Militantpundit, over at Making Tomorrows Military Today, (a good man doing an often thankless job, and a very demanding one at that) has a couple of concerns. Having “toted the bag” a few years, myself, as a Navy Recruiter, I know where he is coming from. So thought I would speak about that profession, along with addressing some of his concerns from his post.
Let’s start with the story about the son of a current anti-war protester. The following blockquote is from the father’s web site, so there is a strong possibility it is biased, not only from a father’s point of view (understandable, being a father myself, I can see how that would happen), but based on the overall content of his site, and his point of view, biased by his beliefs as well. (Also understandable, but considering he was a vet, and has to have had some sort of understanding about what and how a member of the armed services can speak to the press in or out of uniform, has been less then straight forward with his blog visitors and with his son.) But let’s see the quote….
During this time, Drew [The son of the anti-war father, and a “nuke” in the Navy, on active duty–ed.] was home on leave. He met me at one of these vigils. He held a sign that read “Bring Our Troops Home.” He wasn’t in uniform.
While at the vigil, he answered a reporter’s question about the war in Iraq. “I just don’t agree with what we’re doing right now,” he said. “I don’t think our guys should be dying in Iraq. But I’m not a pacifist. I’ll do my part.”
The reporter who interviewed my son worked for the Associated Press. The story he wrote ran nationally. The next day we received numerous phone calls from other journalists wanting to question this active-duty sailor who dared question the war. Drew declined all further requests for interviews. He never intended to cause a stir. His answer to the original question had been a simple, heartfelt reaction to the daily pictures of carnage that the embedded reporters were describing to the nation.
My son was prosecuted for his comments. The Navy charged him with violating Article 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice: Disloyal Statements. At his hearing, he was asked if he were a sympathizer with the enemy and whether he had considered acts of sabotage. To both of those questions he answered no. When asked if he regretted his comments, he also answered no. He was convicted and demoted.
Unless they changed the UCMJ Article 134 reads as follows:
Â§ 934. Art. 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.
And yes, looking further into the UCMJ, there is a specific charge of Disloyal Statements (item 72) under the Article 134. But there are lots of questions here:
1. Was the young man brought up on charges due to his statements to the press? Or was it something else (more) that he said? Based on what the father claims, this seems very flimsy for this kind of charge, and or to have the time spent on prosecuting same. (This is assuming it was a court-martial, vice Captain’s Mast- the Navy’s version of Office Hours for you non seafaring types) My guess is there is more then a couple of things going on here we don’t know about.
2. What, if any, are the sons affiliations with the fathers anti-war organization(s)? This could be behind the charges being leveled at the son. If there wasn’t enough evidence to tie the son into the groups, or if coercion (by the father) was used to get the son to follow along, the lesser charge of Disloyal Statements, may have been “a slap on the hand” (if done at Captain’s Mast) to try and get him to realize his career in the Navy is in jeopardy if he continues to be a part of same….not to mention he is seriously messing with his chances to hold on to his security clearances…being a part of the nuclear team.
3. Was there other actions, attitudes, concerns with the son, as far as his over all military bearing, and job performance went? Or were the statements he made, not directly tied in to what was said at the time he was with his dad? He could have said something while on board the ship or at his duty station, that was enough to have the same charges brought up. We don’t have quite the same levels of “freedom of speech” as civilians do. There are reasons for that…the first which comes to mind is “maintaining good order and discipline”. If you have someone spouting off about the Commands mission or the Commander in Chief (or Sec Nav or Sec Def) not really knowing what they are doing…or that what they are doing is wrong….well you could get tapped with this easily enough. especially if we are on a wartime footing.
Bottom line my guess is this kid has a big mouth….and someone decided to close it for him (and I would bet he was given at least one warning before the charges were filed).