Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Superintendent responds

Daniel de Vise over at the Washington Post has published on at his blog an echo of the post from last month, A drug free Annapolis? No, but we have D1 football! that is worth looking at.

It is a letter from VADM Fowler to Alumni Association Board of Trustees and the USNA Board of Directors. Let's give it a read.
Feb. 4, 2010

Boards of Directors & Trustees,

As you are most likely aware, there have been a number of media reports regarding a recent conduct hearing here at the Naval Academy. Those reports have understandably concerned some of you. While I cannot comment on the details of the case due to privacy and legal considerations, I wanted to provide you my perspective when I consider cases of misconduct.

When I hold a conduct hearing to examine an alleged violation of our Midshipmen Regulations, I am always cognizant of my solemn duty to uphold the high standards of the Navy, Marine Corps and Naval Academy. In each case, I diligently consider all evidence available, listen to all who have information related to the individual accused and the alleged misconduct, consider the professional potential of the young man or woman who stands accused, and make an impartial decision based on my principles, experience and judgment. I make that decision without regard for my own popularity, possible media reaction, or those who may choose to critique my decision in hindsight. My concern rests solely with providing the midshipman with a fair hearing and properly representing the high ideals of our institution.

In the particular case in question, I did not detour in any manner from my established approach to conduct hearings. I was not - in this case, nor in any previous case that I have heard while Superintendent - improperly or unduly influenced by any individual who had a stake in the outcome of my decision. As blogs and media outlets began to comment on the case, they did so without the benefit of the actual facts and proceedings associated with the case. I acknowledge that when presented with the biased information that found its way into the public, a reasonable person might second-guess my decision and come to a different conclusion. The fact remains, however, that I am the one who reviewed all the evidence and received the statements from those associated with the alleged misconduct. From that evidence and those statements, I came to a decision that I continue to believe is just and proper.

I will point out that some of the information unofficially provided to the public was in many instances in violation of the midshipman's privacy rights and possibly violated Navy regulations and federal law. As Superintendent, I am committed to protecting the privacy of any midshipman who faces an administrative hearing. I want to ensure that whether I return a midshipman to the Brigade or separate the midshipman from the Academy, this individual can be successful in the future. In this case, I believe the midshipman was ill-served by those who violated privacy restrictions and distributed information, some of it inaccurate.

I assure you that the Academy is on the right track, standards remain high, and we are graduating leaders prepared to serve their nation and the naval service with honor, courage and commitment.

Thank you for your continued support.

VADM Jeff Fowler, Superintendent
As de Vise pointed out - at no point does VADM Fowler suggest that anything incorrect was put out at the Washington Post - and I would add here either.

A few points besides that:
- It is the Commanders decision. Full stop. I have no question that VADM Fowler came to a decision that he thought was just and proper. However, everyone is not in his Chain of Command - and his actions, like everyones, is open to comment.
- This quote is unfortunate,
As blogs and media outlets began to comment on the case, they did so without the benefit of the actual facts and proceedings associated with the case.
I will give VADM Fowler the benefit of the doubt that, like many, he may confuse Blog posts with comments. Comments are a free fire zone (with exceptions here for trolls and bomb throwers). I sat on this story for days as I received more and more confirmation of the story. I managed to acquire more sources and methods to verify the story. I was exceptionally confident of the story when I ran it - and stand by every bit. Those I know in the MSM who took the story have sources I do not. Additionally, I did not post all the details I had of the story - though I knew they would come out, which most, but not all of them did. I stand by my facts. Once they become open source, they are fair game.
- VADM Fowler should not be shocked that all the facts came out. The only way to keep that stuff in is to order every MIDN, officer, and civilian employee at the USNA that they cannot talk to their brothers, sisters, boyfriends, girlfriends, mothers, fathers, cousins, high school teachers or visiting alumni about what is going on at Annapolis. You would also have to, ahem, order every MIDN who gets in trouble that they are not to talk to anyone about anything that went on. Good luck with that in 2010.

So, what happens in the Fleet? What if you found that someone was smoking something that they could buy on the internet and/or from a local store. Something that isn't, how do you say, "distinctive" as marijuana when smoked?

