Friday, December 14, 2007

 

Military Secret of the Day

There's little time to write. I've been contending with rot and mold—not on me, as you might suppose, but on the surrounding structure.

In the meantime you might contemplate the motivation for this—

... the Army won't let you read any Silver Star narratives. Though most are not classified, they are kept filed away from public view....

Army lawyers and bureaucrats have blocked requests ... to open these war stories to the public....

—David Wood reporting in "Army blocks 'narratives' of heroism"

Wood lists the official excuses—

The Army denied a March 2006 Freedom of Information Act request for the narratives, first on the grounds that it couldn't find all of them.

Next, Army lawyers argued that releasing the narratives "could subject the soldier and family to increased personal risk." But the Army and the Defense Department already publicize the names, photos and hometowns of medal recipients.

The lawyers also argued that disclosure would discourage officers in the future from writing detailed battle accounts.

The Army seems not to have a leg to stand on—

After being prodded for more than a year, the Army acknowledged last week that there is no law or regulation that blocks release of the narratives.

The Army had argued that a Defense Department directive specifically prohibited the release. But the Pentagon directive on medals and awards makes no mention of narratives, and the Army's assertion was hotly denied by a Pentagon spokesman, Col. Gary Keck. "No DoD policy prohibits the release of award narratives," he insisted.

Even so, Army lawyers are conferring with the Pentagon's general counsel, seeking a balance between privacy and public disclosure, officers said.

So the Army is lying about it's reasons for hiding the narratives and fighting tooth and nail to prevent their disclosure. What could account for this bizarre behavior?

My only thought is that the Army may fear that disclosure of the narratives might open them up to questions concerning the integrity of the awards, as happened in the case of Presidential candidate John Kerry by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth during the 2004 campaign.

Insights are always welcome in the Comments section.

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