Tuesday, November 27, 2001

Dog Robber (Part II) - 144

[Continued from part 1] Lt. Barrett was taken into custody after blowing up the surveillance plane and asked Harm (H) to defend him. Adm Boone (the CAG) told H that "by all rights we should be giving him a medal." Chegwidden (C) then did assign H the defense and H turned down Singers (S)offer to assist, in favor of asking Bud (B). She then offered to help Turner (T) who was prosecuting. While T was helping H restore his Vet - H had to remind him that "according to, I've NEVER had a winnable case." Barrett had been selected for the Naval Academy as a third generation Navy man. Boone told H that he was upset of the inequities that "would give the person giving their secret plane to the Chinese a medal; while it court-martialed the person who prevented it! He told H of a time in Vietnam when they were ordered not to hit the lighthouse in Hanoi Harbor (because of it's necessity to shipping) even though it was a site of an enemy artillery unit. When 3 US air crews had been lost, Boone said that he sent his wingman on ahead and he turned back and pumped 2,000 rounds of ammunition directly into the flack site. Boone asked if H "would have brought him up on charges." H merely responded that it actually had been his own Dad that had done the deed not Boone, as he had heard the story in his father's letter-tapes. H also told him that his dad had said Boone "could never hide what you were thinking or feeling... so I'd clean you out in poker." Boone asked "have you always been this obnoxious?" H said, "yes, you just never noticed." "The larger truth is on your side," Boone said. "Yes," said H, "we just have to get past the facts."

[This is where the story breaks down. Zito seems to need to make H look woefully inadequate in order to maintain the drama] Unbelievably, Chinese General Shin-wa Chen who: had their pilot ram our EP3, hide in Manchuria, lie about being dead, incarcerate our air crew, then hold the CAG at gun point while he stripped the electronics from the plane-- testified (lied) in case! (?!!). [and amazingly Zito had H completely ignore all of that in his defense] When H told Shin-wa to "give the pilot our regards," Chen-wa said that "Lt. Li has died"- (was killed). Boone testified about the "don't give up the ship" tradition which were the dying words of Capt Laurence of the USS Chesapeake when he went against the HMS Shannon. H asked for an example where the concept was not followed and Boone mentioned the shame of the USS Pueblo incident where the ship was turned over to 4 North Korean gunboats without firing a shot! "For 30 years it has been tied up at a dock in N Korea and is an affront to every man and woman who served in the Navy. We should have gone in and sunk the damn thing." He testified that since 1952 Chinese Migs have attacked 7 intel planes in missions off the coast of china, killing 18! Barrett was found guilty but sentenced only to punitive discharge.

M investigated a hotline complaint of Marine Capt. Sheila Grantham that her CO Col Harry R Presser had created a hostile command influence. The call came 5 min after a videotape, of her looking stupid doing her PFTs, was shown on the "military bloopers" TV show. Presser refused to follow the military guidelines on fitness standards for women which allowed women three extra minutes in their running. Grantham was not able to keep up with the men's standards. It was the procedure of Training Chief G Sgt Smith to Videotape the training sessions "for educational purposes." M found that incredibly Smith had undergone a "heart transplant last year" but was still on duty. He told M that he "didn't understand weakness at all- it was my heart that gave out, not my spirit." When M tried to talk reason with Presser he tried to intimidate her and in his arrogance shamed her into doing her re-quails while she was there at his base. He personally stood all macho and grumpy at parade rest during her PFTs. M did decide that the allegations were true and made recommendations that would ruin his career. Then M told Grantham that she had discovered that it was actually her who had leaked her own videotape to the media and asked if she would do better out of the corps. C told M to charge her with conduct unbecoming. Even though it would be hard to prove, someone might follow the case and might still give Presser a shot at improving himself.

Tuesday, November 20, 2001

Dog Robber (Part I) - 143

[First of a two part series] An EP3 recon plane ID'd a Chinese cruiser carrying nuclear material while they were doing surveillance over the sea of Taiwan. The EP3 was then forced to seek humanitarian landing at Fuzhou airbase, after MIG pilot Lt. Kwan Li rammed it with his plane, during his routine harassment of the surveillance plane, and was supposedly killed. Chinese General Shin-wa Chen said he would only negotiate with retired Adm Tom Boone who he knew personally, so the SACNAV (who had tried to court-martial Boone) had to swallow his pride and have Harm (H) go talk to Boone and request that he come back into service in the SECNAVs office with a 2 star rank. ("Dog Robber": Military term for an aide who can get things done, usually "off the record and under the radar") H & Boone flew to the USS Thomas Jefferson where Capt Hubbard would let him take a COD into China. They were escorted to the border by Lt's Carl Barrett and Crawford. H had to interview the crew surreptitiously to avoid being eavesdropped on. The pilot claimed he had "no choice" but to land after being struck by the MIG - or "all would have been killed" when they ditched. Boone, angrily, said "that's why they call it war." The pilot told H that they only had 24 min before landing - not enough to remove all the secret codes. The 2nd officer told H that she felt sorry, in a way, for the "dead" Chinese pilot because he "seemed like a good guy." He had always "waved" while he had been harassing them previously, and one time even held up a sign with his Email address. H had her write the address "Beagleboy34@chinanet.net." Boone and H saw that Chinese technicians were removing the security consoles from the plane and Boone had to be forced away from protecting the plane at Chinese gunpoint. H asked Bud (B), in code to check the email id with Webb and found that Chen-wa was lying- Li was still alive, had landed his plane in Manchuria and had emailed his girlfriend to let her know he was ok.

