By Waller, J. Michael
Insight on the News , Vol. 17, No. 42
An army of "change agents" has been assigned to transform how U.S. soldiers, sailors, airmen and spies think, feel and behave. Supported by political pressure from above and peer pressure from within the system, the change agents are trying to impose a politically correct (PC) orthodoxy on war-fighters and spooks. Their main tools are sensitivity training and diversity programs that are finding permanent places in the national-security bureaucracy.
It started a decade ago. Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) sources tell Insight that former Rep. Ronald V. Dellums (D-Calif.), then-chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, browbeat senior officers to scan agency e-mails for insensitive or objectionable comments and that the DIAs upper management personally snooped through workers' e-mails.
A retired Navy officer who sat on a promotions board tells Insight that as early as 1990, "when you came up for promotions, your minority status was prominent and was included as a basis for promotion." He recalls the promotion candidates' dossiers being flashed to board members from a microfiche projector. "On the screen was the dossier, and splashed across on a diagonal banner, in big, bold, capital letters was the word MINORITY."
Then came the Tailhook affair of 1991, in which inappropriate behavior by a few Navy aviators resulted in a wholesale purge of carrier-based pilots, prompted more than 300 aviators to quit and remains a sore point to this day. Some of the behavior clearly broke regulations and any decent standard of conduct, but a group of radical feminists on Capitol Hill, led by then-representative Patricia Schroeder (D-Colo.), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, wanted heads to roll. And roll they did.
Thought-policing in the military well exceeds the strict gender and racial-conduct guidelines enacted since Tailhook. During a December 1998 attack on Iraq, a news photographer aboard the USS Enterprise snapped a picture of a 2,000-pound laser-guided bomb about to be loaded aboard a warplane. Young crewmen scrawled several inscriptions on the bomb, including one that said: "Here's a Ramadan present from Chad Rickenberg."
Such insensitivity shocked Clinton Pentagon officials. Defense Department spokesman Kenneth Bacon denounced it as "thoughtless graffiti," and the Navy was pressured to have its people refrain from such insults. But the Clinton Pentagon wasn't hostile to Navy graffiti per se. During Earth Day celebrations in 1999, the U.S. submarine base at Bangor, Wash., sponsored what it called "a `graffiti' contest for local schoolchildren who paint environmental messages on bus stops."
Meanwhile, cases of insensitive graffiti continued. It happened again on the USS Enterprise during the October bombardment of Taliban forces in Afghanistan. Many airmen inscribed their bombs with the names of people killed in the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon or with slogans avenging the New York Police and Fire departments. Most Americans responded approvingly when they saw the evening news.
Then, on Oct. 12, the Associated Press (AP) ran a photo of a crewman standing next to a message written on a bomb: "Hijack this, fags." Immediately, the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network protested. First, it pressured AP to censor the photograph and keep it from its subscribers, which the news agency immediately did. Then, in a news release, it called on the Navy "to condemn and hold accountable military personnel aboard the USS Enterprise for antigay graffiti scrawled on a United States bomb used in Afghanistan." The Navy responded in Clintonian fashion. Rear Adm. Stephen Pietropaoli, the Navy's chief of information, wrote to a gay-rights group on Oct. 17, assuring, "We immediately notified Navy commanders involved with Operation Enduring Freedom to ensure steps were taken to prevent a recurrence of this unfortunate event. They have done so. …