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by Sharon Rondeau

Rear Admiral John Bitoff (Ret.), who was both accuser and convening authority at the court-martial of Walter Francis Fitzpatrick, III

(Oct. 10, 2010) — This is the third in a series of reports on the court-martial of Lt. Cdr. Walter Francis Fitzpatrick, III, who has reported to The Post & Email in extensive detail the events which occurred before, during and after his court-martial beginning in 1989.  Fitzpatrick alleges that he was accused unjustly, that the court-martial was conducted improperly by his own chain of command rather than by an independent investigator from the NCIS (at that time called the NIS), and that for 21 years there has been a cover-up conducted by the Department of Defense up to and including Admiral Michael Mullen, the current Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Specifically regarding the “confession” document which remains in his file to this day, Cdr. Fitzpatrick has stated that he never saw the document and did not sign it. Recently he told The Post & Email, “The closest I have ever been to that document is eight miles away across the Potomac.”

In our previous report, Fitzpatrick stated that his chain of command had considered court-martialing the captain of his ship, the USS MARS, but decided to focus on Fitzpatrick instead for various reasons.  Fitzpatrick maintains that the significance of the manner in which the proceedings occurred is that the same treatment is being meted out to Lt. Col. Terrence Lakin, who has challenged the legitimacy of orders issued by his chain of command based on questions regarding the eligibility of the putative commander-in-chief, Barack Hussein Obama, who has never proved that he meets the constitutional criteria to serve.

Cdr. Fitzpatrick has quoted William Winthrop, whose work became a manual for military law, as having said:

The “superior officer” must be one authorized to give the order; else indeed his command would not be a lawful one. (Winthrop’s Military Law and Precedents, p. 577)

Since our last publication of the series, Lt. Col. Lakin’s website has announced that a new legal defense team has been retained.  WorldNetDaily has reported that the newly-formed United States Patriots Union issued the following statement in regard to this development and a possible new defense strategy which could be implemented:

A birth certificate cannot solve Barack Hussein Obama’s problem, unless and until an unconstitutional precedent can be set in court that ‘natural-born’ – ‘native-born’ and ‘naturalized’ are all one in [sic] the same. We know that they are not the same things, and why the Founders limited eligibility for the office of president to only ‘natural-born’ citizens. Anything less creates a very real national security crisis.

The UCMJ is administered by the President of the United States, who is also the Commander-in-Chief.

Since his court-martial in 1990, Fitzpatrick has been working to assist others in the military who might have been accused unjustly and are facing discipline by means of his website and other proactive measures.

Our interview continues below.

MRS. RONDEAU: Did they actually end up court-martialing Capt. Nordeen?


MRS. RONDEAU: Why do you think they didn’t?

CDR. FITZPATRICK: Mike Nordeen had left. He was no longer under the jurisdiction of Admiral John Bitoff. He was in another command. In other words, there would have been another convening authority involved. Another officer would have had to have come in and taken a look at what John Bitoff had done to me. His question then would have been, “Exactly why, Admiral, do you think you should be doing this to Mike Nordeen?”

This had been done in Combat Logistics Group 1 (CLG1). That’s the name of the command, which no longer exists, by the way. That’s the Boy Scout troop, if you will, to which my ship belonged. Do you think John Bitoff wanted to expose himself to the kind of criminal conduct in which he had just been engaged?


CDR. FITZPATRICK: In other words, if you wanted to just wrap this thing up and be done with it, going after Mike Nordeen or anybody else would have been exposing him to extraordinary criminal consequences, so why run that risk? That’s one answer. The other answer is: Think about this. You’re the officer who’s going to court-martial the man whose brother was murdered in a car bomb attack by terrorists? And Mike Nordeen was being looked at for Admiral. He was in a pipeline, and that was the word that I searched for earlier: a pipeline.

In the warfare communities in the military, you have different pipelines. There are certain jobs that you take in a pipeline, and that pipeline takes you to Admiral’s rank, flag rank. I was in that pipeline. Mike Nordeen was in that pipeline. He was being looked at for flag rank. And there are certain jobs that you hold in these separate warfare communities, and people know, looking at you from the outside in, “OK, he’s in the pipeline. He’s on a track that leads to this position.”

