"...do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic..."

"For the good of the Air Force, for the good of the armed services and for the good of our country, I urge you to reject convention and careerism..."
- Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Maxwell AFB, April 21, 2008

"You will need to challenge conventional wisdom and call things like you see them to subordinates and superiors alike."
- Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, United States Air Force Academy, March 4, 2011

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

BDA -- Target Destroyed: Liars in Uniform Successfully Destroyed my Career


Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find me, unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul. 

- William Ernest Henley


So, as they say, I've got good news and bad news.  Which would you like first?  Well, since this is my blog I'm going to give you the bad news first.

The bad news (although old news) is that my military career was destroyed by liars in uniform.  Worse, events yesterday in federal court have confirmed that there will be no rescue operation.  Play the bugle, my career has been morted and buried.

The TLDR/BLUF is that I am happy and proud to have sacrificed my career and finances to defend the Constitution of the United States against domestic enemies.  This Veterans Day I can assure you that I have seen others sacrifice a whole lot more.  By that I mean, I have witnessed far braver men sacrifice their lives.

Here is how my career's obituary reads:

Back in 2009, two Public Affairs officials, 1Lt Courtney Kippenberger and TSgt Joel Langton, destroyed my career with a bald faced lie that was eagerly scooped up by the wing commander, then Colonel Jeffrey McDaniels, who used the lie as a reason to give me a career-destroying Letter of Reprimand (LOR).  Kippenberger worked directly for McDaniels and sent him a false report making false claims against a superior officer.  I emailed Langton but he did not respond to my request for him to correct the record (as if he should require such a request to correct a lie).  Langton retired and went on to be the civilian chief of Public Affairs in that same office.  I subsequently filed a retaliation complaint against Col McDaniels and others with the Inspector General (IG), but as expected, the IG found that its bosses had done nothing wrong.

How did Public Affairs lie?  Well, Public Affairs said that I lied to them about the existence of the blog that you are reading right now, in a conversation we had on the first of October.  What they did not know, however, was that I was audio recording that conversation.  The audio conversation (which you can listen to in the video above) proves that the second charge of the LOR I received from Colonel Jeffrey McDaniels was absolutely false.  Ironically, Col McDaniels accused me of lying when it was actually a member of his staff, 1Lt Kippenberger (who I did not know and had never met outside that conversation), who blatantly lied in her memo to him.  He didn't seek to investigate this matter and instead just took the word of his low ranking staff member and blindsided an experienced field grade officer with her false claims.  Of course having formed a solid idea of the quality of Col Jeffrey McDaniels' character, I had anticipated such a move, which is why I covertly audio recorded my meeting with his dishonest staff members.  To call them a den of vipers is to be unfair to snakes.

Again, the audio proof that they lied is in the video above.  I told Colonel McDaniels that his Public Affairs office had lied, but it fell on deaf ears.

More recently, hours ago in fact, any chance I would have to undo this damage to my career evaporated in federal court. 

Just yesterday I lost my very expensive civil suit, Rynearson v. Richter, against a lying cop, Edwin Richter of the San Antonio Police Department, during a jury trial in federal district court.  That arrest, purportedly for failing to signal a lane change, formed the first charge in the two-charge LOR I was given by Colonel McDaniels.  I told him that the cop was lying, but my explanation yet again was a waste of breath.  The charge of failing to signal a lane change was dismissed in court, but the LOR had already been issued since innocent-until-proven guilty was apparently not a concept that Colonel McDaniels had much use for.

I provided the audio evidence from the video above to the Air Force Board for Correction of Military Records (AFBCMR) and informed them that the charge from the lying cop had been dismissed in court and that I was suing the lying cop, but the AFBCMR declined to remove the LOR from my records.  The IG was also given the audio evidence, and yet they found no wrongdoing.

My civil suit against the lying cop in federal court took more than five years and a staggering amount of my personal finances.

I lost the suit yesterday despite the fact that the judge and jury were both excellent.  

As an aside, Judge Xavier Rodriguez is of the opinion that Air Force medals are handed out like candy (I have to agree with him).  The judge is a Harvard graduate who did ROTC at MIT before commissioning in the Army.  When the defense wanted to bar me from talking about my medals because it made me look like, in the defense lawyer's words, "a superstar," the judge ruled that I could discuss them despite them being handed out like candy in the Air Force.  When I was on the stand, however, I passed on the opportunity to bring them up, although I was admittedly very tempted to testify, "I have many medals and they're hard to get, they're not handed out like candy like they are in the Army."  It was a missed opportunity on my part.

The judge also kept Col McDaniels' fabricated LOR from being used against me during the trial.  While that prohibited me from demonstrating the effect the unlawful arrest had on my career, it also kept Col McDaniel's false words, accusing me of being a liar and lacking integrity, out of the court proceeding.  Had my talented lawyer not kept out McDaniel's false charge that I was deceptive and a liar, that false accusation would have crushed my testimony from the get go.  Sadly, I would not have been able to introduce the audio in the video above to clear my name and to prove the untruthfulness of Colonel Jeffrey McDaniels' words.

