- By Thomas E. RicksThomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military for the Washington Post from 2000 through 2008.
By Shelly Burgoyne
Best Defense guest commenter
At first I was just too angry, actually viscerally angry to offer anything helpful, let alone insightful.
After a few days I have calmed down a bit. I am still shocked at the judge’s wounding verdict, but I have been able to sift through all the garbage this Sinclair case produced and narrow down exactly why I am so affected, and it is what I keep coming back to. It is what haunts me.
Gen. Sinclair admitted to serious crimes, crimes he has surely convicted others (enlisted) of. He has surely docked pay from those under his command in aggregate. He has surely convicted soldiers and thrown them in Leavenworth, kicked out soldiers, etc. for crimes far less than his — far less.
He admitted to breaking the law over and over and yet he was deemed honorable by this judge — honorable! It is as if our Army has transformed into some kind of a gang, a completely illegitimate organization. I am humiliated and insulted beyond return.
His family is innocent in this, but that is not a reason to allow this admitted criminal to retire with honor and keep taxpayers’ money, his pension. A military pension is entitled to the servicemember; the pension is his, not his wife’s. I am a military wife, but I also served and the combat veteran in me knows the judge should have taken it. How many families of enlisted soldiers have been left destitute after breaking laws far less severely than Gen. Sinclair?
Finally, the incredible damage that this one criminal has left in his wake of toxicity and dysfunction will change the Army forever. Senators and congressmen on the fence chose a side yesterday and it wasn’t the Army’s side. Congress will proceed to tear apart our laws and our command authority, and I no longer care much that they do.
Ms. Burgoyne is a former Army officer. She served combat tours to Iraq in 2003 and 2005. She was named a Tillman Scholar in 2010 and recently completed her graduate studies at the University of Maryland. She is currently living and writing in the D.C. area, where her work focuses on veterans and women in the military.
Gordon Lubold is a national security reporter for Foreign Policy. He is also the author of FP's Situation Report, an e-mailed newsletter that is blasted out to more than 70,000 national security and foreign affairs subscribers each morning that includes the top nat-sec news, breaking news, tidbits, nuggets and what he likes to call "candy." Before arriving at FP, he was a senior advisor at the United States Institute of Peace in Washington, where he wrote on national security and foreign policy. Prior to his arrival at USIP, he was a defense reporter for Politico, where he launched the popular Morning Defense early morning blog and tip-sheet. Prior to that, he was the Pentagon and national security correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor, and before that he was the Pentagon correspondent for the Army Times chain of newspapers. He has covered conflict in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and other countries in South Asia, and has reported on military matters in sub-Saharan Africa, East Asia and Latin America as well as at American military bases across the country. He has spoken frequently on the sometimes-contentious relationship between the military and the media as a guest on numerous panels. He also appears on radio and television, including on CNN, public radio's Diane Rehm and To the Point, and C-SPAN's Washington Journal. He lives in Alexandria with his wife and two children.| Situation Report |