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View Full Version : Can't wear uniform at political events - so what about soldiers standing behind Bush?


Northern Piper
06-02-2007, 09:59 PM
This is sort of a question, but since it will likely trigger a debate, I'll put it here.

There's been a few news articles recently about a marine, honourably discharged after serving in Iraq, who's been involved in protests against the war. During one of those protests, he wore a camoflage uniform, but without any indicators of rank, marine status, etc. He's been charged by the Marines under miltary law “during or in connection with furthering political activities … when an inference of official sponsorship for the activity or interest may be drawn.” The basis for military law applying to him is that although honourably discharged, he's still in the Individual Ready Reserve.

Article here: Marine's war protest brings charges, clash (http://www.kansascity.com/105/story/130205.html)

That article raises some interesting questions, but the point I'm curious about: what about those events where the President is making a public speech, usuallly with political content, at a military base, in front of, or to, rows of uniformed military men and women? Doesn't that raise questions about the conduct of the military people?

I've always wondered about the times where the Prez is speaking with the military as a backdrop. In these cases, aren't the military being used to give implicit military cred to the Prez? Why is that permitted?

elucidator
06-02-2007, 10:03 PM
Scott Rltter. As iron ass a Marine as ever was born. Where is his Medal of Fredom?

ExTank
06-02-2007, 10:44 PM
That article raises some interesting questions, but the point I'm curious about: what about those events where the President is making a public speech, usuallly with political content, at a military base, in front of, or to, rows of uniformed military men and women? Doesn't that raise questions about the conduct of the military people?

I've always wondered about the times where the Prez is speaking with the military as a backdrop. In these cases, aren't the military being used to give implicit military cred to the Prez? Why is that permitted?

:dubious:

:rolleyes:

What the fuck would you have all these servicemembers do? Change into Easter Bunny outfits?

Or have government officials (including Congress) stop speaking publicly to our military personnel?

mlees
06-02-2007, 10:51 PM
That article raises some interesting questions, but the point I'm curious about: what about those events where the President is making a public speech, usuallly with political content, at a military base, in front of, or to, rows of uniformed military men and women?

Well, there are a couple reasons.

One legitimate reason for doing this is to keep the morale of the troops up. You get the president showing up, and saying he thinks your doing a fine job. He's usually reassuring them that the job that they are doing (and any sacrifices that job may require, like family seperation) is a worthwhile one.

I think that is a part of his job.

I cant seem to recall the President making a speech on a military base that did not involve the War on Terror, or Active Duty/Veterans Affair type concerns. If the Prez showed up to talk about late term abortion, or the Gay Marriage Act, I might agree with you.

Doesn't that raise questions about the conduct of the military people?

I know i shouldn't answer a question with a question, but do you think that they should refuse to be seen when the Prez decides to come give them an "atta-boy"?

I've always wondered about the times where the Prez is speaking with the military as a backdrop. In these cases, aren't the military being used to give implicit military cred to the Prez?

Well, there is that, too. But the current Prez is definately not the first to have done this...

Why is that permitted?

One of the fringe bennies of the job, I guess. Do you feel that when Bush landed on the carrier, and gave the sailors his "atta-boy, we won" speech, that the sailors were in violation of the "Do not attend public demonstrations in uniform" rules?

Mr. Moto
06-02-2007, 10:55 PM
Where it becomes sticky is when we are dealing with an elected official. That person is a politician - but also obviously is an official in the government, and thus often must speak at numerous events. And there is no reason why those speeches must omit political comment if uniformed servicemembers are in the audience.

So no sweat there for the servicemember, especially if he clears his attendance at the event with his chain of command beforehand, or was ordered to attend by same chain (like with the Bush event on the Abraham Lincoln, or uniformed color guard at the Democratic National Convention.)

There are specific rules about attending political rallies, protests, and antiwar demonstrations while in uniform. Servicemembers are trained on these rules. That Marine really didn't have an excuse.

Dunderman
06-02-2007, 10:55 PM
What the fuck would you have all these servicemembers do? Change into Easter Bunny outfits?While that would be extraordinarily amusing, this is probably the answer. It would simply be too much of a hassle to have them all change just because this time it's a politician addressing them. He comes to their workplace and they wear their work clothes.I've always wondered about the times where the Prez is speaking with the military as a backdrop. In these cases, aren't the military being used to give implicit military cred to the Prez?Well, he is their supreme commander.

Mosier
06-02-2007, 11:46 PM
Being spoken to by the President does not imply sponsorship of any political activity, any more than I sponsored PETA by watching that goofy hot girl/cow udder milk video on youtube.

Participating in a political protest (or rally) while you're in the military is different from just being in an audience.

There's also a decent argument for Bush's visits to military bases not being political activity, unless someone can point to any statements he made during these visits about how they should cast their vote. Aren't those rallies just a bunch of "Yay America!" morale boosts?

Fear Itself
06-03-2007, 04:14 AM
Or have government officials (including Congress) stop speaking publicly to our military personnel?It would be a start. Does any public figure besides Bush and Cheney make speeches to the troops? It is my impression that politicians that resort to such captive audiences do so as a last resort to avoid negative reactions they would be subjected to in more open venues.

glee
06-03-2007, 04:34 AM
It's an interesting topic about top politicians visiting troops.

1. It's very popular here in the UK - usually a tank or artillery is in the background as well as pictures of 'our leader' speaking to 'our boys'.

Thatcher (http://80.93.161.201/chrishoy/thatcherTank-1988.jpg)

Blair (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/in_pictures/4552972.stm)

2. Of course the troops are a symbolic, disciplined, uniformed background for a politician. They love a captive audience.

Now I'm all for our leaders telling the troops how much the country appreciates them. I don't mind if the commentary over the pictures says 'Today the Prime Minister visited our brave troops on active duty in ...'.
But I object to political propaganda e.g. about how justified the Iraq war was, using a background of troops (or unfurling banners about 'Mission Accomplished' on warships).

3. Soldiers put their life on the line for their country. They should be treated with respect, not used as political cannon-fodder.

Martin Hyde
06-03-2007, 08:00 AM
It would be a start. Does any public figure besides Bush and Cheney make speeches to the troops? It is my impression that politicians that resort to such captive audiences do so as a last resort to avoid negative reactions they would be subjected to in more open venues.

