Michael New: A Patriot Court Martialed for Obeying His Oath of Duty
May 2004 Update: The article below was written in 1995 and 1996. Michael New's battle continues. He now has his own Web site with news on the latest developments. Please see MikeNew.com and read about the incredible story of a loyal patriot who was court martialed for staying true to his oath of duty by refusing to wear the UN uniform.
Feb. 6, 1996 note: Michael New has been dishonorably discharged in a trial that lasted about 15 minutes. An appeal is planned.
The following was written by Jeff Lindsay on Nov. 7, 1995 (then updated Nov. 19, Dec. 29, and Feb. 7, 1996, then again Oct. 11, 2012), relying largely on the cover story of The New American, Oct. 2, 1995, p. 5, as well as on personal communication from a well informed friend close to the action.
Note: special thanks to E. A. for his useful criticisms of this page. His comments are attached below to provide balance.
A patriotic American soldier is being court martialed for refusing to wear a United Nations uniform and to serve under a foreign commander. When U.S. Army Specialist Michael New took the oath to defend the United States from its enemies and to uphold the U.S. Constitution, he meant exactly that. He had no idea that he would be asked to ignore that oath in order to serve the United Nations, wearing UN insignia and following orders from a foreign UN commander. But that is exactly what happened in August. Michael New was serving in Germany when he was told that his unit was to be sent to Macedonia for UN "peacekeeping" operations. In Macedonia, he would be expected to take directions from a foreign officer and wear UN garb. His mission heading stated that his unit would act to "make the UN presence known."
His response, as reported in the cover story of The New American, Oct. 2, 1995, p. 5:
"I have a problem with that, because I am not UN. I explained this to my lieutenant, and told him, 'Sir, I don't think I should have to wear a UN arm band or a UN beret. I'm enlisted in the U.S. Army; I am not a U.N. soldier. I have taken no vow to the UN; I have taken an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States of America from enemies foreign and domestic. I regard the UN as a separate power.... Where does my oath say that I have to wear UN insignia?'"
New offered to serve in Macedonia as a medic and promised to help his fellow soldiers, but said that he would not wear the UN uniform because of his oath to serve the United States. His officers still insisted that he wear the uniform and follow their orders, regardless of his oath. For this he is being court martialled.
Some say that New is just unwilling to serve or engage in UN directed activities. This is not true. He served for six-weeks in Kuwait, a UN-directed action, but there he served in American uniform and under American officers.
Recruiting patriotic Americans into the United States military only to ask them to become UN soldiers seems like a classic bait-and-switch scam. Colonel Ronald Ray, a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense who is providing legal counsel to Michael New, notes that there are some serious practical implications to being a UN soldier that should be considered. A captured U.S. soldier is a POW with protected status, whereas a captured UN "peacekeeper" is just a "UN hostage" without special protection. Colonel Ray knows of this from prior experience. He had worked to free an American Marine, Rich Higgins, who was captured in 1988 by the Hezbollah while he was on a UN "peacekeeping" mission in Lebanon.
"...the position of our State Department was that they would seek release of 'all the hostages; without making a special effort to secure the release of this American officer. He wasn't an American POW; he was simply another UN hostage, and this redefinition of his status proved fatal."
But personal jeopardy is not the basis of New's objection. It's the principle. His oath made no mention of defending the UN Charter or serving foreign powers. His service was to be exclusively for the United States, as a United States soldier.
Currently he is being scheduled for a court martial in January. This is an issue which UN fans in the media seem loathe to cover.
Is our Army being converted into a tool of the United Nations, contrary to the principles of the U.S. Constitution? Sure looks that way. Our troops are being put at risk around the world to fulfill United Nations resolutions, often completely ignoring the normal requirement to obtain a declaration of War from Congress. Who are these troops serving? Vice President Al Gore answered that question when he issued a statement to the families of the 15 servicemen who were killed in Iraq from "friendly fire," offering his "condolences to the families of those who died in the service of the United Nations." Making reference to that statement in a letter to Army Chief of Staff Dennis Reimer, the parents of Michael New wrote:
"We are prepared ... for the possibility that our son could give his life in defense of Freedom and of the United States of America. We are not prepared to see him die serving the agenda of the united Nations. When we read of Vice President Al Gore's remarks... we were not comforted...."
