Monday, October 30, 2006


By William Fisher

The Republican challenger for the Wisconsin House seat of Rep. Ron Kind runs a TV ad headed, “Ron Kind Pays For Sex!” with "XXX" stamped across Kind's face. It turns out that Kind -- along with more than 200 of his colleagues in the House -- opposed an unsuccessful effort to stop the National Institutes of Health from pursuing peer-reviewed sex studies.

In New York, the National Republican Campaign Committee runs an ad accusing Democratic House candidate Michael A. Arcuri, a district attorney, of using taxpayer dollars for phone sex. The seductive voice at the other end of the line answers,"Hi, sexy, you've reached the live, one-on-one fantasy line." The facts are that one of Arcuri's aides had tried to call the state Division of Criminal Justice, which had a number that was almost identical to that of a porn line. The misdial cost taxpayers $1.25.

In Ohio, GOP gubernatorial candidate J. Kenneth Blackwell runs a TV spot accusing Democratic Rep. Ted Strickland of failing to support a resolution condemning sex between adults and children. The truth: Strickland, a psychiatrist, objected to a line suggesting that sexually abused children cannot have healthy relationships when they grow up.

In Washington, DC, a black conservative group runs a radio ad proclaiming that the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was a Republican. Fact: Liberals, who make up the overwhelming majority of black voters, have long disagreed with conservatives over ideology, public policy and economic strategies to better the lives of African Americans.

A spot in the 2002 Georgia Senate race invokes the image and words of Osama bin Laden to accuse the Democratic incumbent of being weak on national security.

In Tennessee, former Chattanooga Mayor Bob Corker runs an ad claiming his opponent attended a party at a Playboy Club and suggesting a flirtation between a young bare-shouldered white woman, played by a blond actress, and his challenger for a Senate seat, Rep. Harold Ford, who is African American. The ghost of Emmett Till still lives!

This is just small sampling of some of the more outrageous political ads being run in this mid-term election. This phenomenon didn’t begin with the 2006 campaign, but arguably it is more toxic this year than ever before. And some of it, inexplicably, is coming from religious groups whose commitment to truth is supposed to come from The Scriptures.

Professional political strategists say they continue to engage in this politics of personal destruction because “the ads work.” But this is a little like working in the PR department of a cigarette manufacturer and feeling proud of the syntax and structure of a press release you just wrote – even though the subject matter conveys dangerously false information.

Perhaps, as the gurus claim, some of these ads may help candidates in desperately close races. But negative ads have a negative impact on our politics. They reduce public discourse to bumper stickers. They reduce honest differences to contests between good and evil. They stifle real debate on real issues. They play to what divides us, not what we agree on. They pander to our basest fears and prejudices. And they make it even more difficult for voters to make rational, informed decisions.

American voters are, most of the time, largely disinterested in politics. Which means they are also uninformed. The toxic environment created by negative campaign advertising does nothing to help them and everything to further emasculate the electoral process.

But their impact goes far beyond this campaign or that. They say to our society that it’s OK to lie, to twist and distort the truth. The justification, as Bill Clinton recently put it, is that “politics is a contact sport.”

But that’s not good enough. We kid ourselves if we think it’s OK to lie if we only do it for a few months every two years. Because we don’t. The impact goes far deeper.

The politics of personal destruction undermines public confidence in our constitutional institutions. It discourages young people from entering public service, once a proud aspiration. No wonder public approval of Congress is at an all time low.

Most importantly, lying in politics gives a green light to lying, period. And the more we tacitly buy into this Faustian bargain, the more it helps to destroy the character of our country and the culture of our society. We see this process already well underway in our docile acceptance of “commercial speech” – non-political ads that defy even the most charitable interpretation of “truth in advertising.”

Peddling falsehoods leads to a gradual erosion of our values. We lose trust in one another. We lose trust in our institutions. We become overwhelmed by the supposedly savvy political machines and corporations that spend billions to spin us. We lose faith in our ability to change anything. And then we drop out of the process altogether, leaving the field to those with political or ideological or corporate agendas.

The rest of the world also watches American elections and American culture. Despite the precipitous decline in overseas respect for our country, and despite the spin that comes relentlessly from politicians and private sector shills, many around the world still view our system as the fairest and most open in the world. Today, there is a clear and present danger that our persistent lying is destroying the model and the reputations of those who are supposed to be living by it.

