Monday, December 18, 2006

VADM Rempt - petard; some assembly req'd

In the Sunday WaPo, the USNA Sup., VADM Rempt, is just torn apart. I do feel sorry for the man, as this nightmare is in many respects of his own creation. The road to his h311 is paved with nice, pink, NOW endorsed bricks. Well beyond him, however, it is the collateral damage that bothers me, the damage to the crediblity to the USNA as an institution, and the newly minted Ensigns and 2LT male and female coming out of it. You should read it all, but let's look at the meaty parts.

I think we have a view of the problem. As reported, what was one of the highest priorities for his selection?
In the eye of the storm is Rempt, who came to the academy with a reputation as a leader in advancing the role of women in the military.
If you go to the end of this video, is that what he had in mind? And where has that gotten us?
"The Owens case, I think, stands at the heart of what many and most alumni hold dear: honor and integrity," said Pete Savage, a 1963 graduate involved in the campaign.

On Friday, the academy said Rempt has removed himself from any further consideration of Owens's legal case. Typically, he would have to affirm convictions for lesser offenses, which in this case are conduct unbecoming an officer and violating a military protective order.

In a written statement, an academy spokesman said Rempt had "voluntarily relinquished his role" after Owens's defense team raised the allegations, which the statement called "untrue," about "an appearance of a lack of neutrality."

But the statement did not say whether Rempt will remove himself from the administrative decision on Owens's future in the Navy, a move that Owens's attorney, Reid H. Weingarten, is pursuing.

The alumni argue that Rempt's overzealousness in prosecuting high-profile sexual assault cases is part of his effort to advance an agenda designed to appease Congress and women's groups demanding a crackdown on sexual assault and harassment at military academies.
Oh, and something ugly that I called at the start of this has come to the front. This acid is being thrown in the Navy's face. Earned, or in this case, not.
They say that in unjustly targeting a prominent black midshipman who was a leader not only on the gridiron but also in church, Rempt has unintentionally set back another social cause: the advancement of African Americans in the Navy.
Without the race card it is nasty.
A jury of five naval officers dismissed the rape charge, and although it convicted Owens on the two lesser charges, decided not to dismiss Owens from the Navy or reprimand him.

Without a rape conviction, supporters say, Owens was guilty of breaking academy rules and should have been allowed to continue his military career after facing -- at worst -- discipline for what, in light of the jury's decision, could only be inferred as consensual sex in a dorm room.

"He should be treated as a midshipman who committed an error of bad judgment for two minutes," Weingarten said. "Juxtapose the Navy's treatment of Lamar with the treatment of the women in this case, all of who were serial violators of academy rules."

The accuser and other witnesses in the case, who admitted to underage drinking, were given immunity in exchange for their testimony.

Before the case went to trial, Rempt was faulted by a Navy judge for e-mails sent to the school community that the judge said insinuated Owens's guilt in the alleged rape.

After the conviction, word spread among alumni that the superintendent was not willing to let the case go. Peter Optekar, a former Navy football player, recounted a conversation he and three other alumni had with Rempt at an Idaho barbecue last summer.

"Admiral, now that Lamar is found not guilty of rape, are you going to graduate him, commission him and let him get on to his life?" Optekar recalled asking.

"I don't think so," Rempt responded, and he threw his hands up in the air, Optekar recounted in an interview and in a letter to Rempt. He said Rempt then told of the emotional trauma suffered by the female midshipman and other details of the case.

"What that told me was that he was so emotionally tied into this thing that he was not fair and impartial," Optekar said. "We were stunned."
There is a lot more out there than just MIDN Ownes. There is also this jewel.
Critics say Rempt's changes also have generated unwanted publicity for his zealous handling of high-profile cases. This week, a former Navy football player accused of drugging and raping two female midshipmen is back in court after key evidence was called into question.

William M. Ferris, an attorney for former linebacker Kenny Ray Morrison, 24, said prosecutors informed him that follow-up tests showed no traces of the date rape drug GHB in either of the victims' hair. Calling the case "a travesty," Ferris said the Navy has persisted in pressing "charges that apparently cannot be supported by the evidence."
Here is another. Is this leadership and knowing your Midshipmen?
About 2 percent of midshipmen given random breath tests this school year were found to have been drinking alcohol, according to academy officials. Meanwhile, surveys showed approval ratings were steadily improving from female, as well as male, midshipmen on such issues as whether the academy provides "a positive environment for women."
As usual, larger problems are often reflected in the minor details.
The case has also exposed a fault line of opposition from alumni who believe academy standards have been lowered under Rempt's watch. They point not only to high-profile cases involving drinking and sexual indiscretions but also to a general lack of decorum displayed on a much-viewed Internet video of midshipmen marching through the streets of Annapolis on the way to a recent Navy football game, appearing -- in the words of one alumnus who commented online -- like "undisciplined louts in uniform."
I think they are talking about this video. Or this grabasstic display (what is it with MD anti-semites and the fact that only the band and the 4/C MIDN even were close to looking professional?). However, I think much a much better view would be this contrast between the Army and Navy in the same venue. Not that the MIDN are not trained to do better, they are. Details.

I think this USNA Alumni hits the right note.
Curt Hartman, a 1987 alumnus, said that although he had not formed an opinion about the case, he did not think it was fair for Owens to be "stuck with Admiral Rempt wallowing in indecision."

"My problem with Rempt is he's not making a decision, and he's setting a poor example for midshipmen. I think there's a systemic problem with Rempt . . . being so preoccupied with placating this special interest group or that special interest group."
Let's not even talk about the Kafkaesque experience of LT Black. If you want to read some "out of the box" thinking on USNA and Nifong overlap, read some of the posts here. Hmmmm.

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