Presumption of Honor

by Ed Sawicki - October 2, 2019

Oliver North

Oliver North

A talking head on one of the cable news shows recently suggested that a certain political figure wasn't corrupt because he served in the military. He wants us to believe that there's a presumption of honor and integrity that comes with military service. It's true that military training tries to instill these qualities in service members, but does it work with everyone? Does it last when they've left the service?

History shows that military service does not guarantee honorable behavior or respect for the rule of law. We can see this clearly by looking back at two of our country's worst political crimes: Watergate and the Iran-Contra Affair. In both cases, a majority of the participants in those crimes had served in the military.

The following list shows the participants in these two crimes and the branch of the military they served in. Robert Bork is listed here because of the dishonorable part he played in the Watergate Saturday Night Massacre.

Bernard BarkerAir Force
Robert BorkMarine Corps
Charles ColsonMarine Corps
John EhrlichmanAir Force
L. Patrick GrayNavy
H.R. HaldemanNaval Reserve
E. Howard HuntNavy, Air Force
Richard KleindienstArmy
Egil KroghNavy
G. Gordon LiddyArmy
Robert C. MardianNaval Reserve
James W. McCord Jr.Air Force Reserve
John N. MitchellNavy
Hugh W. Sloan Jr.Navy
Frank SturgisMarine Corps
Iran–Contra Affair
Alan FiersMarine Corps
Clair GeorgeArmy
Robert McFarlaneMarine Corps
Oliver NorthMarine Corps
John PoindexterNavy
Caspar WeinbergerArmy

In addition to these two, there were other high-profile incidents of military scandals. The best known to the American public are probably Tailhook and the military academy cheating scandals. Other scandals that were not as well-known but had more serious consequences for our national security include Fat Leonard. All are available for your reading enjoyment in the Sources section.

We shouln't exempt public figures from scrutiny because of their military service. Nor should we elect them because of it without examining their credentials further.

Other articles

Weeding Out Bad Cops Who Are the Good Cops? We Created A Monster


Wikipedia: Watergate scandal

Wikipedia: Iran–Contra affair

Association for Diplomatic Studies & Training: The Iran-Contra Scandal

Wikipedia: Tailhook scandal

Wikipedia: Fat Leonard scandal

Military Scandals

Wikipedia: Newport sex scandal

Wikipedia: Aberdeen scandal

Wikipedia: 2003 United States Air Force Academy sexual assault scandal

Wikipedia: United States Air Force Basic Training scandal

— END —