Because of the broohaha over invective and language a few weeks back I was asked my opinion of the Chairman’s conversation with Pastor Jones.

Simply put, I am confused and disappointed.

I firmly believe that any conversation – direct conversation – mano a mano – from a military officer in the execution of his military duties to a citizen that directly asks for a curtailment of free speech is outside any swim lane. There is no private citizen or “I’m only a reservist” clause for this.

In the same week I find that I am as bothered that the Chairman hasn’t spoken against Admiral Nathman and the others who stood on the stage at the DNC. He may be parsing a subtlety as “I have issue with those who are “against” something, but am OK with those who a are “for” something” as some sort of positive pressure indicator. But since there has been no clarifying language I am forced to recognize that words, and the lack thereof, have meaning.

I still want to believe that the Chairman is not a partisan man…but it is increasingly difficult to do so. He speaks all around the world to Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines. Surely someone will ask him about this at some point. I hope so. I’d like to hear his answer.

Posted by M. Ittleschmerz in Soft Power

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  • Norva-homeport

    All’s fair in love, war, and politics. (evidently)

  • Matt

    Would someone ask the General where we can send our speech for him to OK before we speak it? Does he have a big box somewhere? I mean I don’t want to make Al Qaeda attack us for something I said. Surely eveyone would agree. Lets not make Al Qaeda mad.

  • Diogenes of NJ

    @M. Ittleschmerz

    And you couldn’t see it coming from when Dempsey ran his mouth about the vets.

    Maybe there should be another oath: “I swear by almighty God this sacred oath: I will render unconditional obedience to the President of the United States and people, Barack Obama, Commander in Chief, and, as a brave soldier, I will be ready at any time to stake my life for this oath.”

    See if you can figure out where it came from.

    – Kyon

  • Aubrey

    I expected much from General Dempsey, sadly what I and this country have received is a partisan activist who wants to turn the entire US military into a campaign organization for one particular candidate and party.

    Not to put to fine a point on it, but the general has betrayed both his office and his honor. If he does not resign over this, he merely confirms that.

    I can almost hear what Omar Bradley and Arleigh Burke would say about this “man”.

  • 3rd post and you have to invoke Godwin’s Law. Sad. If that’s all you’ve got, no one will take you seriously…moniker or not.

    If anyone wants to take the one comment from weeks ago and draw a trend, fine. I still think that was wrong to do then and the language that was used was wrong as well. Which, IIRC, was the major crux of my argument. Something like “give the man a break” or somesuch thing. Open minded and all.

    There is now a trend. A likely trend. But not a fatal one. What the Chairman does next in this arena will be important in determining what the trend line looks like.

  • SecretSquid

    The Chairman has lost the bubble. This is more than a trend…it goes to his mindset. If anything, the imperatives for the senior US military officer under the current circumstances are to project strength and resolve, to dissuade American enemies, and to defend American values.

    The Chairman has no Constitutional or statutory authority over civilians. By using his position to attempt to control the religious speech of a private US citizen, he has overstepped his authority.

    He has also made a strategic blunder in the information campaign against the terrorists who attacked US diplomatic facilities and murdered a US Ambassador. This video is a red herring–a pretense, not the real purpose for the attacks. The Benghazi attack in particular is clearly emerging to have been a sophisticated, premeditated attack–not the spontaneous response of a disorganized mob. In Egypt, the attacks appear to carry the tactic approval of the Muslim Brotherhood-led government. The Chairman’s actions lend legimacy to the terrorists’ phony grievance and distract from their reprehensible barbarism, for which they should solely be held responsible.

    The Chairman’s actions signal American weakness, a willingness to appease Muslim extremists, and a lack of resolve to defend religious expression by Americans when it offends Islamic extremists.

    If the Chairman is so easily willing to compromise basic American freedoms in the face of Islamic extermist thuggery, it is fair to question whether he is up to the job he occupies.

  • TheMightyQ

    Well written. Also like the use of the word brouhaha.

  • Matt

    Secret Squid hit the nail on the head.

    God save the United States.

  • The Chairman should resign; he has become a partisan hack in uniform, and Secret Squid is spot-on.

  • Chuck Hill

    I could almost see the Chairman asking the pastor not to support something that is clearly not helpful, but why was it made public by the Pentagon? And really it should have been a civilian who made the request.

