Military justice system is not broken

Butch Bracknell has hit the nail on the head ("In defense of military justice," Oct. 2). I am a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. While on board ship, I had the collateral duty of legal officer and have been a member of the Maryland bar since 1969. The military justice system, while not perfect, is at least as fair and efficient as the civilian system. I was informing accused sailors of their right to be represented (not by a lawyer while at sea) long before civilians were being read their Miranda rights.

The bottom line is that the military justice system should not be changed based on hearsay anecdotal evidence. The one problem with the system is the possibility of command influence by the convening authority, but I am aware of no indication that this is a widespread problem. With regard to the Naval Academy sexual assault case, the danger is not that the superintendent will throw the case out because of loyalty to the football team. On the contrary, he may be sorely tempted to avoid charges of a whitewash by sending the case to a court martial regardless of its weakness and the unreliability of the accuser.

Regardless of the superintendent's decision on the court martial, he should give serious consideration as to whether all of the midshipmen involved, including the accuser, are fit to receive commissions.

Paul Lang, Timonium

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