Skip to comments.Astronautís Nomination Yanked Over Sex Assault Case
Posted on 03/09/2014 4:02:45 AM PDT by ClaytonP
The promotion of an astronaut considered a role model for women in the military has been scrapped in a career-ending move over her action in overruling a conviction in a sexual assault case.
Air Force officials would not confirm that President Obama had withdrawn the nomination of Lt. Gen. Susan Helms to be vice commander of the Air Force Space Command, but the officials said that she has put in for retirement.
The nomination of Helms, who flew on five space shuttle missions and jointly holds the record for the longest space walk, had been put on permanent hold by Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., who cited Helms action as commander of the 14th Air Force in overturning the sex assault conviction of a captain at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., in February 2012.
In a statement to the Congressional Record in June, McCaskill said that With her action, Lt. Gen. Helms sent a damaging message to survivors of sexual assault who are seeking justice in the military justice system.
McCaskill charged that Helms had sent the message to survivors that they can experience a momentary sense of justice in knowing that they were believed when their attacker is convicted and sentenced, only to have that justice ripped away with the stroke of a pen by an individual who was never in the courtroom for the trial and who never heard the testimony.
The case in question involved Capt. Matthew Herrera, who was acquitted of assaulting a female technical sergeant but convicted of assaulting a female first lieutenant. There was no physical evidence in either case.
In a statement to the Air Force Times in March, Lt. Col. Kathleen Cook, a spokeswoman for the Space Command, said that Helms had reviewed the Herrera case for five weeks and concluded that she could not be satisfied (that) the beyond-a-reasonable-doubt burden of proof had been met and therefore declined to approve the conviction.
Helms defenders have also pointed out that she issued non-judicial punishment to Herrera under Article 15 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice that ultimately led to Herreras resignation from the Air Force.
The Helms nomination has become a flash point in the ongoing debate in Congress on whether sexual assault cases in the military should be taken out of the chain of command.
A vote could come as early as next week on legislation proposed by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., that would strip commanders of their current authority to refer cases to courts-martial and overrule verdicts. Under Gillibrands proposal, the authority would go to independent lawyers from the Judge Advocate Generals corps.
Helms, 55, spent a total of 211 days in space, including five months aboard the International Space Station. While on the Space Stationin 2001, she and astronaut Jim Voss conducted the longest space walk eight hours and 56 minutes.
so this brave woman stood up for her beliefs in justice and had her career rear ended by “ All men are guilty of rape” females.
The war on strong women took another woman.
If commanding officers are removed from the process, who or what organization will oversee these cases . . . the NAGS?
All female against male rape cases will be tried by NOW and the male accused will be given a chance to shoot himself before the tribunal does it for him.
So Helms did the right thing despite the political pressure and is being punished for it by a pandering Rat Senator trying to save her job?
No wonder our military is wrecked.
A two-fer the Communists Islamic-terroristophile Obama.
More ruin for NASA AND more empowerment of the insane.
There is something terribly wrong with our justice system when one person can arbitrarily overturn the verdict of a sitting judge and jury. On the other hand, there is something terribly wrong when a jury will convict a person without any evidence.
At least this woman can sleep at night knowing she did the right thing and made a decision based upon facts, not whether or not it was politically correct. She also knew that her decision would probably end her career but made it anyway.
From 2012 to 2013, there was a 43% increase in reported sexual assaults. One reason why is that the DoD launched an all out push to lobby women in the service to report sexual assault. There was no such effort launched at men who are victims of same sex assault, which is on the increase and estimated to be vastly UNREPORTED due to the shame and stigma. Moreover, a massive amount of money was spent to hire “Sexual Assault Prevention Workers” who traveled all over the country, forced military members and DoD civilians into mandatory briefings, and preached the gospel according to feminism. There are no statistics because all identities and numbers on the matter are closely guarded, however, I suspect that almost any service woman who faced charges for adultery, fraternization, or any other UCMJ charge where a sexual relationship was at least part of the equation were coached to cry rape. Not only did that absolve them of their own complicity in any wrongdoing, but it simultaneously allowed an agenda driven feminist wrecking ball to further emasculate the US military and ruin lives in the process.
with that line of thinking why have courts of appeal in the justice system?
If we are in the civilian as opposed to the military sphere we have a set of values which elevates a sense of decency over truth finding. For example, in a criminal case someone interested only in finding the truth would water board all of the witnesses and victims and compare it with objective data to find whodunit. But we do not do that because we would rather have guilty people go free than conduct criminal procedure in this manner.
More realistically in today's world, we routinely let guilty defendants go free because they were prosecuted, or attempted to be prosecuted, with evidence acquired in violation of the Bill of Rights. By definition, these people, or virtually all of them, are guilty because they were caught with the goods but we are as a society willing to turn criminals, often violent criminals, loose among us to protect our sense of decency.
