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June 14, 2007

This Is So Dangerous

UPDATE and BUMP: Oh, the weaselly son of a bitch.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid confirmed Thursday that he told liberal bloggers last week that he thinks outgoing Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Peter Pace is "incompetent."

Reid acknowledged similarly disparaging Army Gen. David Petraeus, head of Multinational Forces in Iraq.

But Reid, whose comments to bloggers first appeared in The Politico, also told reporters: "I think we should just drop it."

Easy enough for you to want turn tail and run, Dirty Harry. You seem to be pretty well versed in those tactics.


A Democratic challenge to Gen. Peter Pace indicates that uniformed officers no longer are exempt from the partisan fire on Capitol Hill once reserved for civilian policymakers.

Mr. Levin might want to recall how the military was harangued for even the perception of losing their political neutrality when it came to respecting a certain Democratic commander-in-chief.
...Military personnel aren't required to like their Commander in Chief, or even respect him in the privacy of their own hearts. But they are required, in accordance with military law and tradition, to show respect for the office, regardless of how they may feel about the office holder.

The 'privacy of their own hearts'. Like when the civilian in charge asks for your opinion, you give it truthfully and earnestly. But if he decides to go the other way, it's then 'yes sir, yes sir, three bags full' and you carry out your assigned mission, again, to the best of your ability. Because, no matter your rank, you are SUBORDINATE to your civilian commander. That's the duty you're sworn to. And the duty that once sworn is compelled by the force of law.

The miserable incompetence of this war's handling has nothing to do with it's military prosecution and everything to do with policy. Policy=political, because only elected civilians can set 'policy'. Oddly enough, that's what another Congressperson argues, when setting out why Gen. Pace (and henceforth ALL military officers, I guess) should be castigated publicly.

...[Rep. Ellen O., D-Calif.] Tauscher said his [Pace's] comments on gays "showed his ignorance" and "had to be deeply discounted because they came from a man who had presided over a war that we got into on a lie and what I consider to be a serious dereliction of duty in having our troops and our readiness so destroyed by the policies of this administration."

I'm sure there are Republicans who could have said as much to Marines during Clinton's foray into Haiti, for example. Or his morphing of the mission in Somalia to hunt down bald headed warlords, vice the 'feed the children' exercise major dad went in-country for originally. Those would have been legitimate moments to ask military commanders "What the F*CK were you thinking?" ~ don't you think? But your questions would have to be addressed to the policy maker, vice the implementer. The U.S. military has never ordered ITSELF anywhere.

And where does this end, once the Pandora's Box is spewing its contentious contents unchecked? Does it end with a sitting Democratic president making policy, because the majority now agrees with him, so all decisions must be peachy? Does it end when Mr. Levin abuses a military member at the table before him ~ for policies over which he had no control and could only do his sworn duty to do them to the best of his ability ~ and said service member breaks and calls Mr. Levin a sweet, well-earned perjorative, only then to be prosecuted for breaking the cardinal rule, "in accordance with military law and tradition, to show respect for the office"?

Of course, no member of the United States military would ever, ever do such a thing. Mr. Levin and Mr. Tauscher and all the despicable loser lefties in the United States Congress know it. They demand the respect their offices provide and wield the power therein to abuse, belittle and destroy those who protect their institution but have no recourse ~ those whose oath actually carries penalties.

Mr. Levin obviously feels shooting uniformed fish in a barrel suits his purposes...makes his point...makes GREAT television theater. Be damned what it does otherwise.

UPDATE: Some background.

Article 88, which states:

“Any commissioned officer who uses contemptuous words against the President, the Vice President, Congress, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of a military department, the Secretary of Transportation, or the Governor or legislature of any State, Territory, Commonwealth, or possession in which he is on duty or present shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.”

…Not likely. The UCMJ is not the product of military fiat, but rather a 1950 act of Congress. Congress intentionally chose to narrow the prior version of Article 88, which had covered all soldiers, in order to ensure that it applied to officers but not enlisted personnel. From a policy standpoint, why did it chose to do so?

First, Congress probably recognized that the primary purpose of Article 88 should be to prevent active military officers from meddling in politics–a persistent problem in other republics, both ancient and modern.

…More recently, a number of military officers faced disciplinary action after drawing attention to deficiencies in President Clinton’s moral character - an activity which for civilians seemed to constitute a hearty national pastime throughout the 1990s. These cases, while relatively few in number, became emblematic of Clinton’s difficult relations with the military, particularly its professional officer corps.

For example, Maj. Gen. Harold Campbell was compelled to retire after referring, no doubt affectionately, to the “gay-loving,” “womanizing,” “draft-dodging” and “pot-smoking” President in a speech at an Air Force banquet. Other officers received reprimands for characterizing their Commander-in-Chief as a “lying draft dodger,” a “moral coward,” and an “adulterous liar” in letters to their local newspapers.

Even retired officers may be at risk when they speak out - as Lt. Col. Michael J. Davidson noted in his July 1999 Army Lawyer article, “Contemptuous Speech Against the President.” Davidson noted that Article 88 may apply to retired commissioned officers by virtue of other articles of the UCMJ.

Posted by tree hugging sister at June 14, 2007 08:18 PM


From instapundit I read some whacko website where they assert that not only are Reid's (now admitted) insults complete fabrications, they then go on to accuse a Marine General of being political.

This is a frightening development. Our military is trusted by our people because it is apolitical. I've noted since my return to the gun club that Marines and Marine officers especially, speak freely about politics when before it was unheard of. I hope we don't have a Dreyfus-like affair.

I worry about these things.

Posted by: Mike Rentner at June 14, 2007 11:24 PM

First, good ol' Harry confirms what he said.

Second.....I'm with Mike, I worry about these things. But I'm more concerned that elected officials are targeting senior military leaders for this sort of abuse (largely because I don't have a lot of contact with the military since I demobed and retired). It's another example of Congress trying to grab control of Executive Branch powers, by assertion if nothing else.

But it also sets a poor tone for the troops in the field, and certainly encourages the other Congresscritters to behave likewise. It's bad enough Congress jerks around the military budget for political gain, but personal attacks on senior leaders is inexcusable.

I don't know that we'll have a Dreyfus-like affair, but it is certainly possible. But I have to think that this can only rub the military the wrong way, and take morale down. Or at least erode confidence in oour government even more.

Posted by: The_Real_JeffS at June 15, 2007 12:32 AM