The Navy's Own Deep State - Navy SEAL's Conviction Thrown Out

Centermass

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Top Appeals Court Upends Navy SEAL Conviction, Citing Unlawful Command Influence by Senior JAG

In a split 3-2 vote, the military’s appellate court yesterday threw out a rape conviction and prison sentence of Navy SEAL SCPO Keith Barry, contending that top legal officers worried about the service’s reputation for handling alleged sexual assault cases had tainted the case.

In a 43-page brief reversing the lower courts’ decisions, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces dismissed the case “with prejudice,” so the government cannot renew the same charges against Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator (SEAL) Keith E. Barry. Barry had maintained his innocence throughout the case, which began in 2014 when he was charged with two counts of rape for alleged non-consensual sex with his girlfriend. At a general court-martial, a military judge convicted him on one count and sentenced him to three years’ confinement, reduction in rank and a dishonorable discharge. Barry served his 3 year sentence, is now free an is an appellant without pay, pending an outcome regarding restoration of his rank, pay and allowances.

In a landmark decision Wednesday, the military’s highest court ruled that the Navy’s top lawyer, Vice Adm. James W. Crawford III, illegally meddled in the case of a SEAL accused of rape. The split 3-2 decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces tosses out the highly decorated commando’s 2014 court-martial conviction and bars the armed forces from ever trying him again. In the decision, it also noted that Crawford's boss at the time, VICE ADMIRAL Nanette M. DeRenzi also exercised undue influence during the trial.

The legal victory of Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator Keith E. Barry — who never quit proclaiming his innocence — will ripple across the entire military.
Writing for the majority, Chief Judge Scott W. Stucky, a retired Air Force colonel, determined that not only can the military’s most senior attorneys be held responsible for bogus advice that helps to unlawfully coerce a prosecution but that Crawford “actually did so in this case."

Called the “mortal enemy of military justice,” unlawful command influence, or UCI, occurs when superiors utter words or take actions that wrongfully influence the outcome of court-martial cases, jeopardize the appellate process or undermine the public’s confidence in the armed forces by appearing to tip the scales of justice.

The long and the short of it is this. Sailor has a brief relationship between late 2012 and early 2013. Barry believed it to be merely sexual, but she believed their four encounters were leading to love. and then calls it quits. Ex girl friend goes to authorities after and claims she was raped multiple times. Case is tried. Barry is convicted. During the sentencing phase, then Rear Admiral Patrick J. Lorge, presiding, had conversations with Crawford about the trial. Lorge had the authority to affirm or overturn the military judge’s verdict against Barry. He had reservations about the case and felt there was not enough evidence provided by the Navy, beyond a reasonable doubt, to convict. In both sworn affidavits and testimony during a special hearing convened Lorge said that he felt political pressure on “many fronts” from civilian and military leaders to convict Barry. He was advised by Cmdr. Dominic Jones and Lt. Cmdr. Jon Dowling to put the hammer down on Barry to give the appearance that the Navy was cracking down on sexual assault. Judge Advocate General of the Navy Vice Adm. Nanette DeRenzi and then-Rear Adm. James Crawford III, reminded him of the importance of taking a hard stance against sexual assault while he was making his decision. He considered vacating the verdict or granting clemency to Barry, but instead, let stand a sentence of three years confinement and a dishonorable discharge, a decision he came to regret.

CPO Barry filed his military appeals. His second appeal was heard in 2016 and the conviction was upheld. However........Barry's petition for a review by the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces was approved on April 27, 2017. In May, 2017. Lorge provided sworn testimony to the appeals court about his reservations and undue pressure. Another judge, from outside the Navy, was assigned to review and investigate. The judge was Chief Air Force Judge Colonel Vance Spath, who submitted his finding to the appeals court. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces then dismissed the case “with prejudice"

And it seems, the issue of cover up and undue influence continues.........

“Perhaps certain members of Congress do not like the optics of the Navy presenting a robust defense to a sailor accused of rape,” David Sheldon, Barry’s civilian attorney, told The Washington Times. “There is a reason why the command influence occurred in this case. It’s because the Navy has buckled under to congressional pressure in sexual assault cases at the expense of sailors’ constitutional rights.” Earlier this year Barry’s legal team formally accused Vice Adm. James W. Crawford III, the Navy’s judge advocate general and highest-ranking lawyer, of exercising illegal command influence in the SEAL’s 2014 trial. The defense motion states that the Barry legal team’s July 31 questioning of Adm. Crawford at the Pentagon spurred the Navy to counterattack by seeking to disqualify Barry’s naval attorneys. They noted that the move came just one day after Adm. Crawford was interviewed, not during the previous 41 days the case had been open.

Last year, the admiral’s lawyers had asked a judge to disqualify Barry’s three judge advocates (JAGs), alleging that they improperly “self-detailed” themselves to the high-profile case. Asked by The Times to respond to the allegations, Patty Babb, a spokeswoman for Adm. Crawford, said: “The Barry case has been forwarded to a new convening authority, senior to the original convening authority, and the fact-finding process is underway. The Navy remains, as always, dedicated to pursuing justice in a fair and impartial system. To preserve the integrity of that process, the Navy will not comment further on the case.”