  • UltimaRatioReg


    You really should research when a Reservist is subject to the UCMJ or not, and what his restrictions on free expression are when he is not. It might keep you from saying uninformed things like “only a Reservist clause” and other such nonsense.

    The invocation of that bit of intellectual nonsense known as “Godwin’s Law” is less easily explained, because citing the example of Germany in showing how totalitarianism is grown in a Western nation (intellectually, first) is quite legitimate.

    You dismissed Admiral Mullen’s transgressions, and those of General Dempsey in his previous conduct of criticizing or influencing free speech of private citizens while in his duties as an Officer on the Active List. Why did you think this would not logically follow? Far worse is to come, as the slope started in 2010 is steep and slippery.

    General Dempsey is well past being “asked” about this point. It is time for the citizenry of this country to demand answers. From him, from our Secretary of State, and from this Administration. If he cannot abide by the Constitution, he needs to remove that uniform permanently and immediately. He has disgraced it. Which is quite a bit more impolite than advising him to keep his mouth shut to keep from doing so.

    This was Dempsey’s moment of truth. The “stars on the table” moment, as was expressed elsewhere. His character was tested, and he was found very much wanting. Twice.

  • URR – then where is your op-Ed to the New York Times, Washington Post or Washington Times?

  • UltimaRatioReg
  • Diogenes of NJ

    @URR; @MI –

    I write this as the battle rages. First with regard to Goodwin’s law – a non-sequitur; invoked as a last resort to turn an argument rather than produce an evidentiary counter argument as to why the analogy is inappropriate.

    Do not feel sad for Diogenes, as he has been the object of ridicule and scorn since the time of Aristotle. It is the burden he bears for illuminating the truth where none cares to see it.

    As for monikers, I can understand how the oath that I alluded to may have hit a nerve, Heir (or is it Frau) “pain in the side”.

    There is a pattern of behavior that is occurring to an ever greater extent in our military leadership (and the American population in general), that makes the society ripe for a totalitarian regime. It has happened before in supposedly enlightened societies, the majority never sees it coming and it will never be prevented by an application of Goodwin’s law.

    The fact that the traditional values I hold and that URR holds are daily denigrated and dismissed, the fact that our Nation’s history and traditions are denigrated and dismissed, the fact that the welfare of our warriors is often given secondary if not tertiary consideration in favor of political expediency, the fact that flawed and un-American concepts such as “Diversity” (remember E pluribus unum) are daily inflicted in a brain-washing fashion on our military members who for the most part know better, the fact that the leadership toys with all manner of public expression that is contrary to the role they are sworn and required to fulfill, the fact that military and civilian leadership look the other way when the administration chooses to enforce only the laws they agree with and usurps the powers of the Congress, the fact that military and civilian leadership daily violate their oath to uphold, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, and lastly the fact that Dempsey, the beneficiary of all manner of intelligence on the Middle East, thinks that a YouTube video that no one’s ever seen is the cause of coordinated attacks on our National assets and fellow countrymen, when there is evidence that the planning of the attacks began early in the “Arab Spring” – all this and more cause some of the participants in this forum to speak out in a direct and straight forward manner to address the issue. It is the least that we can do – to speak while we are still able to speak, to speak while we are still permitted to speak, to speak while we are still capable of speaking.

    Censor what you choose to, sir; but know this: I will never recite that oath and I will never relinquish the oath I took to defend this Nation against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

    Now I put it to you gentlemen (all of you gentlemen) – state for the benefit of the readers of this blog and your shipmates that you will put your collar devices on the table rather than take that oath. Have the words: “I know not what course others may take…” been spoken so long ago so as to not matter today?

    As for what is currently transpiring abroad, consider that if the enemies of the United States assess that the current administration will loose the upcoming election, they may be acting now to demonstrate to the world the weakness of our resolve, before the window of opportunity closes (a conclusion that should be one alternative Dempsey, et al might consider). How can you expect for there to be deterrence if there is no will?

    Lastly, you two guys write fabulous stuff – keep it up.

    – Kyon

  • M. Ittleschmerz

    Gents I’m on an iPhone and thumbs and small keyboards are anathema to discourse. I have some thoughts on the Nazi allusion, the potential for a loyalty oath, and so on but it will have to wait until Monday.