Pretty much every President we've had at least since Truman has made speeches to soldiers, during wars and during times of peace, pretty much regardless of approval rating. When Bush's approval rating was in the stratosphere he spoke to groups of soldiers.

The definition of political activity that service members are not allowed to engage in while in uniform is that it advances a partisan cause or a political party. The President showing up and saying "you're doing well" may arguably do that, but realistically that isn't considered a partisan political event that is trying to advance a partisan cause or a political party. Plus, as the Commander-in-Chief it'd be a bit ludicrous for a soldier to be unable to listen to the President speak at a non-political event, especially in situations where it isn't even feasible to not attend (like on the deck of an aircraft carrier.)

Czarcasm
06-03-2007, 08:14 AM
It would be a start. Does any public figure besides Bush and Cheney make speeches to the troops? It is my impression that politicians that resort to such captive audiences do so as a last resort to avoid negative reactions they would be subjected to in more open venues.
Two questions:
1. When the CIC goes on base to make a political speech, is attendance voluntary or mandatory?
2. Are other candidates, of either party, allowed on base under the same rules?

mlees
06-03-2007, 10:57 AM
Two questions:
1. When the CIC goes on base to make a political speech, is attendance voluntary or mandatory?

In the few cases I experienced, it was voluntary. The attendees get excused from their regular duties. While you may have to spend a little time ensuring that your uniform is pressed, it still felt like you were getting time off. There is usually no shortage of volunteers. (Unless its really really hot, or raining, or some such.)

2. Are other candidates, of either party, allowed on base under the same rules?

Educated guess: Yes.

McCain would be allowed on any base, no prob, he's a Senator, and a war veteran.

Someone not a vet or currently holding a national level elected position, like John Edwards, could contact the CO of the base, and try to get an invite, through the Public Affairs Office. I believe that someone of sufficient gravitas, like Edwards, would not be turned away.

The only folks I would expect not to receive access are those that might be those advocating the destruction or disruption of the current government as part of their platform, or those that are from another jurisdiction that dont seem to have a snow balls chance of winning some kind of election.

John Mace
06-03-2007, 12:02 PM
Scott Rltter. As iron ass a Marine as ever was born. Where is his Medal of Fredom?
Did he wear his uniform at a political event? :confused:

1010011010
06-03-2007, 12:30 PM
Of the pictures I can find, it looks like this guy was wearing something anyone could put together with a trip to a military surplus store. Actually, a civilian could put together a uniform with all the service patches and identifications.

That the guy was in the USMC and is Ready Reserve is incidental. If you saw him and his street theater group you'd go "Hey, guys in costume doing a protest!" not "Hey, members of the United States armed forces acting in an official capacity!"

Apos
06-03-2007, 12:32 PM
While whether or not he wore a "uniform" seems to be something of a gray area (and the VoFW is lobbying for the Marines to drop this), there doesn't seem to be any question that he swore at a superior officer, which is a no no without any gray area.

ExTank
06-03-2007, 12:40 PM
Two questions:
1. When the CIC goes on base to make a political speech, is attendance voluntary or mandatory?
2. Are other candidates, of either party, allowed on base under the same rules?

1. IME (admittedly dated), mandatory.

2. IME (admittedly dated), no.

ExTank
06-03-2007, 12:49 PM
Of the pictures I can find, it looks like this guy was wearing something anyone could put together with a trip to a military surplus store. Actually, a civilian could put together a uniform with all the service patches and identifications.

That the guy was in the USMC and is Ready Reserve is incidental. If you saw him and his street theater group you'd go "Hey, guys in costume doing a protest!" not "Hey, members of the United States armed forces acting in an official capacity!"

Too true. And since the former Marine in question in the OP alleges he had no branch, rank, or unit identifiers on his remnant uniforms, I don't see where they are going with this investigation. He did his time, served honorably, and, as a civilian, expressed his right to free speech. As far as I'm concerned, he's in the clear WRT to the demonstration/protest.

If he did indeed disrespect the Major in an e-mail, well, there's a record of that. And if the record bears out the charge of disrespect, that's actionable. I think reducing his Honorable Discharge is way over the top, though.

Squink
06-03-2007, 01:05 PM
Too true. And since the former Marine in question in the OP alleges he had no branch, rank, or unit identifiers on his remnant uniforms, I don't see where they are going with this investigation...I think they want em to wear clown suits for this sort of thing.

Even the reactionaries at the VFW think the charges are asshatery:
VFW to Corps: Don’t Stifle Freedom of Speech (http://www.vfw.org/index.cfm?fa=news.newsDtl&did=4075)

1010011010
06-03-2007, 03:27 PM
I think they want em to wear clown suits for this sort of thing.Be All the Clown You Can Be! (http://www.clownarmy.org/)

elucidator
06-03-2007, 03:51 PM
Did he wear his uniform at a political event? :confused:
You never expect the Thread Monitor.

John Mace
06-03-2007, 04:00 PM
Too true. And since the former Marine in question in the OP alleges he had no branch, rank, or unit identifiers on his remnant uniforms, I don't see where they are going with this investigation. He did his time, served honorably, and, as a civilian, expressed his right to free speech. As far as I'm concerned, he's in the clear WRT to the demonstration/protest.

If he did indeed disrespect the Major in an e-mail, well, there's a record of that. And if the record bears out the charge of disrespect, that's actionable. I think reducing his Honorable Discharge is way over the top, though.
Is the guy a civilian? If he is, why can't tell the major to go f*ck off? The article mentions him being part of the "Ready Reserves". What's that? According to DoD 1334.1 (http://www.dtic.mil/whs/directives/corres/html/133401.htm), it looks like it doesn't matter whether it's all or part of his uniform if he is now a civilian:

3.2. Former members of the Armed Forces, unless under another provision of this Instruction or under the terms of Section 772 of title 10, United States Code (reference (d)), who served honorably during a declared or undeclared war and whose most recent service was terminated under honorable conditions may wear the uniform in the highest grade held during such war service only on the following occasions and in the course of travel incident thereto:

3.2.1. Military funerals, memorial services, weddings, and inaugurals.

3.2.2. Parades on National or State holidays; or other parades or ceremonies of a patriotic character in which any Active or Reserve United States military unit is taking part.

