Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Barack Obama, Commander-In-Chief

You would expect at least a Republican not to refer to President Obama as commander-in-chief. But there it is: former GWBush speechwriter Michael Gerson, now a columnist for The Washington Post, says the 44th President "fully inhabits the public role of commander in chief."

Barack Obama does inhabit the role of commander-in-chief. But not for me, not for Michael Gerson, and not for you- unless you're currently holding down the fort in Kabul.

The President of the United States, pursuant to Article II, Section 2 of the United States Constitution "shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States." If commander-in-chief for anyone, President Obama has been commander-chief of Private Bradley Manning, who was serving in the 10th Mountain Division in Baghdad when he was arrested for allegedly passing classified information to the website WikiLeaks. Arrested in October 2009 and held in solitary confinement since July, 2010, Manning now, according to Politico's Josh Gerstein

is demanding that President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testify as witnesses at a preliminary hearing set to begin next week.

A defense lawyer for Pfc. Bradley Manning made the request Friday deep in a 20-page list of defense witnesses for a so-called Article 32 hearing scheduled to start Dec. 16 at Fort Meade, Md. The hearing, akin to a probable cause hearing in the civilian justice system, is to consider whether Manning's case should be referred for a full-scale court martial.

Manning's civilian defense attorney, David Coombs, released the request for witnesses Saturday via a posting on his blog. The names of Obama and Clinton were deleted from the version Coombs posted on the internet (and hereon our site). However, their identities are evident from the explanations of why their testimony would be relevant to the case.

The defense request alleges that comments Obama made about Manning's case — and his guilt — during a political fundraiser in San Francisco in April represent "unlawful command influence" since the president acts as commander in chief of the armed forces.

"Under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), a superior officer in the chain of command is prohibited from saying or doing anything that could influence any decision by a subordinate in how to handle a military justice matter," the defense request says. Obama "made improper comments on 21 April 2011 when he decided to comment on PFC Manning and his case. On that date, he responded to questions regarding PFC Manning's alleged actions by concluding that 'We're a nation of laws. We don't let individuals make their own decisions about how the laws operate. He [PFC Manning] broke the law.'"

Obama made the comments while shaking hands at a fundraiser where some guests earlier burst out in song to protest Manning's treatment. The president's back and forth about Manning was captured on a mobile phone camera.

Coombs said he wants to question Obama about the "nature of his discussions with members of the military regarding this case and whether he has made any other statements that would either influence the prosecution of this case or PFC Manning's right to obtain a fair trial." Manning's defense also wants to ask Obama about the alleged lack of impact of WikiLeaks's disclosure of the leaked U.S. military reports on Afghanistan, as well as open government issues and the phenomenon of overclassification.

Raise your hand if you believe Barack Obama, Private Manning's commander-in-chief, will testify at the preliminary hearing.

No hand appears raised. President Obama is claimed by the mainstream media as our Commander-in-Chief. He appears to have violated the Uniform Code of Military Justice and judged before the fact a criminal matter, likely prejudicing a hearing. And he might be held exempt from testifying.

If President Obama chooses, or is forced, to testify, he will be fulfilling a function in his role as Commander-in-Chief. If he is held exempt (and chooses not to testify), it will make a mockery of Article II, Section 2. And we will welcome the outrage which no doubt would ensue from Michele Bachmann and other tea party supporters who claim a fidelity to the United States Constitution unrivaled by anyone.

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