Thursday, February 23, 2017

Our reports on Ashley Madison customers tend to draw disparaging comments, but U.S. military has learned sexual misconduct damages big organizations

David Haight (right), the "swinging general"
Each time we publish a post about a customer of the Ashley Madison extramarital-affairs Web site, you can count on it drawing a few disparaging comments from readers who apparently find our reporting distasteful. The comments, almost always anonymous, tend to go something like this: "You are just shaming people and hurting families. These are private people, and their sex lives are none of your business."

I suspect quite a few of the comments come from people who are on the Ashley Madison (AM) list or know someone who is on the list. In other words, they want to discourage my reporting out of fear they will be outed. I've also seen evidence that some of the comments come from individuals associated with Ashley Madison itself. The company is based in Toronto Canada, and my blog statistics show quite a few comments coming from a server at "Bank of Canada, Ottawa Ontario." We're not sure why the traffic would be routed through a bank, but we do know the Ashley Madison "enterprise" is built on deceit, so it's possible many of our negative comments come from individuals who are paid to harass the only journalist in North America (or anywhere else) to look closely at AM's customer base.

On the assumption that at least a few of the comments are from people who genuinely disagree with our editorial pursuits . . . well, I offer them the U.S. Army. I also offer them the U.S. Air Force.

According to recent reports, the Army is so concerned about sexual misconduct among senior officers that it appointed a three-star officer to investigate the matter. Why? Because sexual misconduct among leaders has hurt the organization and threatens to cause even more damage -- much the way behavior linked to Ashley Madison has, or could, hurt organizations in the private sector.

That is especially true when you consider that our reporting has focused on professional elites -- lawyers, physicians, bankers, engineers, wealth managers, IT executives, etc. While one could label them private figures, they also make decisions every day that affect the public. Their missteps certainly can fracture individual families, but they also have the potential to harm all of us, by causing dysfunction in large organizations that serve the public.

The U.S. Army has learned that lesson, and it's trying to do something about it. From a report at USA Today:

The Army has named a three-star officer to review its burgeoning problem of sexual misconduct among senior officers and the shocking suicide [last] summer of a top general, Army Secretary Eric Fanning told USA TODAY.

The Army also instituted a new procedure that prompts the review of the security clearances of top brass to be triggered by investigations of misconduct, Fanning said Friday. The new approach to clearances, which grant troops and civilians access to national security secrets, stems from a USA TODAY report on a senior officer fired from his job last spring but allowed to retain his clearance for several months.

Lt. Gen. Edward Carbon will examine the recent spate of top officers felled by misdeeds, and, one, Maj. Gen. John Rossi, who killed himself, Fanning said.

“This has hit the general officer corps pretty hard,” Fanning said of the suicide.

How deep, or wide, is the Army's problems. For now, it's described as an "uptick," but the Army is trying to make sure it does not go beyond that:

Fanning stressed that the overall number of complaints lodged against the Army’s top officers and senior civilians has remained relatively low, and dipped in the most recent reporting period, fiscal year 2016, which ended on Sept. 30. The vast majority of that group of about 560 senior officials perform their duties honorably, he said.

Data do, however, show what Fanning referred to as “an uptick” in extramarital affairs and other misbehavior. An internal Army report found that “most concerning is that seven allegations of sexual misconduct, inappropriate relationships and sexual harassment were substantiated in FY16. This constituted a significant increase from the two allegations involving sexual misconduct that were substantiated in FY15. These types of cases have a significant negative impact on the Army and its image.” 
The Army has been rocked by several high-profile cases of top officers felled by extramarital affairs, carousing and suicide. Among the findings of investigators: Maj. Gen. David Haight, the “swinging general,” had an 11-year affair and led a “swinger lifestyle”; Maj. Gen. Ron Lewis, who had been the three-star adviser to Defense Secretary Ash Carter, frequented strip clubs, got drunk in public and had improper interactions with women; Rossi took his own life in July, just days before he was to be become a three-star general.

