Friday, May 16, 2008

To My Military Friends

Since I've put out the Patriots Act! song on the music site, I think I owe a bit of an explanation to those friends of mine that are in the military.

I have the highest respect for those who are taking part in the ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Many of the finest people that I've ever met were fellow military members. I'm thankful for my time in the service and for the friendships that have endured my transition.

I respect what each of you is doing, in your own significant way, to make the world a safer and a better place for all of us to live in. You may be putting your life on the line daily. I agonize over the sacrifices that you are being called to make.

I do feel (as I have since the day that we invaded Iraq) that there are serious problems with the way that our government has chosen to execute the war on terror. I hope that the situations in Afghanistan and Iraq end well. I would be extremely satisfied to see a stable outcome in 20 years. If that happens, it will be, in part, due to the backbreaking, and gutwrenching work that you are doing right now, and every day. If that doesn't happen, it won't be your fault... it will be despite your best efforts.

I left the military because I was not willing to take the risk, however remote, that I might be asked to play a role (any role) in an interrogation that did not observe what I believe to be basic human rights. I could not countenance our country's slipping backwards towards the tacit approval of interrogation techniques that would have been considered torture in the past. If that decision could be made in secret without our knowledge and without permission, what other decisions have been made that we are still unaware of?

Another reason that I left is because I believe that our Commander in Chief broke the law when he authorized what I see as the illegal wiretapping of American citizens. (illegal mostly because the directive was given in secret, without Congressional consent initially, when the laws already in place gave the intelligence community the resources needed to do its job). I left because one of the organizations that I was associated with during my military career appears to have been one of those initially responsible for allowing and facilitating this illegal action taking away basic privacy rights from all of us. I was not willing to work for an organization that I feel was not following the rule of law, no matter how noble its motives.

I hope that you will understand that my words are not aimed at the military personnel, and are not meant to hurt their cause. I believe that one of the greatest freedoms that we defend, is the freedom to criticize the policies of our government leaders when we feel that they are wrong-minded. I thank you, sincerely, for defending my freedom to do so, as I defended the freedom of others to do the same when I myself was wearing the uniform.

I swore an oath when I entered the Air Force in 1992. Supporting and defending the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic is a noble endeavor, and one that I could perform with a clean conscience. Obeying the orders of the President of the United States and those of the officers appointed over me became a thing that I could no longer swear to do without question, and with complete trust. That is the most important reason why it was time for me to leave.

Now I am allowed to have a voice, and I hope that in using that voice, I will not lose your frien