As I watched Richter comfortably lie through his teeth on the stand after swearing an oath, and as I pondered the false claims of McDaniels that were nearly used against me in court, it dawned on me just how disadvantaged those who tell the truth are.

Fortunately, the federal judge was very fair throughout the trial.  What impressed me the most about him, was when he ruled against me over an administrative matter and stated that he agreed with my lawyers, but that he was bound by the rulings of the Fifth Circuit whether he liked it or not so he had to rule against us on the point.  Understanding the rule of law, and complying with the law even when disagreeing with the law is professionalism and it's essential for our nation.  Had officer Edwin Richter been of like mind, I would have never been in this judge's court room.

The jury also did a great job.  They were fair and reasonable.  During jury selection some people were dismissed because they were outraged that a person could be arrested simply for failing to signal a lane change and they admitted they would be unable to decide a verdict with that as law because the law was wrong.  Several said they had no idea that was the law and one said it made his blood pressure rise.  Several were dismissed for saying they would tend to believe a cop's testimony more than the testimony of a non-cop.  Several were dismissed for saying they would be biased in favor of an Air Force officer.  One was dismissed for saying he would be biased because his wife was in the army and had benefited from close air support assets while in country.  One potential juror was dismissed after saying my combat record and service was significant.  It was interesting to see the jury selection.

The jury that was finally selected from the pool was very good.  I am of the opinion that my version of events was more believable than the lying cop's version of events, but it wasn't greatly more believable.  I had told several people prior to the trial that I would find against myself had I been on the jury.  This is true even though I think my recounting of events (which just happens to be true) was more credible than the "I encountered a jack in the box with license and insurance in his hands who refused to give them to me while auto-repeating a single phrase" story told by the lying cop.

The reason is because in a word versus word civil trial, the burden of proof that a plaintiff like myself must show is a preponderance of evidence.  In other words, a plaintiff must show that his or her version of events is at least 1% more likely than the version presented by the defense.  In a case like mine limited to one person's version against another person's version, a jury should find the testimony between the two parties to be a 50/50 proposition.  They don't know who is telling the truth, it could be either.  Therefore the plaintiff does not meet the burden of proof of 51%.  Had I been on the jury, even if I tended to believe one side more than the other, without further evidence I would have ruled the same way.  In this case the defendant was a lying cop.  For the next jury the defendant may be an honest cop facing a lying plaintiff.  The jury did the right thing.  They cannot be expected to divine the truth with a crystal ball, when they are not presented with sufficient evidence and are only provided finger pointing.  As an aside, this is why it's so important that we require our law enforcement to wear body cameras and why we should be sure to be recording ourselves as, for strange reason, the cameras of cops often tend to "malfunction."

The jury's decision was justified even though, in the end, they found for an oath breaking liar in uniform.  Their finding contrasts with the unjustified decision of two Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals' judges who had the truth of events presented to them in a video recording, thanks to the lesson learned from this unlawful arrest, and yet still found for law breaking law enforcement.  Despite learning my lesson from this lying cop, my remaining civil suit against the Border Patrol is at the steps of our Supreme Court of the United States, but has a very statistically low chance of being heard.  Accordingly, I have to wonder how important truth and the law really is, in our third branch of government.

The rough court transcript, to include the jury selection, testimony and the fabricated arrest report provided to the jury can be found here.

Some might wonder why I took on this incredibly expensive legal fight, if all this time I would have ruled against myself had I been on the jury.  The answer is, I had to fight this fight because my oath compelled me to do so.  It was my professional obligation.  The Constitution was violated in my backyard, in my area of responsibility, in my own life and so I had to act.  I am paid well to defend our freedom and I swore before God and America that I would defend the Constitution against domestic enemies, without mental reservation or purpose of evasion, with true faith and allegiance.  That is what I swore to do.  There was no caveat allowing me to not do so when doing so would be inconvenient and costly.  I didn't have a choice in the matter because I am a professional paid to defend American freedom.  Unlike officer Richter, I took my obligation seriously.

I am greatly looking forward to no longer having to shoulder the burden of my commission in the coming months, when I leave the office my oath governs, and when I can finally prioritize the well being of myself and my family over the well being of Americans who pay my bills and require me to protect them.  But that day is not yet here.

The only thing I regret about the trial this past few days, was my testimony on why I was pursuing this case.  Many in the jury thought (as expressed in voir dire) that this arrest was indicative of something you should just accept and move on with your life about.  So during testimony I tried to explain why I had to fight this battle.