3.2.3. Wearing of the uniform or any part thereof at any other time or for any other purposes is prohibited.


Also not that, according this directive (http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/0/5A2F1AB0FD3D11568525717200540E51?opendocument), the ban on political events goes beyond just whether the person is in uniform or not:


Though no rule banning members from attending any of these events exists, people should be aware that making an announcement that they are a military member, could also bring punishment.

"Let's say you go to an anti-abortion rally in civilian clothes," said Booker. "It's fine for you to be there, but you cannot stand up there and say 'Hi, I am a corporal in the United States Marine Corps and this is where I stand.'"
I'd also like the OP to clarify specifically which event or event is in question wrt the president. Is it your contention that the president not be allowed to address the troops on camera?

ElvisL1ves
06-03-2007, 04:01 PM
If he did indeed disrespect the Major in an e-mail, well, there's a record of that. And if the record bears out the charge of disrespect, that's actionable. I think reducing his Honorable Discharge is way over the top, though.If telling your former CO what he can do to himself is all it takes to get out of the risk of being back-door drafted and shipped back out again, look for it to happen a helluva lot more often now, wouldn'tja say?

elucidator
06-03-2007, 04:09 PM
No, I wouldn't. The intensity of the emotional committment of comrades in combat to each other is incredible. Even men who know full well that they are being set to a fool's mission will volunteer out of loyalty to their fellows. And, no, it doesn't make any sense, but what about war ever did?

ElvisL1ves
06-03-2007, 04:19 PM
Once they're back home, and in civilian life again, and the buddies whose lives they've depended upon are too, that esprit de corps is more of a fond memory. The daily fear and hopelessness of the situation, and the sights of some of their buddies getting blown up, are pretty strong memories too - and motivators for all of them.

elucidator
06-03-2007, 04:20 PM
Maybe they actually did learn something from Viet Nam. They learned that uniformed wearing veterans of the combat in question lend a lot of credibility to the protest. The Viet Nam Veterans Against the War were enormously effective as a group. Of course, the protesting veteran could carry some other sort of marker, a sign, maybe, something like that, but nothing is as visually effective as the actual uniform, it makes a powerful statement.

ElvisL1ves
06-03-2007, 04:23 PM
And apparently they removed all insignia first. Anyone could have bought the same clothing at a surplus store.

ExTank
06-03-2007, 04:30 PM
If telling your former CO what he can do to himself is all it takes to get out of the risk of being back-door drafted and shipped back out again, look for it to happen a helluva lot more often now, wouldn'tja say?

MAJ Whyte isn't a "former CO." According to the article linked in the OP, he is a Personnel Officer of some sort working in the Marine's IRR Center in Kansas City.


Is the guy a civilian? If he is, why can't tell the major to go f*ck off? The article mentions him being part of the "Ready Reserves". What's that? According to DoD 1334.1 (http://www.dtic.mil/whs/directives/corres/html/133401.htm), it looks like it doesn't matter whether it's all or part of his uniform if he is now a civilian:

On reflection, actually, I think you're right.

When I left the Army in '91, I was told about my IRR obligation. I was told that I was to consider myself to be in the U.S. Army Reserve, unassigned to any unit, not obligated to be present at any unit drill or function, but to keep my uniforms until my IRR obligation expired.

I would assume that any official military correspondence received while on IRR status would be handled with the due decorum as befits the rank/authority of the sender.

What was emphasized was that I was essentially 99% out of the military. 99% is not 100%, so CPL Kokesh may very well be in some trouble if he did indeed communicate inappropriately with MAJ Whyte.

And if he did strip down a uniform he was supposed to keep up, or even if he bought a brand new one from the U.S. Cavalry Store, and wear it to a political event, he would be in violation of regs.

JThunder
06-03-2007, 04:45 PM
It would be a start. Does any public figure besides Bush and Cheney make speeches to the troops? Pretty much every US President for the past several decades.

Blalron
06-03-2007, 04:51 PM
:dubious:

:rolleyes:

What the fuck would you have all these servicemembers do? Change into Easter Bunny outfits?

Or have government officials (including Congress) stop speaking publicly to our military personnel?

It's one thing to speak to service members, it's another thing entirely to put up a "Mission Accomplished" banner or have a soldier stand right behind you while you make a speech at the White House to bash Democrats (http://bp3.blogger.com/_1xQeOPE9ePU/RmGQFbED8YI/AAAAAAAAAXE/uVc--6-6hlU/s1600-h/bushpolprop.jpg) efforts to set a timetable.

ExTank
06-03-2007, 05:00 PM
It's one thing to speak to service members, it's another thing entirely to put up a "Mission Accomplished" banner or have a soldier stand right behind you while you make a speech at the White House to bash Democrats (http://bp3.blogger.com/_1xQeOPE9ePU/RmGQFbED8YI/AAAAAAAAAXE/uVc--6-6hlU/s1600-h/bushpolprop.jpg) efforts to set a timetable.

I agree the whole "Mission Accomplished" thing was kinda cheesy, but that was a Presidential visit to an Aircraft Carrier, something well within his rights as C-in-C of the U.S. Armed Forces. Some "HOO-RAH" bullshit was as inevitable this time around as it was the last time around.

There's nothing in your photos to indicate whether they were there in an official capacity or not. Do you have some more information to elaborate on your point? Bear in mind, I didn't hear/see this speech directly.

Blalron
06-03-2007, 05:05 PM
There's nothing in your photos to indicate whether they were there in an official capacity or not. Do you have some more information to elaborate on your point? Bear in mind, I didn't hear/see this speech directly.

I do not know the official explanation for the soldier's presence. All I know is that a uniformed soldier was standing behind the President while he was making a speech in front of the cameras, at the White House, bashing the Democratic Congress. On the face of it, it looks like Bush was using soldiers as a political prop.

ExTank
06-03-2007, 05:09 PM
I do not know the official explanation for the soldier's presence. All I know is that a uniformed soldier was standing behind the President while he was making a speech in front of the cameras, at the White House, bashing the Democratic Congress. On the face of it, it looks like Bush was using soldiers as a political prop.