On February 8, the Army announced that Maj. Gen. Ron Lewis will be demoted to one star and retired. From a report at USA Today:

One of the Army’s most promising generals will be demoted to one star and retired following a scandal that involved sex clubs in Seoul and Rome, high-priced booze and indiscretions with young female troops, the Army announced Thursday.

Ron Lewis, who had been a three-star general and top aide to the then-Defense secretary Ash Carter, will also lose about $10,000 a year in pension payments due to the demotion.

The Pentagon Inspector General "substantiated allegations that Maj. Gen. Lewis misused his government travel charge card for personal expenses, made false official statements regarding his (credit card) misuse, and engaged in conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman on multiple occasions," Cynthia Smith, an Army spokeswoman, said in a statement.

The Army, it seems, is not trying to "shame" anyone; it is trying to protect its culture and its effectiveness:

Fanning speculated that the multiple combat tours over the last 15 years of soldiers like Haight, and their long absences from their families, may have contributed to their misconduct.

“We want to have a better understanding of the impact that has on our senior officers, and look for ways that we can mitigate any causes or linkages that we see,” Fanning said

The problem does not appear to be widespread, he said, but continual combat stress may be a common thread for those who violate military rules and laws.

“I don’t think there’s a problem because I don’t think the numbers bear that out,” Fanning said. “But if you look at that small subset of the general officer larger population, we want to understand why. My guess is there’s something systemic in there. We want to get at it and be preemptive about it.”

As for the Air Force, it stripped a retired four-star general of two ranks earlier this month and docked him $60,000 a year in pension payments after he was found to have had coerced sex with a subordinate officer. From a report at USA Today:

The rare move means that retired Gen. Arthur Lichte, who had led the Air Mobility Command until 2009, will be demoted to major general and see his retirement pay dip from about $216,000 per year to $156,000. His case is the latest in a string of general officers to be sacked or demoted in the last year for sex scandals.

Lichte's actions drew an extraordinary, stinging rebuke in a letter of reprimand in December from then-Air Force secretary Deborah James. James blasted Lichte for putting the officer “in a position in which she could have believed that she had no choice but to engage in these sex acts given your far superior grade, position, and significant ability to affect her career.”

James suggested Lichte, who is married, would have been court-martialed but that the statute of limitations of five years had lapsed. Lichte retired in 2010, but the Air Force began conducting an investigation in 2016 after it had received a complaint from the woman.

“You are hereby reprimanded!” James wrote, exclamation point hers, in the letter of Dec. 6, 2016. “Your conduct is disgraceful and, but for the statute of limitations bar to prosecution, would be more appropriately addressed through the Uniform Code of Military Justice.”

The military surely is wise to get a grip on the problem before it gets worse. The public would be wise to understand that sexual-misconduct is serious business -- the kind that can harm organizations, big and small.


Anonymous said...

The negative nellies on your Ashley Madison posts are frauds. They have self-interest in stopping your reporting, and it has nothing to do with concern about the subjects of your posts. Hope you keep at it. Important subject, without question.

Anonymous said...

I find your Ashley Madison posts both informative and entertaining. Two thumbs up!

Felder said...

Pretty interesting that the military considers sexual misconduct to be a big deal, but some of your readers think it's fine and dandy. Think I will side with the military on this one.

Anonymous said...

If you were outing fry cooks at Wendy's, I'd have a problem with that. But to out lawyers and CEOs and accountants and wealth managers . . . I think that's quite a hoot.

Anonymous said...

You are so nuts you can't see any distinction between the private sphere and the public.

Most of your "reporting" is pointless and just creepy and obsessive wrt other people's business.

Must have something to do with your paranoia.

Anonymous said...

I've got an important question. Has Tom Mancuso found someone to lick?

legalschnauzer said...

Looks like an Ashley Madison bug has crawled out from under his rock. And stats show the comment came from Hamilton Ontario Canada, not far from Ashley Madison HQ in Toronto. Hmmm.

Anonymous said...