When the Fleet sees treatment in one way - what do they see next to the pier?

Here you go. From a Fleet spy.

[REDACTED] is wrapping up it's Salvia Divinorum (Spice) investigation. This is not a one ship incident. It is going on everywhere. My Sailors are interacting with other commands. These Sailors using the substance are full aware of the effects of the substance, the limits of testing, the Navy's policy and most importantly how not to get caught. As one of my Sailors put it, "Spice is the ultimate substitute for pot".

I hope this information helps other commands in avoiding this problem. Please send this out on your list.


-30 Interviews
-11 Convictions at Captain's Mast
-2 Pending Court Martial
-1 Not guilty (One time user who thought she was smoking a flavored cigarette.)

-4 accused are on the beach in [REDACTED] awaiting our return (3 were left behind due to hospitalization for Suicidal Related Behavior after questioning. The other was at school)



Of the 14 charged:

-12 of 14 were Male
-9 of 14 were Caucasian
-5 of 14 were African Americans
-13 of 14 were Single
-22 Years old is the average age (Hi/Lo 27/19)
-14 Had HS Diploma or equivalent. No higher education

-Paygrades E4 (5) and below (9)
-Avg Time in Service 2 years 4 months (Hi/Lo 4y7mo/9mo) -Avg Time onboard
1 years 9 months (Hi/Lo 4y2mo/5mo) -GCT (AFQT) Avg 53 (Hi/Lo 87/41) (only 3 had GCT less than 50) -Operations Dept (5), Supply Dept (5), Combat Systems (2), Engineering (1), Navigation Dept (1)

-5 of 13 drug waivers upon entry into service (another 3 claimed to have smoked MJ prior to entry but there was no waiver in service jacket)
-(3) had prior masts.
- Many of these people were model Sailors and their Chain of Command did not expect what hit them.

(Location of use off-ship)
-Apartments off Base
-Friends Houses
-Barracks Rooms
-In the car
-In particular one apartment was the hub of all operations. It appears to -be the local hangout for many single Sailors. 3 Sailors from 2 ships shared this apartment.

(Location of use on ship)
Flight Deck (on aft lookout watch)
Flight Deck (off duty)
Bridge (inport on duty day, member was armed at the time) Fanroom Starboard Windbreak (out of the way) Stock Control Office

-Once or twice to 2-3 times weekly.
-Smoked 30 grams over 10 different occasions. (1 gram will make 3 cigarettes)
-Smoked once to more than 30 times from October 09 to January 2010
-New CO first conversation with the crew on 14 December discussed the use of Spice and other designer drugs and stated he wouldn't tolerate use on his ship. Sailors continued even after this meeting.
-Under most circumstances use was during off duty however at times it was done underway or while on watch.
-Once import on watch while armed with a rifle and Sidearm.
-Smoked unnumbered times underway on the aft lookout using Spice or Marijuana.
-With friends.

-Didn't know, quit when he felt the effects (multiple time user)
-Wasn't sure, quit when the CO warned us. (regular user prior to) -"Who wouldn't smoke when you can't get popped for it and it gets you high."
-Peer Pressure
-Felt like home. (Servicemember entered the Navy on a drug waiver)
–Caught his interest, smoked Marijuana prior to service.
-Wasn't aware that it was anything but a cigarette. (The only member found not guilty at mast. Used it once and quit immediately)
-At home for relaxation, on the ship for the fun of it.
-Started smoking after grandmothers death and became addicted.
-Introduced by shipmate

-Pipe (One hitter, steel pipe with a glass bowl on end) -Tobacco Pipe
-Bowl -Cigarette (Placed a little in the end of the cigarette and smoked the entire cigarette -Cigars (Black and Mild Cigars in particular)
–Purchased from internet ([REDACTED].com), [REDACTED] Pipe and Tobacco (in [REDACTED] and [REDACTED] Street) and either [REDACTED] Smoke Shack (on [REDACTED]) or the [REDACTED] on [REDACTED]. There is a little uncertainty among the accused.

- The investigation started with 1 Sailor coming forward.

