with the Navy and wanted a discharge."; (b) the belief that Logemann sought a C.O. discharge only after an attempt to obtain a psychological discharge failed; and (c) the conclusion of Chaplain Muchow that Logemann's application was insincere and lacked depth of belief.
Merely because Logemann admittedly wanted a discharge and contacted the Draft Information Center does not demonstrate insincerity. The difficulties of accomplishing an application for a C.O. discharge are considerable and the decision to seek expert advice is understandable. United States ex rel. Greenwood v. Resor, 439 F.2d 1249, 1252 (4 Cir. 1971). In addition, Logemann's admitted desire for a discharge does not indicate insincerity since there is no evidence in the record to indicate that he would engage in falsehood to get out of the service. Helwick v. Laird, supra, 438 F.2d at 964-965.
The assumption that Logemann sought a C.O. discharge only after an attempt to obtain a psychological discharge failed was simply erroneous as was admittedly demonstrated in his reapplication.
The only proper basis possible for the Bureau of Naval Personnel's conclusion that Logemann was insincere, therefore, was the report of Chaplain Muchow. Consequently, the reasons stated in that report must be considered in conjunction with the entire record to determine whether they form a basis for a conclusion of insincerity by substantially blurring the picture painted by Logemann in his application. Kessler v. United States, 406 F.2d 151, 156 (5 Cir. 1969).
Chaplain Muchow's report should not be considered in a vacuum but along with the comments of other people in a position to gauge Logemann's attitude. Pastor Vriesen of his parents' church and Dr. John Mock, the private psychiatrist Logemann consulted, both submitted letters in support of his sincerity. While one may conclude that these letters do not come from totally unbiased sources, they cannot be completely ignored. In addition, it is significant that Lieutenant Commander Arthur Speck, for whom Logemann worked at the Naval Hospital, admitted respecting Logemann's sincerity while disagreeing with his beliefs. Furthermore, Dr. M. E. Block, the Navy psychiatrist who interviewed Logemann in connection with his original C.O. application, concluded that he appeared "sincere about his conscientious objector feelings."
Notwithstanding these favorable appraisals of Logemann's sincerity, Chaplain Muchow reached a contrary conclusion for three reasons.
Firstly, the chaplain noted that Logemann admittedly joined the Navy with reservations "concerning his loyalty to the authority of the U.S. Navy over his life." The chaplain apparently concluded that since Logemann took the naval service oath while harboring reservations about his ability to uphold it, he should not be believed when applying for C.O. status while in service. The precise nature of Logemann's reservations were more explicitly set forth in his reapplication and, correspondingly, Chaplain Muchow's objections thereto were more clearly detailed in his second report.
In his reapplication Logemann explained that he had participated in several anti-war organizations in the Fall of 1969 but nevertheless enlisted in the Navy in February, 1970, when the draft was pressing him. Chaplain Muchow questioned "the timing of these two somewhat contradictory acts." It is clear, however, that the timing of a C.O. application is simply not by itself sufficient to provide a basis in fact for rejection of a prima facie showing of conscientious objection. Rothfuss v. Resor, 443 F.2d 554 (5 Cir. 1971); United States ex rel. Greenwood v. Resor, 439 F.2d 1249 (4 Cir. 1971); Bohnert v. Faulkner, 438 F.2d 747 (6 Cir. 1971); Champ v. Seamans, 330 F. Supp. 1127 (M.D. Ala. 1971); Nachand v. Seaman, 328 F. Supp. 753 (D. Md. 1971); Goodwin v. Laird, 317 F. Supp. 863 (N.D. Calif. 1970); United States ex rel. Armstrong v. Wheeler, supra, 321 F. Supp. at 480. In several cases even the suspicious failure to apply for discharge until deployment in a combat zone was imminent did not provide a sufficient basis in fact to reject the application. Rothfuss v. Resor, supra; Champ v. Seamans, supra; Nachand v. Seaman, supra. Logemann, therefore, safely nestled at the Philadelphia Naval Hospital, should not be labeled insincere merely because he did not mention his conscientious objection until after he enlisted.
Chaplain Muchow's second reason for questioning Logemann's sincerity arose from an answer to a hypothetical question posed to Logemann by the chaplain at their interview. Logemann stated that had he been a Jew in Nazi Germany and unable to stop the rise of Hitler and spread of Naziism by reason and persuasion he would have fled to another country. The chaplain questioned how this "behavior of escapism" would square with conscientious objection allegedly resting on his faith in man. The chaplain reasoned that although Logemann defined faith in man as belief in a person's innate potential to be productive and helpful toward other human beings, a decision to flee Nazi Germany would be of no help to his fellow Jews still remaining. Logemann replies that a decision to flee for one's life rather than stand and fight against overwhelming odds is not only wise but entirely consistent with both basic human nature and conscientious objection. Suffice it to say that Chaplain Muchow's reasoning is highly debatable at best and is clearly the type of speculation upon which doubt as to sincerity cannot rest. See, e.g., United States ex rel. Armstrong v. Wheeler supra, 321 F. Supp. at 480.
Chaplain Muchow's final reason for doubting Logemann's sincerity, his feeling that Logemann was "manipulative toward acquiring his own ends," was not clearly expressed until his report in response to the reapplication for C.O. discharge. In support of this "feeling" the chaplain pointed out that Logemann fasted for eight days while awaiting court martial to induce a decision from command. Apparently the Navy would not act on his original request for conscientious objector discharge until the court martial was resolved. While some might even argue that the eight-day fast is indicative of sincerity, to conclude that it demonstrates insincerity is again nothing more than mere speculation.
The chaplain also alleged that Logemann's manipulative nature was demonstrated by his attempt to arrange for a different chaplain to interview him for his second discharge request. At the hearing held on the instant petition Logemann denied this assertion and maintained that it was Chaplain Muchow who first mentioned the possibility of arranging for another chaplain to conduct the second interview. Who brought up the subject first is of little importance. It seems only natural for an applicant to prefer a different chaplain at a second interview than the one who concluded that he was insincere on his first application. Such a preference offers no basis for the conclusion that Logemann was being manipulative in his request for a discharge.
It is only with great reluctance that I interfere with a decision that is ordinarily within the exclusive province of the military. For all the reasons set forth above, however, I conclude that the Bureau of Navy Personnel had no basis in fact for finding that Logemann was insincere in his conscientious objection beliefs. Consequently, Logemann's petition for a writ of habeas corpus shall be granted.