This may be the most naive column I ever wrote. And I confess that I don’t have a clue about how to change the status quo. That’s always been the job of ordinary Americans, but that job is becoming more impossible exponentially.

I’m just old-fashioned enough to believe that elected and aspiring public servants, as well as those trying to sell us products, have a responsibility to speak truth to those whose support they seek.

The stakes couldn’t be higher. The price of failure is a nation unable to distinguish truth from spin. The price of failure is to further divide an already dangerously divided nation.

Thursday, October 26, 2006


By William Fisher

Tony Snow and Keith Olbermann may disagree on how many times President Bush has used the phrase “stay the course” but, whatever the number, it probably pales when compared to the number of times we’ve heard the president tell us “As they stand up, we’ll stand down.”

That phrase has always spooked me because it conjures up memories of Vietnam. Those of you old enough to remember that war may recall that eerily similar language became the mantra of President Nixon, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, and Defense Secretary Melvin Laird, as they tried to sell the notion of “Vietnamization” to a deeply divided Congress and a war-weary public.

That strategy was designed to transfer full responsibility for the defense of South Vietnam to the South Vietnamese. It was to be achieved over time, with the U.S. continuing to provide logistical support and air cover to the Vietnamese military. That gradualist approach would allow the U.S. to withdraw “with honor” and to avoid the “cut and run” charge. To achieve this goal, America poured millions of dollars into training and equipping the South Vietnamese military. The U.S. quickly began the drawdown of its troops.

But Vietnamization was doomed from the get-go. Experts agree that it started far too late. Kissinger’s secret peace talks with the North Vietnamese in Paris bought the enemy time to regroup and reequip. The South Vietnamese administration of President Thieu opposed the plan. Thieu’s government was riven with corruption and bitter power rivalries. Corruption was also rampant in the South Vietnamese military. Inexperienced South Vietnamese soldiers bribed their superiors to obtain high-level commissions, and were ill prepared when they had to face combat. Millions of dollars in U.S. aid simply vanished and no one was ever held accountable. Compounding the dilemma was Nixon’s preoccupation with the gathering Watergate nightmare.

Sound familiar? Comparisons between the wars in Vietnam and Iraq can be stretched too far, but Vietnamization and Iraqification could be twins.

On “The News Hour With Jim Lehrer” last week, Jimmy Carter’s former National Security Advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski, was outlining possible options for an American exit strategy from Iraq. He called one of them “Blame and Run.” It was an option he didn’t recommend, but he meant we should set goals – benchmarks -- for the Malaki government in Iraq, blame them when they failed to achieve these goals, then use their failures as justification for pulling our soldiers out.

I could be dead wrong, but I have to wonder if we’re not seeing the beginnings of a “blame and run” strategy already emerging in the country. Public opposition to the war is at an all-time high and, if Vietnam taught us anything, it’s that we cannot sustain a war in the face of widespread public and Congressional opposition.

Today, that opposition seems to be jelling. The President announces at a news conference that the U.S. and the Iraqi Government have agreed on benchmarks for achieving “victory” – though it remains unclear what the benchmarks are or what might constitute victory. The Iraqi president almost simultaneously objects; the U.S., he says, can’t dictate strategies, tactics, or timing to a sovereign state.

Meanwhile, members of the president’s own party, faced with a mid-term election disaster, are frantically distancing themselves from Mr. Bush and his war. Prominent and well-informed Republican leaders such as Senator John Warner are insisting that Iraq’s so-called Government of National Unity start meeting its obligations: Disarm militias, provide basic public services, get busy with reconstruction, curb corruption, create jobs, purge death squad members from the ill-equipped police, and begin to establish some modicum of security for their people. In other words, replace democracy with security.

All of this reminds me of Colin Powell’s famous Pottery Barn analogy. “You break it, you own it,” he told the president before the invasion. Well, if we own it, achieving all the above goals were and are America’s responsibility. We have spent – and wasted -- billions to meet these objectives but have precious little to show for it.

Despite testimony from a small army of retired military officers, the president insists he will send more troops to Iraq when his generals ask for them. Just where they will come from remains unclear.

So Iraq looks into the abyss of a civil war, Iraqis and Americans and Brits continue to die in record numbers, everyone agrees there is no military solution, but there is no evidence of any other strategy.

The president strains credibility by insisting he is open to ideas and new approaches. He had lots of them before we invaded in 2003, but listened only to those coming from Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, et al. Now he says he welcomes recommendations from the Baker-Hamilton Commission (which none of us will see until after the elections). Maybe they’ll give him a way out of his mess “with honor.” But don’t hold your breath.

And if the Democrats end up controlling Congress, the president’s may not have much time to consider new ideas and approaches. His position could become even more untenable if, as during Vietnam, Congress uses its power of the purse to block further funding for the war. Thirty years ago, it was Congress that voted to cut off money for U.S. air and logistical support for the South Vietnamese, thus hastening the collapse of Vietnamization. Vietnam's President Thieu resigned,
accusing the U.S of betrayal. Thieu said his forces had failed to stop the advance of the Vietcong because of lack of funds promised to him by the Americans.

But even if that should happen in Iraq, my guess is that this president is so messianicly consumed with “victory” there that he will remain in his “State of Denial” and leave it to his successor to clean up his mess – as JFK did to LBJ, as LBJ did to Nixon, and as Nixon did to Jerry Ford.

President Bush is at that time in office when he must be giving serious thought to his legacy. I suspect his worst nightmare is the idea of Iranian tanks rolling into Baghdad as North Vietnamese tanks rolled into Saigon thirty years ago.

So my guess is that he’s not likely to be influenced by the semi-tongue-in-cheek strategic prescription offered during Vietnam by the late Sen. George Aiken, a Vermont Republican: “Declare a victory and get out.”

Aiken gave that advice to both Presidents Johnson and Nixon when their war was collapsing. Predictably, they ignored him.

So will Bush.

Monday, October 23, 2006


By William Fisher

It has gone largely unreported, but President Bush’s “stay the course” mantra has apparently taken a 180-degree turn.

I offer in evidence this recent quote from Mr. Bush:

"We believe that the more we inform our American citizens, the better our government will be. We believe that the more transparency there is in the system, the better the system functions on behalf of the American people."

The President’s remarks came at a signing ceremony for the Federal Funding
Accountability and Transparency Act, which will establish a searchable online database of federal grants and contracts.

As reported by Steve Aftergood’s Project on Government Secrecy, a White House fact sheet said the new law "is part of President Bush's ongoing commitment to improve transparency, accountability, and management across the Federal Government."

OK, so maybe it wasn’t about Iraq or Afghanistan or the Global War on Terror. And maybe the timing of its revelation had just a tad to do with the mid-term elections. But it has to be seen as some kind of major epiphany anyway.

The reason is that this President has presided over arguably the most secretive government in U.S. history.

Consider the findings of a report issued a while ago by Congressman Henry Waxman of California, one of the Democrats effectively neutered by the current House majority. Waxman’s report found “a systematic effort by the Bush Administration to limit the application of the laws that promote open government and accountability…the Bush Administration has sought to curtail public access to information while expanding the powers of government to operate in secret.”

The report alleged that both the American people and the U.S. Congress are being denied access to millions of pages of documents to which they are entitled under law. It added, “The actions of the Bush Administration have resulted in an extraordinary expansion of government secrecy. External watchdogs, including Congress, the media, and nongovernmental organizations, have consistently been hindered in their ability to monitor government activities.”

The Report found that the Administration has systematically withheld “a vast array“ of records from Congress. Subjects have ranged “from simple census data and routine agency correspondence to presidential and vice presidential records.”

Henry Waxman has good reason to know. Congress itself, Waxman’s report says, has been one of the main victims of our secret government. “On over 100 separate occasions, the Administration has refused to answer the inquiries of, or provide the information requested” by Congressman Waxman in his role as the senior Democrat on the House Committee on Government Reform. The information the Administration has refused to provide includes “documents requested by the ranking members of eight House Committees relating to the prison abuses at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere”, the Report says.

Well, maybe Mr. Waxman and the rest of us need to cut the President some slack. After all, his epiphany only happened a few weeks ago.

Now, The Decider-in-Chief has to get it implemented, and that’s going to take a bit of time. Even for a chief executive with a Harvard MBA, it’s not going to be a quick or easy job.

Because, as of today, the government continues to classify more documents about more different subjects than any of its predecessors ever dreamed of. And it spends billions in taxpayer funds to do so.