More context would be in order for me to comment beyond uninformed speculation.

John Mace
06-03-2007, 05:29 PM
I do not know the official explanation for the soldier's presence. All I know is that a uniformed soldier was standing behind the President while he was making a speech in front of the cameras, at the White House, bashing the Democratic Congress. On the face of it, it looks like Bush was using soldiers as a political prop.
Are you suggesting that the military personnel in those pictures be prosecuted? Even if Bush were delivering a completely political speech (which you have not in any way proven that he was), remember it's not illegal to hold a political event in which military types are present, it's against military regs for the military types to be there.

mlees
06-03-2007, 05:31 PM
I do not know the official explanation for the soldier's presence. All I know is that a uniformed soldier was standing behind the President while he was making a speech in front of the cameras, at the White House, bashing the Democratic Congress. On the face of it, it looks like Bush was using soldiers as a political prop.

Sometimes the CINC will combine a speech on the lawn of the White House with a military awards ceremony. They would be technically two seperate functions (scheduled back to back).

Or, the uniformed person behind him could be some kind of aide, or advisor that he thought he might need to answer a question on the status of some activity in Iraq. As the speech was directly about Iraq, the Prez might need the military guy to step up and say stuff like "The surge is going well. We reduced violence by 'x' amount. The next six months will be crucial".

A uniform in attendance of a speech about the war is not surprising. One present during a speech on Global Warming would be...

Fear Itself
06-03-2007, 05:36 PM
Are you suggesting that the military personnel in those pictures be prosecuted?If they they are violating the law, are you suggesting they should not be prosecuted? Even if Bush were delivering a completely political speech (which you have not in any way proven that he was), remember it's not illegal to hold a political event in which military types are present...So Bush is not subject to prosecution. ...it's against military regs for the military types to be there.So they should be prosecuted, if that standard is being applied to members of the military attending political events sponsored by groups opposing the war and the administration.

Am I parsing you correctly?

Blalron
06-03-2007, 05:38 PM
Are you suggesting that the military personnel in those pictures be prosecuted? Even if Bush were delivering a completely political speech (which you have not in any way proven that he was), remember it's not illegal to hold a political event in which military types are present, it's against military regs for the military types to be there.

Regardless of whether the soldiers knew about it in advance, Bush knew about the speech in advance and it was inappropriate for Bush to use the soldiers as a backdrop for his speech.

elucidator
06-03-2007, 05:40 PM
It could, perhaps, be something other than a presidential credibility enhancement mission. Could be.

John Mace
06-03-2007, 05:42 PM
If they they are violating the law, are you suggesting they should not be prosecuted? So Bush is not subject to prosecution. So they should be prosecuted, if that standard is being applied to members of the military attending political events sponsored by groups opposing the war and the administration.

Am I parsing you correctly?
It's not a "law", it's a military regulation. I see no evidence that said regulation was being violated, so no, I don't think they should be prosecuted.

However, let's suppose that Bush orders a military person to stand behind him while he makes a political speech. Let's even suppose that he tells that person the speech is entirely political. Now, the person has to decide whether to follow that particular regulation or to disregard a direct order from the Commander in Chief. In that case, I would not prosecute the person.

John Mace
06-03-2007, 05:46 PM
Regardless of whether the soldiers knew about it in advance, Bush knew about the speech in advance and it was inappropriate for Bush to use the soldiers as a backdrop for his speech.
Eh. First, we don't have any evidence that he was giving a political speech. Second, the president is surrounded by military guards while he's at the WH. This kind of stuff is going to happen, even when Ms. Clinton moves back into that residence. Sorry, but I can't manufacture any outrage over this particular thing.

Squink
06-03-2007, 05:49 PM
President Bush Discusses Iraq War Emergency Supplemental (http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2007/03/20070323-1.html) March 23, 2007
Today I'm joined here at the White House by veterans, family members of people serving in combat, family members of those who have sacrificed. I am honored that they have joined me here today.
...
The purpose of the emergency war spending bill I requested was to provide our troops with vital funding. Instead, Democrats in the House, in an act of political theater, voted to substitute their judgment for that of our military commanders on the ground in Iraq. They set rigid restrictions that will require an army of lawyers to interpret. They set an arbitrary date for withdrawal without regard for conditions on the ground. And they tacked on billions for pet projects that have nothing to do with winning the war on terror. This bill has too much pork, too many conditions and an artificial timetable for withdrawal.
...
Amid the real challenges in Iraq, we're beginning to see some signs of progress. Yet, to score political points, the Democratic majority in the House has shown it is willing to undermine the gains our troops are making on the ground.
...
Democrats want to make clear that they oppose the war in Iraq. They have made their point. For some, that is not enough. These Democrats believe that the longer they can delay funding for our troops, the more likely they are to force me to accept restrictions on our commanders, an artificial timetable for withdrawal, and their pet spending projects. The servicemembers were clearly used solely as props for the President's political activities. They were wearing their uniforms, so they should be charged under section 3.1.2 of directive 1334.01 (http://64.233.167.104/search?q=cache:OyO2itMuVswJ:www.dtic.mil/whs/directives/corres/pdf/133401p.pdf+%22During+or+in+connection+with+furthering+political+activities%22&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=2&gl=us&client=firefox-a) 3.1.2. During or in connection with furthering political activities, private employment or commercial interests, when an inference of official sponsorship for the activity or interest may be drawn.

mlees
06-03-2007, 06:03 PM
The servicemembers were clearly used solely as props for the President's political activities. They were wearing their uniforms, so they should be charged under section 3.1.2 of directive 1334.01

I daresay that such a move would make the Democratic opponents less popular...

Disobeying the orders of the CINC is a pretty bold step for a soldier to take. He better make daam sure he knows what he is doing...

Blalron
06-03-2007, 06:16 PM
Eh. First, we don't have any evidence that he was giving a political speech. Second, the president is surrounded by military guards while he's at the WH. This kind of stuff is going to happen, even when Ms. Clinton moves back into that residence. Sorry, but I can't manufacture any outrage over this particular thing.

