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Saturday, April 10, 2004

Ann Woolner of Bloomberg News writes a fairly partisan column about the supposed inability of the Bush administration to "apologize." Without getting into the politics of the matter, her column uncovers another key fact in the Chaplain Yee case. Chaplain Yee's superiors have told him to shut his mouth about the case:

If Yee has a problem with any of this, the Army has advised him to keep it to himself. This week his commander wrote Yee, advising him to squelch any ``adverse criticism'' or face possible discipline.
. . . .
What Yee has received from higher-ups is a memorandum from the commander at his new assignment near Seattle advising him to be careful what he says in public.

``Speech that undermines the effectiveness of loyalty, discipline, or unit morale is not constitutionally protected'' under military law, Lieutenant Colonel Marvin Whitaker said in the memo released by Fidell.

``Adverse criticism'' of the military ``that is disloyal or disruptive to good order and discipline'' is also restricted.

What in the world could Yee possibly say that might be the least bit critical of the military?

I hadn't heard about the memo yet, but I must say that I'm not the least surprised, nor do I disagree with the memo. The memo falls short of prior restraint by merely advising Chaplain Yee on the state of military law regarding disloyal statements about the chain of command. Since it's not a gag order, it seems appropriate. Until the day Chaplain Yee takes off his uniform (which will be as soon as his reprimand appeal is over), he is an officer in the US Army and is expected to maintain the highest standards of personal discipline. It may seem like a slap in the face to shove this memo in Chaplain Yee's face after he has been subjected to pretrial confinement for a capital offense, only to have all charges dropped later. But it remains Chaplain Yee's duty to support the service until he leaves. I'm confident he'll let old Mr. Fidell do the talking for him.