- During one interview a Sailor indicated that he and two other Sailors were at [REDACTED]. One of the three smoked so much Spice that he fell out of his chair at [REDACTED] and was unconscious with his eyes wide open. People thought he was dead and called the ambulance. He came to and ran out of the restaurant.

-No Remorse

-The first person interviewed tipped off his roommate that evening.

-1 stated he didn't think we should have made a big deal out of this investigation.

-Most knew it was against Navy policy. Those who didn't suspected it because of the effects.

-Word got out around interview #18 to keep your mouth shut and they couldn't do anything to you. Claims by a few people were 40 to 80 users onboard. I think that number was a little high but I feel at least 30.

-One member always kept spice on him while onboard.

-Ordered Spice online at [REDACTED].com. He purchased ten, 3 gram bags at a time at a price of about $550. He claims to sold at cost to his friends to save them the added expense by purchasing locally. He estimated about $75 for a 3 gram package.

-One apartment was the hub of sales and use. Refered to Court Martial.

-"Spice is the ultimate substitute for pot" (Statement from DRB)

-These Sailors are very informed about the effects, and the Navy Policy and the loopholes. They just didn't think they could get caught.

-4 Identified Sailors off ship, command notified. Many other references to first name people that our Sailors claimed not to know any other information.

-The whole ring appeared to originate from two people who introduced Sailors to the substance, explained Navy policy and the loopholes and continued to provide the substance (free or by sale) or took them to the locations that sold the substance.

-One servicemember admitted to smoking marijuana on the ship prior to spice. He also smoked marijuana and Spice on the Aft Lookout watch. He is pending Court Martial.

Member who admitted to smoking Marijuana also said he used [REDACTED] to clean his system.

Used ship's computer to order spice.

The two Stores below sold spice to our Sailors, without a doubt.


This is the one we could locate on the net but one of our Sailors claimed it was the first exit after the tunnel in [REDACTED]. [REDACTED] is 3 or 4 exits. (They don't like uniforms and military ID cards at this store)

(They opened up this store for the convenience of Sailors)

There were a lot of people who didn't see this coming. It appears this ring remained at the most junior levels (E4 and below). E5s had heard a little talk but more about the substance than who was using. E6 and above heard nothing.

I hope this helps the next guy out.

Well, how is that for an upper Shipmate?

Let me help you with that. Want to feel better about the future? Want to see what the best of our young men and women are up to? Well, head on over to
USNIBlog to see.


Philo said...

Interesting that the Admiral didn't accuse anyone of slander.  It's tough to violate privacy rights with false information.  I'd like to know how popping positive for drug use isn't a violation of the code of conduct, or the UCMJ.  What excuses in the Admiral's mind qualify as extenuating circumstances that would excuse drug use.  He could share that without violating anyone's privacy.

John said...

I have no doubt the Admiral used his best judgment.

I have lost confidence in his judgment and ability to lead, and to shape future officers.

I wish that his superiors felt the same way.  That they do not is an indictment of their own judgment and fitness to lead.

As for the spice stuff- Hang them all from the nearest yardarm, but since that is not permitted, it looks like someone is taking appropriate action.  I do trust THEIR judgment and ability to lead.

Sn Can Sailor said...

Regarding the Fleet spy information--this investigation occured on the worst-manned ship (of its class) in the Navy--that is staring a deployment squarely in the face.  Despite the best efforts of the superior CO and XO, this particular command is shoring up below-the-waterline ruptures that impacted senior leadership; specifically, an XO billet gapped for months (medical), a CSO that fleeted up to fill the billet and was subsequently IA'ed, and no one minding the detailing store.

They've been bottom-blowing for weeks (from a materiel as well as a personnel perspective), and the suicide-related getoutofNavyfree messages have been falling like the snowflakes in DC. 

Exhaust seems to be changing color now though.  I have hope for this ship.

-Sn Can Sailor

Over-the-hill-spook said...

