NOTICE: Mark your calendar! Thursday, October 5, at 7 p.m. Eastern. Benjamin Power is our first presenter in our upcoming online Austrian conference: “How Austrian Economics Impacted My Life.” Register here to receive your Zoom link.
In a farewell talk, Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, emphasized one of the shibboleths of the U.S. military. “We take an oath to the Constitution,” he stated.
The Sixth Amendment to the Constitution reads in part as follows: “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed.”
Two important principles in that statement are: a speedy trial and trial by jury. Those two principles are part of the Constitution that Milley says that he and the military establishment are dedicated to supporting and defending.
Let’s now turn our attention to the military’s torture and prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, which serves as an alternative means of prosecuting people who are accused of terrorism. The military has kept some people incarcerated in Cuba on terrorism charges for 20 years or so without according them a trial.
No matter what definition is placed on the term “speedy,” there is no possibility that anyone would construe “speedy” to encompass a trial conducted after 20 years of a person’s arrest.
Moreover, even if the military ever does come around and permit a trial, it will be by military tribunal, not trial by jury. The difference between a military tribunal and a jury of regular Americans is the difference between day and night. A military tribunal would be a kangaroo proceeding, one in which the members of the tribunal would render whatever verdict their superior officers mandate, which, of course, would be a verdict of guilty. A jury of regular Americans, on the other hand, would base their verdict on competent evidence introduced at trial, which could conceivably mean a verdict of not guilty.
So, here we have two instances of where the military is knowingly, intentionally, and deliberately violating the Constitution — the right to a speedy trial and the right of trial by jury. How can that be reconciled with Milley’s statement declaring that he and the military establishment support and defend the Constitution?
One possibility, of course, is that Milley is simply lying. With this possibility, he would be hoping that no one would notice the lie, especially given that the fact that it has long been ingrained in people’s minds that the military really does support and defend the Constitution.
But let’s give Milley the benefit of the doubt. Let’s assume that he really does honestly believe what he says about supporting and defending the Constitution.
How then do we reconcile his statement with the flagrant violations of the speedy trial and trial by jury provisions of the Sixth Amendment?
It’s possible that Milley has been trained to have a compartmentalized mind. One compartment enables him to believe that he is a supporter and defender of the Constitution. The other compartment enables him to violate the Constitution by denying people their rights to a speedy trial and trial by jury. These two mental compartments are totally sealed off from each other, so that Milley is able to support and defend the Constitution and to violate the Constitution at the same time.
It doesn’t really make any difference though whether Milley is deliberately lying or is operating with a compartmentalized mind when he avows his support for the Constitution and, at the same time, supports grave violations of the Constitution. Regardless of Milley’s state of mind, as we have seen with Guantanamo the national-security establishment is, in reality, not a supporter and defender of the Constitution but rather a destroyer of the Constitution.