Yeah, no pressure there........

In a subsequent, more expansive affidavit dated Sept. 21, 2017, Lorge wrote he had no other recourse, an erroneous belief stemming from incorrect advice from his staff judge advocate that he lacked authority to disapprove the conviction and sentence.

“At the time, the political climate regarding sexual assault in the military was such that a decision to disapprove the findings, regardless of merit, could bring hate and discontent on the Navy from the President, as well as senators including Senator Kristen Gillibrand. I was also generally aware of cases from other services that became high profile and received extreme negative attention because the convening authorities upset guilty findings in sexual assault cases,” he wrote in the September 2017, affidavit. “I perceived that if I were to disapprove the findings in this case, it could adversely affect the Navy.”

Crawford (Left) is due to retire this month and DeRenzi (Right) has already retired. Crawford's retirement should be put on hold and DeRenzi should be brought back to answer questions.

ScreenHunter_2302 Sep. 07 02.22.jpg


This entire saga stinks to no end....from the initial charges until now, and everything in between. Sound familiar?
 

Centermass

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From May of this year. Chief Barry's take on things:

Whether it be the Pharisees or McCarthyism, some of those we as citizens have entrusted as “leaders” have used propaganda and fear to sway popular opinion for the sake of their own profit and power. Most recently, the U.S. Military and certain members of Congress are currently and have been for quite some time knowingly committing acts of injustice to create the illusion of justice. Reports of sexual assault in the military are at an all-time high and Congress has put great pressure on the military to crack down, “Justice be damned” (Admiral James Crawford, Judge Advocate General of the Navy).

While anything related to sex offense is most certainly a heinous crime and should be addressed immediately, investigated, and prosecuted to the full extent of the law if proved to be true, todays military is in fact convicting members of its services, with no evidence whatsoever, simply to boost numbers to appease Congress.

“A nation that forgets its defenders will soon itself be forgotten”. Calvin Coolidge

As far back as I remember I wanted to serve. Born into an Irish Catholic family in New England where men for generations are either cops or firefighters, it is in my blood. When I discovered at a young age, possibly 10 or at the most 12 years old, that my mother’s father was killed in action in Korea and received the Medal of Honor when she was three I decided the military was my calling. I imagine my mother was less than thrilled. Stories I read about Navy Frogman had since Vietnam evolved into Navy SEALs. As I always felt an innate drive to protect, coupled with my experience as a lifeguard/EMT/firefighter, a SEAL seemed to me the best a man can get.

After 18 years and a couple of lifetimes past, hundreds of combat operations protecting those who can’t (or won’t) protect themselves and a diagnosis of Traumatic Brain Injury caused by repetitive exposure to explosions, I made the very difficult decision that my operational career as a SEAL had come to an end and I would except orders to Coronado, California Basic Underwater Demolitions/ SEAL Training (BUD/S) to train my replacements. Upon arrival to California I was immediately introduced to a woman from LA. We began casually dating which I broke off after approximately five weeks. Approximately a week following that point, the same woman contacted NCIS and reported that the last time we had sex was not consensual. I was read my rights, however it quickly became apparent that under the military judicial system once you’re accused of anything related to sexual assault you have no rights. After approximately 14 months of NCIS investigating every intimate detail of my life and interviewing numerous past girlfriends, neighbors and colleagues they received the same reports from all…“that’s not Keith”.

I hesitate to call it a trial that day in October in 2014. The government never called NCIS, the sole investigation agency in the Navy to investigate such crimes because NCIS had nothing to testify to. In fact, my defense team as well as the government prosecutors themselves were certain that the judge alone, no jury, would come back from deliberations with a verdict of not guilty. However what we hadn’t known at the time was that the judge, Capt. Payton-Obrien, had been visited by the senior navy judge. What I didn’t know at the time, which became crystal clear, was that I was “guilty” until proven innocent, and the truth has very little to do with the military judicial system. While I and my defense team had overwhelmingly evidence to support the contrary, a verdict of guilty to one charge of sexual assault was read. I was sentenced to three years of incarceration in Naval Combined Brig Miramar, loss of all pay, rights and privileges, reduced to rank of E1 (without pay), dishonorable discharge and required to register as a sex offender. Attempting to process what had just happened I asked my attorney, “How is this possible?” His reply, all they needed is her (the accusers) testimony.

Since that day I have gained far more than they have ever taken from me. I know another man who was convicted for crimes he did not commit, suffered and was sentenced.

In his declarations to the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, the court-martial convening authority, RADM Patrick Lorge, explained that he did not believe I was guilty of sexual assault. He had concerns regarding the lack of evidence and the fairness of my trial. And, as RADM Lorge repeatedly stated, he would have disapproved my conviction but for the unlawful interference of senior officials. “Upon my review of the record of trial from this case, I did not find that the Government proved the allegation against Senior Chief Barry beyond a reasonable doubt.”