  • Aubrey

    Diogenes is indeed a beacon of light and learning…

  • Jeannette Haynie

    Good post, sir. I would like to hear his answer, too. I’m not ready to count him out, but why haven’t we heard anything about the DNC speakers?

    I had forgotten until today about then-Secretary Gates’ phone call to the same pastor two years ago. Which apparently the guy ignored.

  • UltimaRatioReg


    For the record, General Dempsey has no more business criticizing Admiral Nathman than he did the SPECOPS guys. They are PRIVATE CITIZENS, and his commentary on their views or their expression of them as private citizens is entirely and egregiously inappropriate.

    The expression of those views are precisely what he is supposed to be supporting and defending, not passing subjective judgment on while wearing the uniform of an active Officer.

    Once again, the exercising of the rights safeguarded by our Constitution should NEVER, EVER be a cause for criticism from an active duty service member, let alone the senior Officer in our Armed Forces, who has done so in his official capacity, in that very uniform he calls so strongly to be “apolitical”.

    That he criticizes one viewpoint without criticizing the other is a reflection not just of his judgment but of his character.

  • Why should we hear anything about the DNC speakers? Nathman is a retired admiral. He is a private citizen now and free to associate with any organization that he chooses to.

    Sometimes though, we make too much of an issue about things when the best thing to do is let the dog lie. Dempsey made a judgement call-and I believe it was out of the best of intentions, even if it was not the best of execution. Pastor Jones is not doing himself or his country any favors, and its not a crime to point that out-especially by the leader of the victims of consequences of his ill considered actions. Sure he has the right to make stupid movies-just as he has the right to preach a hackneyed version of the Christian religion. But sometimes its better to just let the dog lie than to call attention to it.

    I personally don’t think there is anything political in the Chairman’s approach. He tried to get a man who is irresponsible to behave responsibly. A fools errand to be sure-but that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t have stood idly by while the man’s foolishness creates problems for Soldiers serving overseas.

  • Diogenes of NJ

    I would like to clarify a potion of the statement above, to wit: “One commenter even went so far as to press the idea that the Chairman is a Hitlerian lackey who would take an”…

    A loyalty oath to the leader is not necessarily unique to the Nazis and Hitler. When I suggested that the Oath to the Constitution may have been superseded by something else, I did not mention Hitler or the Nazis. That reactionary conclusion was drawn by an individual who advocated the seriously flawed logic of “Goodwin’s Law”; which in and of itself could serve a tenet of Nazism.

    Loyalty oaths to the leader have been a characteristic of totalitarian regimes for all of record history and did not originate with Hitler. They are fundamentally incompatible with that which is required of military officers in service to a free republic. In our society, members of the military are sworn to obey the LAWFULL orders of those appointed above them and to protect and defend the Constitution. Orders or actions that abridge the Constitutional rights of individual citizens of the Republic are UNLAWFULL, unless there has been a temporary suspension of Constitutional rights declared by a duly authorized power (i.e. the President with the consent of the Congress), such as in the case of Martial Law.

    What I point out – is that the excuse General Dempsey offers as motivation for his action is an obvious lie. The “Movie” effect has been thoroughly disproven by both friend and foe alike in the past few days. There was ample intelligence (now in open source) that saw this attack coming. Perhaps a motivation to cling to the political reasoning for the attack is to foster the “big lie”. By the actions of the current administration (i.e. declaring the Senate to be out of session in order to make recess appointments), we are not dealing with an executive steeped in an unshakeable devotion to the rule of law.

    It is at times like these that the American people must rely on the checks and balances that are built into our Government by adherence to the Constitution of the United States – if our free Republic is to continue. Historically, Americans have also been able to rely on the loyalty and integrity of the citizen-soldiers and the senior military leadership who are sworn to protect that Constitution.

    Tyrants will always consider “what will the Army do” when it comes time to consolidate power. A loyalty oath to the leader is one way to achieve the tyrant’s purpose. Oppose the leader and be guilty of treason. One has only to look to the current situation in the PRC and my point becomes self-evident. In the case of the PRC, the DPRK, the Islamic Republics and very many more nations on this planet, the “will of the people” are the words used to placate fools.

