Forward to next post: Making noise: Congressional vote on food warning labels
Latest step in the hit parade as Bush and his cronies move to destroy our military is the use of uniformed troops at partisan political events.
Bob “I didn’t say ‘Valerie Plame,’ I said ‘Ambassador Joe Wilson’s wife’ and that could have been anyone” Novak told us it was coming:
… the Bush administration is going directly to the public with its war message. Raul Damas, associate director of political affairs at the White House, has been on the phone directly to Republican county chairmen to arrange local speeches by active duty military personnel to talk about their experiences in Iraq. To some Republican members, this unusual venture connotes a desire to go directly to the people to sell the president’s position without having to deal with members of Congress.
This wasn’t just blue-skying: they’ve gone and done it:
The clank of silverware echoed above the polite dinner conversation about topics such as fiscal discipline, permanent tax cuts and the war in Iraq when more than 250 Republicans gathered in Fort Collins on Friday night for the Larimer County GOP Lincoln Day Dinner.
U.S. Congressman Mike Pence of Indiana, the keynote speaker, provided the audience with a message of hope that the party will keep its promises to bring democracy to Iraq, end big government, reduce spending and return to Republican core values.
Check the photos to see Marine Sergeant Brandon Forsyth, in uniform, being introduced by Representative Marilyn Musgrave.
Was that a partisan political event? You betcha:
“If there was not cause for hope, you would not be here today,” Pence said. “Each of you has chosen to stay and fight for this country’s future. You have chosen to stand against the defeatists who say government will always be bigger and budgets will always be imbalanced.”
In an earlier interview with the Coloradoan, Pence said he had the highest regard for Colorado politicians, who filled the room and celebrated the party’s accomplishments with constituents.
“I’ve felt very drawn to members of the Colorado delegation over the years and seen them as men and women of principle and conviction,” Pence said. “Indiana and Colorado are very similar in the sense that they are very competitive states from the partisan point of view.”
So, what’s the problem? I invite your attention to Department of Defense Directive 1344.10.
Who does DOD 1344.10 apply to?
This Directive applies to the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Military Departments, the Coast Guard when it is not operating as a Military Service in the Department of the Navy by agreement with the Department of Homeland Security, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Combatant Commands, the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Defense, the Defense Agencies, the DoD Field Activities, and all other organizational entities in the Department of Defense (hereafter referred to collectively as the “DoD Components”).
That is to say, everyone on active military duty plus a bunch of others.
What does DOD 1344.10 forbid? A pile of things, including but not limited to:
4.1.2. A member on active duty shall not:
184.108.40.206. Use his or her official authority or influence for interfering with an election; affecting the course or outcome of an election; soliciting votes for a particular candidate or issue; or requiring or soliciting political contributions from others.
220.127.116.11. Be a candidate for, hold, or exercise the functions of civil office except as authorized in paragraphs 4.2. and 4.3., below.
18.104.22.168. Participate in partisan political management, campaigns, or conventions (unless attending a convention as a spectator when not in uniform).
22.214.171.124. Make campaign contributions to another member of the Armed Forces or an employee of the Federal Government.
Enclosure 3 to DOD 1344.10 provides examples of prohibited activities, including:
E3.3. EXAMPLES OF PROHIBITED POLITICAL ACTIVITIES
In accordance with the statutory restrictions in 10 U.S.C. 973(b) (reference (b)) and references (g) and (h), and the policies established in section 4., above, of this Directive, a member on active duty shall not:
E3.3.8. Speak before a partisan political gathering, including any gathering that promotes a partisan political party, candidate, or cause.
E3.3.9. Participate in any radio, television, or other program or group discussion as an advocate for or against of a partisan political party, candidate, or cause.
The secretaries of each military department are instructed to issue appropriate implementing documents for their respective Departments. For example, Air Force Instruction 51-902, which bears this notice at its top, in all caps: “COMPLIANCE WITH THIS PUBLICATION IS MANDATORY.”
That brings us to RECRUITER, “The Magazine of the Air Force Recruiting Professional,” March 2004 issue, specfically to pages 9 and 10. There you’ll find an article by Capt. Christa D’Andrea, Air Force Recruiting Service: “Don’t set yourself up to be Politically Incorrect. Participation in some partisan events may be illegal.”
Capt. D’Andrea helpfully informs the eager recruiters who might be tempted to show up at partisan events in uniform, even if they’re there as mere spectators, that they will become subject to punishment under Article 92 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ): Failure to Obey Order or Regulation.
Article 92—Failure to obey order or regulation
Any person subject to this chapter who—
(1) violates or fails to obey any lawful general order or regulation;
(2) having knowledge of any other lawful order issued by a member of the armed forces, which it is his duty to obey, fails to obey the order; or
(3) is derelict in the performance of his duties; shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.
Got it, everyone? In order to give themselves a political boost, the Repubicans are getting members of the US military to commit courts-martial offenses.
Let me mention another point about this issue of uniformed military appearing at and/or speaking at partisan political events.
I’ve gotten a few emails on this point so I want to clarify lest there be any confusion: violation of the ban on uniformed military participating in partisan political events isn’t some technical violation like not filling out a form or not following some obscure protocol. And pointing it out isn’t just some blog gotcha.
The existence of this ban and the enforcement of it are hugely important both to good order and discipline within the military and to preserving our democratic republic. The military can’t be made into an arm of one or the other political party. Nor can the executive be allowed to enlist members of the armed forces, either individually or en masse, willingly or not, as soldiers in his domestic political battles.
This is about preserving a professional military and preserving our system of government. It’s a big deal. We need to find out a few more specifics about what happened at the Musgrave event. Perhaps the newspaper account is deeply misleading about what actually happened. But if this thing that looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, is a duck, then it needs to be nipped in the bud.
One of the strengths of the United States is that the military is non-political. Intent as they are on throwing away America’s strengths, the Republicans have hit on a beaut. They don’t like the laws that made America strong; they prefer the laws that make banana republics and military dictatorships strong.
You know the drill by now: letters to the editor of your local newspaper, letters to your congressional representatives, and, if you’re a military member, recall that it is your duty to refuse to carry out illegal orders.