<span>"I will point out that some of the information unofficially provided to the public was in many instances in violation of the midshipman's privacy rights and possibly violated Navy regulations and federal law."  </span>

<span>Ah, the bureaucratic version of the good old "fruit of the poisonous tree" defense. How quaint.  </span>

<span>Wait a minute. Isn't that the same game plan that the global warming folks who were caught cooking the books used when asked to respond to the damning e-mails?  "How can I respond? The e-mails were stolen. Yadda, yadda, yadda". You bet.</span>


if this was just one item...  but alass, the problems keep on going and going for the Supt.  In my mind, he has...
1.  Destroyed the morale of the officers working under him by openly stating he does not care about them (first hand knowledge on this one - not rumor)
2.  Let diversity take priority over sound judgement (but hey, he is just following the USN guidance, right?)
3.  Destroyed the honor concept at USNA. (hard to argue this)
4.  Made USNA a laughing stock in the military:  USMA and USAFA seem to be getting their act together despite scandels.  USNA could learn a lesson before it is closed down.
5.  Football over all!  Over rules, over honor, over regulation!

it is time - Fowler must resign... period!  His ship has his ground and is sinking.

UltiimaRatioRegis said...

The good Supe seems to be saying "I can't tell you what happened, but trust me, I did the right thing."  After the dual admission track fiasco, the NAPS fiasco, the Color Guard fiasco (where neither his word nor that of the Commandand of Mids matched facts), I am supposed to swallow that?

No, Admiral.  I don't trust you.  Not your word, not your judgment, not your leadership. You have cast honor aside for political gain (diversity) more than once already.

MR T's Haircut said...

<span>"Boards of Directors & Trustees,

As you are most likely aware,..."</span>
<span>YOU THINK?????</span>
<span>Playing along as an ignorant who has none of the information the good VADM does about this case, and wanting , NEY, aching to support this flag officer, I still am concerned about the fact that this possible future naval officer cant tell the differance between a cigar and maryjowanna....  really... if that is what the Admiral really wants us to believe then ELL YAS!!!</span>

MR T's Haircut said...

As for the XO not minding the gapped manning detail store.. that is WHY we pay ECM's and detailers!

I have read this case and not surprised.  this Spice drug has taken off in popularity with the young Sailors.  

What troubles me is the lack of definition for it.  we have to nail them on art 92 and 134 for "stupification" as opposed to art 112a.

and young thugs have been buying blacck and milds and rubbing them out to stick the ganja in for years.. stop making excuses for them....

SNAnonymous said...

Wow, I'll be sure to keep on the lookout for this.  I have heard NOTHING on this "spice" topic up to this point, and I'm sure many of my peers could say the same.

LT B said...

This started two Supes ago.  They relieved Rempt's predecessor for abuse of the Marine gate guard among other issues.  They brought in ADM Rempt from NWC and he was beloved, but went down the road of the Sexual Assault/Harassment mob that said everything with male genitals are evil and now we have ADM Fowler who has been less than positive in his rudder orders and leadership in my opinion.  They need to get back to being a military academy.  The importance on football is also the fault of the alumni.  Sorry guys, if you want your alma mater to keep a solid reputation, pump money in when academics and military instruction trumps football and lacrosse wins.  You can't reward athletics and decry the fall of academics at the institution. 

MaryR said...

OMG I totally remember the gate guard story. The guy got promoted the next day at 8 & I. Great story!

YNSN said...

The Fleet took action against these Sailors however.  They did not care of any circumstance in which their behavior could be tollerated.  The VADM found a reson why he should allow the MIDN to say in the Navy.  It is clear evidence of a double standard. 

Spice isn't even illegal.  Like the post said, you can get it online and in stores.  Those Sailors are being shown the door.  The USNA had a MIDN use an illegal substance and he is allowed to stay. 

Our CJCS said that DADT is a matter of integrity.  Well so too is this.  If a blueshirt is shown the brow, then by every measure of our ideals that MIDN must be shown it as well.

Infrequent but occasional poster said...

who chooses to remain anon this time:
Had a Sailor who earned the purple heart on COLE, a DC man nonetheless (he really stood up and performed under pressure).  During this follow on tour, he popped on a piss test (barely above the threshold).  Tried to keep him, really tried.  PERS said no way; zero tolerance.  Too bad he wasn't a football player.

MR T's Haircut said...

