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Friday, March 10, 2006

Republicans Trot Troops Out for Photo Op

... "The best info the congresswoman received is there is no violation in honoring Iraqi veterans, and that's what happened," said Guy Short, Musgrave's chief of staff. "It's unfortunate people are trying to make political hay out of an attempt to honor veterans of the Iraq war." Political reporter Joshua Micah Marshall, who writes for the Washington Monthly and is a columnist for The Hill - a weekly newspaper covering Congress - pointed to the incident as an example of the White House trying to use "uniformed military personnel as props at Republican political rallies."
Uniformed soldiers at GOP event raise hackles

It's the case of the missing picture. Is it legal, or is it stretching the limit? I'll present the facts, you decide.

Via Josh Marshall, we have another case of the disappearing art, but this time it concerns our troops.

Marshall's first post on the issue has the picture you see above, which features soldiers appearing at the Republican Lincoln Day dinner. But when Josh questioned the presence of uniformed military at a political event, the picture suddenly disappeared.

I follow military issues closely, but earlier in the week when I saw Josh's post, it was the first time I'd heard about the picture being nuked. I picked the story up here, with more here.

The Coloradoan, did a later follow-up, but as Josh says, the whole story needs more attention.

Republicans say they're only honoring the veterans of the Iraq war. Josh questions their presence, especially after hearing from JAG lawyers and others. I say the Republicans are using the troops as props in direct violation of military regulations, but that's my heart and gut talking, because I'm not a lawyer. Check out the following section of the DoD military regs.


It is DoD policy to encourage members of the Armed Forces (hereafter referred to as "members") to carry out the obligations of citizenship. While on active duty, however, members are prohibited from engaging in certain political activities. The following DoD policy shall apply:

4.1.1. A member on active duty may: Register, vote, and express his or her personal opinion on political candidates and issues, but not as a representative of the Armed Forces. Make monetary contributions to a political organization. Attend partisan and nonpartisan political meetings, rallies, or conventions as a spectator when not in uniform.

4.1.2. A member on active duty shall not: Use his or her official authority or influence for interfering with an election; affecting the course or outcome of an election; soliciting votes for a particular candidate or issue; or requiring or soliciting political contributions from others. Be a candidate for, hold, or exercise the functions of civil office except as authorized in paragraphs 4.2. and 4.3., below. Participate in partisan political management, campaigns, or conventions (unless attending a convention as a spectator when not in uniform).

In her first piece for The Coloradoan, Lindsay Renick Mayer, makes the following point as well.

... The directive also states that in ambiguous cases, active-duty soldiers are to avoid any activities that seemingly associate the Department of Defense or the Department of Homeland Security directly or indirectly with partisan political activity.

The Larimer County Republican organization said that because it merely honored the soldiers instead of requiring their participation, they did not violate the code. ...

There is nothing about the Republican Lincoln Day Dinner that is remotely "ambiguous."

Honoring U.S. troops is a wonderful tradition of both parties. Trotting them out like mascots is wrong for either party to do.

Let's also remember what has happened to our military through Bush and the Republicans who control Congress. Look at the history Republicans have of smearing soldiers who don't stand silently and subserviently. They smeared John McCain, Max Cleland, John Kerry and now Jack Murtha. It's what they do to veterans who dare talk back. Need I also mention the grunts being the scapegoat for Abu Ghraib, while the bosses who invented the torture got off clean? As for policies, it's hard to keep up with how bad Bush is to our veterans and those serving today in Afghanistan and Iraq and around the world.

Honoring the Iraqi war veterans, by trotting them out to stand on stage at the Republican Lincoln Day dinner?

Republicans must mistake today's Dems for the Democratic Party before blogs were born.

The Bushies are busted and we've got the missing art to prove it. Oh, and speaking of art, if there's nothing wrong with what went on, just why did Republicans scrub the shot that showed Musgrave with the soldiers? Hmmmm.

Over the past few days I've had the distinct privilege to guest blog for Jane and ReddHedd, which has given me access to a great readership. I thank the goddesses of FDL, as well as the readers. You've challenged me and taught me things, as well as being so gracious to welcome my visit. I also appreciate the company I've kept these last few days.

And since I do still have your ear --- you knew this was coming -- I would love to hear from FDL readers who know about DoD milregs to ascertain what side of the legal line the Republicans are on asking our troops to pose at a political function. Remember, if our soldiers break the rules there are harsh punishments.

Oh, but I guess the Republicans don't care about that, as long as they get their photo with a hero.

- Taylor Marsh