- - Tuesday, May 16, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

I am puzzled about how retired Rear Adm. Patrick J. Lorge was coerced in 2015 by the-judge advocate general (JAG) of the Navy and her deputy (now the JAG). Rear Adm. Lorge claims they persuaded him “not to exonerate the sailor because it would be bad public relations for the Navy and hurt” his career (“Pentagon brass improperly interfered in Navy SEAL’s sexual-assault case, retired admiral claims,” Web, May 12). He was already scheduled to retire in 2015, so I do not see an effect on his Navy career unless they were talking about his post-retirement career or were threatening to have him retired as an O-7 instead of O-8.

I am also puzzled as to why this is just now coming out, as the defense counsel was present during one of the meetings or phone calls Rear Adm. Lorge had with the JAG and Deputy JAG.

Presuming the allegations are true, the conviction and sentence must be overturned due to unlawful command influence. This case is an extreme example because, but for the interference, Rear Adm. Lorge was going to overturn the conviction. Thus Senior Chief Petty Officer Keith E. Barry should be restored to full active duty, with triple back pay for his three years in the brig. He should be allowed to continue to serve in the military if he desires, or allowed to retire.

After that is resolved, former Vice Adm. Nanette DeRenzi, the former JAG, and Vice Adm. James Crawford, the current JAG, need to be court-martialed for improperly interfering with the court-martial process (Article 134, UCMJ — Obstructing Justice). Their trials would require special handling because all of the Navy JAGC officers are under them. At a minimum the secretary of the Navy should determine that these individuals did not serve satisfactorily as admirals and their ranks should be reduced back down to captain. This would send the strong message that sailors get a fair trial even in the politically charged atmosphere of military sex-assault cases. No person, not even the JAG, is above the law.

COMM. WAYNE L. JOHNSON

Judge Advocate General’s Corps, U.S. Navy (retired)

Alexandria

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