continue to find themselves ostracized, their military career at an end. None of the sexual assault victims from the Tailhook scandal were able to continue their military careers.

With a strong push by Congress, the various military services have begun to take a hard line on prosecuting the alleged perpetrators of sexual assault and harassment. Each service claims it has established a special teams of experienced prosecutors aided by victim witness counselors who help the complaining victim through the court martial process. But outside these legal proceedings little is done to assist the sexual assault victim should they wish to continue their military career.

President Obama declares perpetual war

News Analysis | Marjorie Cohn

President Barack Obama escalated the drone war he has conducted for the past five and a half years by declaring his intention to “degrade and ultimately destroy” the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, or ISIL. Since August 8, Obama has mounted at least 154 airstrikes in Iraq. He will send 475 additional US troops, increasing the total number in Iraq to about 1,600. Obama announced he would conduct “a systematic campaign of airstrikes” in Iraq, and possibly in Syria. But, not limiting himself to those countries, Obama declared the whole world his battlefield, stating “We will hunt down terrorists who threaten our country, wherever they are . . . if you threaten America, you will find no safe haven.”

If, indeed, there were an imminent threat of attack on the United States, Obama would be legally entitled to launch a military operation. The United Nations Charter, which prohibits the use of military force, allows an exception when a country acts in self-defense. Under the well-established Caroline doctrine, the “necessity for self-defense must be instant, overwhelming, leaving no choice of means, and no moment for deliberation.” The only problem is, Obama admitted, “We have not yet detected specific plotting against our homeland.” Citing only the vague possibility of future “deadly attacks,” Obama nevertheless declared a perpetual war with no specific end time.

"Ferguson Day 6, Picture 44" by Loavesofbread - Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Locals have no love for occupying armies, whether in Bagdad or Ferguson

NEWS ANALYSIS

After the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, by a white cop, in the middle of a street in broad daylight — and the unexpected global outrage it provoked – the subsequent disproportional response by local law enforcement has made militarization of the police a hot topic that even the most tepid news organizations are recognizing.

Following decades of hyped “wars” on drugs and terror, the federal government got the ingenious idea of equipping local police departments with surplus weapons from the armed forces — presumably because they weren’t using them fast enough around the world and they were offered even more and better weapons by “defense” contractors. Surely, they reasoned, local constabularies could assist in protecting the citizenry from the twin scourges of drugs and terror with which we are at “war.” While this transfer of military equipment has been going on for many years now, the over-the-top police response to protests in Ferguson has shone a light on it and prompted questions about the wisdom of providing police departments with tanks, drones and other implements of (mass) destruction used for fighting actual wars.

Of course, there are a few examples of this mentality that pre-dates “the war on terror.” Even as far back as 1985, the Philadelphia police bombed the home of a local organization, MOVE, which may have presaged some of the problems that could arise with excessive weaponry. MOVE was not especially popular among the populace, but all united in outrage at the bombing.

But it’s only now that most news analysts and policymakers are noticing the rather predictable repercussions of arming local cops like a commando squad in a war zone: Departments with some very powerful new toys will find excuses to use them, because after all, once you are given a hammer, everything is a nail. But one reality about police use of heavy military equipment has gone largely undiscussed. It’s been cloaked by propagandistic news reports and almost universal glib praise for the skill and professionalism of America’s armed forces, but it’s something the MLTF and other groups have always known.