Active Duty Military Attending the RNC
By imrdkl in Op-Ed
Sun Sep 05, 2004 at 02:08:00 AM EST
Tags: Freedom (all tags)
filed by the Associated Press contained a startling bit of information:
About 15 percent of the 4,800-plus delegates and alternates to the convention in New York are veterans, organizers said Monday. An additional 3 percent are active military personnel.
This report was
on the Republican National Committee's website, and
by the fine folks at Free Republic, among others
As it turns out though, it's actually not such a good thing to have active-duty military anywhere near a political convention - if you value your democracy. In fact, up until just a few days before the convention, it was quite illegal for active-duty military even to attend. And yet, there it was in black and white. Active duty military members were not only attending, but participating as delegates in the RNC. How could this happen?
Soon after being published, the original AP report, linked above, was removed from the RNC website, and from most or all of the major news outlets which had published it, including the AP wire service copy. The few outlets which still haven't taken down their copy of it are getting harder to find, but the Google cache will give evidence to its original distribution. The media ran with the news that our beloved military were an important part of the RNC, and they ran hard.
Yet, as any reasonable, freedom-loving American patriot will know, the fact that our active military is now allowed to attend, and apparantly, participate in political conventions is quite disturbing. Indeed, it borders on terrifying - as one of the first necessary steps towards latin-style dictatorship. To that end, political activism on the part of active-duty military folk has always been strictly regulated by a DOD directive known simply as,
This directive specified, in very clear terms, exactly what an active-duty military member could, and could not do, when concerning political activism. Unfortunately, this extremely important directive has recently been modified, modified and corrupted by none other than Paul Wolfowitz, our esteemed Deputy Secretary of Defense, who's signature you'll find at the bottom of the new version. With his changes, the door has been opened to active-duty members of the military in our country's most partisan of political events, the Republican National Convention.
What I'd like to offer you now, therefore, is a paragraph by paragraph comparison of the
of 1344.10, which was in force up until August 2 of this year, when Wolfy got his grubby paws on it, with his
which made this abomination possible. In order to substantiate, or at least, validate, the claim in the AP article linked above, which clearly states that active-duty military are serving as delegates, I'm going to have to make some conjecture, but the basis of my claims lies purely in the actual additions and deletions which have been made to 1344.10. I invite you to open copies of both versions yourself, and follow along, as we retrace the steps which have led to this latest slash at the heart of our democracy.
The first order of the day, when addressing the "defeciencies" of 1344.10, was to get the soldier through the door at the convention. In the previous version of the directive, convention attendance was not explicitly allowed :
4.1.1. - A member on Active Duty may:
The new version of the document extends the permissible functions which may be attended to include conventions:
220.127.116.11. - Attend partisan and nonpartisan political meetings or rallies as a spectator when not in uniform.
4.1.1. - A member on Active Duty may:
So, now an active duty military man (or woman) can show up and get through the door as a spectator to the RNC, but they still can't participate. There were clearly some more adjustments which had to be made to correct this deficiency. The original directive specifically forbade, in fact, participation of any sort in political conventions:
18.104.22.168. - Attend partisan and nonpartisan political meetings, rallies, or conventions as a spectator when not in uniform.
4.1.2. - A member on Active Duty shall not:
So, Wolfowitz added a bit which extends the new right to be a "spectator", to include the right to participate:
22.214.171.124. - Participate in partisan political management, campaigns, or conventions.
4.1.2. - A member on Active Duty shall not:
Yes, it's a bit ambiguous, but it does seem to indicate that participation (as a delegate) is now OK for active duty military.
126.96.36.199. - Participate in partisan political management, campaigns, or conventions (unless attending a convention as a spectator when not in uniform).
Yet, even with those two big showstoppers which blocked attendance and participation out of the way, there were still some significant hurdles to clear, before active-duty service folk could participate in the RNC as actual delegates. In particular, how were they to become delegates in the first place? Both versions of the directive, after all, specifically prohibit active-duty members of the military from holding or "exercising the functions" of an elective civil office. This eliminates the possibility for active-duty military to become elected delegates - but there are other paths to becoming a delegate. Besides election, delegates can also be
and there are even so-called
delegates - although it seems doubtful that an active-duty member would be in the role of an automatic delegate. Nevertheless, a convention delegate does not always have to be an "elective" office, and therefore is not always specifically prohibited as a civil office for an active-duty member of the armed services.
With the specific prohibition against holding elective civil office sidestepped, the opportunities for an active-duty serviceman to hold an appointed office were still quite slim. Active Duty being the key limitation. The previous version of the directive excepted some active-duty members from the general prohibition of serving in a non-elective civil office - but these soldiers' term of active duty had to be less than 270 days:
As long as they are not serving on EAD, enlisted members and Reserve officers may hold partisan or nonpartisan civil office if such office is held in a private capacity and does not interfere with the performance of military duties.
The new version completely eliminates the EAD distinction, and simply states that:
(EAD, or Extended Active Duty implies a current duty term longer than 270 days, according to the definition in the previous version of the directive)
A member on active duty may hold or exercise the functions of a civil office in the U.S. Government that is (non-elective), including when assigned or detailed to such office to perform such functions, provided there is no interference with military duties.
Given this change, it seems quite possible, at least to me, that any active duty member may now serve in a non-elective civil office. But there was one last safeguard which had to be removed, before all of this could work - the active-duty serviceman had to be able to become a delegate-candidate. That is, the active-duty member had to get their name on the list of potential delegates, because the committees don't just appoint delegates out of the blue.
Well, naturally, nomination or candidacy for civil office (whether elective or otherwise) is also clearly prohibited in nearly all cases, in both versions of the directive. However, there's an important exception built in to both versions which has been subtly but significantly altered in the latest version. The previous version stated that, regarding nomination or candidacy for civil office:
4.2.1 - [...] When circumstances warrant, the Secretary concerned or the Secretary's designee may permit a member to file such evidence of nomination or candidacy for nomination, as may be required by law.
So, previously, the active duty member might be allowed to file the forms and papers necessary for candidacy, but nothing more. The new version significantly extends this allowance, and creates the necessary, and final loophole which was needed:
4.2.2. - When circumstances warrant, the Secretary concerned or the Secretary's designee may permit a member covered by the prohibition of subparagraph 4.2.1., above, to remain or become a nominee or a candidate for civil office.
Pretty nifty. All it takes now for the active-duty serviceman is the permission of the Secretary (or his minion) to get their name on the delegates ballot list. If they actually get elected, they're out of luck, but if they're appointed as a delegate, they're on their way to New York City.
As stated at the beginning of this note, I've made some conjecture to get this far. I'm not ordinarily a person given to conspiracy theory, either. And I'm clearly not a political wonk. Nevertheless, the timing and the context of the modifications to this extremely important directive, a directive which forms an important part of the foundation of a safe democracy by keeping the military out of politics, is at best questionable, and at worst (and as usual), criminal. That's what got me motivated to present this, but I welcome corrections.
Oh, by the way, there's one other small change which was made to 1344.10 along with getting the military into the RNC, a change which closes a loophole, instead of opening one. It's down near the bottom, if you're following along, in the Enclosure 3 section. While the previous version disallowed partisan political advocacy on the part of active-duty military folk:
E3.3.9. - Participate in any radio, television, or other program or group discussion as an advocate of a partisan political party or candidate.
The new version extends the forbidden zone a bit:
E3.3.9. - Participate in any radio, television, or other program or group discussion as an advocate for or against of a partisan political party, candidate, or cause.
Too bad guys, complaining is out.