I agree with you that there is no practical way to hold Bush to account for this, since he is the Commander In Chief and heads the Executive Branch. And the soldiers can hardly be blamed for being where they are told to be.

It's convenient on his part that he can get away with it. But that still doesn't make it right.

Blalron
06-03-2007, 06:27 PM
This kind of stuff is going to happen, even when Ms. Clinton moves back into that residence. Sorry, but I can't manufacture any outrage over this particular thing.

No. This kind of stuff doesn't "just happen." In this day and age, everything the president utters in public is carefully screened beforehand by his advisors. Every photo op is pre-planned. Nothing is spontaneous. Anybody who gets within touching distance of the President is there because his handlers have allowed it.

Isn't it the Secret Service that guards the President personally? I know that there are marines that are stationed outside the White House with some very intimidating weapons, but they aren't his personal bodyguards. They aren't going to just be randomly hanging out behind him while he's on camera.

John Mace
06-03-2007, 06:27 PM
I agree with you that there is no practical way to hold Bush to account for this, since he is the Commander In Chief and heads the Executive Branch. And the soldiers can hardly be blamed for being where they are told to be.

It's convenient on his part that he can get away with it. But that still doesn't make it right.
OK, I can agree that a president shouldn't use the military for political props. I would go so far as to say that they should go out of their way not to appear to be doing so. When we have such a president in the Whitehouse, I'll send some of my old winter coats to those poor souls in hell-- a place that may very well hold more ex-presidents than that other place.

Bush may do this kind of stuff more often than others, but it's just not realistic to think that presidents aren't going to be shameless when pimping their policies.

Fear Itself
06-03-2007, 06:31 PM
It's not a "law", it's a military regulation. I see no evidence that said regulation was being violated, so no, I don't think they should be prosecuted.So if a servicemember, dressed in the same uniform he wore attending the (hypothetical) political speech by Bush, attends a political speech by Hillary, should he be prosecuted under military regulations?

Mr. Moto
06-03-2007, 07:38 PM
When FDR addressed the 1944 Democratic National Convention, he did so remotely from a navy base, where he was "in the performance of my duties under the Constitution."

That sure didn't stop him from taking potshots at his political opponents in that speech.

So he used his office, and the military trappings, and a blistering attack on his opponents in one speech. I'm sure there was lots of grumbling about it at the time. But suggestions that Roosevelt be punished for it would have been seen as unseemly, and suggestions that the military that facilitated such by punished would have been seen as more so.

I guess times were different then. After all, there was a war on. ;)

Squink
06-03-2007, 08:12 PM
I guess times were different then. After all, there was a war on. ;)Well, that was in the days before a president told us with a straight face that "when the president does it that means that it is not illegal." We need to be a little more careful about selective application of the laws in this post-Nixon era.
Or is that the principle you're arguing for here?

John Mace
06-03-2007, 08:28 PM
So if a servicemember, dressed in the same uniform he wore attending the (hypothetical) political speech by Bush, attends a political speech by Hillary, should he be prosecuted under military regulations?
I'm not sure what you're getting at. Ms. Clinton is a candidate for president, and will be holding and/or attending many purely political rallies between now and when she wins. The way I read the rules, it would be improper for military or ex-military folks to attend such a rally while in uniform. But if she were giving a press conference to discuss legislation pending in the Senate, it's unclear (to me, at least) whether that would be considered a political event. She will no doubt visit Iraq sometime between now and the election, and it's likely that she'll be photographed with and/or interviewed with military personnel present. I don't see that as a political event.

But I still think Bush is a unique figure wrt this regulation and his military policies, because it's main purpose is to ensure that no one gives the military stamp of approval, even implicitly, to a political event. But it's the job of the military to carry out the administration's policies, like the war in Iraq. Asking "what is the military's position on abortion" is different from asking "what is the military's position on the war in Iraq". The answer to the former is "there isn't one", but the answer to the later is "we support it".

Bush will no doubt be seen pushing his vision for what we need to do in Iraq with General Petreaus, in uniform, by his side later this summer. I don't see anything wrong with that. But if he were doing so when he was talking about abortion or immigration, then that would be inappropriate.

Of course, this is just my interpretation.

Well, that was in the days before a president told us with a straight face that "when the president does it that means that it is not illegal." We need to be a little more careful about selective application of the laws in this post-Nixon era.
Or is that the principle you're arguing for here?
What did Bush do that was illegal here?

You know, this is really getting silly. We get it that you you don't like Bush. Pretending that he broke some law because he gave a press conference with a few soldiers is ludicrous.

Fear Itself
06-03-2007, 08:34 PM
I'm not sure what you're getting at. A serviceman in uniform attends a political speech by George Bush on a military base. The next day, also in uniform, he attends a political speech by Hillary Clinton at a civic auditorium.

Should he be prosecuted under military regulations for either of the acts?

John Mace
06-03-2007, 08:40 PM
A serviceman in uniform attends a political speech by George Bush on a military base. The next day, also in uniform, he attends a political speech by Hillary Clinton at a civic auditorium.

Should he be prosecuted under military regulations for either of the acts?
Well, the regulation makes an exception for patriotic functions. Attending a Bush rally is patriotic. Attending a rally for Clinton is not. I think that should be obvious.

Fear Itself
06-03-2007, 08:44 PM
Well, the regulation makes an exception for patriotic functions. Attending a Bush rally is patriotic. Attending a rally for Clinton is not. I think that should be obvious.If Bush is condemning Democrats as surrender monkeys and promoting Republicans as defenders of liberty, it is not clear. Elucidate.

Squink
06-03-2007, 09:06 PM
What did Bush do that was illegal here?Probably nothing, unless he illegally ordered members of the armed services to stand behind him, in uniform, while he played political games. I was just going along with Mr. Moto's little 'FDR did it too' thing.
Of course the issue at hand isn't the President, but the actions of uniformed military.
It's either illegal to endorse political speech while wearing a uniform, or it's not.
If it is, the folks standing behind the president broke the law, and provided a bad example to the thousands of other servicemembers who watched them do so; and the guys at the demonstration wearing stripped cammo broke the rules too.
If it's not, then the marines have no beef with the demonstrators.
I suppose some might say that it's OK in one instance, but not the other, but their position implies that uniformed political action by our vets is only legal when those actions are taken in support of our Republican president. That is a crock of shit.

