Report: Counter-Intelligence Official Warned Soldiers Not to Donate to Tea Party or Christian Groups
Don’t donate to the tea party or to evangelical Christian groups — that was the message soldiers at a pre-deployment briefing at Fort Hood said they received from a counter-intelligence agent who headed up the meeting.
If you do, you could face punishment — that was the other half of the message, as reported by Fox News.
The briefing was Oct. 17, and about a half-hour of it was devoted to discussion about how perceived radical groups — like tea party organizations and the Christian-based American Family Association — were “tearing the country apart,” one unnamed soldier said, to Fox News.
Among the remarks the agent allegedly made: Military members who donate to these groups would be subject to discipline under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the soldier reported.
I read this story and became curious to learn the specific rules governing military donations to political groups. In my research, I found Department of Defense Directive 1344.10 (.pdf), which states in relevant part:
4.1.1. A member of the Armed Forces on active duty may:
. . . .
22.214.171.124. Make monetary contributions to a political organization, party, or committee favoring a particular candidate or slate of candidates, subject to the limitations under section 441a of title 2, United States Code (U.S.C.) (Reference (d)); section 607 of title 18, U.S.C. (Reference (e)); and other applicable law.
. . . .
126.96.36.199. Attend partisan and nonpartisan political fundraising activities, meetings, rallies, debates, conventions, or activities as a spectator when not in uniform and when no inference or appearance of official sponsorship, approval, or endorsement can reasonably be drawn.
On the other hand, some activities are prohibited:
4.1.2. A member of the Armed Forces on active duty shall not:
188.8.131.52. Participate in partisan political fundraising activities (except as permitted in subparagraph 184.108.40.206.), rallies, conventions (including making speeches in the course thereof), management of campaigns, or debates, either on one’s own behalf or on that of another, without respect to uniform or inference or appearance of official sponsorship, approval, or endorsement. Participation includes more than mere attendance as a spectator. (See subparagraph 220.127.116.11.)
As described, the instructions given to the soldiers are inconsistent with DoD policy. Without a recording of the briefing, however, I am reluctant to draw sweeping conclusions about what was said. Perhaps the counterintelligence agent warned soldiers not to engage in prohibited partisan fundraising activities, and his or her comments were interpreted as covering permitted activity.
Or perhaps what is reported in the story is exactly what happened. (The details about the agent railing about how these groups harm the country corroborate this interpretation.)
We don’t know for sure.
It’s worth digging deeper, though, given this administration’s documented use of government to abuse those who hold opposing political views.