Tell the truth, get a "SLAPP"
By Charles Bloomer
In a perfect world, those who do right would be rewarded, while those who do wrong would be punished. As we all know, ours is not a perfect world. Too often, it seems, people who do the right things end up being punished. This is especially true when doing right involves attacking left-wing sacred cows.
Elaine Donnelly is being punished for telling the truth. Mrs. Donnelly is president of the Center for Military Readiness (CMR), a non-profit, non-partisan educational organization specializing in military personnel issues. In 1995, her organization published CMR Special Report: Double Standards in Naval Aviation that documented a pattern of special treatment and double standards in the training of women to fly the Navy F-14 Tomcat fighter. Mrs. Donnelly believes that this special treatment may have contributed to the death of one of the first women F-14 aviators, LT Kara Hultgreen. (In 1994, LT Hultgreen was killed while attempting to land on the carrier USS Abraham Lincoln.)
At issue is the fact that the CMR Special Report included actual training records, released as a last resort by a Naval flight instructor, that confirmed evidence of special treatment of two unnamed women trainees. One of the women trainees, LT Carey Lohrenz, has filed suit against CMR and Mrs. Donnelly. LT Lohrenz is accusing Mrs. Donnelly of libel/defamation and blaming CMR for her inability to succeed in carrier aviation. (Details about the lawsuit can be obtained at www.cmrlink.org.)
This is a "SLAPP" lawsuit Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation. This type of lawsuit is used to serve political ends by using the courts to deliberately silence an adversary. A SLAPP lawsuit is an end run around the first amendment guarantee of free speech by making the truth too expensive to defend. The intent is to burden CMR and Mrs. Donnelly with legal costs to the point that CMR shuts down its operation. CMR has challenged the feminist political agenda specifically, the feminization of the military and is now paying the price.
The politicization of this case is obvious. LT Lohrenz is being represented by feminist lawyer Susan Barnes, a close associate of former Representative Patricia Schroeder. Ms Schroeder has long been an outspoken critic of the "male culture" in the military and was a driving force behind the witch hunt following Tailhook. Her feminist agenda overrides the telling of the truth regarding lowered standards for women aviators, even when the lowered standards put women aviators at risk. Ms Schroeder and her feminist associates want to destroy the male oriented military that defends our country.
Even more disturbing is the obdurate lack of cooperation of the Navy civilian leadership. The Navy Judge Advocate Generals office has notified CMR that it intends to "chill, delay, limit, or flatly forbid" testimony from naval officers whose first-hand knowledge and professional expertise could prove important to the defense of CMR and Mrs. Donnelly. The Navy JAG claims such testimony might interfere with "command responsibilities" of potential witnesses, even though most of the officers being considered are retired. The Navys intransigence has forced CMR to file a separate legal action against the Navy, resulting in even more legal costs. The demands and restrictions of the Navy JAG are uncalled for and unreasonable. The issues in this case do not qualify as "national security risks". The Navy is not even a party to this case.
Why, then, would the Navy "chill, delay, limit, or flatly forbid" testimony in this case? Is the Navy concerned about CMR revealing the truth regarding the dangerous lower standards it sets for women aviators? Does the Navy fear the scrutiny of its sex-biased aviation training? More importantly, is the Navy leadership itself involved in the ideological attack on the military?
CMR endorses equal opportunity in the armed forces, but not at the expense of military readiness. The Center believes that the armed forces should not be used for political purposes or social experiments that needlessly elevate risks, detract from readiness, or degrade American values. Essential elements of military culture should not be degraded in order to advance sociological goals. Mrs. Donnelly formed the Center for Military Readiness to give voice to the problems and concerns of men and women in uniform regarding policies that make their lives more difficult or more dangerous. Her organization has gained the support of lawmakers and retired and active duty military members of all ranks.
Why, then, would the Navy leadership choose to punish such an organization if not for political purposes?
The Clinton administration, through its political appointees and its liberal allies, wants to silence Elaine Donnelly and the Center for Military Readiness. The administration is not interested in drawing attention to its dangerous policies that weaken the military and endanger the men and women in uniform. The Pentagon civilian leadership, in concert with radical feminists, do not care about military readiness; instead, they pursue their anti-military agenda with little regard for the lives or well-being of military men and women. While touting "equality", the ideological foes of the military insist on lowering the standards to accommodate women a dangerous idea when flying a military fighter jet at 600 miles an hour in combat.
Elaine Donnelly and CMR are dedicated to maintaining a military that can deter aggression or, failing that, can fight and win our nations wars. We all lose if CMR and other organizations concerned with the truth are silenced. Military readiness policies are best determined by vigorous public debate. That debate requires that organizations such as CMR and people such as Elaine Donnelly are free to report the facts to the American people.
To find out more about the Center for Military Readiness, visit their website at www.cmrlink.org.
© 2000 Charles Bloomer. Mr. Bloomer is a retired U. S. Navy submarine officer. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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