Tuesday, April 15, 2014

One More Thing

Of this much we're certain: avowed (and former KKK leader) F. Glenn Miller will be convicted on murder charges in connection with Sunday's shooting rampage in Overland Park, Kansas.  And, unless he cops a plea deal, Miller will almost certainly receive the death penalty.  So, assuming that God doesn't intervene, Miller will receive final justice in about 10-12 years, sometime around his 86th birthday.

We can only hope.  Given his vile existence (and the barbarity of his crimes), Miller deserves a long stretch on death row before his date with the "hot shot," even if they have to wheel him to the death chamber.  Miller deserves nothing less for opening fire at a rest home and community center, killing three people.  A vicious anti-Semite, Miller thought he was targeting Jews at the two facilities.  As it turned out, all of Miller's victims were Christians; a 69-year-old family care physician and his 14-year-old grandson (who were attending a singing competition), and a 53-year-old woman who had gone to visit her mother at the Village Shalom retirement center.  All innocent victims of an evil man.

Clearly, capital punishment was tailor-made for someone like Miller.  But there's one more sanction that officials should pursue: once convicted, strip Miller of his military pension.

Sad to report, but F. Glenn Miller retired from the U.S. Army as a Master Sergeant (E-8) back in 1979.  Various reports indicate that Miller spent 20 years on active duty, most of them as a Green Beret.  However, we've found no confirmation that Miller was ever a member of special forces and the Army has released no information on his military service.  The Southern Poverty Law Center claims that Miller was forced to put in his retirement papers because of racist activities while in uniform. 

But the SPLC has long claimed that the armed forces are infested with white supremacists, klan members and other hate-mongers (while ignoring the activities of Islamists and gang-bangers in the ranks).  So, it's not surprising that the group was quick to highlight Miller's military ties. 

On the other hand, it is disturbing to think that a convicted felon like Glenn Miller may be collecting a federal retirement check.  Miller was found guilty on criminal contempt charges in North Carolina during the 1980s, but was granted bond while the conviction was appealed.  Miller subsequently disappeared and was later re-arrested on weapons charges.  He served three years in federal prison, receiving a reduced sentence for agreeing to testify against 14 other white supremacists.  Miller later worked as a truck driver and his activities in recent years have largely consisted of penning and disseminating racist literature. 

Ordinarily, that federal conviction 20 years ago should have been enough to strip Miller of his military pension.  But the justice system is notoriously reluctant to take that step.  Consider the case of former Congressman (and retired Navy officer) Randy "Duke" Cunningham.  No one would describe him as a racist, but he did go to prison on corruption charges, convicted of taking millions of dollars in bribes and illegal gifts.  Cunningham received both his Congressional and military pensions while behind bars.  At one point in 2007, CNN reported that 20 former members of Congress (and senior government officials) were collecting federal pension checks while incarcerated.

In fact, it's almost impossible to strip a convicted military retiree or government bureaucrat of their pension, unless they're convicted of treason or other charges relating to national security.  And even then, the lines sometimes blur.  When FBI turncoat Robert Hanssen was sentenced to life in prison for espionage in 2002, his wife was allowed to keep the "survivor's portion" of his FBI pension.  For lesser criminals, federal laws mandate even mandate the restoration of full disability benefits after their release. 

So, it's a pretty good bet that F. Glenn Miller kept collecting his check during his previous stay in the big house, and he'll keep getting paid while he awaits trial for murder.  His crimes are horrific; the fact that he will collect a military pension while in prison are an insult to Miller's victims and taxpayers.

The Social Security Administration, never known for being a model of efficiency, suspends benefits for anyone who is incarcerated more than 30 days.  Their system is far from perfect, but the reasoning behind it is perfectly sound, and it should be extended to other federal payment programs.  Once convicted, there is no reason that someone like F. Glenn Miller should continue to receive a monthly check from the U.S. government.  Return it to the treasury, or give it to the families of his victims.  The current system, which all-but-guarantees payment until he draws his last breath, is simply outrageous.                


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