Army Spec. Swift Chooses Court Martial Over Signing Agreement

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.


Army Spec. Suzanne Swift made news in June when she went AWOL and refused a second deployment to Iraq. Swift’s refusal came about because she was the victim of sex crimes. According to Swift, the seargent who told her mother, “Don’t worry, M’am, we’ll take good care of your daughter,” went on to make her “his private” by coercing her to have sex with him. Swift says that several of his colleagues pressured her for sex, and refusing them led to increased sexual harrassment.

Swift reported the harrassment and abuse to both her team leader and her equal opportunity representative, but nothing was done other than to transfer one of the perpetrators. After she went AWOL, Swift was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, a diagnosis which the Army disputes. The Army did its own evaluation and concluded that Swift suffers from stress, but not from PTSD.

The Army has offered Swift a deal–that she will receive an honorable discharge if she agrees to serve another nineteen months. According to her mother, Swift was inclined to accept the deal until she learned of a caveat–she would have to sign a statement claiming no sexual harrassment ever took place. Swift has refused to sign this statement and is now prepared to accept a Court Martial. Her case has been placed under special Court Martial rules that will restrict her punishment to no more than twelve months.

Many Americans are familiar with the more dramatic cases involving sexual assault and sex abuse and harrassment in the military–such as the 1991 Navy Tailhook case (referred to by Jesse Ventura as “much ado about nothing”), the 1996 Army Aberdeen case, and the 2003 Air Force Academy case. But the problem is chronic: In 2005, the U.S. Armed Services received 2,374 reports of cases involving sexual assault alone.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest