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Opinion

Opinion: Did Lt. Col. Vindman violate military policy? Readers come to his defense

Lt. Col Alexander Vindman
Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a military officer at the National Security Council, arrives on Capitol Hill on Oct. 29 to give his deposition in the House impeachment inquiry.
(Associated Press)

Did Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman violate his oath as a military officer when he cooperated with the House’s impeachment inquiry? It isn’t clear what legal and professional consequences the White House’s top Ukraine expert may face for disobeying an order from his commander in chief and giving his deposition to Congress on Tuesday, but he does have the support of one group of people: L.A. Times letter writers.

On Thursday, a letter from a retired air force lieutenant colonel took Vindman to task for not resigning his commission if he felt strongly enough about the Trump administration’s Ukraine policy to testify before Congress. In response, more than a dozen readers came to Vindman’s defense; here are some of their letters.

Pasadena resident Guy Webster believes Trump wasn’t conducting “foreign policy”:

While I thank the letter writer for his military service, I strenuously challenge his opinion that members of the armed services should treat potential criminal activity, such as soliciting a foreign nation to interfere with a U.S. election, as a matter of an administration’s “foreign policy” with which they should not interfere.

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That is a short step from military compliance with the illegal torture practices of the Bush administration. The world is still paying the costs of the military’s unquestioning obedience in that case.

A uniform does not remove the responsibilities of citizenship.

Angela Black of Long Beach draws a historical parallel:

Although I’ve never been in the military, it would seem that no Army officer is obliged to remain silent when witnessing behavior by superiors that is clearly illegal or unconstitutional.

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President Trump’s actions on that July 25 phone call with the new Ukrainian president were unconstitutional and against our national security interests.

The Nuremberg trials showed us the danger of blind obedience by military officers.

Eric von Ehrenberg of San Diego points out that military personal pledge to uphold the Constitution:

I take issue with what the letter writer, a retired lieutenant colonel, stated.

When the House launched an impeachment inquiry into whether the president violated his oath of office by asking for a personal political favor from a foreign government for his sole personal benefit rather than that of the United States, it then follows that the president, if the allegation is true, did not faithfully execute the duties of his office as required by the Constitution.

As a military officer, the letter writer took an oath upon his commissioning to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States.” He did not pledge blind allegiance to any president.

Bill Mace of San Gabriel says this is not about Vindman’s opinion on policy:

Vindman clearly can differentiate between a wrong decision or policy, and actions that are obviously unlawful.

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Resign? That’s like asking good people to do nothing.


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