Free Speech for Soldiers

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Al Lorentz is a reserve Non-Commissioned Officer currently serving in
Iraq. His article on Iraq
<>; has raged over the
wires since it was published on The military chain of
command is considering charging Al with violation of Article 134 for
making a statement with the intent to promote disloyalty or disaffection
toward the U.S. by any member of the Armed forces. They are also
considering charging Al with violation of 1344.10, the conduct of
partisan political activity, and violation of Standards of Conduct for
unauthorized use of Government assets to create and email stories.

This is laughable, as active duty members apparently constituted 3% of
the delegation at the Republican National Convention
<>; only a few
weeks ago. Do you think those military members will be accused of
violating 1344.10?

When I was an officer I avoided any politicking; I didn't even vote.
But I think soldiers should at least be allowed to write uncensored
letters, blog, and speak for themselves, when off duty, as long as
they're not giving away classified information and obeying the legal
orders they're given. Any less is just attempted mind control,
impossible and self-destructive. My personal theory on this is (having
been an officer) - in the short term, soldiers don't have to like
what they're doing or even agree with it. Like with exercise.
Soldiers don't like it, you make them do it anyway. They still have to
obey orders. But in the long term, if they don't come around and agree
that what you want is right, you'll never succeed. In the long run
they're glad you made them exercise. Anyway I think they should be
allowed to write articles if they want.

(if you want, you can read Al's article linked from the kwiatkowski page
I linked above).

If that one doesn't make you mad, try this one about the draft:
If you'd rather laugh than get mad, read this one instead:

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Doug said:

I may need to rethink the free speech thing. Certainly when wearing a uniform, actually on duty, they have no right of free speech. When not on duty, on their own time, not giving away classified information, it's less clear; I tend to think they do have at least some right to speak in that sense; courts seem to have upheld that in cases from Vietnam, from what I could find. Also I should note that the first two paragraphs above are quoted from the website, the third paragraph is my own writing.

Doug said:

Found this on There's also a Department of Defense directive that governs what the troops themselves can do during an election year—something that indirectly affects what candidates can do on a military base. Active-duty personnel can vote, contribute money to campaigns, and express their opinions about politics so long as they don't purport to speak on behalf of the military. They may also attend political events like the Democratic National Convention or Republican National Convention, provided they do so in civilian clothes and don't purport to represent the military in any way. However, active-duty military personnel cannot attend a political rally in uniform, conduct political fund raising on base, speak to partisan political gatherings, or otherwise act in a way that implies endorsement of a political party or candidate by the military. (If the president holds special, non-political events on base, soldiers may attend in uniform, while on duty.) The rules even say that an active-duty soldier cannot display a "large political sign, banner, or poster (as distinguished from a bumper sticker) on the top or side of a private vehicle."

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This page contains a single entry by Doug Treder published on September 29, 2004 4:40 PM.

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