John Mace
06-03-2007, 09:18 PM
If Bush is condemning Democrats as surrender monkeys and promoting Republicans as defenders of liberty, it is not clear. Elucidate.
Do you have a cite for Bush calling Democrats surrender monkeys, or did you make that up?

Squink: Here's the thing. In the article linked to in the OP, the event was unambiguously political in nature. The press conference (or whatever it was) that the president gave in the other example may or may not have been political in nature. I don't think either of us knows enough about military policy to know the answer to that. If the incident had happened at a rally back before the last presidential election (something where Bush/Cheney in '04 banners were prominently displayed, for example) then it would have been inappropriate.

Now, if you can cite a case in which someone in the military was punished for standing in uniform at the WhiteHouse with a president while the president talked about his military policy, then you'll have made your case. Otherwise, I don't think you have much of a leg to stand on here.

Fear Itself
06-03-2007, 09:30 PM
Do you have a cite for Bush calling Democrats surrender monkeys, or did you make that up?I made it up; did you not see the part about this being a hypothetical event? I am trying to create two equivalent, clearly political events to test whether military regulations should be enforced equally.

John Mace
06-03-2007, 09:42 PM
I made it up; did you not see the part about this being a hypothetical event? I am trying to create two equivalent, clearly political events to test whether military regulations should be enforced equally.
To be honest, I didn't understand what the reference to a hypothetical Bush event meant since you didn't use that term to describe the event with Hillary Clinton.

What I've been trying to point out is that the issue isn't as simple as you seem to want to make it out to be. But if the events are both clearly political, then I do think the policy should be the same regardless of whether it's Bush or Clinton. I think I made that clear in my last post. The thing to keep in mind, though, is that Bush is the Commander in Chief, and it's his job to articulate what his military policy is. Clinton isn't in that role (yet), so I can imagine certain events that might appear to be equivalent on the surface, but differ in the fact that in one we have the Commander in Chief, and in the other we don't.

When Bush is acting in his role as president, I don't think it's easy to distinguish the political from the non-political. Even with Clinton that's the case, since she has a role as a US Senator. With someone like Edwards or Giuliani, it's a lot easier-- neither of those guys has any governmental role and probably should be assumed to be in "candidate mode" 100% of the time.

Fear Itself
06-03-2007, 09:45 PM
When Bush is acting in his role as president, I don't think it's easy to distinguish the political from the non-political. Even with Clinton that's the case, since she has a role as a US Senator. Which sort of negates the "patriotic functions" exception; is it more patriotic to listen a President than a Senator?

John Mace
06-03-2007, 09:49 PM
Which sort of negates the "patriotic functions" exception; is it more patriotic to listen a President than a Senator?
Don't let the whooosh sound knock you over, Fear. :)

Fear Itself
06-03-2007, 09:55 PM
Don't let the whooosh sound knock you over, Fear. :) :smack: It gets confusing when you argue both sides, John.

Squink
06-03-2007, 10:06 PM
The press conference (or whatever it was) that the president gave in the other example may or may not have been political in nature.Did you read the excerpts of the Bush speech I posted? Of course it was political.
The text of the regulation is quite plain. I see no reason to nuance the meaning out of it so as to exhonerate the one group, and dishonorably discharge the other.

1010011010
06-03-2007, 10:09 PM
Well, the regulation makes an exception for patriotic functions. Attending a Bush rally is patriotic. Attending a rally for Clinton is not. I think that should be obvious.Does it really make such an exception? If so, that's amazing. I'd really enjoy seeing someone tell a veteran that it's not patriotic to use his Right to Free Speech to keep the government accountable to The People.

mlees
06-03-2007, 10:17 PM
Do you feel that the duties of the President include "morale building" speeches, made to the military members, thanking them for their service, and ensuring them that what they are doing is the "right thing", and that "it matters"?

I do. I classify his carrier "mission accomplished" speech as such.

Did the Prez use the same speech as a chance to reassure the US public at large (since it was televised), basically, the same thing?

Yes he did.

So, I dont think that indictments should be handed out to the crew of the USS Abe Lincoln.

Now, in the White House Press Room, where the President is expressing his opinion about the War Funding Bill, and has a uniformed military member (Probably someone from the JCS) standing behind him... Is the Prez "out of line" for having the window dressing there?

Maybe. Not to me, but I could see were you might think he is.

Should that military member be charged for being ordered to attend that function? I do not think so.

If the topic was some abortion legislation, for example, I would hope that the military member would excuse and remove himself from the area. (Of course, what happens if, in a press conference that was supposed to be about military concerns, the topic gets derailed, and wanders into nonmilitary terrain? Hmm. )

But all that is completely different to a situation where the military member chooses to attend a political rally (or protest march, labor strike, etc) in uniform, which is expressly prohibited.

John Mace
06-03-2007, 10:22 PM
Did you read the excerpts of the Bush speech I posted? Of course it was political.
The text of the regulation is quite plain. I see no reason to nuance the meaning out of it so as to exhonerate the one group, and dishonorably discharge the other.
I read it, and I disagree that it's obviously political. Can you provide an example of someone being prosecuted by the military for doing something like that? If you can't, then I think you should consider the possibility that you misunderstand the plan text of the regulation. Almost anything Bush does could be considered "political" in some way or another. If you were correct, then no military person could ever be seen with him.

Presidents always have military guys at the State of the Union speeches, when they're pushing policy. I don't see anything wrong with that, and I don't see how it violates this regulation.

Does it really make such an exception? If so, that's amazing. I'd really enjoy seeing someone tell a veteran that it's not patriotic to use his Right to Free Speech to keep the government accountable to The People.
He can exercise his free speech all he wants, he just can't do that while wearing the uniform.

If you read the regulation, I think they're talking about marching in a Memorial Day parade or something like that.

Monty
06-03-2007, 10:57 PM
Oh, come off it. The uniformed members of the military standing with/beside/around the President are not "endorsing political speech." They are attending an event--isn't the event on a military installation, anyway?--in which the head big wig is their Commander-in-Chief. Some of them are detailed to escort the man.

