by LCDR Walter Francis Fitzpatrick, III (Ret.)

(Jan. 9, 2017) — [Editor’s Note:  The Post & Email recently interviewed LCDR Walter Francis Fitzpatrick, III (Ret.) about President-Elect Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Defense, U.S. Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis (Ret.).

Mattis has been retired for less than four years, and federal law mandates that a former military officer must have been retired for seven years before assuming a civilian cabinet position.  Accordingly, Congress would have to pass legislation to approve him as the next Secretary of Defense, which was done once before for World War II Gen. George C. Marshall (Ret.) under President Harry Truman.

While Fitzpatrick was not concerned about Mattis’s eligibility to serve, he raised questions for anyone under consideration for the position relative to his or her positions on constitutional issues.

Mattis was the convening authority for the group of Marines and Navy corpsman known as the “Pendleton 8,” the most-publicized of whom is Sgt. Lawrence G. Hutchins, III.]

Of Mattis’s nomination, Fitzpatrick told The Post & Email:

I understand why the law is in place. The military is supposed to be under civilian control.  The president is the commander-in-chief, and he is a civilian.  The Secretary of the Army is a civilian.  The Secretaries of the other military branches are civilians. The point about not allowing a military person to hold a civilian position so soon after they’ve worn the uniform is to guard against the possibility that he will act as if he is still in uniform.  Then the concern arises with martial law.

I understand that concern. During the vetting process, if you determine that the person you want to put there is qualified, conducts himself honorably in all things and honors his oath to the Constitution, including in a civilian capacity, then I think the person is qualified.

I don’t see Gen. Mattis as being a threat because he’s former military and so close to the military; I see him as a threat for what he stood for when he was in the military.

Remember Gen. Martin Dempsey?  Where would Jim Mattis come down on sending Army troops into a small community to respond to a civilian police action?  Where is Jim Mattis on that question?

This is a question that needs to be answered.  The Democrats need to ask him that during confirmation hearings.  Dempsey violated the Constitution when he ordered Army troops into a civilian community for law enforcement purposes, after which Obama promoted him.

And I named Dempsey in commission of treason.  So where does Jim Mattis come down on sending military troops into a situation which is clearly a civilian police action?

A lot of people are very upset about military equipment, gear and training equipment in local police departments and that police aren’t walking a beat anymore and know the community.  You have the police in Watertown, MA after the Boston Marathon bombing demanding entry into people’s homes without a warrant and the same thing with Hurricane Katrina.

Does Jim Mattis see the U.S. Armed Forces as a law-enforcement arm in our local communities?

I didn’t go after Obama because of his birthright, although I did say in the document that he was in the office of president illegitimately.  My approach was to look into the fact that he had just sent armed troops into a police action illegitimately.

“Where is his allegiance?” is what I was asking.  Is his allegiance to the Constitution?  Why didn’t a guy like Jim Mattis stand up and say to Gen. Dempsey, who would have been junior to Gen. Mattis, “Excuse me, Gen. Dempsey, but you have overstepped your authority”?

This was a preplanned response.  Dempsey’s obedience to Obama got him promoted.  So the question is to Gen. Mattis, “Where do you stand on what Dempsey did?”

Where are the generals and the admirals when it comes time for them to speak out?  Where were the generals and the admirals speaking out when Benghazi went down?  We saw Gen. Ham and Adm. Gaouette get cashiered; where were the other admirals and generals at that time?

Gen. Ace Lyons came out and spoke on Gen. Ham and Adm. Gaouette and did the right thing, but why didn’t any of the other admirals or generals come out and ask where Jim Mattis is on Benghazi?  Isn’t that their job?

“Why weren’t the Marines there, sir?”  Mattis might not have been in a position to do anything directly as a commanding officer in whatever position he was in, but as a Marine General who looks at this from the side, why didn’t he say, “Excuse me, but you can’t do that.”

I want to see the admirals and generals stand up when they’ve made a mistake and say, “We were wrong, we’re going to fix it, and we’re not going to do it again.”  In other words, hold themselves accountable.

These are some of the questions I have for Jim Mattis.

“How come you had Sgt. Hutchins locked up in a box for so long and allowed the NCIS to interrogate him for hours and hours?”

They can’t say I’m wrong about what happened in Samson, AL, because the Army Inspector General said the law was violated.

And then you have flag officers who did the right thing at the time – Adm. Gaouette and Gen. Ham – and they got fired.

The military is way too politicized, and when you have men and women in uniform at that level making decisions based upon the political outcome it may have for them and for the particular organizations they are working for, you have the wrong people in the job.

Where in the world was Gen. Mattis on issues like that?

If you’re going to drain the swamp, Mr. Trump, you don’t do that by picking out one bad apple and throwing in  three or four more.

I don’t think the Trump people have looked into this closely enough.

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