The Obama Oxymoron
Sunday, 11 January 2009, at 1817 hours
Central Time -- Nashville, Tennessee, USA
ox-y-mo-ron : (noun) a combination of contradictory or incongruous words; (broadly) something (as a concept) that is made up of contradictory or incongruous elements. (from the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary)
At the gut level, there is something inherently incongruous about the terms "Barack Hussein Obama II" and "Commander-in-Chief" being in the same sentence. And, I'm far from the only one that feels this way.
Having served as, among other things, a military law-enforcement supervisor, I am familiar with the Uniform Code of Military Justice. That is the primary set of laws under which the military operates. (And, they are indeed "laws" in the dictionary sense, because the Code is part of a larger set of laws passed by Congress regarding the operation and maintenance of our military forces.) The UCMJ is a finely-crafted balance -- between military discipline and personal initiative, between historic tradition and youthful exuberance, between necessary military operations and greedily voracious rampage. In much the same way that a helicopter manages brutally opposing forces of gravity and wind to fly gracefully and with precision, the UCMJ manages the above-described opposing forces of human behavior to build the wall between militarism and murder.
The mortar that holds together the bricks of the UCMJ is honor -- a concept that seems uniquely foreign to the man scheduled to soon become the commander-in-chief of the military that conquered three evil empires in one century. Without honor, it is far too easy to turn our nation into the next evil empire. Honor is the pure wool from which the mantle of military leadership is woven. Command without honor is, at best, mere brutishness. It is also honor that causes a wise subordinate to -- rarely, and with reasonable trepidation -- rise up to disobey an order that is unlawful. Or, in the potential case of a soon-to-become President Barack Hussein Obama II, an order given by a person that is unlawfully in a position of command.
Enter: an honorable man.
Gregory Hollister is a retired US Air Force colonel from Colorado Springs. He is the plaintiff in a recently-filed lawsuit against "Barry Soetoro, a/k/a Barack Hussein Obama", the ostensible president-elect of the United States of America. Colonel Hollister's lawsuit, like several others, alleges that Obama was born in Kenya. Thus, the usurper-in-waiting is not eligible to become president, because he is not a "natural-born citizen" as required by the Constitution of the United States. But, the lawsuit by this retired military officer goes in a different direction than previous lawsuits. Colonel Hollister raises the question -- finally... and officially -- of whether military personnel under an Obama administration would be required to obey the orders of a commander-in-chief that has obtained that position by fraud. In fact, the suit also raises the question of whether said military personnel would have "an affirmative duty" to actually disobey orders that they believed to be unlawful. This is no trifling matter, no mere intellectual exercise.
The strategic military capabilities of this country are guarded by some of the most highly-trained personnel in all of the military. Conventional soldiers are trained to attack and overcome an organized enemy force. The enemy wears a recognizable uniform that is different from ours. They engage in warfare on a battlefield. Even in the counter-insurgency environment of Iraq and Afghanistan, the enemy usually has certain generally-recognizable features. But, for those that guard the nuclear arsenal of the United States, a potential enemy could be "one of our own". Thus, the training includes deterring, detecting and defeating ruses and diversions. Many of the nuclear weapons, and nuclear-launch command posts, are protected by those that wear the Blue Beret. "Our" duties (after all these years, it's still in my blood) are different. To protect strategic resources, and the president, I've pulled weapons on members and employees of my own Air Force. And, if I had not, then my career would've been in trouble. The short version is that I was a "paid, professional paranoid for Uncle Sam". And, without people like that, our most dangerous weapons systems would be horribly vulnerable.
Now, it might fall upon some young Air Force SP (or a Marine MP, or a Navy MA, or a joint-communications officer, or a White House Fellow, etc.) to protect a military command post from the president. What an oxymoron!
For those that have not served in such a high-stakes environment (and, that even includes many military veterans -- especially those in non-combat jobs), a little explanation is needed. The rules for the security of locations that store or control strategic military resources are more strict than the rules for other parts of a military base. Most of the high-priority areas contain "no-lone zones" -- areas where no one can enter by themselves. The sentries that control no-lone zones do so under rules where "use of deadly force is authorized". In the world of nuclear security, it is still "shoot first, and ask questions later". It must be that way.
