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“THEY ALL KNOW”
by Sharon Rondeau
(Nov. 29, 2013) —Dozens of Naval officers have participated in obstructing justice as a result of the illegally-conducted court-martial of CDR Walter Francis Fitzpatrick, III (Ret.), in 1990, whose record of trial contains a forgery signed by his defense attorney in collusion with his former admiral, John Bitoff.
One such officer is Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert, a former classmate of Fitzpatrick’s at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis. Both graduated in 1975, with Fitzpatrick third in his class.
Another is RADM Harold “Rick” Grant, former Navy TJAG from 1994-2000. “Harold Grant did more than any other uniformed individual to seal the court-martial up air-tight, light-tight and water-tight,” Fitzpatrick told The Post & Email in August.
Over the last three months, Fitzpatrick and The Post & Email have contacted Grant, Greenert, and various officers with knowledge of the crimes committed but received no response.
On October 25, Greenert spoke at the Naval War College in Newport, RI, which Fitzpatrick was under orders to attend in the fall of 1989 when Bitoff recalled him to level his false charges and destroy Fitzpatick’s promising career. “The Naval War College is a ‘choice assignment,'” Fitzpatrick told us.
In a previous installment of the Fitzpatrick court-martial story, The Post & Email quoted Fitzpatrick as having said that he was “court-martialed for nothing” because the charges and specifications did not identify a crime of which he was convicted. “In all of the places where specific information was given, I was found ‘not guilty,'” Fitzpatrick told us.
A trip to Hawaii which Bitoff’s staff attorney, Tim Zeller, said did not occur had, in fact, taken place, a fact that was misrepresented when four-star admiral Ronald Joseph Zlatoper responded to then-Chief of Naval Operations Jeremy Michael Boorda in 1994 about an article which had been published in The Seattle Post-Intelligencer about the injustice meted out to Fitzpatrick.
In his letter, Zlatoper represents the forgery as an authentic document by quoting from it to Boorda in an apparent attempt to reassure him that Fitzpatrick’s punishment was justified.
In a letter dated August 12, 1994, Boorda wrote to then-Rep. Norman Dicks that “The investigating officer, a Navy Judge Advocate with no connection to LCDR Fitzpatrick, found that probable cause existed for some of the charges and recommended they be disposed of at non-judicial punishment. Through his defense counsel, LCDR Fitzpatrick was offered a non-judicial punishment hearing but refused and demanded a court-martial…”
Fitzpatrick told The Post & Email that he was never offered “non-judicial punishment,” but rather, that Bitoff orchestrated the court-martial with a predetermined outcome.
The investigating officer, Tim Zeller, knew Fitzpatrick and conducted his “investigation” at Bitoff’s behest.
In May 1996, while still serving as Chief of Naval Operations, Boorda committed suicide.
In September of this year, in preparation for the book Fitzpatrick is writing on the court-martial, Fitzpatrick wrote an open letter to Zlatoper which was also sent by email. Zlatoper provided no response.
Fitzpatrick has demonstrated that the military “justice” system can be used against a serviceman or woman as a vendetta because commanders possess wide, unchecked power, unlike the civilian justice system. In a Letter of Reprimand written by Bitoff on 7 June 1990, Bitoff cited Fitzpatrick for actions which were not raised at either the preliminary or final hearing. “I was pronounced guilty in writing before anything else happened,” Fitzpatrick said.
Bitoff acted as both Fitzpatrick’s accuser and the convening authority, which is illegal.
“They rig court-martials [sic] all the time,” Fitzpatrick told us more than three years ago.
As a result of Bitoff and his staff working behind-the-scenes conviction to craft a conviction, Fitzpatrick was passed over for promotion twice and forced to retire in September 1994. Of the false conviction, Fitzpatrick told The Post & Email:
I was not convicted of anything specific; I was not convicted of anything at all. The federal conviction does not name an offense.
This is one of the problems of the military discipline system: the admiral can do whatever he wants.
Charge 1, Specification 1 does not name a criminal act. Then what did they find me guilty of? Nothing. You found him guilty of nothing.
It went up the chain of command for review, and Richard R. Vogel, who was Stutzel’s boss in the day, said, “We’re going to call it ‘negligent’ dereliction of duty instead of ‘willful’ dereliction of duty.” But he had the same problem. Where did they find any dereliction at all? They have to be specific in what it was the government said I did wrong.
When Richard Vogel promoted to Brigadier General, the Navy and the Marine Corps, once they recognized what John Bitoff had done, said, “Oh, my goodness…we have a real problem.”
When you view it for what it really is, all of their criminal activity becomes very clear, and the government has no place to run. There is nothing that the government can say that sustains the court-martial conviction on my record and maintains that forgery in at least two separate records.
When you look at this from a distance, you can see that they knew all the time that they didn’t have any position to take against me. I had not committed any crimes, and they knew that. They had to manufacture all of this. They knew exactly what they were doing and maintained control over all of it.
Where my participation was required, they specifically excluded me and lied about it to maintain control.
There is nothing that they can raise up against a publisher or an author to defend themselves. I’ve been convicted of nothing!
