Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Blame the Widow

A self-described friend of Major General Joseph Taluto, a retired Army First Sergeant and milblogger who calls himself "Bouhammer" speaks up on his blog in support of his buddy:

Right after the [not-guilty] verdict was passed down on Martinez, the widow of CPT Esposito lashed out in anger and demanded an investigation into MG Taluto saying he was at fault and that because of his leadership at the Division level, her husband was killed by one of his own soldiers. Now anyone that knows military ranks and levels of leadership know that blaming the Division Commander is like blaming the President for something that a TSA agent does at an airport. Those two positions (Division Commander and Company Commander) are so far apart and disconnected, it isn’t even funny. It is asinine, idiotic and downright stupid to hold a CG accountable for something like a fragging within a company.

However Mrs. Esposito, out of an act of desperation and anger to hold someone accountable went after MG Taluto. Because of her failure to understand the Army rank systems, her frustration with the Army not doing its job on the prosecution, and her position as the poor widow she got and maintained attention on the matter long enough to stall the confirmation of MG Taluto for the NG Director position and his 3rd star. [Emphasis mine]
Bouhammer leaves out my weariness from having to suffer fools such as he, but goes on with his sundry claims that America has been denied a dear leader and other such chest-pounding puffery.

One almost has to admire how Bouhammer strings together his narrative. Leaving aside his temporal errors which show that he has no real knowledge of the case and looking only at his root argument, Bouhammer's position is little more than "hysterical widow has bad day in court, takes it out upon the poor undeserving." If only . . .

Albeit inadvertently, Bouhammer does nevertheless reveal the mindset of those for whom it impossible to conceive how military discipline was allowed to slip within the 42nd Infantry Division and how the responsibility for that decline ultimately rests with its division commander. The 42nd Infantry Division was allowed to descend to the point where a staff non-commissioned officer could issue literally hundreds of threats and gestures of contempt against his commander in front of officers up to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and non-commissioned officers up to the rank of Sergeant Major and suffer nothing for it. For Bouhammer and those who agree with him, Article 89 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice must be no more than a mere suggestion and the role of a general officer in ensuring that those entrusted to his command uphold well-established principles of military discipline, well, that's just "asinine, idiotic and downright stupid."

Of course, my family and I are forced to endure the blowback from such stupidity every day. Such the pity that I can't make Bouhammer walk a mile in our shoes.

Blaming the Victim

This morning, an anonymous visitor to my blog left the following comment:

Its sad that you feel that its everybody else that is to blame for your husband's death. Your husband was in charge of the company and was in charge of SSG Martinez. If he felt threatened and did nothing about it, he is the one at fault. I am sorry for what happened to him and feel sorry for your baby growing up without a father. Stop putting blame on someone else. Your letter did nothing to stop or slow down the process MG Taluto's nomination nor did you have anything to do with his retirement. Move on with your life and find a new outlet for your anger and do something that will make you happy.
This comment is obviously factually wrong and the individual who wrote it is beneath contempt, but as a specimen of a phenomena I first observed during the court martial of my husband's murderer, I find it illustrative. During Alberto Martinez's court martial, his lawyers argued that my late husband Phillip was essentially to blame for his own murder. In reality, of course, Phillip never saw it coming. Phillip never knew that Alberto Martinez was issuing death threats behind his back because the soldiers who heard Martinez issue these threats, to include field-grad officers and staff NCO's, never told Phillip about it.

In action, these soldiers proved more loyal to Martinez then to their oaths to uphold the laws that govern the armed forces--laws that demand accountability for such gestures of contempt. That these individuals were never held to account for their failures is a grave injustice and one that has yet to be properly addressed. In this regard, holding General Taluto to account for his failures is but the tip of the iceberg.

I also find it illustrative that the anonymous visitor tells me that I need to "find a new outlet for [my] anger." It must somehow serve those who seek to preserve the status quo to dismiss my arguments as those of a hysterical widow. I hope that they continue along these lines; such individuals will continue to underestimate me and in the end, they will make my task of fighting to protect the lives of our soldiers all the easier.