The Uniform Code of Military Justice: Not Uniformly Applied

Legal Definition of Uniform Code of Military Justice: “body of laws containing the substantive and procedural law that governs members of the armed services and the military courts.”

by Joe Meadors

The Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) is the legal code all members of the Armed Forces operate under.

If they want to.

The same can be said about Department of Defense Directives.

And the US Navy Judge Advocate General Manual.

Let me provide some specific examples where the obligations under the UCMJ, Department of Defense Directives and the US Navy JAG Manual have been waived with respect to the June 8, 1967, Israeli attack on the USS Liberty.

Findings of fact constitute an investigating officer’s description of details of events based on evidence. Findings must be as specific as possible about time, places, and persons involved. Each fact may be made a separate finding. An investigating officer may determine the most effective presentation for a particular case. Each fact must be supported by the statement of a witness, statement of the investigating officer, documentary evidence, or tangible (real) evidence attached to the investigative report as an enclosure. Each finding of fact should reference each enclosure that supports it.

JAG Instruction 5800.7G Manual of the Judge Advocate General, Page A-2-g

With that in mind, read the very first Finding of Fact in the US Navy Court of Inquiry Report into the attack on our ship.

Not only will you not find any evidence that the attack was “a case of mistaken identity” in the record as required by the JAG Manual, but it is contradicted by the Court’s own Legal Advisor, Capt. Ward Boston.

Capt. Ward Boston Statement in the Congressional Record October 11, 2004, Page E1877
DoD Directive 5100.77

And then there’s the recall of the aircraft ordered by LBJ while we were still under attack. A clear capital violation of Article 99 of the UCMJ.

UCMJ Article 99 (Emphasis Added)

We have been trying to persuade the Department of Defense to investigate the War Crimes that were committed during the attack ever since we learned that testimony about the deliberate machine gunning of our life rafts given by Lloyd Painter and proferred by Glenn Oliphant has been removed from the Report of the US Navy Court of Inquiry.

The submission of our War Crimes Report on the 38th anniversary of the attack is merely a codification of the repeated requests we have made to the DoD to investigate the War Crimes that were removed from its Report.

The fact that we are still waiting for the US government to investigate the attack should tell you how the DoD responded to our War Crimes Report, all the while waiving is obligations under the UCMJ, the DoD Law of War Program and the Navy JAG Manual.