They then faced down Chen-wa with a recon photo of the undamaged plane on a runway. Chen-wa had previously said that they needed to "talk about an apology" but Boone had countered with "we'll be happy to accept any one you will give." Chen-wa chided Boone that he "should know sometimes it's better to apologize" and Boone said "you're in the right country for it- the Chinese have more words for 'sorry' than the Eskimo's have for 'snow.'" Now, with the photo, they threatened Chen-wa that he was "at odds with the civilian leadership of your country." So, Chen-wa released the crew so Boone & H flew them out in the COD; but, the plane would be "sent back piece by piece when we are through with it." The COD was being escorted back to the carrier by Lt's Barrett and Crawford. Upset about leaving the surveillance plane to the Chinese, Barrett sent Crawford away and, defying orders, flew into china, buzzed the grounded aircraft to give warning, then blew it up on the tarmac. --(story to be continued)--

Mac (M) prosecuted, and B & Turner (T) defended, two Annapolis midshipmen who were arrested for dueling with their sabers. They were the 5th generation grandsons of civil war ship captains Franklin Buchanan (confederate) and Morris (union). They had been arguing over their grandparents battles and decided to resolve it on the "field of honor." T described it as an "embarrassment to both them and the Academy and dishonor to the memories of their grandfathers." M charged them with attempted murder and wouldn't settle for anything except their resignation from the Academy for doing something so completely stupid. T assured her that he had done something just as stupid and M asked "did it involve H?" T said that "fortunately the statue of limitations has run out on it." M said she "might feel differently if either of them showed a shred of remorse or realized that what they did was wrong." M finally relented after they finally did show some remorse on the stand.

T helped H fix his Vet claiming that he had a "light touch" and H "pressed to damn hard." Gunny requested a transfer back to the Force Recon unit at camp Lejune who needed a company gunny. Chegwidden wished he could go with him and said "be safe Victor."

Tuesday, November 13, 2001

Jagathon - 141

[Superbly written, complicated expose' of the JAG "relationships" using flashbacks between the actual race, and the days leading up to it, throughout the whole episode] Turner (T) wouldn't enter the Jag-a-thon which Harriet (Ht) produced, because he was a champion runner and felt the "highest rank" reward should go to "someone here longer." He finally asked Chegwidden's (C) counsel saying that he didn't think that he was "fitting in" at JAG. C told him that it was because he "didn't know what everyone else already knew; namely, that he was already part of the family." Singer (S) took bets on the race which upset Ht. She told S to "stop kicking everyone on your way to top, and we all would have fewer bruises and you would be less alone." Finally, running all alone in the race, S cried.

The SECNAV pressured C into giving a JAG tour to another of his female relatives. It was set for Tuesday but the relative fouled up and came when the office was closed for the Jag-a-thon. With Harriet's incompetence in holding Cs phone, the SECNAV was able to get through and pull C out of the middle of the race only to find that the lady had already left. Mac (M) prosecuted PO Ramsey Dill when he was caught impersonating an officer while rendering first aid to a motorcycle accident. Dill had been turned down for OCS after his CO referred him to a psychiatrist for "fabricating lies" about his prior accomplishments- but they were actually true. The incompetent psychiatrist labeled him with an "identity dysfunction" as it fit in with a research paper he was writing for a medical journal- of course, pointed out by Harm (H) in his defense. H gave an eloquent closing and Dill was found guilty but sentenced to "no punishment."

Gunny (G) and Tiner (Ti) bet on each other to NOT finish the race then ran side-by-side each other nearly the whole race. Ti was distracted by a girl and headered with an oncoming jogger bruising his rib. G looked back at Ti taking his header and tripped in a hole himself, landing on his face and pulling a muscle. Neither of them finished. Bud (B), who had been shamed and pressured by Ht to enter, was actually catching up to S until she spitefully told him that "everyone was betting he wouldn't finish" which demoralized him.

