…the Bush administration is going directly to the public with its war message. Raul Damas, associate director of political affairs at the White House, has been on the phone directly to Republican county chairmen to arrange local speeches by active duty military personnel to talk about their experiences in Iraq.
This flies in the face of a Department of Defense directive issued in August of 2004 by then Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz.
"Political Activities by Members of the Armed Forces on Active Duty" limits military members on active duty from engaging in certain political activities. Among other things, a member may not:
-- Use his or her official authority or influence for interfering with an election; affecting the course or outcome of an election; soliciting votes for a particular candidate or issue; or requiring or soliciting political contributions from others.
-- Participate in partisan political management, campaigns, or conventions (unless attending a convention as a spectator when not in uniform).
-- Make campaign contributions to another member of the Armed Forces or an employee of the Federal Government.
The Wolfowitz memorandum also sets restrictive conditions on military members' ability to run for public office.
Now it appears that military members, legally bound to follow the orders of Mr. Bush, are being encouraged to participate in political activities that support the agendas of their commander in chief.
To steal a line from L. Frank Baum, I don't think we're in Kansas anymore.