Still, the President’s epiphany has to come as welcome news to all the folks who have spent the past six frustrating years trying to make the Freedom of Information Act work in something resembling a timely manner.

Take heart, ACLU, Associated Press, and countless other soldiers in what has become an open-the-government cottage industry.

Given the president’s management skills, and his authority as Decider, maybe it won’t be too long before the government folks whose salaries we pay stop spinning the truth and let us all in on both our successes and our failures.

Maybe, in the future, it won’t take an army of meddlers to learn what we need to know about GITMO, secret CIA prisons, domestic eavesdropping, faux science, rolling back environmental protections, interoperable radios, progress in our Global War On Terrorism, and a host of other issues.

And -- who knows? -- it might just signal the end of whistleblowing!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


By William Fisher

When I was a kid growing up in the 1940s, my favorite radio program was The Fred Allen Show, hosted by one of the funniest comics who ever lived. A key chararacter on this weekly show was Senator Beauregard Claghorn. Portrayed by actor Kenny Delmar, Claghorn became the archetypal caricature of a Southern politician – blustering, fumbling, repetitive, endlessly spouting bad puns.

Senator Beauregard Claghorn was obsessed was with The South. He proudly told his audiences he refused to wear a "Union suit" and claimed to drink only out of Dixie cups. When asked a political question by host Allen, Claghorn would respond with a rapid stream of utterly incoherent hot air. After a quip, the senator would laugh uproariously, then deliver one of his favorite catchphrases: "That's a joke, son!"

Well, sadly, old Beauregard is long gone, but arguably his shoes are being well filled by another Senatorial caricature, Congressman Duncan Hunter of California.

In the fine art of (unintended) black comedy, Hunter has few equals in a House filled with cartoon congressmen and women.

Take his performance some months ago in the House pressroom. Hunter, the powerful chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, had just returned from a Pentagon-sponsored tour of Guantanamo Bay, and he was eager to share his observations with the media.

Far from reporting any detainee abuse, Hunter was sounding more and more like the PR man for the new Club Gitmo on the Caribbean, in particular touting the haute cuisine meticulously prepared for the suspected terrorists.

Someone from his staff set a small table next to the pressroom lectern. On the table a number of appetizing-looking dishes were set out to help Mr. Hunter demonstrate his point. Prisoners, he proclaimed, had a daily choice of two entrees, beautifully prepared fresh fish or succulent chicken. Then came a succession of fresh vegetables, followed by a yummy-looking dessert.

The prisoners, he commented, were eating better than their guards! Whereupon, he ate the lunch.

No matter that GITMO detainees were being held indefinitely as enemy combatants, even though many had already been found to be “no longer a threat” to US security or “of no further intelligence value.” No matter that many were scheduled for release, yet remained behind barbed wire. No matter than not a single one of these detainees had been tried for any crime. No matter that their right to appeal their status was in the hands of the very military folks who put them there in the first place.

Gitmo was good!

The San Diego congressman’s stellar performance was in fact a microcosm of his record since he was elected in 1981. Recent example: When Senators John Warner, John McCain and Lindsey Graham announced their “compromise” with the White House on new detainee treatment legislation, Hunter denounced it as too soft on terrorists. He relented under White House cajoling, since the President got almost everything he asked for, and then some.

Hunter, a former member of the US Army airborne, is a warrior, and his campaign contributors know it. These include such major defense contractors as Northrup Grumman, Boeing, and General Dynamics, to mention only a few.

You will recall that when Rep. Duke Cunningham resigned from Congress last year after pleaded guilty to bribery charges, the alleged coconspirators who bribed Cunningham included two San Diego-based defense contractors, Brent Wilkes and Mitchell Wade. Well, Hunter also had ties to Brent Wilkes, the owner of ADCS, Inc. and Perfect Wave Technologies.

USA today reported that since 1994 Hunter received $40,700 from Wilkes and his companies. In 1997 Hunter and Cunningham worked to extend a multi-million dollar earmark for Wilkes' ADCS to perform document conversion tasks for the Pentagon despite protests from the Defense Department, which claimed that ADCS' services were not needed and a waste of resources. Senator John McCain denounced the House Armed Services Committee for wasting resources in the Defense appropriations bill.

