1. We will not obey orders to disarm the American people.
2. We will not obey orders to conduct warrantless searches of the American people
3. We will not obey orders to detain American citizens as “unlawful enemy combatants” or to subject them to military tribunal.
4. We will not obey orders to impose martial law or a “state of emergency” on a state.
5. We will not obey orders to invade and subjugate any state that asserts its sovereignty.
6. We will not obey any order to blockade American cities, thus turning them into giant concentration camps.
7. We will not obey any order to force American citizens into any form of detention camps under any pretext.
8. We will not obey orders to assist or support the use of any foreign troops on U.S. soil against the American people to “keep the peace” or to “maintain control."
9. We will not obey any orders to confiscate the property of the American people, including food and other essential supplies.
10. We will not obey any orders which infringe on the right of the people to free speech, to peaceably assemble, and to petition their government for a redress of grievances.
Friday, July 17, 2009
We've been clobbered with bad news for over a year - the economy is doing its best to keep from circling the drain one last time; the only thing the government can do is to shovel printed-money at the problem, raising the spectre of either Weimar or Zimbabwe; we can't seem to figure out how to get out of Iraq, and the nation is, by any measure, politically paralyzed.
Lost in all of this is a very, very disturbing trend - an increase in extremism in the military.
Shortly after the invasion of Iraq, Aryan Nations graffiti appeared on the walls of buildings in downtown Baghdad. Recent reports affirm that with recruiting quotas going up and actual recruitments going down, military recruiters are relaxing their standards - including looking the other way at extremists.
Meanwhile, Army recruiters are reporting their commanders are hurling insults, threats, and punishment for failing to meet quotas.
Through all this chaos appears a crisis of confidence - with reports of detention camps being prepared for American 'dissidents', and a growing belief that much of what the Bush administration has done was illegal, there is a growing movement in the American military to refuse to obey orders which they feel are illegal.
One of these is the 'Oath Keepers' - an organization which has, at its core, a ten-part manifesto which forms a 'new oath' for current members of the U.S. Military.
The 'Oath Keepers' was started by a former serviceman and current attorney, Stewart Rhodes. The premise of the organization is that the oath taken by a member of the military is to the Constitution; the Oath Keepers organization reaffirms this.
Rhodes is quick to say that he's not advocating the overthrow of the government; what he wants is a nation 'free from hatred - the only thing we hate is tyranny'. However, he incorrectly states that a member of the military does not have the right to disobey unlawful orders - and that's why his organization is necessary. (Note: The Uniform Code Of Military Justice and international law give individual soldiers the right to disobey unlawful orders - in fact, it is the duty of every military organization which sponsoring nation has signed the Geneva and Hague Conventions to provide regular instruction on international law, what is and is not permitted behavior - and individual soldiers are, in fact, required to know the difference and act accordingly.)
"Just a Goddamned Piece of Paper"....
On the surface, it would appear that the 'Oath Keepers' are a harmless group, only reaffirming what the law requires - however, below the surface lie some serious potential consequences.
The U.S. Constitution has one arbiter - the Supreme Court. Judges, presidents, senators - none are permitted the authority to determine its meaning. This also applies to individual members of the military.
To do otherwise will lead to chaos.
By their statement, each of these 'oath keepers' has stated his willingness to do just that - to pick and choose which orders he or she will or will not obey, from whom, and for what reason. If you take a look below at their ten-part manifesto, it's easy to see that when the chips are down and their presence may be required to keep order, the very people we might need to do this will be laying down their arms and walking off the job, solely for political reasons.
We had a president who called the Constitution "...just a goddamned piece of paper." He went on to behave as if that were true. We shouldn't wonder that the military is following suit.
Crossing the Rubicon.....
This isn't the first time this has happened.
During the last years of the Roman republic (and throughout the later Imperial period), Roman officers knew that the real power of the state lie in its ability to project that power via the legions. Generals often made themselves dictators or emperors (perhaps the most-well-known case was that of Caesar himself, returning from Gaul and setting up shop as Dictator).
These lessons were not lost on the architects of the Constitution, who put the checks and balances in the document to prevent just that.
A Crisis of Confidence....
That there's a crisis in government which has spilled over to the military should be obvious by now. What we do about it is far less clear - because such a crisis is part of a general national malaise, not something which can be un-done with the stroke of a pen.
It's too late to put the toothpaste back in the tube and pretend - the prior administration walked on the Constitution for eight years, and incredibly, the military seems to support it.
The 'Oath Keepers' ten-part statement is below. The full text is here: