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Freedom of Speech by Government Employees

 
 
gollum
 
Reply Sun 30 Aug, 2015 04:58 pm
I read a political advertisement about American foreign policy signed by many retired American flag officers (i.e., I think Generals).

Are active generals allowed to sign such an advertisement?
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Type: Question • Score: 2 • Views: 565 • Replies: 6
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DarkCrow
 
  1  
Reply Mon 31 Aug, 2015 08:53 am
@gollum,
DoD Directive 1325.6. Guidelines for Handling Dissident and Protest Activities Among Members of the Armed Forces addresses some "free speech" issues by military members. On occasion a Flag Officer has in the past made comments that were not prudent for his position. These folks usually wind up retired quickly (MacArthur), or dead as in the case of George Patton (Killing Patton, B. O'Reilly)
Once retired, a former military member is not bound by DoD directives or the UCMJ, mostly. Of course using any classified knowledge publicly to support their political position will get anyone in hot water quickly.
I am 20 years post my Air Force Officer career but I cannot ever divulge some of my knowledge, even though it is severely outdated.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 31 Aug, 2015 09:39 am
@DarkCrow,
Hey, Dark Crow, welcome back.
DarkCrow
 
  1  
Reply Mon 31 Aug, 2015 11:39 am
@ossobuco,

Thank you!
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gollum
 
  1  
Reply Mon 31 Aug, 2015 02:10 pm
@DarkCrow,
DarkCrow-

Thank you.

I read a full page advertisement in The New York Times consisting of a statement as to why the retired flag officers were opposed to Congress approving the propose agreement with Iran.

I wondered whether an active flag officer (and/or other employee of the U.S. Armed Forces and/or the U.S. Government) would be permitted to sign the statement.
engineer
 
  1  
Reply Mon 31 Aug, 2015 02:37 pm
@gollum,
It seems like full page articles are the protest of choice these days. We now have generals and admirals on both sides with ads and recently a bunch of Jewish leaders supporting the deal. I think the relevant parts of the DOD directive that DrakCrow posted are:

Quote:
3.2. The Service members’ right of expression should be preserved to the maximum extent possible, consistent with good order and discipline and the national security.
3.3. No commander should be indifferent to conduct that, if allowed to proceed unchecked, would destroy the effectiveness of his or her unit.
3.4. The proper balancing of these interests will depend largely upon the calm and prudent judgment of the responsible commander.


I would imagine that a senior military leader taking a political position directly in opposition to a more senior military leader (President) would not be "consistent with good order and discipline". It is also a principle tenet in the US military that the military works for the civilian government. I think an active duty senior officer would be on shaky ground expressing an opinion one way or the other. Interestingly, I think a GI expressing a heated opinion would be protected since he or she would not be in a position to impact the overall effectiveness of a large group of fellow soldiers/sailors.
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DarkCrow
 
  1  
Reply Mon 31 Aug, 2015 03:01 pm
@gollum,
Permitted? They are US citizens, so they can sign. However, there would be consequences if it was a political hot potato and the DoD wanted to pursue it under Article 88 of the UCMJ. "contemptuous words" can be interpreted many ways.

"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.”
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