But, what if the intruder purports to be the president?
And, what if the sentry truly believes that the man installed as the president is in that position unlawfully? Which order does he obey -- the standing general order to keep the area secure, or the immediate verbal order of an imposter commander-in-chief? This is a real and legitimate question.
For the uninitiated, the best example of a nuclear-security environment gone awry is the 1995 movie Crimson Tide, which starred Gene Hackman and Denzel Washington. Hackman's character (Capt. Ramsey) believes that a nuclear launch from his submarine is warranted while on patrol off the Soviet coast. Washington's character (Lt. Hunter) is Ramsey's executive officer, and he does not believe the launch is warranted. Under the rules of nuclear security, Lt. Hunter is warranted to seize command from Capt. Ramsey to prevent the start of a needless nuclear war. But, if his decision turns out to be wrong, then Hunter will be guilty of mutiny and sedition (which is leading or inspiring others to commit mutiny).
Standoff -- who is right?
Lt. Hunter challenges an irate Capt. Ramsey, in an attempt to avoid nuclear war.
(photo copyright: Buena Vista Pictures)
Rule 916 of the Manual for Courts-Martial (MCM), "Defenses", especially subsections (c) and (d), makes clear that not only should a military member not be charged with a UCMJ offense for not obeying an unlawful order, but also that said military member does, indeed, have an "affirmative duty" to disobey an order that he knows -- or, "that a person of ordinary sense and understanding would have known" -- to be unlawful. The commentary of Rule 916 also cites Rule 801(e), stating that the question of whether the person giving the order was in a lawful position to give said order becomes an interlocutory question. The brilliant men that wrote the Constitution of the United States did so in a manner that "a person of ordinary sense and understanding" could properly interpret the entire document. Nowhere is that more clear than in the clause requiring the president to be "a natural-born citizen".
Thus, at any time after the soon-scheduled inauguration ceremony of Barack Hussein Obama II, if a military sentry should deny the incoming president access to a command post or other strategic military resource, a key question will arise. That question will be whether the sentry was disobeying an order or enforcing a higher order. (The long-standing rules of military security, especially in the nuclear world, go far beyond the tenure of any one particular occupant of the White House.) In such a standoff, will the sentry's superiors back him? Every military member takes an oath to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic". The Constitution overrides the authority of any specific president. (And, if modern politicians truly understood that concept, then the question of whether Obama can be a real president would never come up, because the Congress would have challenged his qualifications long ago.) Thus, if a sentry declares that he is enforcing the Constitution by denying Obama access to, for example, the White House Situation Room, then how can the sentry be charged with a UCMJ offense? The fact is that the sentry would be protecting the facility from penetration by an illegal alien, as the text of Colonel Hollister's lawsuit makes quite clear.
It matters not that people like "Peggy the Mooch" believe in the Obamessiah, that he will buy them gasoline and pay their mortgage. It matters not that, somehow, an illegal alien has occupied a seat in the United States Senate for four years. It matters not that this illegally-seated senator has managed to conduct a presidential campaign -- despite clearly illegal campaign contributions from foreign sources, and despite not being eligible for the office of president. It only matters that somewhere, someday, someone in a position of military security duty will deny that usurper the opportunity to enter a command post. Or, hopefully, the officer in charge of the "nuclear football" will simply refuse to hand it over to Barack Hussein Obama II. I was there the 1983 day that Col. Rodney Cox said, "The fate of Western Europe lies in the hands of an 18-year-old Air Force Security Policeman standing in a weapons-storage area somewhere." It was true then. A similar situation may become even more true in the near future, if some military sentry (probably wearing a Blue Beret) confronts a person purporting to be the next President of the United States. (The starry-eyed idealist that still resides in this 50-year-old body hopes that the incident would be investigated by Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs, of the TV series "NCIS". Then, charges would not be brought, because Gibbs would conclude that no offense occurred. The realist that also resides in this body worries that some career-happy officer would throw that young sentry under the political bus.)
Any way you slice it, at some point very soon, the world will face The Obama Oxymoron.