Squink
06-03-2007, 11:16 PM
They are attending an event--isn't the event on a military installation, anyway?The Diplomatic Reception Room (http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2007/03/20070323-1.html) of the white house is not a military installation.

Monty
06-03-2007, 11:21 PM
Okay. Yet, there are still members of the military who are assigned to details requiring they be in uniform and in the company of the President. There are also members of the military, uniformed members, assigned to the White House.

Zoe
06-03-2007, 11:22 PM
Mr. Moto: So he used his office, and the military trappings, and a blistering attack on his opponents in one speech.

According to his speech, he was on a train at the San Diego Naval Base. It's hard to see military trappings on the radio. As for that "blistering attack," these paragraphs are the most critical I could find in his speech (http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/shownomination.php?convid=40):

(Any bold type has been added for emphasis.)

The people of the United States will decide this fall whether they wish to turn over this 1944 job—this worldwide job—to inexperienced or immature hands, to those who opposed lend-lease and international cooperation against the forces of aggression and tyranny, until they could read the polls of popular sentiment; or whether they wish to leave it to those who saw the danger from abroad, who met it head-on, and who now have seized the offensive and carried the war to its present stages of success—to those who, by international conferences and united actions have begun to build that kind of common understanding and cooperative experience which will be so necessary in the world to come.

They will also decide, these people of ours, whether they will entrust the task of postwar reconversion to those who offered the veterans of the last war breadlines and apple-selling and who finally led the American people down to the abyss of 1932; or whether they will leave it to those who rescued American business, agriculture, industry, finance, and labor in 1933, and who have already planned and put through much legislation to help our veterans resume their normal occupations in a well-ordered reconversion process.

They will not decide these questions by reading glowing words or platform pledges—the mouthings of those who are willing to promise anything and everything—contradictions, inconsistencies, impossibilities—anything which might snare a few votes here and a few votes there.

That's it! That's the blistering attack about which you are sure there were many grumblings!

Meanwhile, he also had these "partisan" comments to make:

In the last three elections the people of the United States have transcended party affiliation. Not only Democrats but also forward-looking Republicans and millions of independent voters have turned to progressive leadership.

<snip>

I shall not campaign, in the usual sense, for the office. In these days of tragic sorrow, I do not consider it fitting.

<snip>

And that is why your Government for many, many months has been laying plans, and studying the problems of the near future—preparing itself to act so that the people of the United States may not suffer hardships after the war, may continue constantly to improve their standards, and may join with other Nations in doing the same. There are even now working toward that end, the best staff in all our history- men and women of all parties and from every part of the Nation.

<snip>

I am now at this naval base in the performance of my duties under the Constitution. The war waits for no elections. Decisions must be made- plans must be laid—strategy must be carried out. They do not concern merely a party or a group. They will affect the daily lives of Americans for generations to come.

The focus of most of his speech was, of course, the war with Germany and Japan -- not the Republican Party.

Mr. Moto
06-04-2007, 07:56 AM
So by that token, it would be kosher to you if President Bush were to have accepted renomination for the presidency from the deck of an aircraft carrier?

Somehow, I think you would have had something to say about it.

mlees
06-04-2007, 08:52 AM
So by that token, it would be kosher to you if President Bush were to have accepted renomination for the presidency from the deck of an aircraft carrier?

Somehow, I think you would have had something to say about it.

Since I can't recall it happening in my lifetime, I would indeed think it odd.

BobLibDem
06-04-2007, 11:22 AM
I think FDR deserves a little slack. By 1944, his physical condition was starting to deteriorate. Appearing in person in a packed convention hall might not have been the wisest option at the time. And since his talk was on radio , who knew or cared where he actually spoke?

I don't approve of any president using the military as props. Bush's carrier landing was the worst offense in my memory, keeping the poor guys away from their families for another day just so he could have a photo op just off the San Diego shore (but making sure the camera angles faced out to the open sea). Speaking at a service academy function, fine. Dedicating a new ship, fine. Otherwise, the military doesn't exist to advance any president's political purposes.

Mr. Moto
06-04-2007, 11:56 AM
I think FDR deserves a little slack. By 1944, his physical condition was starting to deteriorate. Appearing in person in a packed convention hall might not have been the wisest option at the time. And since his talk was on radio , who knew or cared where he actually spoke?

Nobody's faulting him for addressing the convention remotely. But he made great pains to tell people where he was and what he was doing.

Again, not a big deal to me. But it illustrates that this sort of thing has a pretty long pedigree.

I don't want soldiers to be punished unless they engage in violent, racist, or extremely radical protests. The military has every right to crack down on that kind of thing, especially if uniforms are involved.

BobLibDem
06-04-2007, 11:59 AM
I don't want soldiers to be punished unless they engage in violent, racist, or extremely radical protests. The military has every right to crack down on that kind of thing, especially if uniforms are involved.

What is "extremely radical"? I'd prefer that the military uniform be treated like a judge's robe. While you wear it, stay out of politics. Want to see a presidential political speech? Fine, get your leave approved and go in civvies.

Mr. Moto
06-04-2007, 12:19 PM
What is "extremely radical"? I'd prefer that the military uniform be treated like a judge's robe. While you wear it, stay out of politics. Want to see a presidential political speech? Fine, get your leave approved and go in civvies.

This man didn't do as you recommended. (http://i33.photobucket.com/albums/d57/b_gardenia/political/Kerry_01.jpg)

What do you think ought to have been done in his case?

BobLibDem
06-04-2007, 12:55 PM
This man didn't do as you recommended. (http://i33.photobucket.com/albums/d57/b_gardenia/political/Kerry_01.jpg)

What do you think ought to have been done in his case?

Given the Medal of Freedom? Was Mr. Kerry in the military at the time? If not, then he shouldn't have worn the uniform. If he was, then I would say he shouldn't have worn it, no more than Ollie North should have worn his for his testimony.

Elendil's Heir
06-04-2007, 01:07 PM
I always like to share this little article: http://www.snopes.com/photos/military/crossed.asp

Mr. Moto
06-04-2007, 01:09 PM
John Kerry was a Naval reservist until 1978. I hope that clarifies your thinking on that particular subject.

