Presumption of Honor
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 Barker||Air Force|
|Robert Bork||Marine Corps|
|Charles Colson||Marine Corps|
|John Ehrlichman||Air Force|
|L. Patrick Gray||Navy|
|H.R. Haldeman||Naval Reserve|
|E. Howard Hunt||Navy, Air Force|
|G. Gordon Liddy||Army|
|Robert C. Mardian||Naval Reserve|
|James W. McCord Jr.||Air Force Reserve|
|John N. Mitchell||Navy|
|Hugh W. Sloan Jr.||Navy|
|Frank Sturgis||Marine Corps|
|Alan Fiers||Marine Corps|
|Robert McFarlane||Marine Corps|
|Oliver North||Marine Corps|
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.
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