Lt. Colonel Ken Pinkela, whom I interviewed here for our story “Military Justice?", was accused and convicted in a military court martial of exposing another soldier to HIV. He was given a one year jail term and is currently on appellate leave without pay.
He recently forwarded me a copy of his February 2015 letter to John M. McHugh asking for a review of his case. (McHugh is the 21st United States Secretary of the Army and a former Republican politician from the state of New York, who represented the state's 23rd congressional district in the United States House of Representatives.)
Dear Secretary McHugh
My name is US Army Lieutenant Colonel Kenneth A. R. Pinkela. I am writing to request your personal assistance to save my life, my family and my career; but also the integrity of the United States Army.
Sir, I am attaching 72,983 signatures and comments in support for a national campaign to ask you to review a wrongful prosecution that occurred in June 2012 there in the Military District of Washington.
The basis for my direct petition to you is two fold.
First, I was denied every right to a fair, thorough process and with help of my attorneys have been desperately trying to prove this.
It is documented that there was never a full and thorough investigation of my accuser or the allegations against me. I even tried to assist the process by both volunteering for a polygraph examination and a DNA type test known as a “phylogenetic test” which is currently used by the DOD medical system and will demonstrate that my HIV strain was NOT that of my accuser….BOTH of these measures were denied by the Staff Judge Advocate and the Commander of the Military District of Washington. In 2012, after nearly 4+ years of "no activity” in my case, and a direct, personal appeal and personal conversation with GEN Dempsey, the Army prosecutor said, “You are HIV+ so it must have been you…”
Second, on 2 October 2014, the prosecutions primary witness against me approached me directly, and also went “public”, with his emotional plea to recant his testimony over issues he has described as “being lied to by the Army prosecutor”…”being threatened to testify even though he did not know my accuser or me” and a description of how this ordeal has ruined his life throwing him into years of alcohol abuse and therapy, but with the help of his own family and friends wants to do everything possible to overturn my case.”
Sir, every single outside review, of my record of trial, has proven to be exactly the same…utter disbelief and anger that “this” could happen in our Army.
Just yesterday, 19 February 2015, the US Army War College had the courage to admit that dishonesty and deception are prevalent in our Army. A sad, but powerful report that MUST be used to my a review of my case and the entire UCMJ process. We cannot tolerate or allow lives to be destroyed with false allegations.
I want to be very clear, I do not want to make this about my accuser…the evidence is and was available, including his own sworn Article 32 testimony that he admitted to lying, stealing and identity theft…It is my personal conviction that the young man will have to live with his own actions…
Again, the purpose of my request, is to have my name cleared, my career and my retirement restored and for lessons learned from my case to bring desperately needed change to the military justice system and process.
Sir, I love my Army…even after all of this. I gave my life to my Nation and to my Army. That’s all been taken away and I am truly innocent.
My boss from G3-FM, COL Mike Linnick, who you knew very well, reviewed my record and testified at your Secretary of the Army Clemency Board back in June 2012. Colonel Linnick did this not out of loyalty to me, but out of loyalty to the Army we all gave our lives to serve. I hope you will see the transcript from that hearing in which COL Linnick told your representatives, “we got this one wrong.”
Sir, you may not remember me, but I met with you numerous times on Capitol Hill while you were a Member of Congress and I was the Legislative Liaison for the Army to the House of Representatives and in many Force Structure (TAA) briefings.
I am asking you as “the" senior leader in our Army, as a man of integrity and deep personal conviction...I deserve a fair review.
Sir, we have nothing to lose and everything to gain by honoring my request.
I am asking you to appoint a trusted representative to look into my case and ask the tough questions. The truth is there.
It is NOT my will/intent to embarrass the Army in anyway, on the contrary, as a proud Force Manager (FA50) I know “change” is always hard, but we MUST do everything possible to ensure the Trust and Integrity of our soldiers and civilians that make up our great Army.
We can all learn and grow from this, and I want our Army to be better from this, but I have got to have your support in making this happen.
The lawyers are going to tell you “time” has passed for new evidence…we must not accept this “excuse”…there should NEVER be a time limit on the truth.
Sir, Congress has entrusted you, as the Service Secretary, with the ultimate Title X authority as the final approval authority of my case, and the sad recommendation to dismiss my 26+ years of service, as an officer, from the roles.
It is from that authority, I am asking you to demand a full review, so that YOU have ALL of the FACTS, to be FULLY informed and enable you to do the right thing for my family, for me and for the Army.
Kenneth A. R. Pinkela LTC, USA