NOVEMBER 30—While most Americans may be waiting patiently for an end to the election imbroglio, men and women in the armed services are plenty angry, especially after Democrats in Florida tried to throw out many of their absentee ballots.
“American soldiers are citizens too,” writes war hero David Hackworth in his ever popular Voice of the Grunt listserv. “The troops are angry. They feel they’re second-class citizens whose votes go uncounted because they don’t count. I average 500 e-mails on normal days; this injustice has quadrupled the input, and the fire from those messages has almost melted my computer.”
Hackworth writes at a time when the army and air force commands are warning their personnel it’s a crime for them to express contempt for the nation’s political leaders—whether it be in speech or e-mail, The Washington Post reports. General Jack Rives, the lead attorney for the air force’s Air Command, sent a sharp reminder to 89,000 troops at 17 major bases: “This is not the time to send e-mails or otherwise get involved in an improper or unprofessional manner with the continuing controversy over the presidential election.”
Colonel James Rosenblatt, the staff judge advocate for the army’s Training and Doctrine Command, reminding the command’s generals and lawyers that Article 88 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice forbids military officers from using “contemptuous words against the President, 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.” Rosenblatt has 67,000 troops at 15 bases. He suggested commanders hold educational sessions with the troops instructing them on “civilian control of the military.”
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on November 28, 2000