He shouldn't have popped.. drugs are bad mkay..

youre right, though, if the football playing ganja head can stay, bring back your Sailor...

Phuutballl said...

It's time.  Since the money that football draws is the only thing that seems to matter to some administration people, then it's time to put our money on the line.  Do you buy season tickets to Navy football?  Stop.  Do you buy one or two tickets a year?  Stop.  If enough people are really frustrated with the Supe's decisions and how USNA seems to be recruiting people to play football instead of command and win wars, then it's time to pull our money out.  Let's try it for just one season.

FCC said...

Yup, typical Soviet-style smoke-and-mirrors bureaucratic shenanigans at their best.  A lightly veiled warning not to talk about the issue.

LT B said...

that's what I've been saying.

FCC said...

A local instruction in San Diego (and, I'd guess, in most other fleet concentration areas) has specifically prohibited Spice under the UCMJ.  Just like California medical marijuana, sure it's legal in the state, but a Sailor (even with a doctor's note) will still get ADSEPed for using it.

The funny thing is, I recall back about 2003, a COMNAVFORJAPAN policy being instituted against use of absinthe available from Japanese liquor stores.  The information was disseminated far and wide ... and the next weekend, Sailors were lined up around the corner to buy absinthe from Japanese liquor stores.

DM05 said...

Fowler, spare us, the BS meter is maxed. It's football stupid. Resign now. And yeah, I guess some of us are "posters" that know alot about how the organization works. Pull the wool over the MSM eyes; not here.

Grandpa Bluewater said...

YNSN:  The Middy should be escorted to back gate in civvies and surrender his ID card and VA benefits in many situations where the Blue Shirt might be given a second chance.

Gold chinstrap means high standard of behavior required.  Or used to.

Anon said...

Well, Dean Wormer, they're on double secret probation

I ain't drinkin' this swill said...

What tripe. "<span>I was not - in this case, nor in any previous case that I have heard while Superintendent - improperly or unduly influenced by any individual who had a stake in the outcome of my decision." Does this remind anyone of Nixon's "I am not a crook"? The admiral doth protest too much, methinks.</span>

Yeah, "standards remain high", but obviously not for everyone. Just trust the Supe's judgment to make the right exceptions in the cause of diversity and football. Please ... does anyone really believe that any other officer, sailor, Marine, or mid would get a pass for failing a piss test? 'F' in the judgment block. This poor excuse for leadership is an embarrassment for the Navy, especially the flag officers and submarine officers.

It's not about popularity. It's about trust. The Supe has lost that trust. The sooner he's gone, the better.

AW1 Tim said...


     Shortly after makiing 2nd Class, I participated in a similar situation. A sailor in my command had been caught stealing and the skipper got him admin'd out the very same day. The CMC, his Division Chief, and myself and one other 2nd class were tasked to escort him off the base and ensure he was placed onto a bus headed out of town.

    The four of us went to the sailor's barracks, and seized every single piece of his uniform clothing and equipment. He was only allowed to take his civilian clothing and personal items, for which he was given two plastic trash bag liners to pack them in.

    As soon as that was accomplished, he was marched to PSD and paid off, his check cashed, and the cash placed into his pocket. He was then driven in a Navy vehicle, accompanied by the four of us, to the bus stop, where the CMC purchased a one-way ticket to the sailor's home of record. He was required to sign a statement saying he had all of his personal gear, had received all pay and allowances due him, and provided with a ticket to his home of record.

   We then waited with the sailor, and watched him board the bus and the bus leave.

   That made quite an impression on me. It showed that the Navy took care of it's own, including it's own problems.

C-dore 14 said...

Five paragraphs to say nothing and to hide behind the Privacy Act.

Why am I not surprised?

DM05 said...

A couple thoughts after reading Fowler's swill again.

A) Thou protesteth too much while covering your behind with paper.
B) As a product of the prairie, believ'in the man was at least born in No. Dakota...if'n ya find yerself in a hole, bettar quit digg'in.

Admiral, you put football above basic standards - as USNA is so damn proud of - and Hopefully you, the middie, and USNA Div 1 football is sent packing.

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