02/09/2006 11:28 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

White House Mobilizes the Military ... for Politics?

Active-duty military personnel are not supposed to engage in partisan political activies, right? Right: They are, in fact, legally prohibited from partisan political activities, according to DoD regulations which you can find here and here.

Someone may have forgotten to alert the eager beavers in the White House political affairs office.

Conservative columnist Robert Novak reported the following in his column today:

At the same time, the Bush administration is going directly to the public with its war message. Raul Damas, associate director of political affairs at the White House, has been on the phone directly to Republican county chairmen to arrange local speeches by active duty military personnel to talk about their experiences in Iraq.


According to the DoD regs, examples of prohibited activities by active-duty military include: A "member on active duty shall not speak before a partisan political gathering, including any gathering that promotes a partisan political party, candidate, or cause."

Without knowing the details of these arrangements it's impossible to say whether the letter of the law is being broken here. But the White House -- by extension the commander-in-chief himself (is that unitary government?) -- arranging for active-duty military to speak at GOP events certainly seems like a clear violation of the law's spirit.

In response to Atticus' comment below -- what makes these partisan, poltiicized events is the fact that they are being organized by (a) the White House's political affairs office and (b) local branches of the Republican Party.