Hunter is a lover of earmarks. One of these, worth $9.7 million, was for ADCS to convert maps of Panama into electronic documents. Hunter and Cunningham both warned, at the time, that China was planning on invading Panama and that America should have electronic documentation of the buildings in the country. They used this premise to justify their inclusion of the $9.7 million earmark that the Pentagon itself did not want in the appropriations bill.

In 2003, Wilkes threw a gala in honor of Hunter called 'Salute to Our Heroes'.

But it doesn’t stop there. In June 2006, Public Citizen reported that Hunter received $11,750 from lobbyist Van D. Hipp Jr., chairman of American Defense International. Hipp's firm represents more than 100 organizations in 11 countries on "government affairs" strategies. Hipp, a former deputy assistant secretary of the Army, was sentenced to five years' probation and three months' house arrest for accepting illegal campaign gifts during a failed 1994 congressional campaign. He also was fined $5,000 and ordered to perform 200 hours of community service.

Further, Hunter’s 2004 financial disclosure form revealed co-ownership of a rural Virginia cabin with former Rep. Pete Geren (D-Texas). Following his stint in Congress, Geren served as an aide to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld at the Pentagon from 2001-2005. According to USA Today, one of his primary responsibilities was "keeping Congress off Rumsfeld’s back" during the Abu Ghraib detainee controversy. So, as Chairman of the House Committee on Armed Services, Hunter dutifully discouraged any congressional investigation into Abu Ghraib.

Despite their affiliation, Hunter’s financial disclosure makes no mention of Geren’s Defense Department affiliation. In addition, Geren’s disclosures simply refer to the "Hunter/Geren partnership," never referring to the fact that "Hunter" is the chairman of the House Committee on Armed Services.

According to POGO, the Project on Government Oversight, Hunter’s top corporate campaign contributor, San Diego-based defense contractor Titan Corporation, suffered from the publicity of the Abu Ghraib scandal. Titan Corp. served as interrogators at the prison, and was subsequently implicated in the mistreatment allegations that followed. Despite this, and the fact that Titan pled guilty to three criminal counts of bribery in March 2005, the Defense Department waived its right to disbar Titan from any contracts. This chain of events has led to questions about Hunter's ties to the Defense Department.

As reported in a May 29, 2006 Inside the Navy story, Titan Corp. has received several government earmarks beyond what the Pentagon requested for two Navy projects: the experimental Sea Fighter LCS (X) craft and the Affordable Weapons System (AWS). According to the report, there are a number of other missile concepts that provide similar solutions as the LCS and AWS, but at a lower cost. Both projects have been championed by Hunter, and are contracted by Titan Corp.

So Senator Claghorn can continue to rest in peace, knowing that even if he’s lost his title as Congress’s premiere caricature, at least he has a worthy successor.

The only thing missing from Duncan Hunter’s shtick is the tagline, “That’s a joke son.”

That OK. Because it’s no joke.


By William Fisher

This has to be the non-surprise of the week: Lt. Cmdr. Charles Swift, the Navy lawyer who led the recent successful Supreme Court challenge of the Bush administration's military tribunals for Guantanamo detainees, has been passed over for promotion to full Commander and will have to leave the military.

The military claims there is no connection between its decision and Swift’s defense of Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a Yemeni and alleged al-Qaida member who was accused of being Osama bin Laden's driver. Yet the Navy lost no time in exacting retribution. Its decision on Swift came about two weeks after the Supreme Court sided with him and against the White House.

And it was made despite a report from his supervisor saying he served with distinction. "Charlie has obviously done an exceptional job, a really extraordinary job," said Marine Col. Dwight Sullivan, the Pentagon's chief defense counsel for Military Commissions. Sullivan added it was "quite a coincidence" that Swift was passed over for a promotion "within two weeks of the Supreme Court opinion."

A coincidence indeed!

The 44-year-old lawyer will be forced to retire from the armed services in March or April under the military's "up or out" promotion system. Swift said he would have defended Hamdan even if he had known it would cut short his Navy career. He added that he plans to continue defending Hamdan as a civilian.

The 36-year-old Hamdan was captured along the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan while fleeing the U.S. invasion that was a response to the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Hamdan has acknowledged that bin Laden paid him $200 a month as his driver on a Kandahar farm, but he says he never joined al-Qaida or engaged in military fighting.