I expressed how important our Constitution is, how precious our liberty, and how we stand on the shoulders of giants whose sacrifices have made our nation a more perfect union.  Greats like Dr. King and the Freedom Riders and thousands more who faced police with batons and dogs and fire hoses simply for exercising, and therefore defending, their rights.  I mentioned our service members who have fallen defending our freedom and how the tyranny displayed by officer Edwin Richter was a betrayal to such service members who gave everything so that we could be a free people.  I got emotional when I expressed how I had witnessed Americans shot and killed in the most courageous actions to defend our nation and how I have for years reflected on the death of one man in particular, who I watched give his life overseas as he went through a doorway knowing what was on the other side.  I tried to explain that for years I have asked myself what his sacrifice was for and have tried to emulate his courage when I am faced with an inconvenient opportunity to defend America here at home.  I tried to explain all this to the jury but I fear I did a poor job.  I got very emotional which is not something I like to do and certainly not in public.

The lying cop's lawyer, a nice man who was simply giving his client the best defense that he could, used my testimony to paint me as a crazy man to support his client's dishonest account of encountering a jack-in-the-box driver with license and insurance in his hand who refused to have a conversation and was on auto-repeat simply repeating "you're violating my constitutional rights, you're violating my constitutional rights" over and over from the very beginning until he was arrested.  He mentioned how my language in my testimony was similar to the account told by the lying cop, by which he meant that my testimony included the word "constitution."  Sadly, today, if you show any appreciation for the Constitution, you are suspect of being a crazy man capable of such a bizarre display during a traffic stop.  Those who value our rule of law are demonized as nutty "constitutionalists" even in comedy skits, and ironically their respect for our rule of law is used against them, through unfair and dishonest caricature, even in our court system.

The real lesson here is that all of this could have been so much different had I simply took the iPhone sitting on my passenger seat and started recording audio.  But it just sat there.  I was naive in those days.  I didn't think such a blatant disregard for my rights could just occur out of nowhere.  I certainly didn't think a career bicycle cop, using the lunch break patrol car to purportedly drive to a burger joint that was only a three minute bike ride away and within the very same area he bicycle patrolled, would lie that he just had to interrupt his thirty minute lunch break in order to pull me over for failing to signal a lane change, and then lie that he had no choice but to arrest the crazy constitutionalist he encountered.

But at least I learned that there are liars in uniform and that their lies must be guarded against.  Weeks after this unlawful arrest, that lesson came in handy when 1Lt Courtney Kippenberger lied about my conversation with Public Affairs.  Unfortunately, due to the lies from officer Edwin Richter which were quickly utilized by Colonel Jeffrey McDaniels, my ability to prove the lies told by Public Affairs was not enough to keep the fabricated Letter of Reprimand (LOR) from destroying my promotion opportunity.  My career was destroyed and I was not promoted.

On a positive note, at least I narrowly avoided being separated from the military just five years short of retirement, after a commander from my combat community removed the LOR from my record the day before the continuation board.  That very same board kicked out 157 majors like myself with fifteen years of wartime service.  Had Col McDaniels' fabricated LOR remained in my record, I would have been number 158 without a doubt.  So, the lies from liars in uniform could have cost me much more than they did, and even then I would have happily paid that cost because I believe public service requires courage and sacrifice and I firmly believe that upholding my oath of office to defend our freedom is worth more than a paycheck.

So what is the good news, you might ask?

Well, my understanding is that the liar in uniform, 1Lt Courtney Kippenberger, separated from the Air Force not long after her lies.  The liar in uniform, officer Edwin Richter, also retired and will no longer have a badge to bolster his insecurity and to use while taking out his many failings and frustrations on innocent Americans.  I heard a rumor that my civil suit had something to do with his decision to retire.

And the officer who eagerly destroyed my career with a fabricated LOR built from the liars in uniform above and who was the subject of a retaliation IG complaint, Brigadier General Jeffrey McDaniels, retired just days ago.  He was on the potential witness list during the trial yesterday but did not appear.  It's too bad.  I would have liked to have congratulated America on his retirement with him personally.  He is apparently now the VP of a company called Leidos.  McDaniels' ability to manufacture facts, and his position as VP in the company, reminds me of my master's thesis, The Smartest Guys in the Room and the Best of the Best.  I have no doubt McDaniels read that thesis.  I also have no doubt that I will be sure to keep Leidos as far from my stock portfolio as humanly possible.

These are all positive developments for our nation to include the jury's responsible decision.  This particular battle is over and I am glad to finally put it behind me so that I have more room for the next one should the need arise.  I personally hope such a need does not arise, but it's not about me.  Yet.  Professionally, however, I'm ready to rumble at the drop of a hat.  I am extremely proud to have sacrificed my career and my finances for my country.  I went through a doorway knowing what was on the other side, but it was a doorway of inconvenience rather than a doorway of death. I've been there when greater men and their loved ones sacrificed a whole helluva lot more and I will not betray their sacrifice.

Happy Veterans Day to all great Americans who take their oaths of office seriously, who realize that fighting for American freedom is worth the inconvenience to do so, and who are proud of the scars they display earned by truly protecting and serving our nation, while liars in uniform only serve themselves at the expense of our country.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, what a small world....

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    ReplyDelete