Skip to comments.The military duty to disobey
Posted on 12/18/2022 2:23:33 PM PST by MtnClimber
There is a well-known requirement in the United States armed forces that all who serve in it are required to obey the orders of their superior officers. This is only common sense. No military organization could long survive if those in it could choose which orders they would obey, and which to ignore.
There is, however, an exception to this rule of obedience, and it has significant ramifications: no one is required to obey an illegal order, such as an order to clearly break the law. Indeed, there is an unofficial doctrine called the “duty to disobey.” This also is common sense. No military organization could long survive if its commanders decided which laws to follow.
Of course, in civilian employment, the employee has a contractual duty to obey his employer, but this is of a very different nature than in the military. The worst that the employer can do is to fire the employee. The employee has the option to walk away. In the armed forces, disobedience can result in court martial, with incarceration in a federal prison, up to a life sentence. In the extreme, the death penalty could be imposed. XYZ company has no such authority, of course.
One thing in common, both in the military and civilian environments, is that obedience to an illegal order can—again, common sense—subject the subordinate to the same penalty as if he had broken the law of his own accord. The most iconic example of this is the Nuremberg war crimes trials, involving genocide, in which the defendants infamously relied on the defense that they were only obeying orders. The prosecution claimed, successfully, that the defendants had a duty to disobey illegal orders. Some were put to death. The precedent has stood ever since, putting despots on notice worldwide.
(Excerpt) Read more at americanthinker.com ...
Not just the military, but agencies such as the FBI, DHS, IRS, CDC and others. The violations of individual rights are currently staggering.
The oath of office requires an officer to obey the LAWFULL orders of those appointed above. However, the burden of proof that an order is not lawful will generally be on the individual.
It's so much worse than any of us imagined...
The Army emphasized this after Mỹ Lai.
Many people in this country are illiterate in basic civics, and as a matter of personal opinion, it would have to be something fairly heinous for military personnel to disregard that order. 2020 taught us that police will enforce Executive Orders handed down by governors or mayors, even going so far as to shut down a Virginia restaurant owner in 2022.
It’s Your Military Officer Oath of Office
I (name) do solemnly swear (or affirm)…: Signifies a public statement of commitment, where you personally accept complete and total responsibility for your decisions and actions.
…that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States…: You are not swearing to support the President, the Country, the flag, a political party, or a particular service branch. But rather, the Constitution is what you’re swearing an oath to, which symbolizes all of those things. Therefore, it’s important you actually read it! Have you read the Constitution lately, or ever?
…against all enemies, foreign and domestic;..: We must always be prepared for current and future wartime operations, kinetic or otherwise, at home and abroad. (Service Before Self, with yourself fully ready)
…that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same;..: Officers pledge allegiance to the Constitution empowering the citizenry, and not a military service branch, government, or organization. (It’s service to our Nation’s Ideas before Self)
…that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion;…: Your word is your bond! Without integrity the moral pillar of any core value is lost.
…and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter.: Promise to give the effort your all. (Anything worth doing is worth overdoing)
So help me God (optional): This signifies truth and commitment to what you have sworn to. It is a higher call to a divine agency. It assists in ensuring your own integrity and honesty for your oath.
By the way, when the Nuremberg war crimes trials, involving genocide, in which the defendants infamously relied on the defense that they were only obeying orders occurred never is presented the fact that Hitler removed the oath for a loyalty to the state and substituted an oath to obey him.
At Nuremberg many,many defendants used the “I was only following orders” excuse. Given what would happen to a junior soldier who disobeyed an order (summary execution) such a defense just might be worthy of consideration. But in other cases...no sale.
One thing I was going to add but couldn’t come up with the language for was that an officer could have in many cases decided to go home and plant turnips instead of pursuing a military career.
WTF? Matt, is this something considered acceptable? Son is at Fort Campbell and hasn’t seen this level of freak show.
Stateside, we had unlawful orders called out and disobeyed quite a few times. Most of them were from sheer ignorance, a few from civilian involvement, and a few that were outright arrogance and pettiness.
We had one where the illegal order recipient was exonerated in a court martial and an O-6 that repeated the original unlawful order from the Lt. Col got caught up further in the aftermath didn't make general. (Not surprisingly, the Lt. Col didn't make O-6). It wasn't just that these clowns gave an unlawful order, it was that one quick consultation with the JAG (it wasn't time sensitive) would have confirmed that the even the "butter bar" lieutenants who warned them beforehand were right.
Where do these people come from?
Breaker Morant (link in Post 15) is an outstanding movie.
One of my very favorite films! Some time ago I had an exchange with an esteemed Aussie Freeper called "naturalman1975" who,IIRC,was once an officer in the Australian Navy. IIRC it was his position that Morant and Handcock got what they deserved while I was inclined to accept their "scapegoats" defense,and that they were,in fact,following orders.
Of course him being an Aussie *and* having served in the Australian military gives him credibility that I obviously lack.
The Morant case (which, also involved Handcock - executed alongside Morant - and Witton - reprieved to life imprisonment and later released) was complicated. I do believe Morant was guilty of murder and Handcock and Witton probably were, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t also scapegoats - British officers who had done more or less the same thing were acquitted or, at worst, cashiered - discharged from the service - only ‘colonial’ officers were severely punished. In particular, Captain Alfred Taylor - who outranked Lieutenants Morant, Handcock, and Witton - really should have been the one held most responsible for what had happened, if anybody was. Instead, he was acquitted after resigning his commission. He returned to service during the First World War.
Required to obey lawful orders.
As best as I remember, for an order to be lawful it:
1. Must be issued by competent authority (Usually someone in the chain of command of recipient of the order. An order from the commander of a unit given to a criminal investigator of lower rank to cease his investigation would not be lawful given that the investigator reports through a different chain of command. On the other hand, if the unit was in the field and under attack an order to the investigator to pick up a weapon and help defend the unit might be lawful.)
2. Must be legal.
3. Must be something the recipient of the order can do. (An order to jump off a cliff, flap arms like wings, and fly, would not be lawful.)
And under some circumstances, the recipient of an order who disagrees with the order can protest the order in writing like Captain Biddle in "She Wore A Yellow Ribbon". (Nevermind how I know that.)
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