Thursday, March 09, 2006

Or Is It The Political Wing Of The Marine Corps?

Comrade Joshua follows up today on the story about the Larimer County GOP in Colorado using uniformed marines as stage props at a partisan fundraising event. He links to this article in The Coloradoan that quotes an unnamed spokeswoman— and, may I just say, "WTF? An anonymous spokeswoman for this!!???"— telling us that nobody violated any code.
The uniformed troops who appeared at the Larimer County Republican Party's Lincoln Day Dinner last weekend did not violate military code, said a spokeswoman for the Marine Corps Headquarters' public affairs office.

"I don't think there's any trouble to be had," said the spokeswoman, who declined to give her name, citing protocol. "It's a touchy issue because lots of honorees are being invited to things like this. It's a shame people are trying to turn it into more than that."

Organizations from both parties have been asking military members returning from Iraq and Afghanistan to attend their events to be honored, and the Marine Corps will turn down those requests if the troops are expected to speak, act in an official capacity to assist with the event or endorse a party or candidate, the spokeswoman said.

Strictly being honored at an event, however, is not against regulations, she said.

Officials at the Pentagon deferred to the Marine Corps for a ruling on the appearances.
Joshua hits all the right notes in his followup post. Go read it.

I just want to highlight what this shows. This wasn't a training accident. It isn't a case of a couple of marines forgetting what the regulations permit. The U.S. Marine Corps is telling us that the official policy has changed, regardless of what the regulations may or may not have to say about it. Appearing in uniform at Republican Party events is now part of the official duties of active duty marines. These marines aren't being disciplined for what they've done. They're being rewarded.

Suck on that and see how it tastes going down.

p.s. You know the amusing part of all this? It apparently isn't in technical violation of the U.S. Code governing the conduct of military personnel. Yes, Virginia— the Hatch Act doesn't cover the military. Congress never bothered to outlaw this kind of partisan political activity on the part of the military, since the DOD had a long-standing directive that pretty much covered the relevant prohibitions. Which means— now that the Pentagon has reversed itself, good luck getting the Congress to plug this loophole.

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