Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Military Injustice

The story of Lt. Jullian Goodrum, a 35-year-old Army reservist and Iraq vet, is, as The Light of Reason puts it
an enormously depressing but instructive tale—about how ill-equipped our military is despite the billions of dollars it has at its disposal, about how military structure and organization is geared to demand obedience above all, about how the military will, when challenged, circle the wagons and protect superior officers while letting low-level "grunts" take all responsibility and all blame, and about what happens to a man with 16 years of "spotless service" when he dares to question authority.
After he returned from Iraq, Goodrum complained to his superior officers that his unit had been sent to war with an appalling lack of equipment, including broken, unarmored vehicles. When his complaints were ignored, he went to his Congress member and to the press. He also complained about the poor medical care he received when he came back. Now, he is convinced the charge of being absent without leave for getting medical care from a civilian doctor is retribution from the Army, which he claims closed ranks and blackballed him. ...

[A] review of hundreds of pages of documents and hours of tapes from Goodrum's disciplinary proceedings show his superior officers cooperating in what looks like a concerted effort to put him behind bars. ... Officers seem to have pressured some witnesses and coached others, possibly instructing them to lie.

The documents and tapes also show Army officers trying to dig up dirt on Goodrum. Using information from a background check on a different man, the officers suggested -- incorrectly -- to military prosecutors that Goodrum might be a convicted drug dealer. A document alleging he had had an affair with a female subordinate before going to Iraq mysteriously appeared in Goodrum's record. ...

Trying to prove that you're being railroaded by officers trying to cover up for their own poor leadership, or to punish you for speaking out, is particularly difficult because superior officers have so much power. They control your salary, food and clothing, movement and freedom ... Superior officers also get to choose your punishment. ... They also appoint the investigators who will look into your case.

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