Let’s look at the crime that I committed: let’s say that they caught me standing next to a pile of babies burning, and me pitchforking these burning babies into the back of a pickup truck, and I’m responsible for this horrendous act, as heinous and as monstrous an act as you can conceive in your mind. They could have accused me of that, and still through this process, we have to go back and take a look at what they did to me. It has nothing to do with the crime. It has nothing to do with my performance of duty. It’s about the process. And this is the process that Terry Lakin is in right now. And the process is nothing but criminal. The fix is always in, and you see that being played out now.

MRS. RONDEAU: It seems that we’re seeing what happened to you 21 years ago happen to Lakin now. And Col. Denise Lind, the alleged convening authority, won’t accept any defense Lakin tries to present.

CDR. FITZPATRICK: Lakin can bring in any defense that he wants. It’s not for a judge to determine how that case is going to be defended. We’ve talked already in my case about how the military threatened a civilian with a court-martial.

For a moment, make believe that the military has jurisdiction over you as a civilian. Let’s say, for example, that you are embedded with a military unit that is going through Afghanistan right now, and you’re the reporter who is part of that unit. Did you know that you can be court-martialed?


CDR. FITZPATRICK: You’re under court-martial jurisdiction when you are traveling with a military force in that way or a military contractor or whatever other position a civilian would hold when they are embedded with or assigned to a military unit. They are now under the jurisdiction of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

MRS. RONDEAU: I would never have thought that.

CDR. FITZPATRICK: I wrote about it. I was there when it happened. I saw it happen. In fact, this is one of the things that was included in an exchange I had with Dwight Sullivan back in 2007 when it took place. The guy who made that happen was Sen. Lindsey Graham. He’s responsible for this. In fact, Ed Pound from U.S. News & World Report published a little snippet about it and said, “Hey, thanks, Walt, I appreciate the heads-up.”

Everything that I’m telling you can be backed up in six or seven different ways.

MRS. RONDEAU: When they called you on the 13th of October, did they tell you what the charge was right then and there?

CDR. FITZPATRICK: No. It wasn’t that long of a phone call. By this point in time, Zeller had been out to the ship, and I know they were looking at the Morale, Welfare & Recreation expenditures. I was livid. We didn’t go out that night with our neighbors. That ended very quickly. I remember shining my wing-tips; I had them in my hand when I answered the phone. I have this written down somewhere, but I said to Romanski, “The fix is in.” I knew they were coming after me.

MRS. RONDEAU: And there was no indication of anything before that phone call?

CDR. FITZPATRICK: No. We had rented a home in Newport, RI. That was my next job. We were packing up for a move. I had no idea this was coming my way until that phone call on the afternoon of 13 October, which, by the way, is the day that Col. Lakin’s court-martial was originally scheduled to start. It was Paul Romanski who called.

What’s going on now is treason writ large. The point that I was making before about a civilian coming under court-martial jurisdiction in certain circumstances is the kind of thing that they can do to you. The military can do whatever they want to you; they can lock you up, and they never look back. This should be of concern to every American out there, because, you see, the military would love nothing more than to be able to court-martial you or anybody else.

MRS. RONDEAU: Because it gives them more power?

CDR. FITZPATRICK: You bet. And money, prestige. This has to be stopped. Lakin’s case is no longer about Terry Lakin; it’s about the military destroying our constitutional government. That’s what you see Col. Lind doing here, and her boss, Maj. Gen. Carla Hawley-Bowland.

Regarding my case, the court-martial was rigged from its beginning. The first thing that Tim Zeller did when he came back from the ship is say, “Fitzpatrick is guilty of a crime.” He knew what he was going to do when he went out. That was how this all began. He pronounced those words verbally to Paul Romanski on 2 October 1989. My real court-martial took place ten days later, and you’ll see that on the chronology written by Paul Romanski.

I want to talk about the court-martial of Walt Fitzpatrick that took place on the 12th of October of 1989. In the meeting, there were four people present as far as I could tell: Admiral John Bitoff; his executive officer, Michael B. Edwards; then there was another assistant chief of staff lower than Edwards whose name is Paul Romanski. So there was a one-star admiral; two Navy captains, Romanski and Edwards; and then Tim Zeller. Those are the four people who held my court-martial.

Let’s go back to the summer of 1988. When we received a message to the USS MARS that announced the death of William Nordeen, who had been blown up in a car-bomb attack in Athens, Greece, it was making front-page news across the country. It was a very widely reported incident. This man was the second officer, as I recall, who was murdered in that job by N-17 (the terrorist group “November 17”). In fact, the evening before, I was on the bridge talking to Capt. Mike Nordeen about this, and he was telling me how his brother was on pins and needles getting ready to come home with his family after his tour in Athens was up. Bill Nordeen was going to retire on 30 years and do something else, enjoy his life and family, but he knew there was a threat against his life, as there had been threats against other officers holding the same job.