With Swift’s help, Hamdan turned to civilian courts to challenge the constitutionality of his war-crimes trial, a case that eventually led the Supreme Court to rule that President Bush had outstripped his authority when he created ad hoc military tribunals for Guantanamo Bay prisoners.

The Pentagon sought to redesign the format of the trials, but substituted a system similar to the one The Supreme Court struck down. Thus, a new court challenge is likely.

Legislation passed by Congress last month has meanwhile taken away the right of Guantanamo detainees to file traditional habeas corpus petitions, meaning that Swift's first hurdle as a civilian will be to argue that he has the right to represent Hamdan in federal court. Swift says the legislation's rules for the commission trials are "better by a degree" than the previous guidelines, but still leave open the possibility that a defendant could be convicted by unreliable evidence obtained by coercion.

He believes that military judges would have too much discretion to permit tainted evidence. "It's absolutely dependent on individuals rather than on clear rules of law," he says.

Washington, D.C., attorney Eugene Fidell, president of the National Institute of Military Justice, said Swift was "a no-brainer for promotion."

He added that “Swift joins many other distinguished Navy officers over the years who have seen their careers end prematurely…He brought real credit to the Navy. It's too bad that it's unrequited love."

Swift never had a choice in representing Hamdan. He was ordered to represent him, but says that was only “for purposes of obtaining a guilty plea.” Instead, he took the case to a US Federal Court, which ruled that Hamdan had not received a fair hearing.

But Swift became a clear target for the Pentagon by testifying before Congressional Committees and speaking out in many other public settings about the Hamdan case.

That case has been bouncing around the US justice system for several years, beginning in 2004, when the DOD formally referred charges against the Yemeni national, one of six Guantánamo detainees who were designated by President Bush in July 2003 as subject to trial by military commission under the President’s Order of November 13, 2001. He is formally charged with conspiracy to attack civilians, attack civilian objects, murder, destruction of property, and terrorism.

Documents unsealed two years ago revealed allegations that Hamdan was beaten, threatened, and kept in isolation for upwards of eight months. A military commission preliminary hearing began the week of August 23, 2004.

In September 2004, the petition was re-filed in the federal district court for the District of Columbia, and, in November 2004, that court found the military commission unlawful because the process violated the laws of war and military law, and stayed the commission.

In July 2005 the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia reversed the district court and upheld the commission as lawful. Concurring with that decision was then Judge John Roberts, who was later confirmed as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

Hamdan’s lawyers appealed the ruling, and in November 2005 the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case.

In January 2006, the government filed a motion for the Supreme Court to dismiss the case on the ground that the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 (the Graham/Levin amendment) divested Hamdan of the right to seek habeas corpus in a federal court.

The Supreme Court – with Chief Justice Roberts not participating -- found otherwise. It ruled 5-3 that the president had no inherent authority to establish military commissions without Congressional authorization. The key issue was separation of powers as mandated by the US Constitution.

That sparked a huge battle between Congress and the White House, as well as among Senate Republicans. Most of these, joined by some Democrats who face tight reelection races in November, would have been content to rubber-stamp the “substitute” legislation proposed by the White House. But three so-called “maverick” Senators refused to go along. The “compromise” reached by the three – Senators John McCain, Lindsey Graham and John Warner -- was hailed by some as a significant congressional victory over the Executive Branch. But the compromise gave the president virtually everything he asked for.

Which means we aren’t anywhere close to having heard the last of Mr. Hamdan – or Lt. Commander Swift.

During the Senate’s debate over its new military commission legislation, as well as its deliberations on last year’s Detainee Treatment Act, we have been treated to endless tributes to the military’s JAG Corps and its competence and fairness.

Many of these paeans of praise have come from Senator Lindsay Graham, a South Carolina conservative who has been a military lawyer and judge for many years and who holds the rank of Colonel in the Air Force Reserve.

Well, it would be gratifying if Senator Graham now put his clout where his mouth is and pressured the Pentagon to reverse the Swift decision. From all Graham has said over the past several years, the Swift-Boating of this courageous young lawyer compromises the very soul of the JAG Corps of which Graham is so proud.

He should be seriously concerned about the chilling effect that the booting of Lt. Commander Swift will have on military lawyers who are ordered to mount a vigorous defense of their clients – and who get dumped as their reward.

Until that happens, the moral of the Swift story has to be that no good deed will go unpunished.