What's really creepy is when someone who works for a creepy company like Ashley Madison posts an anonymous comment calling someone else creepy.

Anonymous said...

Ashley Madison can't shut you up, so they are just trying to harass you. Sounds to me like you are handling it pretty well. From living in Alabama, you have lots of experience at dealing with human cockroaches.

legalschnauzer said...

Thanks, @11:05. For the record, I've found lots of human cockroaches in Missouri, too. SW Missouri is just a colder, less pretty version of Alabama. There are a lot of reasons to live in Alabama, if you can avoid the legal and political scoundrels, which I did for more than 20 years. Problems only stared when Carol and I bought a house. I can't think of many, maybe any, reasons to live in SW Missouri. Family would be about the only reason, and I don't have that anymore. Springfield once was a nice town, but signs of decay are everywhere. And the right wingers are just as dense and corrupt as the ones in Alabama.

Anonymous said...

LS: The military is yet another big dysfunctional organization that is going to be shaken to its roots by the Net.

Anonymous said...

What a bizarre post. The army is a unique public organization. You've been targeted people some of which are self employed or own their own company! In any case don't you think its their employers job to decide whats relevant to their job?

Anonymous said...

Your mad to think that the Ashley Madison company are harassing you, they don't care about their customers clearly.

legalschnauzer said...

@12:21 --

I didn't say they care about their customers. And they certainly don't care about me because I'm not one of their customers. But they do care about their bottom line, and my reporting likely enhances the chances that they will be found liable for major damages in consolidated federal lawsuit.

It's all about money, as usual, and they seem as hurting their bottom line.

legalschnauzer said...

@12:19 --

Nothing bizarre about it. Army is a classic example of an organization that has been harmed by sexual misconduct. Same thing can happen in smaller, private companies that serve the public. It's not complicated. Sure, it's an employer's role to determine how to handle employees. It's my job to report news -- and employers can either ignore it or take action based on it.

Anonymous said...

The military did not discipline any service member for being on Ashley Madison. A little research on your part would have turned that up (they made a formal announcement) The fact that you are trying to equate being on a dating site with a sex crime is mind boggling. A General who has been charged with harassment/sex crime is not the same as a private citizen being on Ashley Madison. Being on Ashley Madison may not have been sexual misconduct at all. Many folks were swingers, curious or had legit reasons related to their marriage that someone with your black and white view of the world could not possibly understand. The reason you haven't been sued yet is because you have nothing of value and no one wants to give you the publicity of using the "free speech" banner as a means of justifying what I believe is criminal behavior and getting more donations. Of course, instead of trying to understand this you will spin some sort of strange justification or conspiracy.

legalschnauzer said...

@12:52 --

Is the cold freezing your bran cells up in Canada? The story doesn't say the service members were disciplined for being on Ashley Madison. It says they were disciplined for sexual misconduct, including married officers cheating on their spouses -- the very thing that Ashley Madison promotes. The article doesn't say the officers committed sex crimes. Again, you simply can't read. I assume that's because you are being paid by Ashley Madison to harass. I haven't been sued because my reporting is 100 percent acccurate and lawful. Anyone who sues me knows they would be hit with a countersuit and sanctions for bringing a bogus case. A lawyer who brought such a bogus claim would be subject to losing his bar card.

Grow up, little child of the north.

Anonymous said...

This is a very bizarre post, if you can't see a distinction between the military and a civilian organization there is something very wrong.

Anonymous said...

This post misses the mark by so far its not even funny. As surely everyone knows adultery is an issue n the army as soldiers go on long tours away from their family and often families are left in the care of the military on camps while the soldier is away. Therefore its relevant to the very specific functioning of the military as a unique organization.

Your blog has been harassing private civilians a number of whom are divorced or even single. There is no logical connection between the two, I just don't get what you are on about.

Anonymous said...

I stumbled on this blog by accident today, after doing a google search for one of the lawyers featured in the Ashley Madison stories. I drew a case where this lawyer is my opponent, and I wanted to know about him so I typed his name into Google. This is standard procedure. I read the Ashley Madison coverage with fascination. But, I do have a criticism.

