We have all said things that we wish no one else heard. In a crowd, the thing we thought would be well received comes out wrong. The words that had sounded good in our heads comes out sounding stupid, mean, or insensitive. However, to say what one Air Force general said, in a crowd of subordinates, could never have sounded good. There is no way that Maj. Gen. James would think that his comment was going to sound funny or be taken “tongue in cheek.”
What was the comment? AP reported yesterday:
The Air Force is investigating allegations that the No. 2 commander at its prestigious Air Combat Command told lower-ranking officers that talking to members of Congress about the capabilities of the A-10 attack aircraft is tantamount to treason.
As I reported earlier this week, there is a push within the Air Force to scrap the A-10 for the F-35 fighter. This move has been challenged by lawmakers as they question the need and wisdom of such a decision. There have been those in the Air Force who have sided with Congress. I pointed out the fact that the move could cost the lives of ground forces.
AP further reported:
“This is very serious, to accuse people of treason for communicating with Congress,” Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-New Hampshire, told Gen. Mark Welsh, the Air Force chief of staff, who testified Wednesday before the Senate Armed Services Committee.
It is more than serious. To lie to or withhold information from Congress is a federal crime. This would put the air force personnel in a difficult position. They can break the law and possibly face punishment or be considered a traitor to their country by those in command over them.
AP added that it was Tony Carr, a retired Air Force officer, of the blog spot “John Q Public” first reported the incident.
Carr said Post prefaced his remark in the closed-door conference by saying, “If anyone accuses me of saying this, I will deny it.” He then said, “Anyone who is passing information to Congress about A-10 capabilities is committing treason.”
There is a question that seems to have alluded everyone. To whom does Post believe this treason is committed against? It cannot be that Post thinks that treason would be committed against America. How can you betray your country by telling the truth to a Congress meant to represent the people of that country?
No. Actually, lying, withholding information or misleading that Congress would be treason. Especially when that information would cause them to see more clearly what decisions they should make. This is even truer if that information would cause a decision to be made that would save the lives of soldiers and airmen.
Was it the Air Force? Can you commit treason against a branch of the military without it being treason to the country that military is meant to protect? It is possible if that branch has motives contrary or differing from that of the country. If there were goals and purposes that have nothing to do with national security, then it would be a betrayal for the officers of that branch to speak out of turn.
But how can a military branch have a goal contrary or different from those of our country?
On January 17, 1961 President Dwight D. Eisenhower gave his farewell address. In that address, the aging soldier and statesman warned his countrymen of the rise of new dangers, dangers never before faced by this or any other people. He said this:
In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.
We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.
Eisenhower knew, like Aristotle before him, that we must guard against our military growing to have a life and motive of its own, apart from the protection of its people. I think Post is probably a patriot who loves his country. Yet, it seems that at the very least, his loyalty to the Air Force’s agenda is misplaced, even if it cannot be shown that he is backing the F-35 for personal and financial gain.