All 10 Living Defense Secretaries Warn Against Using Military In Election Disputes

Photo of U.S. military service member
(image: public domain/WhiteHouse/Flickr)

All 10 living former U.S. defense secretaries – Ashton Carter, Dick Cheney, William Cohen, Mark Esper, Robert Gates, Chuck Hagel, James Mattis, Leon Panetta, William Perry, and Donald Rumsfeld – have penned an op-ed for the Washington Post saying involving the military in election disputes would cross into dangerous territory.

As former secretaries of defense, we hold a common view of the solemn obligations of the U.S. armed forces and the Defense Department. Each of us swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. We did not swear it to an individual or a party.

American elections and the peaceful transfers of power that result are hallmarks of our democracy. With one singular and tragic exception that cost the lives of more Americans than all of our other wars combined, the United States has had an unbroken record of such transitions since 1789, including in times of partisan strife, war, epidemics and economic depression. This year should be no exception.

Our elections have occurred. Recounts and audits have been conducted. Appropriate challenges have been addressed by the courts. Governors have certified the results. And the electoral college has voted. The time for questioning the results has passed; the time for the formal counting of the electoral college votes, as prescribed in the Constitution and statute, has arrived.

Read the full op-ed at the Washington Post.

Military Records Offer Insight Into Mayor Pete’s Service In Afghanistan

Mayor Pete Buttigieg (images via social media)

Political news site The Hill has obtained military documents that offer some insight into Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s time spent in Afghanistan as a Navy intelligence officer.

Buttigieg has mentioned on the campaign trail he took a seven month leave during his first term as mayor to serve in Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom launched by President George W. Bush in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.

According to The Hill, the documents show the then-32-year-old served in the Afghanistan Threat Finance Cell (ATFC) in Kabul from March to September of 2014. The files indicate that assignment put him in “an imminent danger pay area.”

The focus of the ATFC was to identify and disrupt “insurgent financial support networks in Afghanistan” related to the Taliban and Al-Qaida.

The Hillreports his duties included representing ATFC at “high level briefings, and he also “coordinated intelligence sharing and targeting deconfliction” methods with several organizations.

As Buttigieg mentioned in his book Shortest Way Home, he imagined he would spend most of his time in Afghanistan “behind a sophisticated computer terminal in a secure area.” But it turned out he had to venture some 119 times “outside the wire,” which meant leaving his fairly secure base. During those trips into Kabul, he served as vehicle commander on convoy security detail.

While he’s never claimed to have engaged in direct combat, Buttigieg did describe in his book the dangers unpredictable Kabul neighborhoods could present.

“In a ritual to be repeated dozens of times, I would heave my armored torso into the driver’s seat of a Land Cruiser, chamber a round in my M4, lock the doors and wave a gloved goodbye to the Macedonian gate guard,” wrote Buttigieg.

“My vehicle would cross outside the wire and into the boisterous Afghan city, entering a world infinitely more interesting and ordinary and dangerous than our zone behind the blast walls at ISAF headquarters,” he added.

Even in an armored vehicle, he was trained to be on the lookout for possible explosive devices hidden along the roads, or a number of telltale signs of a surprise ambush around any corner. “A suddenly empty neighborhood. A nervous-looking lone driver of a vehicle with a heavy trunk load. An obviously male hand coming out from underneath a woman’s blue burqa.”

Mayor Pete is one of the few Democratic presidential candidates whose resume includes active duty military experience.

Donald Trump did not serve in the military due to reported ‘bone spurs’in his feet.

(Source: The Hill)

Pentagon To Divert $1 Billion From Military Pay & Pension For Trump Wall

According to the Associated Press, the Pentagon is planning on diverting $1 billion from military pay and pension funds to help pay for Donald Trump’s beloved wall at the Southern border.

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., told The Associated Press, “It’s coming out of military pay and pensions. $1 billion. That’s the plan.”

Durbin said the funds are available because Army recruitment is down and a voluntary early military retirement program is being underutilized.

The development comes as Pentagon officials are seeking to minimize the amount of wall money that would come from military construction projects that are so cherished by lawmakers.

Can you imagine if Democrats proposed taking money from military service members pay and pensions???

Trump Skips Troop Visit On Christmas

Donald Trump skips visiting military this Christmas

Donald Trump broke with tradition this year as he became the first president since 2002 to not visit military service members on Christmas.

While the Trumpster did place calls to troops serving around the world, he did not make any visits to wounded warriors or active military on Christmas Day.