As someone who practices law and found this blog by accident and with no agenda, I find the Ashley Madison coverage deficient in its reliance on unnamed sources and unverified information. I am not a journalist, and cannot speak to journalism's standards for verification of information or vetting of the reliability of sources. But, as someone who has tried more than 50 cases to jury verdict, I can speak to the legal profession's standards. We have the law of evidence, which requires proper vetting of information before it can be submitted to a jury. Under the law of evidence, information (whether a document, statement, whatever) cannot be shown to the jury until the party seeking to admit the evidence establishes that it is reliable - this means, a witness has to testify what the document/statement/information is, what its source is. Even then, the evidence may be excluded if it is hearsay because hearsay statements are deemed unreliable regardless of their source.

This blog's Ashley Madison reporting would flunk even the most liberal application of the rules of evidence. Mr. Shuler says trusted IT professionals have assured him of the reliability and accuracy of the information, but he does not claim he personally gathered, reviewed or verified the information. To the contrary, he has admitted he cannot do so even if he tried. And, he does not say who the IT professionals are. In a court of law, this would not be enough. Mr. Shuler would need to identify the IT professionals, and in fact the IT professionals would need to appear and testify about how they gathered the information. Even then, the evidence would still be hearsay. And there would likely by concerns stemming from the fact that this data was stolen.

In short, even one of Mr. Shuler's Ashley Madison stories has more hearsay and otherwise inadmissible information than a lawyer will see in months spent in a courtroom. If a trial was held on the issue of whether anyone "unmasked" here was a customer of Ashley Madison, the case would not even reach the jury based on the lack of admissible evidence.

Mr. Shuler: this reporting standard may satisfy the protocols for assuring the accuracy of information and integrity of sources that govern your profession. I don't know about journalism. But, your reporting would not see the light of day in a court of law. I think this is a significant concern because the effect of your reporting is to ruin people's reputations.

legalschnauzer said...

1:53 --

You don't get it because you probably are being paid by Ashley Madison, or someone connected to them, not to get it -- to play dumb, essentially, and you do that fairly well. Almost all comments of this type come from servers in Canada (home of Ashley Madison) or Omaha, Nebraska. Not sure about the Omaha connection, but you clearly are part of an organized harassment campaign that has been going on for months. Bottom line: You aren't fooling anybody, least of all me.

Anonymous said...

Jeez, that really is the paranoia speaking there Roger. How can you possibly know there is an organized campaign? There is no evidence of that what so ever. You'd hope a journalist would be more evidence based.

The truth is your reporting is way outside the bounds of common decency and people are complaining. Its the reason that scribd deleted your account.

I notice you didn't even attempt to engage with the arguments those posters were making and instead blamed it on a conspiracy. You remind me of someone else, our dear leader Trump.

legalschnauzer said...

@2:41 --

It's not paranoia. You don't know, or have forgotten, that the operator of a Web site can learn a lot about visitors/commenters, etc. I know the comments, many of them, are coming from Ashley Madison country. That's fact. Also, I'm not going to waste my time engaging in "arguments" with commenters who have no argument and no credibility, and keep making the same debunked points over and over -- to the point that it's clear many are bots.

If someone really wants a comment to run here, it's simple. Give us your name, affiliation, and general location, and we will pay attention. If we have questions about your legitimacy, be willing to back it up by communicating with us via phone or e-mail. That's the entry fee for being a contrarian. If you aren't willing to pay it, and insist on us buying your feces from an unknown source, forget it.

I've worked hard to build a relationship of trust with my readers, and I'm not going to subject them to the ravings of anonymous con artists. If you don't like that, go elsewhere. You won't be missed.

legalschnauzer said...

