Technically, he was “passed over for promotion.” But under the military “time in grade” rules (aka “up or out”) that means he will have to leave the Navy.
1. His boss says “he has obviously done an exceptional job, a really extraordinary job.” So he’s not being booted for incompetence. Rather the reverse.
2. The comparison with totalitarian systems makes itself. The right to a lawyer isn’t worth much if the lawyer gets fired if he does too good a job.
3. Swift isn’t really very badly damaged personally. His Navy career is shot, but he’s famous, and he also will have his 20 years in by the time he is actually shown the door, so he gets to collect retired pay. But the warning to JAG lawyers with less time in and defending less spectacular cases is clear: if you do your job too well, it will cost you, big-time.
4. Hardball? You bet. Rule of law? Not so much.
5. This obviously makes mincemeat of the claim that the military justice system can handle trials of those accused of terrorism fairly.
6. Everyone up the chain of command, right up to the Commander-in-Chief, looks bad.
7. The conservative law professoriate was mostly pretty quiet about torture and arbitrary detention. I wonder whether this direct assault on the profession they teach will get them roused?