More from NBC News:

Based on a check of NBC logs, President Barack Obama visited troops at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, in Kaneohe Bay, every Christmas he was in office, from 2009 to 2016.

Before him, according to a check of news releases, President George W. Bush visited wounded warriors at Walter Reed from 2003 to 2008. He did not visit troops at Christmas in 2002, in the run-up to the Iraq War, or in 2001.

In recent months, Trump has taken heat from critics for not visiting troops in an active combat zone, after canceling a trip to an American military burial ground outside of Paris last month due to weather and skipping the traditional Veterans Day visit to Arlington National Cemetery just two days later.

In related news, The New York Times reports that Trump’s infamous bone spurs diagnosis, which kept him from being drafted during the Vietnam War, may have been a favor by a podiatrist who rented office space from Trump’s dad at the time.

The doctor’s daughter, Dr. Elysa Braunstein, told the Times, “I know it was a favor.”

“What he got was access to Fred Trump,” Elysa Braunstein said. “If there was anything wrong in the building, my dad would call and Trump would take care of it immediately. That was the small favor that he got.”

All of this continues to cloud Trump’s relationship with the US military.

In addition to the lack of troop visits and the draft dodging rumors, Trump has also insulted Gold Star families as well as Sen. John McCain for being captured during the Vietnam War.

The news did not go unnoticed:

Trump Saw A Military Parade And Wants One Of His Own

(image via Flickr and CC license)

Last summer, Donald Trump was invited by President Emmanuel Macron of France to attend the country’s Bastille Day events which included a grand military parade.

Trump called the event “one of the most beautiful parades I have ever seen” and decided he wanted a military parade of his own.

From The New Civil Rights Campaign:

President Donald Trump has ordered the Pentagon to hold a huge military parade for him, according to The Washington Post. The parade will have no military benefit, and in fact will cost millions of dollars. While not unprecedented, no U.S. president has had one since George W. Bush, but it had a purpose: celebrating the end of the Persian Gulf war, not celebrating the commander-in-chief.

“The marching orders were: I want a parade like the one in France,” a military official tells The Washington Post. “This is being worked at the highest levels of the military.”

The Post notes the cost of Trump’s parade “could run in the millions, and military officials said it was unclear how they would pay for it.” President Bush’s military parade 25 years ago cost $12 million.

The White House says the parade is still in the “brainstorming” phase, but insists Trump “wants to do something that highlights the service and sacrifice of the military and have a unifying moment for the country.”

Apart from the fact that we really don’t NEED to show the world our military strength – we are have the mightiest fighting force in the world – the cost of producing such an event seems ridiculous when there are so many homeless, unemployed veterans. Many folks, including military service members and veterans would much rather see aid to our vets than a parade for a president’s ego.

There were tons of negative responses to the idea of a parade. Here are just a few:

Vice President Mike Pence’s Bold-Faced Lie On Military Pay During #TrumpShutdown

Check out Vice President Mike Pence’s bold-faced lie speaking to US troops in Syria today.

“I’m sure you’re all aware of what’s happening in Washington, D.C. Despite bipartisan support for a budget resolution, a minority in the Senate has decided to play politics with military pay. But you deserve better.

“You and your families shouldn’t have to worry for one minute about whether you’re going to get paid as you serve in the uniform of the United States. The President, the Vice President, and the American people are not going to put up with it.”

During her time on the Senate floor yesterday, Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri specifically introduced a measure to ensure payment to military service members during the shutdown.

GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell shut it down with his own objection on record.

Let’s go to the video tape.

(h/t JoeMyGod)

Nevada: Crowd Boos Military Mom At Mike Pence Campaign Rally

Folks here in Nevada are still in shock at the sight of seeing a military mom being booed at a Trump/Pence rally in Carson City yesterday.

This campaign team must be pulling their hair out at this point.

ABC News reports:

Mike Pence just can’t escape the controversy surrounding Donald Trump’s critical remarks about the parents of fallen soldier Capt. Humayun Khan.

Taking questions from the audience at a rally in Carson City, Nev., the Indiana governor was asked how he could “tolerate” Trump disrespecting military families.

“Time and time again Trump has disrespected our nation’s armed forces and veterans and has disrespect for Mr. Khan and his family is just an example of that,” Catherine Byrne asked, as the crowd started loudly booing. “Will there ever be a point in time when you’re able to look Trump in the eye and tell him enough is enough? You have a son in the military. How do you tolerate his disrespect?”

Pence, whose father was a combat veteran, thanked Byrne for the question and tried to quiet the room. “Folks — that’s what freedom looks like and that’s what freedom sounds like, okay? It is,” he said.