Written by: Dana Coen, Don McGill; Watch Now: – Sorry, not available on Amazon
Harm (H) and Mac (M) in Saudi Arabia for JAG duties defending a “Condor” pilot, Lt Stephanie Donato, for disobeying DOD and her base commander’s orders; namely: not wearing an abeya with a veil and driving herself (i.e. in front seat) in an automobile with a male escort. She was told that the Abeya and veil rule “would be reconsidered” when she was assigned to fly food drops. It wasn’t, so she complained to her CO and eventually wrote 8 letters and openly petitioned the Secretary of Defense. A security guard caught her in the restaurant and ordered her into an abeya and into the back seat of his vehicle. She disobeyed hence the court-martial.
Throughout the episode H and M several times worked out compromises with prosecutor Lt Col Sara Coffey; however, Donato’s temper and tongue dug her in deeper. She apologized to a Muslim cleric who was “offended” by seeing her in the restaurant. When he started to pontificate about American women “not thinking” she told him that “a man who doesn’t treat females any better than camels in his garage doesn’t deserve to be in their company.”
Really trying to avoid publicity Coffey kept offering to “deal.” She asked H and M to meet her in town where she was participating in a meeting. Mac had to wear an abeya and veil and was shown being knocked into by Saudi men who treated her as if she wasn’t there. She finally tore it off and said that they “wouldn’t deal.” Harm finally got her to explain that “it diminishes a woman’s ability to be taken seriously.” Additionally, Donato was determined to publicize the issue but they were loosing. While flying a mission, Donato had to emergency land in the desert due to engine failure. When, instead of trying to help, a local policeman tried to embarrass her and force an abeya on her she elbowed him in the gut. Then the men in her unit joined her crusade stating that “The Saudi’s, instead of offering help, tried to humiliate her” and that the regs were “inconsistent with rules of good order and discipline and erode unit cohesion.” No one needs to salute a female officer in an abeya if they don’t know what rank she was.
The final finding was that she did disobey orders but with extenuating circumstances so no court-martial was ordered. Gen Sawyer said that unless she disbanded the crusade he would ground her. Coffey answered the press for Donato: “DOD must realize that short term solutions cause long term problems”; and that we “look forward to the day when not one member of armed forces will be forced to suffer disrespect as a price for victory.”
Back at JAG headquarters, Leatham told H that she wanted to be kept “in loop” on the women’s issue. Chegwidden (C) counseled Turner (T) to “have some fun.” So T took Leatham on a date to an Afghan restaurant where she didn’t like either the food or sitting on the floor. She then suggested that they go to a Salsa club which he didn’t like. Bud (B) and Harriet (Ht) arrived late at the restaurant without reservations due to babysitter problems and joined their “not talking to each other” first date. Turner apologized to B and Ht for putting them in the middle and Ht counseled him to “try again.” He did, and convinced Leatham to meet him at a “neutral place” to try again; then he took her to baby-sit little AJ in order to give B and Ht another chance at a date.