So then he was blown up, murdered. A message came to the ship. It was huge national news. This was our “911” back in 1988. The words have not been coined to describe the kind of emotion and feelings  which go through military men when you have a comrade who’s taken down like that, and then, of course, the concerns you have for the family. It hit the ship really hard.

The message came in early in the morning somewhere between 01:30 and 02:00. I went up to Radio Central and confirmed the fact that this had happened.  I had people going to wake up the command chaplain, Brad Abelson, who was a really wonderful man. Brad passed away about two years ago of cancer; he was a really wonderful guy. Chaplain Abelson and I had to go in at about 4:30 in the morning to announce to Mike Nordeen, our captain, what you know we announced.

When this happened, the ship was at anchor in San Diego. We were not tied up to a pier; we were at anchor in the harbor getting ready to go through a very strenuous military operation called “refresher training.” The Fleet Training Group (FTG) on the West Coast is headquartered out of San Diego, CA. So all ships getting ready to deploy into the Western Pacific leaving from the West Coast have to go through refresher training out of San Diego. They have to pass this extraordinarily difficult training event. This is your battle problem: you have to prove that you can go to sea and fight and survive. That’s what this refresher training takes you through. You have a new crew, and you’re also working to see if they’re prepared to take the ship overseas and sail in harm’s way.

So we were at anchor in San Diego, and the next day we were supposed to go into refresher training. The day that I announced to Mike Nordeen that his brother was murdered was the day we were supposed to begin.

MRS. RONDEAU: Did you start the training, or was the schedule changed because of what happened?

CDR. FITZPATRICK: We went through that day as planned, although there was an event on that first day when we went out to sea which we can talk about later. It sends chills up my back to think about it. When the Fleet Training Group officers and enlisted men came out in a boat to the ship to put us through our paces, they brought with them copies of the San Diego Union-Tribune, which they do for ships in training. They bring the newspaper out to you because you’re not on the beach; you’re at sea. And they did not realize that the death of Mike Nordeen’s brother, William Nordeen, was in any way related to the ship that they were embarking upon. That ship, that day, was different. You can only imagine.

In the morning, at 4:30, I told Capt. Mike Nordeen, “Please be prepared,” and I was getting myself ready to take command of the ship. I was the second in command. I said, “Captain, you’re going to be ordered off the ship; be prepared for that.” His initial response was, “No, I’m staying with the ship.” And I said, “Sir, I don’t think you’re going to have a choice in this matter. I think you’re going to be ordered off the ship.” I had already been on the phone in secure voice radio communications with the people at the headquarters in San Diego. They had already told me that the skipper would be going to Athens to escort his brother home. All through that day, the 29th of June of 1988, we went through things like that. There was an event that day, and we stopped at sea and held a memorial for Bill Nordeen.  The skipper did not know it was coming; we just did it, and it was very powerful.

The command headquarters for Combat Logistics Group 1 was located in Oakland, CA. That was the ship’s home port. When we tied the ship to the pier and left to go home that night, we drove away from the Naval Supply Center in Oakland, CA. So when we were in San Diego, we were a long way from home. The admiral who was there that day was not John Bitoff; it was a guy named Robert Toney, and he was in charge of Combat Logistics Group 1. Bob Toney does not figure into this in any significant way; that’s just who was there on the 28th and 29th of June, 1988. It was he whom John Bitoff relieved. The next year, John Bitoff was in place.

On the 28th of June, 1988, Admiral Toney said, “Fitzpatrick is only a Lt. Commander.” I was holding a commander’s billet which was supposed to be held by a full commander. I had been fleeted up again; I was on a pipeline and doing very well. I was holding a job that a more senior officer was meant to hold. But standing right next to Bob Toney was his chief of staff, who had already been in command of a large ship, had been through refresher training with a large combat vessel, and because of the significance and importance of refresher training, Bob Toney didn’t want me to take command of the ship as I should have.

MRS. RONDEAU: If the ship’s captain has to be away, wouldn’t the command normally fall to the Lt. Commander?

CDR. FITZPATRICK: It would be the executive officer, whatever rank he held. It would go to the Executive Officer. It’s like Star Trek; Capt. Picard is taken out in battle, and Ryker is the next guy in line.

