The court threw out Parker’s conviction for one of the two murders and reassessed his sentence for the other crime. The decision continues a trend of military death sentences being overturned on appeal — 11 out of 16 death sentences since 1984. The last military execution occurred in 1961.
If you’re a member of the US military and you’ve ever Facebook “Liked” President Barack Obama or Governor Mitt Romney, you’d better pay attention, because the Department of Defense just issued guidance that restricts that very thing.
You can express yourself on issues and candidates:
An [active duty] Service member may generally express his or her own personal views on public issues or political candidates via social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, or personal Blogs, much the same as they would be permitted to write a letter to the editor of a newspaper.
Update: Based on new information, some conclusions in this article have been updated here.
Every now and then members of the military post official articles that might best be understood as “public service announcements” for their fellow troops. They often cover high interest issues (like politics, social media, and religion, see below) or regulations that are the topic du jour. Unfortunately, because these articles carry no weight (unless they are written by a senior Air Force leader issuing official guidance), they can often add confusion to the issue they mean to clarify — especially if they’re wrong.
Some may have assumed that with a Democratic President (and the stereotype that the US military leans Republican/conservative), most of those testing the limits of permissible political activities or commentary would be “right wing” or conservatives.
A combat engineer assigned to the 416th Theater Engineer Company potentially violated these rules Jan. 3 when he stepped onto a stage at Ron Paul’s headquarters in Ankeny, Iowa, during the Iowa Caucus to offer a personal endorsement.
However, it also specifically noted Thorsen was not on active duty at the time, contrary to the CNN reports at the time: Continue reading →
Update: US Rep Mike Hoffman (R-CO) has said troops need to be reminded of the rules involving political participation. As noted below, there were already some official military articles on the subject.
Recently, an email from an officer announcing a Bible study at Kirtland AFB was the subject of a complaint from Michael Weinstein’s Military Religious Freedom Foundation, leading to the question here, “Can a military officer advertise a Bible study?”
Some relevant quotes from the original complaint, as sent to (and publicized by) the MRFF by an enlisted Airman:
During the past 6-7 months a unit commander, who is now the Deputy Group Commander decided to send mass e-mails to the wing regarding bible study sessions. These are sessions that were led by the individual sending the e-mails…a person in a command position, clearly a conflict of interest. A lot of us expressed concern about the perception that leadership is endorsing what should clearly be a chaplain endorsed and led activity.
Just imagine the following scenario… if you were a young Airman wanting to look good for a Below the Zone package, the Deputy Group Commander is leading a bible study, a young impressionable person might Continue reading →
The following email recently took a turn around the “religious complaint” circuit:
From: [ ] LtCol USAF AETC 58 OG/CD
To: 58 SOW All Personnel
Subject: 58 SOW Bible Study: Every Wed, 1200-1300 in the TRS Auditorium
You are invited to a weekly 58 SOW Bible Study on Wednesdays, from 1200-1300, in the 58 TRS Auditorium-a Chaplain-sponsored event. If you are interested, read below for more details: Continue reading →
It was bound to happen. While some have claimed the US military should not discriminate on the basis of sexual preference, they’ve been unable to explain why the US military still discriminates on the basis of gender. A new report from a Congressional panel now recommends removing those very policies.
The Defense Department should eliminate restrictions on women serving in combat units and end all “gender restrictive policies,” according to a blue-ribbon panel created by Congress.
Many debates about restrictions on personal choices in the military often devolve to what the military is allowed to do with regard to “victimless” crimes or things that are legal outside the military.
The Air Force — notably, not the Department of Defense — recently changed a regulation to expand the prohibition on “mood altering substances.”
The revised language makes punitive the prohibition in the current Air Force Instruction regarding the ingestion of any substance, other than alcohol or tobacco, for the purpose of altering mood or function…
The guidance cited the designer drug “spice,” salvia divinorum, inhalants, household chemicals, solvents and prescription drug abuse.
As noted earlier, the Air Force has already discharged Airmen over use of “spice,” something which is legal in most jurisdictions in the United States.
To remind those who quickly forget, the US military can — and does — regulate personal conduct, even if that conduct is legal outside of the military and even if that “private choice” is believed not to affect any other person.
On the same day someone complained in a Facebook post that a military Chaplain was “blatantly proselytizing” (in fact, just 6 minutes after the post), another Facebook post made a similar complaint about a different Chaplain:
Fans, check out this, written by a government-[employed] Chaplain in an official government publication:
Writing for the Chaplain’s Corner at Marine Corps Base Quantico, The Marine Corps Recruiting Command Chaplain writes about why women were created (as an afterthought to keep men from being lonely), marriage as a Christian institution, and segues to a blatant Jesus salvation pitch.