@2:27 --

If, in fact, you are a lawyer, you aren't a very smart one. This blog is an extended piece of journalism, over almost 10 years. I have no obligation to follow the rules of court, and neither does any other journalist. If this were a court, it would be easy to establish that the records in my possession are the actual documents from Ashley Madison. Not one person has even attempted to prove otherwise, and neither have you. There is not a single Ashley Madison story based on unnamed sources or unverified information. Prior to publication, every subject has been given the opportunity to comment or respond to questions. Some have taken us up on that, most have not.

Even you admit that you know little about journalism, and that clearly is true. I guess that's why you try to make it a court case when it isn't one. Pretty much makes your comment pointless

Anonymous said...

It's funny to see Ashley Madison bots try to defend the indefensible. Bottom line: Their business model is to promote extramarital affairs, and this is disgusting. People will have affairs, but to encourage that and make a profit from it is sick -- and these commenters are sickos, on the same level as pimps.

They remind me of that Milo character who got in trouble by essentially trying to defend or promote pedophilia. Why doesn't Ashley Madison create a new site to do that?

BTW, no way any of these people will give their real name. They are ashamed to be associated with AM, but they try to defend it anyway. Get a life, folks!

Anonymous said...

The Air Force secretary didn't see sexual misconduct as a small matter. She ripped that dude a new a-hole. Of course, maybe that's because she's a woman, and she fails to see the humor or "guys being guys" quality in such behavior.

Anonymous said...

@3:30 PM That airforce case was sexual harassment, completely different.

Pierre LaFleur said...

Roger, you're full of it. You can keep lying to your readers but not everyone is that dumb. Blogger's dashboard doesn't show you the location of your traffic. Bank of Ottowa. LOL

legalschnauzer said...


You are the one who is full of it. I didn't say I use Blogger Dashboard. I use another service that most certainly does reveal traffic location, and many of my anti-AM comments come from a server located at Bank of Canada (not Ottawa; see, you can't even get that right).

Anonymous said...

February 23, 2017 at 3:29 PM A/M might be a scummy or scammy site, but this site isn't focusing on thet, but trying to "expose" private people - and their families when they don't respond to his nutty mails is offensive, and the "journalism" is pointless - there isn't any matter of public concern, he can't be sure the people he writes about were even the actual users of the a/m accounts.

Roger Shuler is hardly a model of public decency - he's not a respecter of even the agreements he signs, the attempts of people to help him, or the authority of the courts he abuses when it suits him and rejects when it does not. My impression, is his approach of these private people smacks of blackmail, because he seems to run with stories when people try to ignore him. Who knows what really goes on in that addled paranoid brain of his, but what he does is not journalism, it's not even interesting tabloid fodder.

Anonymous said...

Curious comment, @9:03. Let's see if you can answer a few questions:

(1) What credentials do you have to evaluate any form of journalism? How do you know it isn't a matter of public concern, especially given the subjects of our posts all are in positions that use public facilities or cater to the public? If sexual misconduct is not a concern, why is the U.S. military concerned about it?

(2) What signed agreements have I not respected? Who has tried to help me, in your estimation? What courts, when issuing orders in line with the law, have I abused? How is it abusive to report accurately on matters of public corruption? Can you point to an order I've shown was unlawful that was, in fact, lawful? Give that one a shot. Can't wait to see your answer.

(3) How is it "blackmail" to give the subject of an article the opportunity to comment on an article and then run with it when they don't respond? Do you even know what blackmail is? Just ask KC lawyer Craig O'Dear. He and his ex wife responded to my queries, and I ran their responses word for word. They got their story out there, in their own words. That's blackmail? You have no clue, it appears, about matters of law or journalism.

You need to go wade in the kiddie pool because you are in way over your head here.

Robby Scott Hill said...

All I know is from the first week when I was a Marine Corps Private at Parris Island to my last month of service, I was threatened with prosecution for adultery if I so much as looked at another man's wife or sexual harassment if I spoke to a Woman Marine or Sailor except in the line of duty. As for these Brass Hats getting all the pussy who would put you in the Brig for it, Fuck 'em! Fuck 'em sideways with a dirty, rubber dildo with zinc studs. Bunch of goddamn oversexed, hypocritical, dirty bastards.