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January 16, 2010

US Army soldier facing questionable(?) child porn charges

A helpful reader alerted me to this notable local story, which is headlined "Galesburg soldier being held overseas on child porn charges: Family says they e-mailed photos of niece and 24-year-old did nothing wrong."  Here are the basic details:

The parents of a Galesburg soldier charged with possessing child pornography in Afghanistan say he did nothing wrong and are furious about the way he is being treated by military authorities.  The U.S. Army has charged Spc. Billy Miller, 24, with possession of child pornography and a related charge of failure to obey an order that troops in Afghanistan not possess pornography.

Army spokesman Lt. Mary J. Pekas declined to discuss details of the case or evidence against Miller.  She said the charge is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.  Miller's unit returned to Illinois in August, according to the National Guard, but the Army said he remains in Afghanistan, awaiting the end of his case and possible court martial. "Spc. Miller is currently on active duty and assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Co., 82nd Airborne Division, pending the conclusion of the investigation and any potential legal proceedings," the Army's media center in Bagram, Afghanistan, said in a brief, unsigned e-mail statement.

Miller's mother, Terri, said the family e-mailed their son pictures of his 4-year-old niece last summer to ease his homesickness. Relatives say Billy Miller became close to the girl after she was diagnosed with a serious illness while her own father was away for military training. The pictures were taken by Terri Miller and the girl's mother at the girl's birthday party last summer, said Rodney Miller, the soldier's father.

The pictures show the child in a swimsuit playing in a wading pool and sitting on a truck. In one, the girl is wearing a swimsuit and part of her buttocks are exposed, according to The Associated Press. The pictures were on the soldier's laptop, which the Army has confiscated.

Terri and Rodney Miller said they are angry with the way they and their son have been treated by the military.  They said they are worried about the toll the allegations have taken on Billy Miller....

Terri Miller said she had great respect for members of the armed services, but the way her son's case was being handled had changed her mind about the military. "This is nothing against the troops," she said, "but the military can go to hell."...

A military spokesman in Afghanistan said charges were made against Billy Miller on Jan. 5, stemming from an investigation that began last August. The military spokesman said no timeline has been determined as to when a hearing will begin.

The Millers believe that one of Billy Miller's friends in Afghanistan, whom he had fallen out with, had reported seeing inappropriate pictures on the specialist's laptop. Terri Miller showed GateHouse News Service text messages from soldiers in the unit that suggested he was the victim of a personal vendetta.

January 16, 2010 at 01:51 PM | Permalink

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Comments

It is my understanding that as a result of the investigation they discovered additional adult pornography. Under General Order #1, it is an offense under Article 92, UCMJ, to have any pornography in the AOR (along with alcohol and a lot of other things). The rationale is to assuage the sensitivities and avoid legal problems with local laws.
That said, this particular prosecution seems substantially different than the other pornography cases I'm seeing from Iraq and A/Stan.
Cheers, a civilian military defense attorney.

Posted by: mljucmj | Jan 16, 2010 2:59:45 PM

This is a case where the failure to demand total e-discovery of the prosecutor, the judge, and the entire command, up to Central Command, constitutes defense lawyer malpractice.

A study of pornography had to be canceled because it required a control group of males who did not download porn. Not one control subject could be found.

There is also an odor of an improper motive. If one is really concerned about local sensitivities, one warns; one demands removal; one confiscates the laptop. One does not arrest the person and make headlines back home.

What bogus feminist sexual harassment gotcha is to rape, this case is to the production of child porn. The outrageous and exaggerated lawyer gotcha will discredit the campaign against the real crime.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jan 16, 2010 3:46:44 PM

"the girl is wearing a swimsuit and part of her buttocks are exposed"

Sounds like the old "tan don't burn get a coppertone tan ad." I guess to avoid porn charges we have to dress our children in burkas before we take their pictures.

Posted by: K | Jan 16, 2010 4:52:27 PM

The pictures described in the article don't sound like pornography to me, so he should contest the charges. If there's more to it, as our first commenter suggests, then of course it's a different matter.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jan 16, 2010 4:53:44 PM

This is a case where the failure to demand total e-discovery of the prosecutor, the judge, and the entire command, up to Central Command, constitutes defense lawyer malpractice.