However, I did not take command of the ship. This is not a complaint; I’m just relating what happened, because it’s significant.

Bob Toney sent his chief of staff, a full, post-command Navy captain on a combat logistics ship, down to take command of the ship while Mike Nordeen was gone to attend to his brother’s remains. During that first day of refresher training, when we were at sea, the executive officer relieved Mike Nordeen of command of the USS MARS and took command himself. The man’s name was Michael B. Edwards, the same guy who was in the meeting on the 12th of October. So for the two weeks during which Captain Nordeen was gone, the commanding officer of the USS MARS was Captain Edwards, which means that Capt. Edwards knew about everything that was being done with the money. Capt. Edwards was the one who approved the people to leave the ship to go to the funeral. It had to be a commanding officer’s decision, because as I told you, we were going through refresher training. We had to be very, very select and particular about whom we sent off the ship. We were going through a battle problem; there were people who were trained in their positions to do certain things in a battle environment. They man guns; they go to the ship’s fire department, and they fight fires and flooding. These people are very, very highly trained in what they do, and this is what they were being examined for during refresher training. So we could not send certain people away because we needed them to go through refresher training.

In reality, what happened was this: there were a lot of people involved in the decisions about who could leave the ship safely during our training efforts, so after meeting with our command mast chief and other people on the ship, there was a group of people whom we decided could go to the funeral. The list of names which Capt. Edwards approved was the list I gave him. I knew the personnel, I knew the training, I knew who could do what and when. I gave him the list of names, and then I briefed him as to why a certain person could or could not go.

Mike Edwards was deeply involved in every decision that was made about who was leaving the ship, what they were going to do while they were gone, and about the expenditures that were being made. There were no secrets. There was no reason to keep anything from the Captain.

MRS. RONDEAU: If he hadn’t agreed about certain people being able to leave the ship, he could have said so, right?

CDR. FITZPATRICK: Exactly. But Mike Edwards accepted the list as it was written, and those people left the ship. And then every day afterward, it’s like going to school. You take attendance every day, and you report the attendance to the captain of the ship. It’s called a “muster report.” Especially when you’re at sea, that muster report is very important, because if I walk up to the captain and there’s somebody missing from the muster report, the first thing that happens is the bosum mate’s sound, “Man overboard!” and you go looking for the man in the water. The position of the commanding officer of that ship is huge; he knew about everything.

Mike Edwards was there for two weeks and he knew about everything that was going on with the ship. So when Mike Nordeen returned, we were sailing out of San Diego, just having finished refresher training. The skipper returned, took command of the ship, and Mike Edwards flew back to Oakland, CA, where he reassumed is duties as the No. 2 officer at Combat Logistics Group 1.

The ship deployed in September of 1988. We went overseas, and it was while the ship was overseas that John Bitoff relieved Admiral Toney of Combat Logistics 1. So when the ship came back home in March 1989, we had a new admiral, John Bitoff. The admiral left, but the chief of staff stayed the same. Mike Edwards stayed as the No. 2 officer under the admiral. What this means is that when Tim Zeller was sent out to the ship in September of 1989 to investigate the expenditures of the Morale, Welfare and Recreation fund as they were used during that two-week period of time in which the funeral trip took place, one of Tim Zeller’s bosses was Mike Edwards. Tim Zeller was on the Combat Logistics Group 1 staff. He was the staff JAG. He and Mike Edwards were coworkers; they worked in the same environment. They saw each other every day. Zeller would have to brief Admiral Bitoff and the chief of staff, Mike Edwards. That was the working relationship they had.

When Tim Zeller was told or he learned of the fact that Mike Edwards was, in fact, in command of the ship during the period of time that Zeller was investigating, Tim Zeller lost his authority to conduct the investigation. He couldn’t conduct the investigation. His own chief of staff was involved in the inquiry. And Zeller knew all along. What John Bitoff did, he knew he was doing unlawfully from the beginning because Mike Edwards had been in command of the ship, not Mike Nordeen. Bitoff knew of the conflict; his own chief of staff had been in command of the ship. John Bitoff couldn’t court-martial me because of the conflict he had with his chief of staff.

MRS. RONDEAU: So how did they do it?

CDR. FITZPATRICK: They did it against the law. They did it as we’re going to discuss in our next conversation. They rigged the entire court-martial process and they knew from its inception that they had no authority to court-martial me.

