A Rolling Stone article reveals some crude opinions McChrystal about some of the nation’s leaders, including Vice President Joe Biden and the Commander-in-Chief himself. McChrystal’s words could be more than just an embarrassing mistake they could actually be illegal.
While most citizens have the right to express their opinion, however crude or offensive, military officers must also abide by the UCMJ or the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The UCMJ is applicable to ALL United States military members, including McChrystal.
Article 88 in the UCMJ makes it a criminal office for an officer, like McChrystal, to use “contemptuous words against the President, the Vice President, Congress, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of military department, the Secretary of Transportation, or the Governor or legislature of any State, Territory, Commonwealth, or possession in which he is on duty or present shall punished as a court-martial may direct.” Officers give the right away to criticize these leaders when they enlist in the United States military.
According to Army Times, in 1999, Army Lieutenant Colonel Michael Davidson explained that contemptuous means “insulting, rude, disdainful or otherwise disrespectfully attributing to other qualities of meanness or disreputableness, or worthlessness.”
By blasting his superior’s, McChrystal, was violating a law he promised to obey. His offenses are subject to a court martial. A court Martial is a trial in a military court for those who are accused of serious breaches of the military law. The court gets to choose the punishment for those found guilty. Maximum punishments for an Article 88 breach are dismissal, forfeiting all pay, and imprisonment for 1 year.
There are other Articles that McChrystal could have breached with his careless comments. Article 134 is a more general, catch-all- article. It makes criminal any speech that is prejudicial to the order and discipline that could bring discredit to the military. If it is believed that McChrystal’s comments have affected the military, he could be punished under this article as well.
Article 88 is a well known article among the military. They even have commercials on military channels reminding the military of not only the article but also the consequences of breaching the article. McChrystal was a leader in the military and he was supposed to be an example. He should not be above the law the rest of the military is supposed to obey.