"...do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic..."

"For the good of the Air Force, for the good of the armed services and for the good of our country, I urge you to reject convention and careerism..."
- Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Maxwell AFB, April 21, 2008

"You will need to challenge conventional wisdom and call things like you see them to subordinates and superiors alike."
- Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, United States Air Force Academy, March 4, 2011

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Military Officer vs Activist

Happy belated Independence Day. I haven't posted in some time, but I hope to make up for it by posting something fairly interesting.

As those who grace my blog with their time may know, I've had some bad experiences with "law enforcement." I've found that some public servants act in ways that have little to do with the public good. Readers will be somewhat familiar with my unlawful arrest at the hands of a city cop for allegedly not using a blinker during a lane change and the damage it had on my military career. The untruthful charge was dismissed in court and I have a lawsuit pending. But I have also had some issues with federal law enforcement, specifically the Border Patrol, and the latest episode with that agency has resulted in footage on YouTube. I have adapted to the threat by using surveillance technology. It has also resulted in a lawsuit pending against the Department of Homeland Security. As such, I will not provide a great deal of detail on the incident except for links to the full video footage where readers can judge for themselves. I will state one important fact. The checkpoint is not on the border but rather is 40 miles inland on a highway. This is an important distinction when researching applicable law governing immigration checkpoints. Before I provide the footage, I'd like to bring up the topic of military service and activism.

The oath of office "to defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic," makes for an interesting line between a military member and an activist, in my view. There has been recent discussion concerning the unfortunate incident involving General McChrystal and civil-military relations. I don't have anything worthwhile to offer on that specific situation, but I do think it may be helpful for military members to remember that they have a civil duty domestically to support and defend our Constitution. Our job is not just about blood and bullets. We must defend the Constitution of the United States wherever we are, and against any who threaten it. Unless, of course, we are of the view that oaths offered before God are not binding. That is not my view.

Activists are almost considered antithetical to military members, at least by many in our armed forces. In my conversations, the Vietnam era seems to have burned into the minds of many servicemen the image of long haired hippies spitting on soldiers. I tend to think there is, or should be, more similarity between those who fight for civil liberty at home and those who defend the nation abroad. I think if that commonality could be better acknowledged then perhaps the civil-military relationship would be strengthened. Certainly not all activists are standing up for Constitutional issues. But many are. In my view, we should be citizen soldiers, not just soldiers, and should stand up for freedoms on our own soil instead of simply fighting for it in foreign lands.

I haven't lived up to my expectation fully and I don't consider myself an activist. Others don't either. My Border Patrol video has garnered me fire from activists who claim I was too cooperative with federal agents who were acting unlawfully. Upon reflection, I tend to agree with these critics and I feel I have not honored my oath to the fullest. If exercising one's Constitutional rights supports those rights, as I think it does, then it's a valid criticism that I have been too cooperative and have not fully "supported" the Constitution. While some activists have considered me a pushover and have labeled me a "professional goon being professionally gooned," I have also gotten thinly veiled death threats and vituperative commentary from others who appear to think any American standing up to law enforcement is wrong. I find little of value in this point of view. But even a couple of people I considered friends have taken this view.

The video has been uploaded to YouTube by an organization I founded after my unlawful arrest, Veterans Against Police Abuse. The ten minute Cliff's Notes version is embedded below. To watch the full 30+ minute unlawful detention without the annotations included below, from two of the several cameras, click here.