Military stories from past to present, both wars.

Open letter to Mil Bloggers from CJ

December 19th, 2009 Posted in The SandGram v1.0
I want to take a moment to thank all of those that are participating in the BlogOut on behalf of free speech generally and me specifically. The selflessness show by each of these bloggers, both within and without the milblogging community, has inspired and humbled me. For much of the past year, I have been fighting for Soldiers’ rights to freedom of speech. I have always resisted the mindset that when Soldiers join the Army they surrender their rights guaranteed under the Constitution.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand that the way in which we EXERCISE those rights is somewhat restricted, but we don’t lose them. Every enlisted member of the military signed a DD Form 4/1, or enlistment contract. On page two of that document, it states that “many laws, regulations, and military customs will govern my conduct and require me to do things a civilian does not have to do.” Many use this little clause to justify the mentality that we are troops 24 hours a day 7 days a week, and that’s true – to a point. But, that doesn’t mean that EVERYTHING I do in my life is subject to military oversight. I am allowed to have hobbies, pick and choose my friends, and join civic groups and clubs. But, I’m not allowed to break laws and must abide by additional rules and regulations that are dictated by my employment in the military. These include the uniform code of military justice, army regulations, and DOD directives.

No Soldier, Sailor, Airman, or Marine surrenders their free speech rights. Officers, of course, fall under different sets of rules. For example, Article 88 states of the Manual of Courts Martial 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.”

Now, that doesn’t give Soldiers the right to use “contemptuous words” against our elected officials, but who decides what “contemptuous words” are? Is any disagreement with an elected official “contemptuous?” Is only certain kinds of disagreement? In my mind, writing about what an elected official says and then highlighting what that elected official DID in contrast to what they said is not “contemptuous” in any way. If someone has lied to the American people and I can prove it, how is it contemptuous to call that person a liar? I see nothing “contemptuous” about calling for the wholesale firing of Congress through the democratic process.

But, beginning in April, I started coming under attack for talking about those very things. Interestingly, the complaints came from blogs that were posted PRIOR TO being invited to the Obama White House. As a matter of fact, while speaking to WH officials, they even acknowledged that we had disagreements, but I was invited anyway.

An IG complaint was filed around that time and after a three month investigation into my blogging came to the conclusion that I was guilty of subversion and using my rank or position to solicit votes for a political cause, both, I maintain, are absolutely ludicrous. After months of trying to get the results of the bogus IG complaint, I finally obtained a copy of it. Interesting what an Army Times article can accomplish. I’ve since forwarded that nearly 100-page document to my military lawyer for advice on how to move forward on that front. Suffice it to say that everything that could possibly be taken out of context when separated from the post as a whole WAS taken out of context and used in a vindictive, political manner. The school issue is a whole other problem that adds to the problems with poor leadership.

I want to personally thank all the military and civilian bloggers out there that have taken up this cause and support me and my family through this difficult time. It’s been humbling to see the outpouring of support from across the country and around the world. My inbox has exploded with positive and encouraging words of support (and some not-so-supportive). I will never be able to repay what you have done for me, but I will never give up trying! Thank you.