Friday, November 9, 2012
It has been a truly great week. The police officer I am suing requested the court issue a summary judgement (ie dismissing my case), in my lawsuit against him after he unlawfully pulled me over (in violation of the Fourth Amendment), and then unlawfully arrested me because I pointed out he had broken the law (in violation of the First Amendment). He cited the typical "qualified immunity" argument. Instead, the court just denied his motion for summary judgment on both of my amendment claims. This was the big hurdle in this civil rights lawsuit, we have successfully jumped it, and that means we are going to trial.
I feel very good about this lawsuit. Very good! I will keep my comments here limited, as the lawsuit is ongoing. But it has been a great week for defending our Constitution.
Happy Veterans Day weekend to all.
Thursday, November 8, 2012
I spent yesterday in a complete daze after I read an Air Force document that absolutely filled me with joy and pride, and restored a good measure of my trust in our service. After so many years of watching Air Force accountability processes shamefully fail me in various battles to make our service and our country stronger, I read something yesterday that stunned me. An agency, high up in the Air Force ether, made a correct decision and issued a report that showed a great deal of respect for our Constitution and our rule of law.
I should back up. For just over a year now I have been fighting an enormous battle that I haven't previously discussed, with the exception of one vague post about a poem my wife shared with me. I'm not going to get into anything more specific here, and it's quite possible I may never do so publicly, but suffice it to say I stood up for the Constitution in an extremely meaningful way, and as a result I was facing separation from the Air Force with more than fifteen years of service and possibly even graver consequences. For doing the right thing. For being principled and honoring my oath to support and defend our Constitution, and for forsaking my own convenience and personal gain in favor of our nation. There is one thing, however, that must be shared, and that is this - there can be justice in our service. It can do the right thing, and that means airmen can do the right thing in terrifying circumstances, with no apparent allies, standing alone - and yet be vindicated in the end. There can be justice in the Air Force.
And it's a beautiful sight to see.
In my latest battle, not only did a high level organization find in my favor, but they made it clear with their words that they would not punish me for honoring my oath. Beyond that, they essentially vindicated my years of service that led to so much "derogatory" information in my file. During this process- all of the numerous reprimands I have collected over my career were used against me as evidence, to include the most recent addition. My encounters with unlawful law enforcement were offered up as evidence, and even this blog was used as evidence against me, though no specific comments or posts were cited.
I have often said that I am more proud of my reprimands than I am of my medals, because they paint the most accurate picture of my courage and service to this nation. There is a word that seems to be a common thread throughout all of my reprimands. Constitution. Fortunately, this Air Force agency saw that same picture. In their finding, they mentioned each of my reprimands in detail and then summed them up, stating:
On the surface, it would appear that receipt of multiple letters of counseling and reprimands would indicate questionable judgment and an unwillingness to comply with rules and regulations. However, when each incident is reviewed on its own merit, it would appear Subject is fully aware of the U.S. Constitution and has openly challenged what he perceives to be a violation of either his own rights or those of other American citizens.They mentioned interviews with people during an investigation and, minus the review of one who brought the action against me, all were favorable. One of those interviewed "indicated Subject has a good work ethic; holds very strong views and opinions which he readily expresses; particularly strong views about the Constitution and how it should be interpreted..." The agency also mentioned my encounters with law enforcement, and that charges were dismissed in court, and it even noted that I had filed a civil suit against a police officer who violated the Constitution. The agency discussed the substance of my most recent battle and concluded that, "It is the opinion of this [redacted] that Subject's objections to what he believes are violations of the U.S. Constitution, as reflected in the documents associated with [this action], do not represent a...concern." With that conclusion they halted and reversed a significant punitive action that was being taken against me.
We shouldn't fight righteous battles for our nation only if we think victory is assured. We're in the business of courage and service, so shirking our responsibility to our nation for our own personal gain or for a supervisor's approval is not an option. That doesn't mean it will be easy, and for those few who are truly tested, it can be absolutely terrifying. But what this latest act of service has taught me is this - if you do the right thing, you may just find that there are those much higher than yourself who will also do the right thing. Imagine if our service was populated by such people. Imagine how much stronger our service and our country would be. It might just start with you. Do the right thing by God and taxpayer, as you swore an oath to do, and let the chips fall where they may. Don't count on it, but it might just work out.
Something to consider this Veterans Day weekend.