Sunday, June 4, 2000
Lawmaker prepares citizen-soldier act
Would prevent repeat of Michael New incident
by Jon E. Dougherty
A bill that would prevent U.S. soldiers from having to serve foreign militaries or under foreign commanders during United Nations operations may be introduced as early as next week by an Idaho Republican seeking to curb U.S. involvement overseas.
Rep. Helen Chenoweth-Hage, R-Idaho, is planning to introduce the Citizen Soldier Protection Act of 2000, which would prevent the federal government from forcing American soldiers to wear insignia or other uniform items of foreign and U.N. militaries.
The act would also prevent U.S. soldiers from forcibly serving under foreign commanders and would require the Pentagon to keep American forces under the guidance of U.S. military officers.
The bill stems from a 1992 incident involving former Army Specialist Michael New, who received a court-martial for refusing to deploy with his unit from Germany to Macedonia wearing a blue U.N. patch and beret. New, who served as a medical specialist in the Gulf War, has maintained throughout his lengthy court martial and appeals process that Army regulations prohibit American soldiers from wearing such foreign military insignia.
The government disagreed, however, and said New should be court-martialed for failing to follow a lawful order from a duly authorized superior officer. His case is still on appeal.
The White House became involved in the controversy early-on after the discovery of a presidential decision directive that critics contend places U.S. troops at the disposal of the United Nations.
That directive, called PDD-25 and issued by President Clinton, has remained secret; only a short summary has been released to the general public. Even lawmakers have been unable to force the administration to release a full copy of the order.
"This bill does not go far enough to please many people since it will not prevent U.N. deployments with American volunteers," said Daniel New, Michael's father and a vehement supporter of Chenoweth-Hage's measure. "But it does protect a key element of American sovereignty, the sovereignty of the citizen soldier, who may not be forced into involuntary servitude as a mercenary."
The elder New said he is assisting in the search for House and Senate co-sponsors. He said several organizations have already endorsed the measure but he declined to identify them yet.
A draft copy of the measure claims that Congress has found that members "of the United States Armed Forces are being compelled, without lawful authority" to don "symbols, helmets, headgear and other visible indicia or insignia of the United Nations and other foreign States" as part of their uniforms. Further, the draft states that American soldiers, sailors and airmen "are being compelled, without lawful authority, to serve under military and other officers of the United Nations and other foreign States."
The bill seeks to clarify existing U.S. law "in order to protect American citizens serving in the United States armed forces from involuntary service" in foreign armies while engaged in peacekeeping or other missions whose chief sanctioning body is the U.N. or other international or "global" entity.
Also, the bill would "restore to Congress its rightful constitutional authority governing the deployment of members of the United States armed forces in service alongside and in conjunction with foreign states with which the United States from time to time is allied."
Finally, the bill seeks to enforce Article 2, Section 2 provisions prohibiting Congress or the president from vesting any "of the executive power of the United States in officers of a foreign state or delegate to an officer of a foreign state such executive power except in time of military necessity in a lawfully declared state of war and as authorized by Congress."
In short, staffers told WorldNetDaily, the measure is designed to restore to Congress its Article 1, Section 8 duties under the Constitution to "raise and support armies" and to decide, through declarations of war, when and where American forces will fight.
"We think this is an important bill and we believe it will be popular among most House members," said Keith Rupp, Chenoweth-Hage's chief of staff. He added that the draft copy could be amended later but that some form of if would likely be introduced into the House in the course of the next several weeks.
Chenoweth-Hage, in her third term in Idaho's 1st District but who is retiring after this year because of "a self-imposed term limit" agreement made with voters, holds seats on the House Resources, Government Reform, Veteran's Affairs, and Agriculture committees. She is the chairman of the House Forests and Forest Health Subcommittee of Resources.
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