    The utility of the Nazi analogy is that it is a fairly recent example of a tyranny for which there exists ample documentation as to its rise to power, inner workings and ignominious defeat. Similar patterns can be discerned for communist tyrannies and for tyrannies that extend as far back as the early Bronze Age. Life in bondage to a tyranny has been the normal human condition for most of history. This is a fact that was recognized by our Founding Fathers and the reason they fought at all costs their own tyrants. They bequeath to us the freest Democratic Republic, conceived in liberty, ever know to exist. A form of government that has brought about more human progress and prosperity, not only for its own citizens, but for the entire population of the world, than any that has preceded it. If we loose what we have, the alternative is perpetual misery – the enforced conformity that takes place in the DPRK – the equality of outcome in which all members of society (save the elite) are dragged down to the lowest level of mediocrity and hope is changed into despair – a feudal existence of servitude to the Lords of the Dominion for all generations to come.

    How do tyrannies start? How do they gain a foothold in a free society? Where do the lies and the deceit begin? Who will be the instruments of our destruction?

    “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”
    – Ronald Reagan, 40th president of the United States (1911 – 2004)

    Diogenes is closer to the generations that made this Nation great than most of you who are reading this. These words are my duty.

    – Kyon

  • Mittleschmerz

    Diogenes – a well written screed. But…as this is the crux of your prose as I see it…

    What law did the Chairman break?

    What unlawful order do you believe he followed?

    Absent an illegal act or an unlawful order your essay is interesting, but irrelevant.

  • RickWilmes

    @ M. I.

    “What law did the Chairman break?
    What unlawful order do you believe he followed?
    Absent an illegal act or an unlawful order your essay is interesting, but irrelevant.”

    Whenever questions like this are invoked, I am reminded of the following.

    “”Ignorance and inconsideration are the two great causes of the ruin of mankind.” This is an observation of Dr. Tillotson, with relation to the interest of his fellow men in a future and immortal state. But it is of equal truth and importance if applied to the happiness of men in society, on this side the grave. In the earliest ages of the world, absolute monarchy seems to have been the universal form of government. Kings, and a few of their great counselors and captains, exercised a cruel tyranny over the people, who held a rank in the scale of intelligence, in those days, but little higher than the camels and elephants that carried them and their engines to war.”


    “Since the promulgation of Christianity, the two greatest systems of tyranny that have sprung from this original, are the canon and the feudal law. The desire of dominion, that great principle by which we have attempted to account for so much good and so much evil, is, when properly restrained, a very useful and noble movement in the human mind. But when such restraints are taken off, it becomes an encroaching, grasping, restless, and ungovernable power. Numberless have been the systems of iniquity contrived by the great for the gratification of this passion in themselves; but in none of them were they ever more successful than in the invention and establishment of the canon and the feudal law.”

    You said it yourself above.

    “I firmly believe that any conversation – direct conversation – mano a mano – from a military officer in the execution of his military duties to a citizen that directly asks for a curtailment of free speech is outside any swim lane.  There is no private citizen or “I’m only a reservist” clause for this.”

  • Diogenes of NJ

    MI –

    I fear that you miss my point entirely, as you consistently do with URR’s arguments. It is not about a violation of law. It is about integrity and honor. It has been said that politics is perception. What I perceive by General Dempsey inconsistent rhetoric and inane behavior is a lack of both. What I will state is that I am unable to determine if the General broke any law that he was required to obey. Furthermore, I have no information regarding any orders the General may have received in this matter, nor can I know if the General has taken a loyalty oath to the administration. I can only infer from the General’s actions as where his loyalty lies.

    And now sir, I strenuously object to your use of the pejorative word “screed”. I (and I am sure many others) do not consider my prior contribution to be in any way a “screed”. I am particularly offended that you would consider the quotation from President Reagan to be part of a “screed”. What your use of the term confirms to me is your myopic lack of perception, especially pertaining to matters with respect to the oath to protect and defend the Constitution that (I assume) you as a Naval Officer have taken.

    I have no intention of going to Battle Stations with you sir, but be advised that I have a converged fire control solution, and should I choose to attack, as former submariner, the first time you would know that you were hit is when a torpedo detonated under your keel. Just as was the case with the submarines at the close of WW II, I find it hard to obtain a target worth the price of a fish.

