Crossposted at MyDD
Last Friday I posted a diary at MyDD regarding the linking of the Army Public Affairs web newsletter Stand To to a strongly anti-Obama posting in their 'What's being said in Blogs' section. This had been originally reported by the Washington Post and Huffington Post linked to it on Friday at around midday regarding a Tuesday edition of Stand To. The offending link was gone before midnight.
I posted the email address of Major General Anthony A. Cucolo III, Chief of Public Affairs, US Army and sent an email on the subject which can be found in the original diary. The General's response follows over the fold.
I received a response from General Cucolo which in the interest of fairness, and with a sense of satisfaction in the integrity of the US Army, it seems appropriate to diarise here:
Thank you very much for copying me on your note. Linking to this particular blog entry was a mistake -- as you state, in fact, an embarrassing and damaging oversight by us.
My team does Stand To!...it is a very important internal communications tool for the Army, with the intent of helping soldiers, Army Civilians and Families stay informed. Last year, I directed my crew that puts that item together to select articles and links -- from US and international sources -- that are both positive and negative about the Army. We believe to stay best informed, we must pay attention to all that others are saying -- even if we don't "like" it. It helps us understand how, what and to whom we should communicate to close the gap between perceptions and reality, part of our duty as Soldiers to keep the public and our Congress well-informed.
However, we must and will remain an apolitical organization. Our loyalty is to defending the ideals of the Constitution of the United States, and not to an individual or a symbol.
By going to that link -- a milblog that we have linked to in the past for other, more topical, content -- we violated our own guidelines.
I offer no excuse and accept full responsibility for this error. I want you to know that we have removed the blog and its archive. For what it is worth, we do post a disclaimer with every Stand To!, a portion of which follows:
"*External Links Disclaimer - The appearance of hyperlinks to external sites does not constitute endorsement by the Department of the U.S. Army of the linked web site or the information, products or services contained therein."
But I want to assure you, the disclaimer is not meant to cover prohibited issues such as partisan political activity (or even the perception of it) -- bottom line, even with the disclaimer, we should not be linking this type of material at all. Again, this is my responsibility, it is inexcusable, and we have taken immediate steps to remove the links and emplace better oversight so it does not happen again.
You and the public must have confidence that the armed forces, especially your Army, remain apolitical in every respect.
Thank you again for your note.
Major General, US Army Chief, Army Public Affairs
Thanks, General. As I said in the original diary, this is a housekeeping issue, no big deal, but it is gratifying to have a response from our military which demonstrates an apparently perfect understanding, at least, of the situation and the problem the link presented. Good on General Cucolo and the US Army. A small lesson, perhaps, in the importance of vigilant push-back and also a reason to take some pride in the process we enjoy in these United States.
[Update] Subsequent correspondence:
Thank you for your prompt and comprehensive response. I find your explanation restores my faith in the process in which, in a broad sense, we are both active participants. As you may be aware I had originally 'diarised' the Washington Post article on a progressive Democratic website along with a copy of my email message to the Stand To! feedback account and copied to you.
In the interest of public responsibility, and given the unclassified nature of your response and the absence of caveats I have taken the liberty of posting a subsequent diary on the same site citing your response in full. I hope this meets with your approval and I want to thank you for taking the time to respond personally. Democrats are every bit as likely to hold our armed forces in esteem and I assure you that I personally hold the sacrifices and history of our men and women in uniform in high regard.
Thanks much, Shaun -- no doubt about it, patriotism and the willingness to defend the ideals upon which this nation was founded...and support those who do...knows no political party. I again want to thank you for catching this. Please continue to keep your eyes open for any other issues, perceived or real, that might indicate we (the military) might be straying from our core values; I would be happy to deal directly with those issues!
Thank you for your continued support of Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen and their Families.
All the best,
MG Tony Cucolo
So now that we're such good friends do you think I should raise the subject of Rush Limbaugh on
Armed Forces Radio the American Forces Network? Sigh.