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Judges Finding of Obamas Comment as Unlawful Command Influence Is Wrong

In law, issues that on the surface appear to be straightforward become confounded with the mumbo-jumbo of legalese. Thats what it seems like in the case of two sailors on court martial for sexual assault. Navy Commander Marcus Fulton, in a pretrial defense motion ruling, found that comments made by President Obama as commander in chief may unduly influence any potential sentencing, according to Stars and Stripes. The Presidents questionable comment: The bottom line is: I have no tolerance for this. I expect consequences. So I dont just want more speeches or awareness programs or training, but ultimately folks look the other way. If we find out somebodys engaging in this, theyve got to be held accountable prosecuted, stripped of their positions, court martialed, fired, dishonorably discharged. Period. Based on Obamas comment, the defense put forward a motion to dismiss. The motion to dismiss was denied. However, the judge found at least apparent unlawful command influence. He further proscribed that if the accused is convicted the Court will instruct members that they may not award any type of discharge. That means they cannot receive neither a bad conduct discharge nor a dishonorable discharge. Now, except for judges and lawyers, how could any reasonable person find Obamas statement damaging? The President wasnt commenting on this particular case. He was reacting to a press conference reporters question regarding a Pentagon study that estimated 26,000 military sex crimes were committed in 2012, over 70 sex crimes a day, a jump of 37 percent since 2010. It was imperative that the President of the United States speak out in clear language against what has become so endemic in the military. In this laypersons opinion, the Judge got it wrong. The President is chief civilian officer over Americas Armed Forces. Perhaps Obama should have chosen his words more wisely, but as a civilian his admonition cannot be scrutinized through the lens of military law, and therefore his comment was not unlawful command influence. Unlike a comment made by a military commandant, the Presidents comment was nonthreatening; it was not, could not in Americas military be a command. It does not warrant the same diligence as a command given by a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff or a Commanding Officer in respect to influencing any action by

members of the armed forces.