    The way I will deal with irrelevancy is to merely call away sweepers.

    – Kyon

  • Mittleschmerz

    Then, sweepers, sweepers, man your brooms.

    I have not “miss[ed] your point”. You backtracked on the revised Hitler loyalty oath and chose to turn the oath towards a fear that the United States was headed towards totalitarianism.

    I reject that hyperbole.

    It was also my opinion, that while well written, your comment was overly long, needlessly so, and tedious. Hence “screed”.

  • Mittleschmerz

    @Rick – keep in mind that inappropriate does not entail illegal, immoral, or even unethical. All three of those words have specific and legal meanings to those who are beholden to the oath of office.

    I do not think that General Dempsey should have made the comments about SOFREP (or whoever they are) or made the call to the Pastor.

    That does not mean he did not have the right, perceived cause, or any reason he chooses to take those actions.

  • RickWilmes

    “@Rick – keep in mind that inappropriate does not entail illegal, immoral, or even unethical. ”

    This is exactly what I am keeping in mind. You have conceded the point that the Chairman’s phone call–an action–was inappropriate.

    The issue being raised is the Chairman’s judgement and honesty. In other words, questions of integrity and ethics.

    As Chairman, he has access to the whole gamut of intelligence our government has to offer and the advisors and experts that goes with that.

    To suggest that a film mocking the religion of Islam is the cause of the unrest in the the Middle East is simply preposterous. What is even more absurd is your insistence on a logical/legal argument showing that the Chairman broke a law while evading the fact that no evidence or argument has been presented to show that the film is the cause of the unrest?

    In fact, as time progresses the evidence is showing that the film had nothing to do with the uprising but was being used as a pretense to justify their barbarism in the name of defending Islam.

  • RickWilmes

    At best, the Chairman has some explaining to do.

    “U.S. intelligence officials knew within 24 hours of the assault on the U.S. Consulate in Libya that it was a terrorist attack and suspected Al Qaeda-tied elements were involved, sources told Fox News — though it took the administration a week to acknowledge it. 

    The account sharply conflicts with claims on the Sunday after the attack by U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice that the administration believed the strike was a “spontaneous” event triggered by protests in Egypt over an anti-Islam film. 

    Two senior U.S. officials said that the Obama administration internally labeled the attack terrorism from the first day in order to unlock and mobilize certain resources to respond, and that officials were looking for one specific suspect. The officials said the intelligence community knew by Sept. 12 that the militant Ansar al-Shariah and Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb were likely behind the strike. 

    Further, an official said, “No one … believed that the mortars, indirect and direct fire, and the RPGs were just the work of a mob — no one.””

  • @Rick – “suggest that a film mocking the religion of Islam is the cause of the unrest in the the Middle East is simply preposterous” and all the discussion that comes from that line of reasoning is completely separate from the point I am, or was, trying to make above.

    It is clear to me that there is nothing that will sway your opinion.

    And since you choose to not present anything that makes the case that the phone call was dishonorable, unethical, or illegal you are unlikely to sway mine. You may think you have provided such information, but for me it is all on the margins and not at the heart of the issue.

    In this case it it probably best that we pause and wait for more data. If the chairman is as craven as you, and others, seem to think…then he is very likely to act such that his “judgement and honesty. In other words, questions of integrity and ethics” come into play.

    If he does not, then that is also a statement.

  • RickWilmes

    More data to consider. The information about knowledge of the safe house is disturbing.

  • Matt

    Personally, its more disturing that the General seemed so utterly outwitted by Al Qaeda. If your the guy in charge of the war and you fall for his propaganda to the point of actually aiding in the targeting of a “blasphemer” by announcing his name and denouncing him, as Al Qaeda very much appreciates, than you should be fired for professional malpractice. Its like if Patton had believed Goebbel’s propaganda and helped target an American Jew. This filmaker does not deserve to be killed, yet he will have to watch his back for the rest of his life now. Thanks partially to General Dempesy highlighing his name and denouncing his “blasphemous” langauge. What would Gen. Dempsey do if one of his family (crazy uncle?) had drawn a cartoon? I highly doubt he would’ve thrown him under the buss. This is a life and death struggle not some stupid film festival Gen. Dempsey gets to give “two thumbs down” for. General Dempsey should resign for friendly fire. Al Qaeda’s war is more in the information realm than on a real battlefield. Dempsey fired on his own countrymen in the battlefield of ideas. He chose to side with the idea that “blasphemy” should be shunned instead of supporting free speech. That’s friendly fire in my mind. And it just might get that friendly killed for real. What a shame it is to have to explain this. If our leaders “don’t get” the war they are supposed to be fighting – and winning! – they need to be fired immediately. Failure should not be tolerated for one minute.