But we are not talking here in the civilian sphere but in the military sphere and a different set of considerations apply. We conduct civilian trials to preserve and enhance a civil society but we maintain a military to protect that society against very uncivil external threats. In an ultimate case, we are not just talking about protecting convenience or a desirable way of life we are talking about protecting life itself and the existence of the society itself. To gain this protection we create a military and charge it with engaging in a very bloody and very brutal business, making war.
In this context the rights of the criminally accused must be weighed against a different standard, the survival of the nation, casualties which are likely to be sustained, the effectiveness of command-and-control. These are existential matters. Military commanders by the nature of their jobs must either compel or encourage subordinates to take life and risk their own lives. There can be no second-guessing because insubordination is disruptive of command-and-control that leads to defeat and the potential destruction of the nation.
In other words, we should tolerate a different and less rigorous standard of due process in the military than we do in the civilian criminal justice.
Yet, we as a nation cannot tolerate a renegade military establishment, there must be civilian control. That civilian control in this context should be limited to defining the enemy and promoting or removing commanders based on performance.
The civilian control of the military should not extend to converting The Military into a Skinner Box for the amusement of leftists who find the military a ready-made machine for their top down social engineering. Leftist civilians in America have now trespassed into this forbidden sphere. The United States military is not a place to experiment with the flavor of the year concerning homosexuals, or women's rights, or affirmative action etc.
On the other hand, it might be instructive if these leftist officials were themselves waterboarded but I submit that few of us on this forum would be surprised at what we hear.
WOW - now ain't that a case of the pot calling the kettle black? When Obama or Holder intervene to change the law or rulings, libs are giddy with joy.
"justice ripped away with the stroke of a pen by an individual who was never in the courtroom for the trial and who never heard the testimony.
So she is saying a fellow member of the officer corps lied?
The convening authority made a decision on the facts, the JAG who prosecuted made a decision on the facts, the jury of military members made a decision on the facts, the approving authority should have a checklist, make sure all was done according to the UCMJ and approve or disapprove based on that. So, we don’t really know enough here, what was her rationale in not approving the conviction? Was it with or contrary to the advice of her JAG adviser?
That's what the educational system is for. After all, what harm could come from treating our children like lab rats.
Seriously, colleges of education teach the Skinnerian model. I can think of little more demeaning to human nature than deliberately treating childre like animals.
This is all part of the leftist plan to destroy the military that they hate because of its natural conservative tendencies. Obama has done great harm to the military already. He three more years to continue his harmful actions against the military.
It’s so tiresome to read about a “survivor of a sexual assault.” Unless the woman in question was physically assaulted by an attacker who intended to kill her, she was not a “survivor”; a “victim,” yes, most definitely, but not a “survivor.” I’m assuming that being raped does not carry with it the danger of death.
Words have meaning. This term is definitely misused.
I didn’t even realize we still had a manned space program.
This isn't "our" (civil) justice system, it was tried under the military justice system...a way different ball of wax...
Did the thought occur to you that his charges were overturned because there was no evidence ?
Even the military justice system operates under the concept of innocent until proven guilty...
Officers lie all the time. Pretending they don’t is naive at best.
Stalin as role model. Check.
Political purge. Check.
Military personnel treated as servants. Check.
Military effectiveness destroyed. Second Nobel Peace?
The Convening Authority may examine the record of trial, to including findings of facts and overturn convictions based upon that review. It is a protection built into the military justice system. It doesn’t happen very often, but when it does I suspect that something just didn’t smell quite right.
Contrast this with the civilian justice system where prosecutors and judges come from and are part of the political system. They produce political results and if they don’t they are weeded out or relegated to night traffic court. Much of the abuse of our justice system is political abuse.
This is where the military justice system is headed and it will destroy the military.
Almost certainly with. Under McCaskill’s plan, preferral of charges would go to a new directorate within Air Force Legal Ops Agency (my unit), and we all think it’s a horrible, misguided idea.
Believe me, as a former Missourian, McCaskill is no genius.
How horribly, yet deliciously, ironic that an eminently qualified woman would have her 4th star denied because she “failed the sisterhood” by doing what her conscience required.
Oh no, not General Helms! Now I know for certain that the purge is deliberate.
You are dead wrong on that one.
It's the UCMJ and it works. Commanders are legally, professionally, ethically, financially and morally responsible for EVERYTHING that happens under their command. They need to be empowered to exercise that responsibility. If you don't like it, don't join the military.
As long as commanders (and others) are professional, ethical, and moral, then you both are correct. However, I can point you both to our attorney General as a shining example of how this is not always the case. It isn't any different in the military. And if you want to look at the jury side, one only has to look at the OJ Simpson trial as a example of how no matter how much evidence one presents, juries will not convict.
A person could say these are anomalies in life. I actually think what we're witnessing is a breakdown in our justice system where laws are applied randomly and discriminatively.
Commanders are executives. Although it’s technically not the same thing, in a bigger sense, it’s really no different than the pardon power given a governor or president. If you accept that a commander unilaterally has the authority to punish a service member (judicially or non-judicially) you have to vest that commander, or those further up the chain of command with the authority to reconsider or undo the punishment.