Let’s talk about the court-martial of Walt Fitzpatrick that took place on the 12th of October of 1989. Four men were there. Tim Zeller was there and had by that point become my accuser. We know that Bitoff was my accuser for reasons  we’ve discussed already. Mike Edwards was a witness. Paul Romanski was also one of my accusers. So Zeller, Bitoff, and Romanski were accusers, and there was a witness there. When these men met, that’s called witness-tampering. All these men knew that they had no authority to conduct the court-martial of Walt Fitzpatrick because Captain Edwards had approved the money that I was being accused of misappropriating.

MRS. RONDEAU: So what did it have to do with you?

CDR. FITZPATRICK: They wanted me out of the Navy. I was connected to the expenditures because we had spent the money. I was the executive officer of the ship and the nominative commanding officer of the ship. Mike Edwards was there as a figurehead. I was up to my eyeballs in this thing; I was as intimately involved in this as Mike Edwards. Because Edwards was there, this goes to the authority of the court-martial against me. “You can’t court-martial me, Admiral Bitoff; you have to give this to another command to prosecute.” But, you see, if they had given it to another command, it would have gone down to the Commander of Naval Service Forces, Pacific, a three-star admiral down in San Diego; who would have become the convening authority. But to give it to somebody else as the convening authority meant that Bitoff, Zeller and Edwards would have lost control of this thing; they needed to keep it private so they could control everything that happened. You can see the control they exercised. We’ll talk about that on another day.

Bitoff knew that he could not be the man who assembled my disciplinary hearing because Bitoff was fatally conflicted, as his chief of staff had been in command of the ship during that period of time which was now  being examined. Zeller couldn’t conduct the investigation. At the moment that Tim Zeller recognized that Mike Edwards had been in command of the ship, he had to go back to Bitoff and say to him, “Excuse me, Admiral Bitoff, but did you know the chief of staff had flown down at Bob Toney’s direction to San Diego and that he had been in command of the ship?” And Bitoff would have come back and said, “No, I didn’t know that, Lieutenant.” And then, Zeller’s next words should have been, “We have to give this to a three-star in San Diego, Commander of Naval Services Forces. We can’t do this, Admiral.” But they proceeded on.

We’re talking about the fact that they were accusing me of stealing over $10,000 from my shipmates. There are few crimes that you can commit on board a Navy ship that are more serious than stealing from your shipmates. You’re living in very, very close quarters. To have a shipboard thief is a very big deal. If this were the lowliest seaman on the ship, it’s a very serious offense. And whom were they accusing of being a shipboard thief? The second-in-command. I was being accused of stealing. And you’ll see in the narrative and the chronology that when Zeller came back, he said, “Well, this is really serious.” They were accusing an officer who was second-in-command of stealing from his shipmates.

On the second of October, when Paul Romanski had just been told by his staff JAG that the executive officer of the USS MARS had stolen over $10,000 of Morale, Welfare and Recreation funds from the ship’s crew, he should have called the Naval Investigative Service Office (NIS at the time), and there were a couple of them in the San Francisco Bay area to dispatch a Naval Investigative Service special agent to the USS MARS to take over Zeller’s investigation immediately, because Zeller couldn’t investigate.

MRS. RONDEAU: And they never contacted anyone?

CDR. FITZPATRICK: No, they didn’t. You see, they were doing this with purposeful, specific, criminal intent to court-martial me. If Zeller, Romanski, or any of these men had turned it over to the NIS, there would have been no crime to investigate. And the Morale, Welfare & Recreation report which has gone missing would have survived. The NIS would have gone out, looked at the report, noted that Captain Edwards was the commanding officer of the ship, and everything would have been in order. “You don’t have a case, Admiral Bitoff!” Nobody would have had a case. The NIS would have dropped this like a bad habit, because there was nothing there.

John Bitoff was prohibited from investigating this case for a number of reasons. His own second-in-command, Mike Edwards, had been in command of the ship at the time that this money was spent. Mike Edwards was a witness. Paul Romanski was one of my accusers. The chronology was written by Paul Romanski, and it is dated 3 November 1989. With the chronology, there is a memo that Zeller wrote to Romanski the day before, which was on 2 November. Zeller had come back on 2 October; he had briefed the admiral; Romanski said, “OK, wrap this up in a report, Tim,” and so a month later, Romanski put together a chronology of events, showed it to Tim Zeller, and Zeller looked at it and said, “Well, yeah, everything is good to go except this one thing, Chief of Staff.”

