Tuesday, December 11, 2007

IO reportedly recommends against court-martial for 1LT Whiteside

In today's WaPo, Dana Priest and Anne Hull report that the IO has recommended against disciplining 1LT Whiteside. Here's a link to their piece.

They report:

"One of the Army values is integrity, which is defined as doing what is right, legally and morally," Maj. Mervin H. Steals, the investigating officer assigned to conduct a preliminary hearing, wrote in his decision. "The moral thing to do is dismiss these charges, to allow 1LT Whiteside to end her military service and receive the benefits that she will desperately need for the remainder of her life."

They also report:
Wolfe [the TC] "failed to present any evidence contradicting the Defense claim" that Whiteside suffered from a psychotic break, Steals wrote. Having heard testimony from two senior psychiatrists, Steals said "it is clear [she] was not mentally responsible for the events of this day."

Finally, they report:
Even if Whiteside were aware of the wrongfulness of her suicide attempt, [the IO] said, "the idea of referring charges on her for this act would be inhumane."


Anonymous said...

We had all this hand wringing by the Post and others over how unfair the military justice system is, how military officers ignorantly thumb their nose at mental illnesses, and how the malevolent military was systematically bearing down on this poor girl. But this development indicates that the system may be working after all.

The Article 32 did exactly what it was supposed to do here: Act as a “bulwark against baseless charges." United States v. Samuels, 27 C.M.R. 280 (1959). Note that if this had been a federal or state grand jury, which is merely a one-sided presentation by the prosecutor, this young girl would be on her way to the pain and angst of a full blown trial. (Though some jurisdictions, e.g., California, also require a “preliminary hearing” that is much like an Article 32.) While this process has certainly not been easy for Lt. Whiteside or her family up to this point, at least the Article 32 gave her a fair chance to fight for a just result without having to risk a criminal conviction. While Dana Priest and Anne Hull would probably find the concept inconceivable, this is one aspect of military justice that is probably superior to “civilian” justice.

I sincerely hope the GCMCA takes the IO's recommendations to heart. Not only for Lt. Whiteside’s sake, but for the sake of keeping our system fair.

Dwight Sullivan said...


May I propose a friendly amendment? I suggest that you delete the second "probably" from your second paragraph.