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article imageOp-Ed: Are oaths to defend the constitution a waste of breath?

By Craig Boehman     Jul 3, 2013 in Politics
It's reasonable for a government that illegally spies on Americans to also block its military personnel from viewing leaked NSA files on news agency websites like The Guardian. But who in the military would now dare to "defend" the US Constitution?
In movies and general mainstream media stories, the oath undertaken by soldiers to defend the Constitution is portrayed as one of the ultimate forms of patriotism, oftentimes glorified in love stories and human interest pieces about tours of duty ending and returning to homes that haven't been foreclosed on by big banks. Contrary to feel-good jingoistic rhetoric, the duty of a soldier to follow through with such an oath is a hell-of-a-lot more daunting in reality for those who are willing to undertake the task.
This is the oath that most military personnel take when they're enlisted in the US armed services:
“I, (NAME), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”
Unfortunately, there is an inherent contradiction built into this oath. How does one defend the Constitution from domestic enemies when these same entities are the ones giving orders? Likewise, following orders as a plea in legal proceedings hasn't always worked out for officers and subordinates, either.
Granted, most military personnel would not even consider disobeying an order because of a perceived conflict with the Constitution – with good reason. Punishments range from various forms of discharge to general court-martial and prison sentences. Or in the case of Bradley Manning, probable indefinite imprisonment for his role in exposing war crimes and government and corporate corruption.
Bradley Manning is arguably the one soldier persecuted the most vehemently by his own government by staying true to his oath to defend the Constitution.
Meanwhile, our outrage at government spying hasn't even touched off massive demonstrations in this country. What will it take? The United States Government has in effect declared war on its citizens. The exposed NSA spy program constitutes a pre-emptive strike against free people everywhere. Provisions within the Patriot Act and the NDAA serve as legalese to not only spy on Americans, but to detain them without probable cause. The Constitution remains undefended as bankers and other corporate malfeasants suck the life-blood from the American people with the guarantee that the security-surveillance state would put down any dissent in the form of mass movements like Occupy Wall Street – and whistleblowers like Edward Snowden.
Where are our oath-takers who have sworn to defend the Constitution? Will you wait until you're ordered to patrol American cities when the inevitable unrest comes when a majority of the people will be left with nothing to lose?
When will we as a people, not as members of a political party, ideology or religion, decide to defend the Constitution? When will we decide to defend ourselves?
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about Constitution, Bradley Manning, The guardian, Nsa, edward snowden
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