T was feeling sucked into the feud (or rivalry) between H and M then finally asked H point blank if he was involved with M. Outside of an elevator, H flippantly said "anyone who has been involved with M is either dead or feels like they are" just as the door opened and it was overheard by M. C noticed M's sullenness and finally spoke with H who admitted that he had been "pushing her buttons" all day, not taking her running ability very "seriously." C asked "do you think you can stop that?" and H said he "was trying." H had told M that "even if she had a 6 min head start she couldn't win" and before he could say another word she said "I'll take it" and walked away. C told H that he didn't know why H didn't take her running seriously because M and he had been "training ever since she had gotten back from the carrier."

H apologized to M who perfunctorily accepted. H told her that he just "didn't want to compete with you anymore." T let slip to M that H had split with Renee which surprised her. They finally started the race and despite everyone's head start, H nearly caught up with M. He sent word ahead to M with Ht, riding around in a golf cart, that he was going to beat her. But meddling Harriet had him stopped "to be checked by a corpsman" cause "people were worried about him." The corpsman turned out to be PO Dill impersonating again! So H had him arrested. H and M finish in a tie and began talking: "where does this leave us?" H said: "at the end I guess." But M said: "how about at the beginning." T had won the race by 4 minutes and exercising his 24-hr "highest rank" prize, he ordered them to go back with him and run along side the demoralized B so that he could at least finish the race.

Tuesday, November 6, 2001

Ambush - 140

Because of Harm's (H) "run of bad luck" in the courtroom Chegwidden (C) assigned him the Capt "FRUTT" case in Quantico. Mac (M) was assigned the investigation of Capt William Shepard who had led his men into an ambush in Sierra Leone, which killed six. H became very anxious about the assignments and said that he "wasn't without influence on the hill" which was needed in the Shepard case. C reluctantly agreed and swapped their assignments. To help with Hs run of bad luck Tiner (Ti)gave H a velcro'd statue of Saint Ivo of Kermartin, the patron saint of lawyers, to put on his cars dashboard. Harriet (Ht)gave H a copy of "7 Secrets of Highly Successful Lawyers" by Don McGill (the writer of this episode) and Bud (B)let slip that she had also given a copy to him after he had lost his first case.

B assisted H investigate the incident and found that Shepard had "exceeded the rules of engagement" by splitting off from a convoy he was escorting to go in pursuit of War-Lord Col Mohammed Makani, leader of a faction in the civil war who had been targeting US peace keeping forces. The convening authority didn't follow Hs recommendations and ordered a public court-martial due to public and political pressure. Shepard said that he had been given verbal orders to take out Makani by Col Klesco who then denied giving them. Turner (T), the prosecutor, showed that Shepard had posted a wanted poster and reward of up to $90 for Makani and had twice before broken away from an escort mission in pursuit of Makani. Congresswoman Leatham (L)invited H to a party where a new missile was going to be unveiled. T was also there and was introduced to L. At the party H met ex-Maj Frank Seawell who said that he had been given verbal orders by Klesco to take out a Taliban leader after the Bekea Valley army barracks bombing. He did so with faulty Intel and ended up killing the whole family. Klesco "left him hanging" back then too. H also found that Klesco had been subpoenaed before the "National Security Sub-Committee" chaired by Bobbi Leatham and Leatham had sent several SPECAT messages asking Klesco to capture Makani. Klesco had armed and fueled all his men for "aggression" not just escort. Because Seawell didn't want to testify H tricked Klesco into admitting giving verbal orders in Bekea Valley and also to Shepard. Shepard was found not-guilty. T said he "didn't mind loosing this time," Leatham, very angry, told T to "talk some sense into" H. She told H that "Shepard wasn't the only one to receive 'unofficial' orders" but wouldn't say who had given them to her. Klesco told H he had no hard feelings and "may need a good attorney." H agreed to help if necessary.

M's "FRUTT" case was a "peeping tom" incident which used the "Forward Remote Unmanned Tracking & Transmission" hovercraft being developed in Maj Millan's unit. The mother of a 17 year-old girl caught the unit hovering outside her daughters bedroom window and went mental hitting it with a broom. She demanded M to "throw the book at him" to "protect her daughters virtue." M eventually found that Maj Millan had "borrowed" the unit in order to catch his own daughter who had been sneaking out of the house. Before he could do it though, the unit was stolen out of his locked car. M found that it was Millan's 13 year old teckky son who had thought the girl was pretty and just wanted to "hang out." He was upset when M wouldn't just let him apologize by Email. He was grounded to "Low tech" by his father and M told C that the boy would get "much worse" from the angry mother. Maj Millan would receive a letter of reprimand.