    What are the consequences for friendly fire in the military?

  • M. Ittleschmerz

    Sorry, Matt. Your analogy is inept, your allusions off base, and your rhetorical question laughable.

    Did the Chairman use the word “blasphemous”? Did he denounce the film?

    There’s lots to criticize here…but rhetoric like yours obscures the lessons that can be learned.

  • Matt

    A statement from Marine Col. David Lapan:

    “The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, spoke by phone this morning with Pastor Terry Jones. In the brief call, Gen. Dempsey expressed his concerns over the nature of the film, the tensions it will inflame and the violence it will cause. He asked Mr. Jones to consider withdrawing his support for the film.”

    I was wrong about him calling out the video guy specifically. He did not say “blasphemy”.

    However, “the nature of the film” which “inflamed tensions” and “caused violence” IS the fact that it IS Blasphemy NOT “hate speech”. The General focused his critism on the very same target Al Qaeda focused on for practically the same reason. My point stands. Even if you disagree with it. This IS the lesson that needs to be learned.

    Terry Jones, however ridicuous, is an American “friendly”. He now is also a target becaue he violated the Blasphemy Law. The very same Blasphemy Law for which Theo Van Goh was murdered for violating with his cartoons. The very same law for which a Pakistani govt. minister offered a $100,000 dollar reward to Al Qaeda or anyone willing to deliver “justice” to the video guy for violating.

    M. Ittleschmerz, try to focus. I think you pretty much missed my point. Please explain how I’m “off base” and what IS the difference btw. Al Qaeda propaganda efforts using the media and Goebeles?

    If Al Qaeda is proven to have successfully used this video to further their ends while totally tricking the US into focusing on friendlies and abandoning our principles, will you acknowledge that their tactic worked? Do you acknowledge now, 17 days after their pre-planned and successful attack, that we are on the defensive and they are stronger all over the Middle East? Kinda like we just lost a battle, huh? It was announced yesterday we are withdrawing more people from our Tripoli Embassay while we still have not returned to Benghazi to even collect evidence. Looks like a retreat to me.

  • Matt – I didn’t “miss” your point. I don’t agree with it.

    And I don’t believe that it fits with the overall point I was attempting to make on this post – which is that I was disappointed that the Chairman made the phone call and that he didn’t speak against the vets who spoke at the DNC Convention because the combination of actions makes him look political, vice the apolitical approach he has advocated in the past for.

    In other words. I don’t agree with your contention and I don’t find it germane to the conversation here.

  • SecretSquid

    Umm…looks like this thread has been “sanitized.” Not sure if this is how the moderator has chosen to clean up the broken china, but if so, it seems he was a little heavy-handed with his edits. It went from well over 100 comments down to ~35, with a large gap between 15 and 27 SEP.

    M.I., I am wondering how you answer the question that I previously posed:

    If there is no law or regulation that prohibits the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from cold-calling a private U.S. citizen to “discourage” his Constitutionally protected religious expression, then what is to stop him from ordering uniformed soldiers to appear in Christian churches across the nation to discourage the congregants from making religious expressions that are offensive to Muslims?

    [admin note – this post hasn’t been sanitized, that is a different post, which has 97 comments]

  • Mittleschmerz

    SS – different post and thread on the same basic subject. So different post counts and different writings.

    As to your question, I don’t see how you equate the two.

    But, I’ll bite.

    Ordering soldiers is a vastly different thing than making a call himself. What soldiers would he order? Who is under his direct command? Does he order a Geographic Combatant Commander who then is tasked with the execution of the order?

    For me, I think it’s just a silly question with no real answer other than I can’t ever see the Chairman making that order.

    But I still can’t see how you equate the two ideas.

  • Matt


    The General has no business in domestic politics- we agree. The General’s focus should be on the war effort, as the most senior uniformed officer representing our nation in a time of war- we disagree, I guess.