SC: This is a rough statement to make based on some news reports. I speak as a retired Navy judge advocate and now in private practice having done nothing but military law and courts-martial practice for the last 31 years. I work closely on a daily basis with young, hard-working, ethical, and committed judge advocates from all of the five Armed Services -- many of them deployed to the same AOR, and some of whom have lost their lives or been seriously wounded. An IED doesn't distinguish between a grunt with a rifle or a lawyer or a chaplain or a doctor. You may visit me at www.court-martial.com if you like. I will assume you are unfamiliar with practice in courts-martial. Defense lawyers are not assigned to representation until charges are preferred. This can often be months after the investigation begins and is completed and after the prosecution has had time to put its case together. Also, I'm not certain he was apprehended (the military term for arrest). That's not typically how it is done, although the NCIC records will later show "arrest." Should this case continue to trial there will be discovery. Military discovery based on Article 46, UCMJ, and case law back to the early beginnings of the current UCMJ (1950), requires substantially broader discovery than in a civilian case, see. eg., United States v. Enloe. And e-Discovery, I'm not exactly sure how that is relevant here -- to discover what exactly?

A study of pornography had to be canceled because it required a control group of males who did not download porn. Not one control subject could be found.

SC: Not sure this comment has relevance to the issue.

There is also an odor of an improper motive. If one is really concerned about local sensitivities, one warns; one demands removal; one confiscates the laptop. One does not arrest the person and make headlines back home.

SC: There have been multiple warnings about pornography, as well as unfortunately many cases. The warnings begin in pre-deployment training with instruction on the specifics of General Order #1. A GO is part of the law. There is also regular information given on "prohibited items."

What bogus feminist sexual harassment gotcha is to rape, this case is to the production of child porn. The outrageous and exaggerated lawyer gotcha will discredit the campaign against the real crime.

SC: This is not lawyer gotcha. I would expect that someone how the issue was reported as a suspected CP case. Having done many of these -- admittedly all in the military -- this is a typical scenario. A person becomes a suspect, the computer is seized, and initial review is conducted, and in a true CP case, there will be found lots of information to support a prosecution such as URL's, images, search history, recovered images or portions of images, registry information. The lawyers do not get involved until later in the process after the CID investigation.

However, your one point about this being a distraction from finding and prosecuting CP'ers -- makers or users -- seems valid in this case. I'm assuming the only "CP" is that from the family. To me this is an Article 15, UCMJ, case. That is unless the command knows something we don't and which isn't being reported. Not every CP case has to go to court and the person jail. I think it terribly unfortunate that the family did what they thought was a good thing and now the kid is in trouble. There is a 400 day boots-on-the-ground policy for personnel deploying the Iraq and A/Stan. He's been there 17 months (?). There's a reason for the policy.

Sincerely.

Posted by: mljucmj | Jan 16, 2010 5:06:26 PM

if the only thing on the machine is the photo's of his niece as described...his family has every right to shoot any military leader they can find. This sex histeria has went on far far far too long and has now even starting to destroy what's left of our military. Time to end it. Even if it means some politicans and politician/generals have to leave this earth.

Posted by: rodsmith3510 | Jan 16, 2010 5:34:28 PM

mljucmj: I admit it, you are a human being with self-interests. I would argue you got your job not from defendants, but from the prosecutors and judges. You are therefore biased against any substantive tactic that will deter their bogus and false prosecutions. An example would be their own personal destruction. But, as they seek to destroy your client's life, so should their futures face uncertainty from aggressive counter attacks by the defense. In e-discovery demanded of the prosecutors and judges personal and work computers, you will find a ton of porn, and if a federal computer, a ton of child porn. Upon such findings, I would call the MP's and demand the prosecutor and judge be arrested. You will never do that because you would lose your job. But your duty to provide zealous representation mandates such aggressiveness. Anything less is disloyal to the client.

As to the status of the prosecutor and judge, they are government lazy rent seeking low lifes deserving no human consideration. They are traitors protecting terrorists and harassing our warriors with false gotchas. Come the next major terror attack, all should be swept away. Arrest, try, and hang the terrorist collaborators hobbling our warriors. These traitors are canceling military decisions down to the squad level. There should be zero tolerance for PC, for enablement of the enemy. If a civilian politician scapegoats a member of the military, that politician must be hounded by patriotic direct action groups, hounded out of office.