I’m reading from Zeller’s memo to Romanski now, and it says, “The letter forwarding my report to CNSP pointed out clearly that the report was unedited and the conclusions reached were mine alone. Your entry for 5 October 89 may call that statement into question, should this document ever be needed.” In other words, Tim Zeller wrote in the first sentence of paragraph 3, knowing this was a lie, that the letter which was sent to higher command reported clearly that it was unedited and the conclusions reached were Tim Zeller’s alone. Paul Romanski had written something into the chronology that contradicted the report which they had sent on to higher command. The report they had sent to higher command was a lie. The report had been edited by other people; it had been massaged by other people. It had been dealt with by other people.  Zeller’s next sentence essentially says, “Captain Romanski, you put something in this chronology that might show that we lied.” So the translation is, “Your entry for 5 October 1989 may call that statement (just a moment ago) into question should the chronology ever be needed. This issue is important to keep our roles separate in this case.” In other words, I don’t want you, Captain Romanski, to be disqualified from action later in the case for being an accuser. “Recommend you drop the second sentence” from the 5 October entry.

Editor’s Note: The 5 October 89 entry on Paul Romanski’s chronology reads:

LT Zeller presents initial report draft to CAPT Romanski.

Memo written to Capt. Paul Romanski on November 2, 1989 outlining his version of the chronology of events in the case of Lt. Cdr. Walter Fitzpatrick, III

Editor’s Note: The last paragraph of the above memo reads:

3. The letter forwarding my report to CNSP pointed out clearly that the report was unedited and the conclusions reached were mine alone.  Your entry for 5 Oct 89 may call that statement into question, should this document ever be needed.  This issue is important to keep our roles separate in this case, namely I do not want you disqualified from action later in the case for being an accuser.  Recommend you drop the second sentence.

Page 1 of Capt. Paul Romanski's chronology
Page 2 of Romanski's chronology
Page 3 of the Romanski chronology

Editor’s Note: Paragraph 2 of the Zeller memo and the third paragraph of page 2 of the Romanski chronology are identical.  Zeller’s memo was written on 2 November 1989 and Romanski’s chronology on 3 November 1989.

Of both documents, Lt. Cdr. Fitzpatrick has stated, “They were both kept secret until 28 July 2001.”


MRS. RONDEAU: As they went back and forth like that, doesn’t that indicate a conspiracy right there?

CDR. FITZPATRICK: That’s what I’m trying to show you. That is exactly what was going on. When you take a look at the chronology for 5 October, there’s only one sentence, which means that the second sentence was deleted, whatever it said.

There’s one more point that I want to take up, and then I’ll summarize. Tim Zeller was sent out as an investigating officer. He was sent out by Mike Edwards to be the investigating officer, which is documented in other places. Zeller is the staff JAG, Combat Logistics Group 1. Even if those conflicts which I’ve discussed were not in place, it’s not a good idea for a command to send out its own staff JAG as an investigating officer, and here’s why: The JAG is part of the staff. The JAG officer works with the staff each and every day. They work in the same offices; they go to meetings together; they brief one another; it’s like going into an office building and meeting with these people every single day. You don’t want that person in that kind of environment to be conducting an investigation because it’s almost impossible for him to conduct it independently, without any kind of influence. He’s just too close to the situation. So what’s recommended in the Navy as well as the other service branches, unless it’s unavoidable, is that you send out an officer who has no connection to the case other than as an investigator.

As an example, let’s say there’s a Commander Jones who doesn’t know Fitzpatrick; he doesn’t know Admiral Bitoff; he doesn’t know Mike Edwards; he doesn’t know Mike Nordeen; he doesn’t know anything about this. He’s been picked out of the blue, from a different command, from a different part of the country, from a different command altogether. He’s going to be the investigating officer. He goes out to the ship and begins his investigation and finds out the kinds of things that we have talked about. In the event that this independent investigator thought that money had been stolen, he can come back and on his or her own initiative, notify the Naval Criminal Investigative Services and have that command take over responsibility for the investigation and then say to the person who assigned him as the investigating officer, “My work is done. I’ve turned it over to the NCIS for further investigation.”

So the NCIS picks it up, and the investigation goes wherever it goes, and it’s not done until the NCIS reports back to the admiral who ordered the investigation in the first place, and it says, “Here are the results of our investigation, Admiral; this is what we recommend you do.” Before anything else was known to him, Tim Zeller should have said, “Admiral, it’s not a good idea for you to send me. I’m too close to it.” When the investigating officer goes out to do an investigation, he or she does not report back to the admiral who ordered the investigation.