    Sounds to me like you might even agree because you don’t offer any defense to my point but “change the subject”. I do respect General Dempsey. We’ve simply got to stop the BS and focus on defeating the enemy…whatever that entails. I don’t pull any punches on Bush either. Accountability is important for lessons to be learned. Solutions are required. We need honesty to reach real solutions. Changing the subject and ignoring the subject leads to loss for everyone. President Obama will not be losing these wars or going bankrupt, the entire nation will. We will all bear the consequences. Very real consequences.

  • SecretSquid

    M.I., if the Chairman is authorized to make such a call, then why couldn’t the local base commander? How about Commander, NORTHCOM? If they can do it, then why could they not order others to do it?

    Let’s go down the chain of command and see just exactly how far you go before you find someone who’s not authorized to discourage private citizens from engaging in religious expression.

  • SecretSquid


    Thanks for reorienting me. Got lost in cyberspace for a moment there. 😉



  • Mittleschmerz

    SS – first we need to agree that “doing something” and “ordering someone to do something” are very different.

    Second we need to also decide which side of the “specifically authorized” and “specifically prohibited” side we’re on.

    I am of the belief that when something is not “specifically prohibited” then it is up to my own personal judgement or discretion to take an action. When something is “specifically prohibited”, well, then that’s pretty clear cut.

    There are those who are of the “specifically authorized” crowd. Something must be “specifically authorized” or else it is not authorized and therefore prohibited.

    Follow so far?

    I do not believe that the Chairman was “authorized” to make the call. Nor do I believe that he was “prohibited”. Therefore it was up to his personal judgement. Which I am troubled by, but not to the level that you and others are.

    Things like General Cartwright’s judgement regarding his aide are far more troubling to me than the repeat of a phone call that had been made by Secretary of Defense Gates over a year ago.

  • SecretSquid


    Yes, of course I understand there is considerable grey space between “specifically required” and “specifically prohibited.” But I’m not sure that finely parsing the definition of “authorized” is helpful as anything other than a diversionary debate tactic.

    How far down in the chain of command do we have to go before we find someone who is NOT authorized to “advise” private US citizens on the range of acceptable religious speech that will not jeopardize US national security?

  • Mittleschmerz

    The authorized/prohibited discussion is NOT a diversion. Its actually the crux of the issue.

    Find something that says there is a prohibition against speech that includes ” “advise” [to] private US citizens on the range of acceptable religious speech that will not jeopardize US national security”.

    I know of NOTHING that prohibits me from advising you, or any other citizen to do or not do something. I cannot compel you, but I certainly can make my opinion known. I have that much freedom of expression still available to me, even on active duty.

    And, please explain what “religious speech” is and how that relates to Pastor Jones and his advocacy of a movie.

  • RickWilmes

    @ M. I.

    “I know of NOTHING that prohibits me from advising you, or any other citizen to do or not do something. I cannot compel you, but I certainly can make my opinion known. I have that much freedom of expression still available to me, even on active duty.”

    OK, you are advising me not to support a movie that mocks Islam and poses a national security threat and risk to our service members.  Based on what evidence are you advising me?

  • SecretSquid


    So it sounds like you believe there is NOTHING that would prevent the Defense Department from dispatching uniformed soldiers through the chain of command to every church in America to advise them on which religious videos they should or should not promote to their members.

    What about publicizing a list of names of private US citizens who violate DoD’s recommended religious speech code on a DoD website? A sort of “blacklist” of the usual suspects. We could even prohibit distribution of their content in AAFES stores and block access to their content from DoD networks. We could start with Pastor Terry, add Michael Savage…I’m pretty sure we could come up with a pretty good list with a couple of google searches.

    What is the minimum amount of Defense Department “influence” that you would consider to be an infringment on the First Amendment rights of Americans?

  • SecretSquid

    And I wonder if you’re not retreating from your original position that “any conversation – direct conversation – mano a mano – from a military officer in the execution of his military duties to a citizen that directly asks for a curtailment of free speech is outside any swim lane.”

    It seems to me in your original post you stated a pretty firm conviction that the Chairman’s official act was well outside the scope of his legitimate authority.

