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Tea Bagging the Military

April 14, 2010

When you raise your hand and take the oath of service in our military you do it with an understanding that you will be held to a higher standard than the average citizen. It also means that you live under a different set of rules. These rules are called the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The only rights and privileges you have as a service member are those afforded to you under the UCMJ. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you give up all of your rights under the constitution, but you are expected to exercise those rights with a certain amount of restraint and dignity.

It’s called “good order and discipline”. If you decide to act in a manner that disrupts said “good order and discipline”, or brings discredit upon the armed forces, then you’d better be ready to pay the price.

Having served in the military for nearly a decade I have some experience with this process. Civic activity was fully allowed as long as it was carried out in a manner befitting a member of the armed services. Rule of thumb: If anyone in your chain of command would disapprove of your actions, you probably shouldn’t be doing it.  Others may have had different experiences, but that was the general stance taken by my various commands.

With regard to the new Tea Bagger group, “Armed Forces Tea Party Patriot“, all I can say is, they better be damn careful.

Here is a short list of the more pertinent Punative Articles from the UCMJ.

881. ART. 81. CONSPIRACY

Any person subject to this chapter who conspires with any other person to commit an offense under this chapter shall, if one or more of the conspirators does an act to effect the object of the conspiracy, be punished as a court-martial may direct.

882. ART. 82. SOLICITATION

(a) Any person subject to this chapter who solicits or advises another or others to desert in violation of section 885 of this title (article 85) or mutiny in violation of section 894 of this title (article 94) shall, if the offense solicited or advised is attempted or committed, be punished with the punishment provided for the commission of the offense, but, if the offense solicited or advised is not committed or attempted, he shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.

(b) Any person subject to this chapter who solicits or advises another or others to commit an act or misbehavior before the enemy in violation of section 899 of this title (article 99) or sedition in violation of section 894 of this title (article 94) shall, if the offense solicited or advised is committed, be punished with the punishment provided for the commission of the offense, but, if the offense solicited or advised is not committed, he shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.

888. ART. 88. CONTEMPT TOWARD OFFICIALS

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.

892. ART. 92. FAILURE TO OBEY ORDER OR REGULATION

Any person subject to this chapter who–

(1) violates or fails to obey any lawful general order or regulation;

(2) having knowledge of any other lawful order issued by any member of the armed forces, which it is his duty to obey, fails to obey the order; or

(3) is derelict in the performance of his duties;

shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.

894. ART. 94. MUTINY OR SEDITION

(a) Any person subject to this chapter who–

(1) with intent to usurp or override lawful military authority, refuses, in concert with any other person, to obey orders or otherwise do his duty or creates any violence or disturbance is guilty of mutiny;

(2) with intent to cause the overthrow or destruction of lawful civil authority, creates, in concert with any other person, revolt, violence, or disturbance against that authority is guilty of sedition;

(3) fails to do his utmost to prevent and suppress a mutiny or sedition being committed in his presence, or fails to take all reasonable means to inform his superior commissioned officer or commanding officer of a mutiny or sedition which he knows or has reason to believe is taking place, is guilty of a failure to suppress or report a mutiny or sedition.

(b) A person who is found guilty of attempted mutiny, mutiny, sedition, or failure to suppress or report a mutiny or sedition shall be punished by death or such other punishment as a court-martial may direct.

909. ART. 109. PROPERTY OTHER THAN MILITARY PROPERTY OF UNITED STATES– WASTE, SPOILAGE, OR DESTRUCTION

Any person subject to this chapter who willfully or recklessly wastes, spoils, or otherwise willfully and wrongfully destroys or damages any property other than military property of the United States shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.

916. ART. 116. RIOT OR BREACH OF PEACE

Any person subject to this chapter who causes or participates in any riot or breach of the peace shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.

934. ART. 134. GENERAL ARTICLE

Though not specifically mentioned in this chapter, all disorders and neglects to the prejudice of good order and discipline in the armed forces, all conduct of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces, and crimes and offenses not capital, of which persons subject to this chapter may be guilty, shall be taken cognizance of by a general, special or summary court-martial, according to the nature and degree of the offense, and shall be punished at the discretion of that court.

I believe most Teabagger nonsense is just that, nonsense, but a lot of it could definitely land a military member in hot water under Article 134, and if an officer is involved it could possibly warrant an Article 88.  If any of the more “fiery” rhetoric is actually acted upon (i.e. property damage, assault, threatening behavior, or conspiracy to carry out a crime) those members involved will be facing very serious consequences.  This is not something to be taken lightly, and I would warn those people still in uniform, reserve or active duty, that they have obligations far beyond some petty political grandstanding.

As a veteran, my advise to those in our military who don’t like taking orders from our duly elected president, or find the current representation in our congress not to their liking is this:  Voice your displeasure at the ballot box, and if that isn’t good enough then finish your obligated time and get out of the military.  I served under two presidents, Bill Clinton, whose tenure I have mixed feelings about, and George W. Bush, a man who I find so utterly repellent that I cannot even say his name without adding an expletive to one end or the other.  I served my country honorably, even under a disgraceful, lying, torturing war criminal with a group of fawning, ignorant clowns in congress to help him out.  Quit acting like petulant children and serve your country with a little dignity.

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