Eventually, the terrorist will detonate an atomic bomb in a city, thanks to the betrayal of the lawyer. It will be at that time that 1776 could be over. Ultimately, you are delaying that eventuality and saving our nation by deterring the internal enemy.

The lawyer has opened another front on our heroes. The lawyer must be stopped. If there is no legal recourse, another way should be found.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jan 16, 2010 7:44:47 PM

If the lawyer has self-dealt total immunity, the sole remedy is self-help.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jan 16, 2010 8:27:08 PM

mtj:

Two quick questions:

1) What impact do you think this being a guardsman vs. regular army has played in to the investigation and potential charging decisions?

2) How prevalent are these type of prosecutions? I would think if this guy was a good soldier at the company or battalion level someone might have gone to bat for him, he received a reprimand or an article 15 and that be the end of it.

Posted by: withheld | Jan 16, 2010 10:07:23 PM

That should have read

mtj:

Two quick questions:

1) What impact do you think this being a guardsman vs. regular army has played in to the investigation and potential charging decisions?

2) How prevalent are these type of prosecutions? I would think if this guy was a good soldier at the company or battalion level someone might have gone to bat for him, and he received (at worst) a reprimand or an article 15 and that be the end of it.

(sorry about the typos, long week)

Posted by: withheld | Jan 16, 2010 10:08:54 PM

mljucmj --

Do you happen to have any info on the Blackwater case recently tossed out by Judge Urbina? I know the defendants were contractors, but I thought you might know something about it beyond what's available in the press. Thanks.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jan 16, 2010 11:09:40 PM

1) What impact do you think this being a guardsman vs. regular army has played in to the investigation and potential charging decisions?

Not sure. Except in my experience the NG and Reserve units are less experienced in military justice matters and tend to over-react. Active duty units and their JAGs seem to have a better triage system. Others may have a different view, but that's my perception on dealing with cases and the units there. I've been going there and/or dealing with cases there since 2003. I will say that around 2005/6 I started to see more of a garrison mentality. It's more like Korea, Germany, Japan - an overseas garrison mentality.

2) How prevalent are these type of prosecutions? I would think if this guy was a good soldier at the company or battalion level someone might have gone to bat for him, and he received (at worst) a reprimand or an article 15 and that be the end of it.

I agree. A good soldier tends to get a break before the 10/90 soldier. A lot is being done by Article 15. Regrettably there's lot of porn around, including CP. The big issue is how is it getting on to computers. In this kids case, a very unfortunate circumstance. I think they have better monitoring and filtering over there for CP, so any CP is generally getting carried there.

No background info on the Blackwater case, sorry. Within our community we've been discussing Blackwater more in comparison with the one actual and four potential court-martial cases of civilians under the UCMJ. Article 2 was amended a few years ago, but it would not have included Xe employees.

Posted by: mljucmj | Jan 16, 2010 11:51:55 PM

This Article 15 stuff is bullshit. Lawyers are coming after our warriors from all sides. They must be stopped. Make the embedded commissar go into the cave first. Make them test the road for IED's. Send them to negotiate with the warlords, so they can get their throats cut. Get rid of the traitor.

Porn is a good reason to fight. No porn under the Taliban. Porn should be distributed to all Taliban recruits. "Not virgins in heaven. Strippers here on earth. All you can get, just shoot your Taliban commander. They love you long time." The feminist traitors will not allow effective psyops.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jan 17, 2010 1:42:49 AM

Since the parents sent the photo to the guardsman, they have a copy. Publish it. Send it to their Senators. Send it by email to hundreds of people. Put it on a bulletin board in Galesburg. Next to the Coppertone bulletin board.

Posted by: mpb | Jan 17, 2010 5:07:51 PM

i agee with you mpb i'd plaster those photo's around the world to show just what a bunch of two-faced idiots we now have running our govt. It would then be time for them to putup or shutup and drop the charges. Either SHOW anything that might realy be illegal or surrender. Of course they have now had his property for days if not WEEKS. No telling WHAT they have hidden just incase it all blows up in their faces.

Posted by: rodsmith3510 | Jan 17, 2010 11:59:02 PM

Excellent, MPB.

Send the pic to the military prosecutor, and the defense lawyer. Send it to the judges, then call the MP's and have them arrested.

The naked three year old girl does not sexually arouse the average male. Sexual reactions would not even enter the mind of the normal male.

That the prosecutor found the picture to be child porn, that implies he found it arousing. He should be investigated for pedophilia, and all his federal computers should be have a forensic examination for child porn.

Do the same for the judges. These are the biased oppressors of the public, government slackers, harassing our warriors. They are the lowest of the low, lower than the Taliban.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jan 18, 2010 12:42:18 AM

Self-loathing hypocrites in positions of power? What a concept, SC... brings to mind the closeted gay Republicans in Congress and the Bush Administration leading the charge to thwart gay-rights efforts.

This case seeems to affirm what I've long suspected. And that is this: virtually all of us are no more than a malicious tip away from being thrown kicking and screaming into the investigation-prosecution meat grinder.

The sadest part of the story for me was when the accused guardsman's mother felt compelled (as we all are these days) to courtesy or bow to "the troops" before uttering anything even remotely unkind about the military.


Posted by: John K | Jan 18, 2010 10:54:27 AM

oops...incomplete version got sent...

Self-loathing hypocrites in positions of power? What a concept, SC... brings to mind the closeted gay Republicans in Congress and the Bush Administration in the vanguard of efforts to thwart gay-rights.

This case seems to affirm what I've long suspected. And that is this: virtually all of us are no more than a malicious tip away from being thrown kicking and screaming into the investigation-prosecution meat grinder.

It also suggests few real differences exist in the mindset of “the authorities,” be they civilian or military. The driving impulse is toward “apprehension,” conviction and punishment. The mythical presumption of innocence seldom enters the equation in any meaningful way.

In the jaded, macho, arm-punching culture of law enforcement, apparently nobody ever wants to be the guy who says, “Hey, this looks like a picture his mother might have sent to him, not child porn. Maybe we should just leave him alone.”

No, if the photo somehow falls short of the vague, sweeping salacious-content threshold required to put him away…the authorities almost certainly will have found evidence of some other crime with which to dispatch him to prison…in fact it appears they already have.

For me the saddest part of the story was when the accused guardsman's anguished mother felt compelled (as we all are these days) to courtesy or bow to "the troops" before uttering anything even remotely unkind about the military.

The military, and indeed “the troops,” are no different than any other organization. In my four years in the military I met some of the finest people I’ve ever known, but I also met lots of miserable, thuggish, mean-spirited jerks.

Posted by: John K | Jan 18, 2010 10:58:01 AM

John: Good analogy. Take the loudest protester, and you find the target of his protest underneath. A high Inquisitor has Jewish blood, as does a very high official in the Nazi Party.

Take me. I acknowledge that effect, I love the lawyer.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jan 18, 2010 12:27:27 PM

John K --

"This case seems to affirm what I've long suspected. And that is this: virtually all of us are no more than a malicious tip away from being thrown kicking and screaming into the investigation-prosecution meat grinder."

Quite so. Tips should be ignored. Cops and prosecutors should not bother themselves to look into it if a citizen brings them information that someone they know is stealing from his employer or using his house to molest children. As we all -- or at least you -- know, stuff like that never happens, so any tip must be mere malice, not anything worth investigating.

Now that we know that investigations are nothing but malevolence-driven "meat grinders," we also know there shouldn't be any. Or, if perchance you think they should be, perhaps you could sketch out the criteria police should use to decide when to toss someone into the "meat grinder" and when, instead, to let them go on their merry criminal way.

The fact is that you just don't take crime seriously. This has been clear since you were outraged at a sentence of three months' home confinement for the crooked mortgage broker who made it hand over fist by passing on dozens of dishonest loan applications. The only way you could object to such paltry punishment -- indeed barely punishment at all -- is that if you think he DIDN'T DO ANYTHING WRONG by hiding the fact that the applicants were unlikely, sometimes extremely unlikely, to repay the loan. Is that what you think?

