We all know that we have the right to speak our minds. We can say what we think about a given situation or law. There should be no fear of reprisals or legal action. What if we are in the military? Do we still have the same rights once we become military personnel?
Well Obama must thing that we do.
Obama told the troops, “each of us has…the universal right to speak your minds and to protest against authority; to live in a society that’s open and free; that can criticize our president without retribution.”
But, is this sound advice that the President has given these young men and women? Should they be allowed to criticize their commander-in-chief? The military does not seem to think that they should.
Kathleen Gilberd of MLG Military Law Task Force writes
Members of the military have the right to say or to write what they think, up to a point. They can’t say things that encourage violence (other than as part of authorized military operations) or urge others to violate military regulations. They can’t communicate with “the enemy,” for example, by writing letters to Iraqi officials or soldiers. Article 88 of the UCMJ (Uniform Code of Military Justice) makes it a crime for a commissioned officer to use “contemptuous words” against the
President, Vice-President, Secretary of Defense, and other specified high government officials. Enlisted members can be prosecuted under Article 134 for using similar words. The words have to be “to the prejudice of good order and discipline in the armed forces, or conduct of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces.” Military members have gotten into trouble for calling officials “fascists,” “thieves,” murderers” “tyrants” “fools” and “gangsters.” This law is selectively enforced. Some officers didn’t get in trouble for saying bad things about President Clinton, for example. Article 117 of the UCMJ outlaws using “provoking or reproachful words or gestures” towards someone else in the military. The more real danger, however, if from saying things that could make other members desert, disobey lawful orders, or refuse to do their jobs. That kind of speech could violate Article 82 of the UCMJ, which makes it a crime for someone in the military to ask someone else to desert or mutiny (disobey orders as a group).
This seems to tell us that the Constitutional Lawyer playing POTUS has given these soldiers some bad legal advice. And it appears that he has done so to make things harder for Trump.
So much for a smooth transition.