As for Oliver North, he was active duty military at the time he served on the National Security Council staff, when he appeared before Congress, and also when he was later tried. Military regulations pretty clearly state that these last two occasions at a minimum require a military officer to appear in uniform.

Hentor the Barbarian
06-04-2007, 01:16 PM
Bush use the military as a prop? What, me worry?

Here's a story (http://www.slate.com/id/2132087/) about the RNC using military servicemen in doctored ads that I found when I was searching for that Bush ad that cut and pasted military service personel in a doctored ad.

Bush will use anyone and anything as a prop. Remember the post-Katrina instance of using emergency service personnel as a prop as he walked around surveying damage?

I don't think the service personnel should be held to account for these abuses, and certainly Presidents ought to be able to deliver speeches to military groups, but there should be prohibitions against using images of the military at such events in political ads.

BobLibDem
06-04-2007, 01:21 PM
John Kerry was a Naval reservist until 1978. I hope that clarifies your thinking on that particular subject.

As for Oliver North, he was active duty military at the time he served on the National Security Council staff, when he appeared before Congress, and also when he was later tried. Military regulations pretty clearly state that these last two occasions at a minimum require a military officer to appear in uniform.

So if Kerry was in the reserves he should have worn it? As for Ollie, I guess it's hard for me to get excited about felons in uniform vs felons out of uniform.

Mr. Moto
06-04-2007, 01:38 PM
So if Kerry was in the reserves he should have worn it?

He shouldn't have. The testimony was part of a series of protests he was engaged in at the time, and he wore his uniform to much of that.

You expressed your opinion that this was inappropriate. I agree

As for Ollie, I guess it's hard for me to get excited about felons in uniform vs felons out of uniform.

Oliver North was active duty, and thus was obligated to wear the uniform in most circumstances where you or I would wear a business suit. While there are exceptions to this rule (like the above noted ones about rallies and protests), a circumstance like testimony before Congress or a court would have required a uniform in most cases.

Squink
06-04-2007, 11:24 PM
Discharge suggested for anti-war Marine (http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070605/ap_on_re_us/military_protest_hearing_8;_ylt=Alfr7ak0Gw0huxwX9XllU3cE1vAI) A military panel has recommended a general discharge for an Iraq war veteran who wore his uniform during a war protest and later responded with an obscenity to a superior who told him he might have violated military rules.
...
After a hearing Monday before an administrative separation board at the Marine Corps Mobilization Command, the panel decided not to recommend an other-than-honorable discharge, choosing instead the general discharge.

"This is a nonpunitive discharge," said Col. Patrick McCarthy, chief of staff for the mobilization command. "The most stringent discharge that could have been received is other than honorable, and the board chose to raise that up to a general discharge."

If the recommendation is approved, Kokesh would not lose any military benefits...

Monty
06-05-2007, 05:07 AM
That particular Marine doesn't strike me as being the sharpest. He wasn't discharged, but rather "Released From Active Duty and Transferred to the Ready Reserve." That's because once he enlisted, he incurred an eight year Military Service Obligation. Although he wasn't on Active Duty, he was still subject to the regulations regarding wear of the uniform.

Hmm...maybe he is pretty sharp after all. He doesn't lose any of his benefits and he will sooner than expected have an actual discharge in hand so he's no longer subject to recall. I wonder how many people are going to decide that's a good idea!

asbo604
06-05-2007, 06:04 AM
Firstly as a Brit and an ex MP i can only try and guess Yank Military Law.

But by going on UK military law (and it is a law not regulations) im pretty sure that if the kit the marine was wearing was issued by the US government as uniform, even if he has removed all insignia then it would still constitute service dress (uniform). They could tell this if it had a Nato Stock Ref No. It should also be stambed or badged inside to indicate it is the property of the US government. You could if you wished probably charge him for distruction of service property if he removed the badges in a way that would damage the items of clothing. The fact that he was/is a reserve means that he could still come under military law depending on his reserve status.

On to the whole Bush thing. In the UK we have something used in the military called a 3 line whip. It basicly means that although you dont have to attend an event you had better be there. On the occasissions we had a politician or member of Royalty there, we were ordered to attend. As this was an order it is classed as a duty which normaly requires uniform to be worn unless otehrwise stated. The attendance is well screened so lowere class NCOs cant attend, normally officers etc.

John Mace
06-05-2007, 06:35 AM
Hmm...maybe he is pretty sharp after all. He doesn't lose any of his benefits and he will sooner than expected have an actual discharge in hand so he's no longer subject to recall. I wonder how many people are going to decide that's a good idea!
Well, those guys might not be too sharp if they do try. If the military suspects that it was done specifically to avoid duty, then I suspect they will get a dishonorable discharge. Or worse-- I don't know what the maximum penalty is.

Mr. Moto
06-05-2007, 08:16 AM
Dishonorable discharge is always a sentence imposed by a court martial - it isn't an administrative penalty. It generally also is accompanied by confinement or some other penalty This it true too with a bad-conduct discharge (what we used to call the Big Chicken Dinner).

The administrative discharges are honorable, general (under honorable conditions) and other-than-honorable. Only a general or honorable discharge will entitle you to most veterans benefits, and in addition, educational benefits like the GI Bill are reserved for honorably discharged veterans with enough time in.

Squink
06-30-2007, 10:38 PM
Marines drop case against Iraq veteran (http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070629/ap_on_re_us/military_protest_hearing) The Marines won't kick out an Iraq war veteran who made anti-war statements in a speech and wore part of his uniform at a protest, the service said Friday, despite a recommendation to discharge him early.
...
The Marines said in a news release that they were dropping the case because they had "received sufficient indication" from Madden that he would no longer wear his uniform when engaged in political activities. They also determined that his statements did not warrant further action.

Madden insists he never reached an agreement with the Marines and planned to keep wearing his uniform at protests. He did write in an e-mail to the Marine Corps on Tuesday that he would agree to stop wearing his uniform at protests if the corps put in writing "that my statements are neither disloyal nor inaccurate."

Madden said he never received the letter he requested on Marine Corps letterhead and had no further conversations with the Marines.

"I think it's a total victory," Madden said, ...