Let’s say the investigation found something that was less serious than the theft on the part of the ship’s executive officer from his shipmates; let’s say it’s something less severe. It didn’t require that the investigating officer turn it over to the NCIS; it just wasn’t that big a deal. But the investigating officer does not report back to the admiral who ordered the investigation until the investigation is over. You don’t have the admiral participating in the investigation. You do your investigation; when you’re done, you turn over your work product to the admiral and you say, “I’m done; here are my findings.”

So Tim Zeller went out to investigate on the ship, and the first thing that he did was report to his chain of command. This is the investigation that stands right now. It was not completed as a proper investigation. Zeller was still in the process of investigating when Paul Romanski said, “Continue with your investigation, Tim. Write up your report; bring it to me, and then we’ll edit it.”

MRS. RONDEAU: So clearly that shows collusion.

CDR. FITZPATRICK: Right. Zeller was back and forth several times, and that’s what you’ll see in the chronology. The admiral who ordered the investigation became a participant in it. That’s another reason why John Bitoff is my accuser, and the other officers involved also were part of this investigation. They were changing reports, changing documents, sealing documents. What this goes to is specific criminal intent from the very beginning of the court-martial, the anatomy of a court-martial. They knew what they were doing from the start, and none of these officers was allowed to do any of the things they were doing. Kind-of like what Col. Denise Lind is doing to Col. Lakin.

MRS. RONDEAU: She’s denying him discovery even though it should have been allowed.

CDR. FITZPATRICK: Yes, and who’s going to say differently?

Now let’s summarize: Look at the reasons why John Bitoff wasn’t allowed to conduct this investigation, to be that authority to assemble the court-martial. First of all, Bitoff had become one of the investigators. He had been involved in writing the investigation report that was going to look at accusations that he himself was making against me. In the letter which Bitoff wrote to Congressman Dicks, he said, “I brought the charges, and I convened the court-martial.” It’s on page 5. So then Bitoff came together with Paul Romanski, who had been falsifying documents and was one of my accusers.  Zeller was one of my accusers who shouldn’t have been involved in the investigation at all.  They should have turned it over to the NCIS, but they didn’t. So Zeller is part of this 12 October gathering, and then Capt. Edwards is there as one of the members. And by this time, Zeller had already pronounced me guilty, before they had even started the court-martial process.

MRS. RONDEAU: So would you call this a conspiracy?

CDR. FITZPATRICK: The definition of “conspiracy” is “Two or more people working together to a criminal purpose,” and they actually carried this out. John Bitoff, as the convening authority, was meeting with one of the witnesses in the case. Uh-oh.

I didn’t know about this because it was all done in secret, but what I’ve just told you today tosses the court-martial of Walt Fitzpatrick right out the window. Yet it hasn’t been overturned. It’s the most reviewed case in the history of our country. When you start to expose this, it makes the Navy and the Marine Corps look “really bad,” and now, by extension, the Department of Defense. This is huge. So Bitoff couldn’t do this because he was part of the investigation; he couldn’t do it because his own chief of staff was involved in the inquiry; his chief of staff had been a witness but Bitoff met with him; Zeller came back in, and the first thing he did was pronounce me guilty. Bitoff could not convene this court-martial; he acted criminally in doing so. They should have turned over the investigation to the NCIS. In other words, on 12 October 1989, the case should have been given to the NCIS and they would have been developing it as I was getting ready to transfer to the War College in Newport, RI. Of course, the NCIS would have come up with nothing and said, “There’s nothing here, Admiral, so move along.”

They didn’t turn it over to the NCIS; they gave the investigation to Zeller; Zeller pronounced me guilty, then he involved himself with the staff and worked with the staff on his investigation.  In other words, Tim Zeller was not able to write his own investigation report independently. And then they said, “We didn’t edit it, and we didn’t oversee it; it was all Tim Zeller; he did this all by himself.” That was a knowing lie.

With the information we’ve discussed today, I could go in and say, “My court-martial needs to be overturned.” But they kept this information from me. I’m able to report it to you today because I started filing FOIA requests.

The point is that the men who did this were trying to cover their tracks in the day. They knew they were committing criminal acts, and they were trying to protect themselves from getting caught. This occurred before my actual court-martial, and this is what’s going on now with Col. Lakin. All these things are going on behind closed doors. They’ve already determined what’s going to happen to Terry Lakin. They already know. How do you stop them?

