Saturday, October 24, 2009

More on Oath Keepers

I was surfing the liberal side of the intertubes today and came upon a little piece over at Associated Comment, entitled The Oathkeepers Need to Be Put in Check. Hilarity ensues, but not so much from the reason of the author, but from his total lack of understanding about what it means to be in the military or the cop profession.

Let's look at one little bit of blunder, shall we?
To pledge to willfully obey orders is in direct conflict with the Uniform Code of Military Justice, or UCMJ.
Uuuh, no. To willfully obey orders is the hallmark of both the oath of enlistment and the oath of commission. However, all military members are schooled at least yearly that they have a duty to not obey illegal orders. The Nuremberg Defense died during the end of WWII. I suspect that the author meant to say that "to willfully disobey orders...", but he didn't. Either his understanding of the UCMJ is sorely lacking or his proofreading skills are sorely lacking. Either way works for me.

Another burst of lunacy is shown in the concluding paragraph of the piece.
Just because a person is in the military or on a police force doesn't give them the right to arbitrarily interpret laws and act according to what they perceive as threat.
We might quibble about the use of the modifier "arbitrary", but as a police officer it is exactly my job to interpret the law and to enforce it to the best of my ability. That pretty much defines police work.

Imagine if active duty soldiers were not allowed to act on what they saw as a threat. While we're imagining, how about if police officers were not allowed to act accordingly to what they perceive as a threat. That's another huge part of my job. Reacting to threats. That's what I'm paid to do.

Should the military and police be subject to civilian control? Certainly, that's also one of the hallmarks of service. We're subject to the lawfully constituted government. No one's arguing that point. Should we also question orders that might be illegal and refuse to obey those orders when our moral compass tells us that to obey orders is wrong? Of course.

There's a catch-22 involved in that action, that we might be prosecuted for failing to obey an order that's later interpreted as lawful. That's a risk we take, but an order that skirts that close to the line between lawful and unlawful should be carefully considered before it is issued.

Once, years ago I was talking with a commander who told me that in the absence of orders he expected me to conduct myself in a manner that was morally, ethically and legally correct. Then he illuminated that guidance by telling me that if the moral and ethical conflicted with the legal, he expected me to act on the moral and ethical. That's good advise and a beacon that I've tried to follow during my twin careers in the military and law enforcement.

Would that our elected leaders were bound by that same guidance.


Termite said...

Two thumbs up, D,

I should buy you a cold beer or two for that entry. It was spot-on.

Are you going to the W.W. range this coming Saturday afternoon, or will you be in the deer woods?

Pawpaw said...

This is the opener of the gun season. I'll be in the woods.