RADM Lorge even went so far as to express remorse and ask for assistance in correcting my wrongful conviction. “I would ask you to forgive my failure in leadership and right the wrong that I committed in this case against Senior Chief Barry; ensure justice prevails and when doubt exists, allow a man to remain innocent.” As a result of RADM Lorge’s request, the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces ordered an inquiry into the matter.

On October 24, 2017, after completing an extensive inquiry, a military judge concluded that “unlawful command influence tainted” my case and that RADM Lorge “was influenced by conversations with senior military leaders” to approve my convictions, even though he believed I was not guilty. To that end, RADM Lorge explained his thought process: “Even though I believed then, and I believe now, that I should have disapproved the findings, my consideration of the Navy’s interest in avoiding the perception that military leaders were sweeping sexual assaults under the rug, along with confusion stemming from my Staff Judge Advocate[] . . . affected my decision[.]”

Notably, the sources of the unlawful interference in my case were the former Judge Advocate General of the Navy and her Deputy. Together, they persuaded RADM Lorge to prioritize the “perception” of being tough on sexual assault over his belief that I was not guilty. Together, they caused RADM Lorge to let an innocent Navy SEAL remain convicted and serve a sentence of three years confinement so the Navy could appear tough on sexual assault.

I spent years in confinement before whistleblowers took the courageous action of bringing this injustice to light. Once the unlawful interference of senior military officials was revealed and it became clear that RADM Lorge could no longer live with the guilt, my case began attracting much needed Presidential and Congressional attention. Finally, there is a light on the lack of integrity that has permeated our military justice system for the last several years.

Unfortunately, the appellate process is slow. Despite all of the evidence that has come out since last May, the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces will not make a final decision for several months. Final arguments in my case was made March 22, 2018, with no set time a decision will be rendered.

It has been a year since I was released from the brig, I am still in an unpaid status within the military and have had no income since I was convicted on October 31, 2014. Despite possessing a Top Secret clearance for two decades, I cannot even pass a simple background check, like the one required to be an Uber driver.

Moreover, I am currently required to register as a sex offender for life, cannot possess firearms or vote, have accrued $98,500 in legal fees, and am receiving no treatment for a National Intrepid Center of Excellence diagnosed traumatic brain injury. And while I am hopeful that the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces will overturn my convictions, as it currently stands, I am still slated to be discharged dishonorably, in which case I would lose all future retirement benefits, including medical.

As a Senior Chief trained as a SEAL and Special Operations Independent Duty Corpsman, the well-being of my teammates and those serving alongside me has always been my priority. In challenging situations, I took pride in being the SEAL that others could turn to for advice, guidance, support or medical care.

Over the course of my career, there was never a shortage of challenging situations. I conducted hundreds of missions as a member of the SEAL Teams, serving in numerous leadership positions. These missions resulted in the capture of numerous war criminals, as well as the death and capture of hundreds of enemy personnel. Through it all, I always sought to be the person providing assistance—the person protecting my fellow Americans—because that was my profession. Being a SEAL is an honor I have worked every day of my career to earn. I am immensely blessed to have the friends, family and community that love and support me as well as my life experiences to draw strength from. However this is not an isolated incident, not in the least, I will not join nor tolerate the cowardice that allows this to continue which has destroyed so many people’s lives.

I am now and always have been a man who has lived his life to “walk humble, do just, love great” (Micah 6:8). My case shows how senior leaders have abused their power at the expense of the men and women in uniform. Such abuse is unacceptable, and I am determined to clear my name and rid the military justice system of the lack of integrity that permeates it.



Now that all this has come to light, one can only hope that TRUE JUSTICE is served and this man gets the outcome he not only has asked for, but deserves, given the corrupt revelations that have been exposed.

ScreenHunter_2303 Sep. 07 03.57.jpg
 

Centermass

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In case you are interested, here is the decision by the appeals court. I have read all 43 pages of it.

Top Appeals Court Upends Navy SEAL Conviction, Citing Unlawful Command Influence by Senior JAG - USNI News

If there's one take away I found within it all, it was this (Below) from Admiral Lorge:

ScreenHunter_2299 Sep. 07 01.55.jpg

I failed to mention that my feelings are that Lorge needs to be held accountable for his actions as well, although, some what mitigated based on his admittance and subsequent testimony, exposing this corruption, that's rotten to the core.
 

Ocoka

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We've seen UCI in Marine cases over the past years, re Amos. Lorge basically admits he was covering his political ass. NSW has enough real problems without command facilitating bogus or dubious ones.
 

757

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“This case presents the novel and disturbing situation of a convening authority approving a finding of guilty in a case where he not only believed the Government had not proven Appellant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt...but further believed that Appellant might be innocent.” Pg. 17

I hope I'm wrong, but this seems like the tip of a very nasty ice-burg. An absolute travesty of justice.
 
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