There’s more to the issue, which is that we don’t have a legitimate commander-in-chief, which means that this court-martial does not have any authority at all. You can’t give this to any other commanding officer in the military as the convening authority because no one else holds the power to punish a troop because Mr. Obama is not legitimate. Even in the case where you have a legitimate commander-in-chief, see what they do. This is how the court-martial works, and this is what needs to get out to the people at this moment. This is how the system is rigged. There is no recovery. You’re guilty from the very start, and you never, ever, ever have a chance. You never get to defend yourself; they make it impossible for you to defend yourself. And at the end of the day, they are able to do this because there is no jury.  And because in this case there is no legitimate commander-in-chief, there is no authority.

The military has been operating against us, regular citizens who happen to be in the uniform, without the oversight of a jury, without anybody’s oversight. In fact, you see them working aggressively not to have any oversight. You see them working very hard to cover their tracks.

By the way, that comes back to the forgery, because that was the ultimate act they accomplished that gives up all the other acts that they engaged in to try and conceal their criminal conduct. So if this case doesn’t get tossed out, there’s no recovery. There’s no review.

One last thought: the other man for whom I sent you contact information today is Rick Grant. Admiral Grant was the Judge Advocate General of the Navy at the time that the information I’ve just reported to you was becoming known. It was coming out. Grant did more than any other lawyer in this case. He was a Naval Academy graduate and former pilot and became the Judge Advocate General of the Navy. He had more to do with covering up the kinds of information I’ve just reported to you than any other officer who was involved in the cover-up. Do you know the TV show “JAG”?


CDR. FITZPATRICK: That would have been Rick Grant. We were finding these things out in the early ’90s. Rick Grant knew all of this and more and still maintained the forged document. He has told people, “Fitzpatrick signed that letter. We know he did.” That’s a lie.

There is no explanation other than the one I’ve given you. They wanted me out of the Navy; they did everything to see that that happened, and they never thought they were going to get caught. But when they did, they tried, and to this moment, that forgery is being maintained as an authentic writing.

You saw what Zeller said to Kit Lange back in 2006: “That’s all done. We’re done with that. Move along.” Well, I’m telling you what:   Right now, this is the issue. The court-martial process is nothing like what people think it is. It is absolutely nothing but corruption writ large. In a word, it’s treason.

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  1. Thinkwell, I went to the website in your post and read all of the items there. What I can gather is that these supposed examples of military experts are extremely biased and set in their ideas of how the military should be run. The one question from Sullivan was particularly telling. Are you suggesting that all enlisted men should disobey orders if they don’t belive them? This is a close phrasing of the question from memory. He states the question as if the thought is incredulous and beyond belief. He also states complete belief and trust in the words of the officials in Hawaii and the Hawaiian newspapers about the birth documents of the putative president. His words have totally betrayed any faith in our military leadership. He and his “lawyer” buddies later question how we can not believe these supposed totally honest and reputable sources yet conveniently forget that none of these documents have been through court scrutiny of any kind. This is more hypocrisy on a grand scale by a bunch of idiot blowhards who don’t deserve the time of day.

  2. Regardless of whether any funds were “misappropriated” the clear violation of protocol and conflict of interest in this case raises huge red flags (not to mention the alleged forged confession, something that could easily become solid verified evidence if a court were only willing to examine it).

    I find it interesting that LTC Fitzpatrick mentioned Dwight Sullivan, as I have been engaged in an ongoing debate with him regarding certain claims made by CDR Kerchner as well as the LTC Lakin case (the latter being less a debate and more a military law learning experience on my part). In spite of being an admitted Obama supporter, he conducts himself very civilly and seems to be interested in facts and reason. I rather like him for that, even though I think his politics are totally insane (unless he is purposefully looking to destroy the country, then they are just evil). The contradiction is fascinating.

    This is all on a military law blog where most (if not all) of the regulars seem to be practicing military attorneys who also fully support the Obama administration. The thread turns from CDR Kerchner to LTC Lakin here:


    I wonder what LTC Fitzpatrick might have to say about Dwight Sullivan?

    1. This guy was not a very good guy as he portrays himself to be. I believe justice was served. Ask him about the Bose stereo system that he bought with morale, welfare, money for him, commanding officer in the command, master chief. And about the countless sailors, he discharged for idiomatic reasons.