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jan 20, 2010 12:04:26 AM

Bill,

The set up for the thread contains context for the offending "malicious tip" observation. Did you read it?

And each time you summarize the case against the "crooked mortgage broker" I have to wonder if you ever actually read what I wrote about the case initially.

Allow me try again to disabuse you of your DOJ-strawman fantasy version of the case.

The broker earned standard commissions. Nearly all of the apps he handled were from property investors buying multiple properties they could readily afford.

Basically the broker was convicted for following the "victim" lender's instructions on how to handle the apps.

The lender was aware at all times what was in the apps and what wasn't. Everything was fully disclosed. And the broker's attorney checked of on each of the apps. Even the lender didn't consider the broker an adversary in the matter; it dropped him from its RICO suit.

There were omissions but nothing was deliberately falsified, and the info the lender considered determinative (debt ratios and credit scores) was in the apps.

At worst, the broker and lender should have been co-defendants in the case...perhaps on a not crossing the t's and dotting the i's charge, not an elaborate, splashy bogus RICO case...which, if you'll recall, came to nothing anyway.

So, yes. To me, and probably to anyone not embued with prosecutorial sensibilities, the broker's actions didn't merit a felony conviction and a restitution order he could never pay in four lifetimes. (because prosecutors dropped the "organized crime" case against 17 individuals and businesses after rolling three small fish (including the broker) for proffers that were never subsequently used).

Posted by: John K | Jan 20, 2010 9:30:36 AM

John K --

It might be best if you could post the transcript of the plea-taking proceeding, so we can have a first-hand, under-oath accounting of what the defendant admitted to doing. Your characterizing it one way and my characterizing it a different way doesn't settle much. Let's quit the characterizing and see the original source, if you please.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jan 20, 2010 5:13:13 PM

http://www.topix.net/forum/source/wqad/TLHKH0REIPIP6PRVL


Army: soldier's charge NOT connected to family e-mail

Posted by: Captain Obvious | Jan 21, 2010 8:06:11 AM

Bill,

You pride yourself on being honest. So are you honestly suggesting plea transcripts typically (or even occasionally) reflect what actually happened...as opposed to highly leveraged, prosecutor-friendly edits of the government’s original hyperbolic, incendiary narratives?

Because I have to say, the kabuki dances I've seen play out in the formation of plea agreements were perhaps the least honest, most overtly sinister aspects of the cases.

Nonetheless, my writing project focuses a good deal of attention and detail on what ended up in the broker's plea agreement and what the facts suggest occurred. And of course I'm still hoping you'll agree to look it over and react to it before I submit it to whatever fate ultimately awaits it.

BTW: The broker's case is far from being the only one that brought me to views you find appalling and far-fetched.

In fact it's pretty tame compared to the story of the loan officer convicted for orchestrating a conspiracy that unfolded while he was five states away on a two-week hunting trip...or the appraiser cajoled and nudged by a fellow appraiser working for the FBI into "inflating" an appraisal to the figure the FBI's appraiser approved in order to avoid scuttling a big, complicated deal.

Posted by: John K | Jan 21, 2010 12:58:10 PM

I am a Two tour Viet Nam Vet ! and I'm outraged by what this new army has become ! We had our PLAYBOY, HUSTLER, and other magizines and NO one ever was court marshaled over looking at them !

This Army has tuned into a Boy Scott Troop, and the CID thinks they are the den mothers !!

These guys are MEN & WOMEN who are defending us, the least we can do is let them look at ADULT Pictuers,.??

I am a Retired SFC / E-7 and When I was in the service, it was MY Job to take care of MY troops, (The ones that I had resposibility for) and IF one of Mine got into a Legal Jam ! I was there for him/her. In this new Army, even the Officers and NCO's turn their back on a soldier being accused of possessing Porn, they don't want any of that to rub off on them !!

Well I think I have said my piece?

Any Comments from other Vets ./

Posted by: Joseph Scalza | Jan 28, 2010 9:31:08 AM

Jerry Baker is a priest in Iowa and a member of carnal nation defending this rat bassturd for having nudie pics of children

Posted by: Captain Obvious | Feb 5, 2010 9:25:06 AM

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