Discussion in 'What's On Your Mind?' started by Lisa Simeone, Feb 18, 2012.
US Military Issues Warning to Ron Paul Supporters
Is that even constitutional?
I think "regardless of whether they are in uniform or civilian clothes" is almost certainly over-reach.
We had similar regs when I was in, but they were involving local candidates for the most part, and there was something posted about attending political rallies in uniform. I do not recall having seen the do not attend in civvies info before. The military has a long tradition of regulating (or attempting to regulate) off duty behavior. Article.... 132 I believe it is, was the catch all UCMJ list that covered essentially - anything that could be considered a breach of military etiquette, or present an unflattering image of the military, or present an image of official support for one group over another in the political arena. That is a short list, but it has a ton of things listed, and then has some wording at the end that leaves it up to the interpretation of the presiding authority (whomever that may be in each individual case). At one point, we were even told we couldn't go to a certain set of restaurants (in or out of uni) in Richmond because all the reporters for one of the tv stations and the local rags frequented those establishments and would try to pump soldiers for info (not that we had any big time conflicts going on at that time).
It's been a few years since I retired from the Navy but it was my understanding that participation in political events while in uniform or using military affiliation as a tool was against regulations. I do not recall any prohibition on participation as long as it was in the capacity as an individual citizen.
Rugape mentions the "Catch All" article of the UCMJ. It is actually Article 134:
Article 134. General article:
Though not specifically mentioned in this chapter, all disorders and neglects to the prejudice of good order and discipline in the armed forces, all conduct of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces, and crimes and offenses not capital, of which persons subject to this chapter may be guilty, shall be taken cognizance of by a general, special, or summary court-martial, according to the nature and degree of the offense, and shall be punished at the discretion of that court.
Here's the deal:
1. The military isn't supposed to be involved in politics in an official capacity. Think about that for more than 15 seconds and the reasons become instantly apparent. This is why attending political rallies in uniform is a no-no. (This is one of the many regulations the sociopath Navy Chaplain Gorgdon Klingenschmitt trampled before the Navy regretfully cut him loose. He was a dangerous kook, and his political activism in uniform was becoming dangerous on multiple fronts.)
2. Individual members of the military are permitted to participate in the political process. Serving members of the military aren't convicted felons serving a sentence, so not letting them vote or support a candidate would be grossly unfair. All military commands have a voting officer, and getting everyone registered to vote and distributing absentee ballots is a huge point of pride. Some military members participate in small local elections as well as major polls. Absentee votes of service-members have made a difference in races for county clerk and dog catcher as well as who makes the city council.
1+2=dilemma. If a huge number of service members march together in DC to make the point that service members support Ron Paul, is the effect the same as if they marched in uniform? Is it the same as "the military" participating in an official capacity? For that matter, if a service member takes the mic at a political rally and says "As a serving member of the U.S. Armed Forces...", is he breaking the spirit of the law, if not the letter? Policy #2 encourages him to say "I, John Smith, believe Jane Smith to be the ideal County Clerk for Podunk County." Policy #1 is often interpreted to mean that he should not even say "I, Sgt John Smith..." when engaging in political speech. The rally in DC is somewhat controversial.
It is my unprofessional interpretation that independent parties may publish statistics about how many military members have contributed money to a campaign, but military members are reasonably forbidden from emphasizing their military affiliation and support for a candidate in the same breath.
These regulations are right and proper. They are among the many safeguards that preserve our Republic. Ron Paul supporters should not trample these principles, because it rather defeats the purpose of supporting a law and order candidate like Ron Paul.
Yep. That's it.
Thanks Boggie! Folks outside of the military would be floored at what someone can be charged for under that code. It is extremely subjective based on the command interpretation, even though they have to make a compelling argument to follow through on it (as an MP, I saw a few of those get tossed out, but more of them stick and ride through the process).
Elizabeth makes excellent points above, there have been regs in place to prohibit demonstrations in uniform since long before I was in the military, and most likely long before the Vets in this group were in. It is reasonable to expect the military to not participate in "official capacity" due to the unique governing relationship of the military by our civilian government. I hope they continue to keep these regs in play, although I have a bit of a problem with telling them they can't participate out of uni as long as they don't present themselves in an official capacity. I am of the opinion that if they believe in the candidate, they should be able to help as the person they are, just like all the other people that help them.
Active duty and in uniform, yes, that makes sense. But the spirit of 134 would seem to be dishonorable conduct such as drunk and disorderly, beating your family, etc., not support of a political candidate. It's hovering to suppress and intimidate.
Veterans, reserve, guard, and not in uniform? No, that's the country you've put your life on the line for. You have EVERY right to be out there marching.
I don't think anyone's claiming they have a right to march in uniform, or in civilian clothes carrying a sign saying "Fort XXX soldiers support Tweedle Dee".
It is the apparent ban against individual, nondescript participation that is offensive.
Another case for the ACLU to take up but I'm guessing since most military types are relatively conservative we won't see that happen.
IMHO 134 was supposed to be the final line to allow Commanders to punish or remove troublesome soldiers by giving them the catch all for behavior that was detrimental. In theory that was great, in practical application, it appears it has turned out to be the most misused of all the Articles in the UCMJ.
You might be surprised, a lot of times, all it takes is a bit of press about folks that have approached them asking for help to get them to move on something. Then again, I would not be surprised to see them remain MIA on this one.
It may be controversial, but it is a statement of protest, of active resistance. If more people stood up in spite of being threatened, we'd have a better country.
What's so controversial? All they're doing is marching and chanting.
If they were doing it for Romney or Santorum :vomit:there would have been no letter.
No letter, true enough.
Unlikely as such events might be, doubtless they'd have major press coverage as well.
Absolutely nothing is controversial about it, people do this all the time for all kinds of reasons. The only issue would come if there were someone on active or reserve duty that was in uniform/some sort of official capacity participating. We are a medium sized town here (read 270k pop), and we have folks marching downtown on city hall or in other sections of town all the time.
Separate names with a comma.