The reason Anderson went through the kabuki dance with Zeller and Bitoff was that they needed to show higher command that I was admitting that I had done something wrong, which is admitting guilt. They tried to say that I acknowledged guilt and was asking for the admiral’s favor in looking past my admitted crimes. They needed me to come in somewhere, somehow to say, “OK, you’re right; I’m wrong.” I never did that; I never admitted doing anything wrong. So they had to made it look as if I climbed up on the cross, admitting wrongdoing, and asked for clemency to allow me to continue on with my career.
The same thing happened with the forgery. When I used the MWR funds as an “excuse” – that’s the word Anderson used in the letter – to send these guys on the trip in Pearl Harbor, I would never have said that. And Anderson is giving the admiral an out. “Here: Fitzpatrick is confessing. He is admitting that your accusations against him were meritorious. He is a supplicant here; he’s remorseful. He is sorry, Admiral. Please look upon him favorably; he’s admitted his crime. Have mercy on him.” So everybody coming to the case says, “Well, there’s nothing here; move along; Fitzpatrick confessed.”
Zeller said there was no meeting held in Hawaii when there was. The items in the confession letter do not appear in the record of court-martial. They didn’t charge me with those things.
The Letter of Reprimand is a false official statement signed by John Bitoff. He implied that he looked at the Record of Trial and that he considered my clemency request. That’s a lie, because he acted on the court-martial the week after it was over, in April, when the record wasn’t ready to review until May 14.
They needed the confession to suggest to the uninformed observer that “Fitzpatrick confessed.” That’s what Zlatoper did when he advanced that lie to the Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Rick Grant.
Everybody knew. The Navy needed the confession to make it look as if everything was done correctly. They needed to maintain the illusion.
In 1993, I put together a 17-page criminal complaint. One of the people it went to was Rick Grant. It was Rick Grant and Ronald Zlatoper who put together that response when they quoted from the forgery. Grant knew it had been reported as a forgery. They knew that that document was a forgery because of my report. The NCIS was informed; the Secretary of the Navy had been informed. Everybody had been informed. So a year later, when Zlatoper wrote in 1994 that I had confessed and he quotes from the forgery, they knew about it.
When they realized what John Bitoff had done as an admiral, the response was “Oh, my goodness…this is really bad.” This was the response from Zlatoper, Rick Grant, Mike Boorda…everybody knew.
In the letter that Zlatoper signed, he said he had done this with the cooperation and the participation of the Judge Advocate General, which was Rick Grant. He wrote that, and they all realized that they had never had a problem like this before. That’s why they needed the forgery: to suggest to anyone that Fitzpatrick said he was guilty; he did something bad.”
When the NCIS came out and said, “If the forgery bears itself out, this makes the Navy and the Marine Corps look really bad,” they knew. That forgery was used to cover up all the rest of the things that I had reported before 1997. They all knew.
On September 5, 1997, the Judge Advocate General of the Navy called the head of the NCIS and spoke with Ernie Simon, one of the deputy directors, and said, “This is really bad. Hey, Ernie, we need to bury this thing, button it right up. We need to bury Fitzpatrick. He’s right about all of it; he’s right about everything.” That’s why John Hutson contacted the head of the NCIS and the director got Ernie Simon in on it and said, “This thing needs to be buried.”
I got that feedback from NCIS Special Agent Richard Allen. He knew what was going on, and he apologized profusely to me on a number of occasions. “We know about this. I’m just a field agent; I’m close to retirement; there’s nothing I can help you out with here.” He went as far as he could, but he made it clear to me that this thing was going to get buried. They knew every bit how bad it was. They all knew, and today, they all know.
At the moment in time when I was discharged from the USS Mars, I became part of the USS Naval War College command. I was no longer assigned to Bitoff. I was in the process of executing my orders when Bitoff got those orders canceled. He should not have been able to do that; it’s against Navy regulations. The guy who should have been able to take up an issue would have been a vice-admiral at the Naval War College. It was the same problem Bitoff faced with Mike Nordeen. Bitoff could not court-martial Capt. Nordeen, because he was no longer under Bitoff’s command, either.
Paul Romanski picked up the phone and said, “You need to cancel Fitzpatrick’s orders. You need to give him back to us” so that they could do what they did.
When I left the MARS, I was no longer part of the ship’s company; I was part of the Naval War College command structure in transit to them. If John Bitoff wanted to pursue the charges, all he needed to do was turn them over to the admiral at the Naval War College. These charges could have been prosecuted by anybody. This comes back to Bitoff’s controlling everything; I had to be under his control for him to do what he did. It’s another reason why it makes the Navy and the Marine Corps look bad: he had to capture me to bring me back under his wing.
There were 100 reasons why John Bitoff wasn’t allowed to do any of it. But he did it. The whole thing was orchestrated. That’s why they needed to control everything. It was nothing but an illusion.
Over the last 25 years, it’s become septic. It is life-threatening to the military in so many ways; this is why they’re still trying to hide it.
I was convicted for nothing, and one of the ways they used to make it look real was the false confession.
The government never charged me with the insinuations that appear in my Letter of Reprimand.
Boorda’s letter to Dicks contains various other false statements, including the claim that “the successor in command to Rear Admiral Bitoff” reviewed Fitzpatrick’s case and “concluded LCDR Fitzpatrick is not entitled to relief.”
Rather, it was Bitoff himself who denied Fitzpatrick’s appeal after Bitoff had retired from the Navy, which will be a topic for a future article on the case.