    As you have responded to commenters on this thread and your other thread, it seems you have stepped back from that conviction.

  • Mittleschmerz

    SS – you are conflating too many things to even make sense.

    Again, there is a difference between ordering someone to do something, and allowing someone to do something of their own free will. I thought we’d covered that already. I don’t know what you are reading to think I am somehow in favor of a repression of free speech.

    As I stated, I do not think that the Chairman should have made the call. But, I also know of nothing that says the call was illegal, immoral or anything other than potentially ill-advised.

    The Chairman has a right to free speech. So do you, I, Terry Jones and Sam Racile. Why do you want to limit someone’s freedoms? In the name of securing them?

  • Rick – “Based on what evidence are you advising me?” Evidence?

    Who says I need evidence to make pass along any sort of advice?

    I can advise you that the sky is green. So what?

  • RickWilmes

    M. I.,

    I say you need evidence, if you want me to take your advice seriously.

    Now, if the Chairman calls me and advises me not to support a film mocking Islam, is it not unreasonable for me to ask for evidence?

  • SecretSquid


    You are all over the map. Now you are back to arguing the Chairman was exercising his own free speech rights, which is simply absurd. Gen. Dempsey was clearly acting in his official capacity, as an agent of the Federal Government, and not as a private citizen.

    I believe you cannot answer the question of how far down the chain the authority to suppress free speech goes because if you think very hard you have to concede that no one in the chain, not even POTUS, has any such authority.

    You asserted as much in your original post in this thread when you stated it was “outside any swim lane.”

    If we are to believe your logic, we have to accept the absurd proposition that publication of Blasphemy Blacklists and non-offensive religious speech guidelines are somehow within the authority of the Defense Department, and that military officers could be appointed to “advise” private citizens on their application.

    At the same time you assert Gen. Dempsey’s actions exceeded his authority and crossed a line into political partisanship, you continue to defend him because he has broken no law. Yet many General Officers (as well as lower-ranking officers) have resigned or been relieved for lesser improprieties or loss of command confidence. Captain Honors, who was relieved last year as CO of an aircraft carrier, comes immediately to mind. And in the House of Representatives today come calls for the resignation of US Ambassador Susan Rice for her misleading public statements misattributing the cause of the Benghazi embassy attack to the Innocence of Muslims video. Gen. Dempsey’s ill-advised actions appear to be simply a part of the same campaign to misdirect blame for the attack on our Benghazi consulate and instead scapegoat US citizens exercising their First Amendment rights.

  • SecretSquid


    And you engage in a bit of hyperbole yourself. I have never argued that you are in favor of repressing free speech. My problem is that you seem to be all too willing to permit the abuse of military authority by others to repress free speech, while standing idly by doing nothing but wringing your hands and undercutting others who seek to uphold Constitutional protections.

  • Folks we are either reading past each other or so ingrained in our own views that even with good reading comprehension we refuse to comprehend what we are reading.

    This will be my final comment on this post.

    I believe the Chairman should not have made the call.

    I believe no military member should ask another American citizen to curtail their expression of free speech.

    I know there are no laws that prevent a military member from asking another American citizen from curtailing their expression of free speech.

    Individual action and ordering someon to act are completely different things.

    I believe that the Chairman did not exceed or abuse his military authority in making the call. That does not change or contradict my belief that he shouldn’t have made the call. If that is too nuanced to follow, then I can’t help explain it any better.

  • SecretSquid


    Since you are so certain “there are no laws that prevent a military member from asking another American citizen [to] curtail their expression of free speech,” then why should we not expect to see a Joint Task Force Combating Islamic Defamation?

    This cannot be. I do know of such a law. It is the First Amendment to the US Constitution. It is regrettable that its restraints on the authority of US military officers are not better and more widely understood by readers of this forum.



  • RickWilmes

    @ Matt-

    “Personally, its more disturing that the General seemed so utterly outwitted by Al Qaeda. If your the guy in charge of the war and you fall for his propaganda to the point of actually aiding in the targeting of a “blasphemer” by announcing his name and denouncing him, as Al Qaeda very much appreciates, than you should be fired for professional malpractice.”

    You bring up a good point. If I were the Chairman, I’d be asking if we have been fooled like the Denver Bronco’s were fooled with “Ban the Boz” t-shirts.