Just Following Orders

One of the first lessons taught to Soldiers, at least it was in my experience as both a Private and later an Army Drill Sergeant, is that Soldier’s have a duty to refuse unlawful orders. Soldiers are also taught that this is a danger zone, because it is not the Soldier who ultimately determines whether an order is a lawful one. When Soldiers follow unlawful orders, or use that as an excuse for unlawful conduct, you end up with Vietnam’s Mi Lai massacre or Abu Ghraib prison’s acts of stupidity. Unfortunately for Soldiers, the legality of orders is not always that clear cut. Soldiers live under a sworn oath to obey the orders of the President of the United States and the officers appointed over them.

Discipline is what holds our Armed Forces together. Soldiers are disciplined to carry out lawful orders without hesitation. They must also be disciplined enough and possess the personal courage to question orders when they do not appear lawful. This is especially true for leaders who are responsible not only for completion of the mission, but also the protection and welfare of the Soldiers.

Under what rules does federal, state and local law enforcement operate? Is not there a reasonable expectation that officers of the law would clearly understand the difference between lawful orders or directives and unlawful ones? When I see operations like fast and furious, I question whether all of them do.

People often publish nutty things on the Internet. I have been accused of it myself. By now, you have heard about Marine Corps Veteran Brandon Raub’s abduction (I do not know what else I should call it) from his home by the Secret Service, FBI and local police. There was no warrant and no criminal charges that I can find, unless you might consider the Homeland Security memorandum warning that outspoken Veterans (like me and many of you) are potential terrorists. Raub was then “committed” to the Salem VA Medical Center for a psychiatric evaluation. Supposedly what he posted on his Facebook page was considered “terrorist in nature.” He is a 911 truther. So are Michael Moore and Rosie O’Donnell, both nuttier than squirrel turds, and the Gestapo did not swoop them up and head for the State Hospital.

It causes me to question the officers carrying out the order to take this man from his home, in hand irons, to a psychiatric hospital for “evaluation.” I am quite sure that Secret Service and FBI agents are well educated men and women. I believe they understand the law and generally have the trust of the public. So why would they willingly enter someone’s home, without a warrant, with no criminal charge, and only on some suspicion and take the person away. In the United States of America?

It is truly an interesting and dangerous time for freedom. Follow me for just a minute. Do you recall all of the teeth gnashing over the Patriot Act? Where are all of those people now? I remember writing at the time that Google made the Patriot Act look amateurish. We have Facebook accounts (maybe Mr. Raub decided by now that it is not a good idea to have one and at least post what one thinks on it), we have twitter accounts, we have email accounts, we have smart phones, we have cute little tags on our key chains from the plethora of stores at which we shop recording every item we purchase, every Internet site we have visited is known, every item we have searched for is known, as is whatever we have read or are reading, all of our friends and acquaintances, our family members… all of that is known. And somewhere deep in the bowels of some unnamed federal agency, which if you passed by it on a Northern Virginia street you would not know it was an agency of any sort, sits someone in front of a computer console who can pull your life together in seconds. All of that illegal of course unless he is a law enforcement officer with probable cause and a warrant. But, maybe that was in another America. One that is fading away into the night.

At the end of it all, the insistence that one was following orders is not going to work. Again.

©2012