Support our soldiers who stand up for the Red, White, and Blue - and refuse to salute the UN flag. Please write your elected representatives in Washington and ask for their help. No one should be court martialled for obeying his oath. No U.S. soldier should be forced to become a UN soldier.
Update, Nov. 19: A New York National Guard member was just thrown out of the Guard for talking about the Michael New case. U.S. military leaders seem to be paranoid about this case actually being discussed. Spread the word!
Here are some valuable comments (in quotes) from E.A., and my responses:
"SPC New is NOT being court-martialed for 'Obeying his oath' as you state. He is being court-martialed because he chose that over non-judicial punishment for disobeying a Direct Order. His oath, as mine and every other servicemember's states, 'I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and those officers appointed over me.' By refusing to wear the prescribed uniform he has disobeyed his oath.
"If he obeyed the order to wear the prescribed uniform, he would be obeying his oath in two ways. First, he would being obeying the orders of the President and those officers appointed over him. Second, if the President and/or Congress obligates, through treaty, charter, or otherwise, to deploy troops in support of another nation or group of nations (ie the United Nations) it is completely Constitutional. Thus the order to wear UN insignia (not a different uniform...just insignia) is a lawful one."
But his oath also includes - and is in the context of - a pledge to support the Constitution and defend the United States from enemies foreign and domestic. It is this more important portion of his oath that he feels would be violated by complying with the lesser law of obedience. There must be checks and balances. If a crazed commander orders his soldiers to do something contrary to the overarching principles of protecting the United States and its Constitution (e.g., shooting infants in a hospital), the soldiers are not justified in "just obeying orders" and could, in some cases, face prosecution for war crimes. Blind obedience to bad commands is not justified.
Unless the oath you took differs from the standard, it is incorrect to say that the oath is purely one of obedience. Protection of the U.S. and its Constitution is a critical part of that oath, one which sets the context for obeying orders. U.S. soldiers are not recruited as mercenaries to do whatever they are told. They are recruited - and sworn in - as defenders of America.
The military, as a whole, is noble and trustworthy and honorable. Their views tend to be correct and dependable. It is the policy makers - the politicians in the State Department and above - who are the source of the problems. One such problem is the erosion of national sovereignty as our troops become servants to the United Nations, a body whose interests do not necessarily correspond with the upholding of the Constitution.
"It is not up to individual soldiers to decide what is Constitutional and what is not. Lawful and unlawful orders are defined for us by the Constitution, the President and Congress, International Treaty, and by Army Regulation. Unless an order meets specific criteria as an unlawful order, it is a lawful order.
"Your example of shooting babies (or any other non-combatants, i.e. medics, clergy, ALL civilians) is known as an Unlawful Order (it meets specific requirements to be such; i.e., it violates the Geneva Convention), and all U.S. Servicemembers are compelled by their oath, U.S. law, and Regulations to not only not obey it, but to prevent it from being executed. The order to wear UN insignia, or any other insignia (i.e. if U.S. troops were assigned to a Russia Motorized Rifle Division, they would be required to wear Russian Insignia. Same if they were assigned to a British unit, French unit, etc.) does not meet any criteria as an unlawful order, and is therefore a Lawful Order. As a Lawful Order, SPC New is compelled to obey it.
"Our oath does not call for blind obedience, but it does set specific requirements to obey Lawful Orders...even if the individual soldier disagrees with it. For example, if I order my squad to re-paint numbers on a 5-ton truck, and my squad members feel the current numbers are clear, legible, and do not need to be re-painted, my squad still has to re-paint them. Whether they agree with the order or not.
"All of this is very carefully explained to all soldiers when they enter the Army, and the whole subject of Unlawful Orders, non-combatants, and Geneva Convention violations is re-briefed every six months."
"Just to set the record straight: I applaud SPC New's conviction and his willingness to take a stand; I just cannot support a soldier who disobeys lawful orders because he disagrees with them. It's a military thing...good order and discipline, and it is unlawful."
Of course the instigators of our actions in Macedonia and elsewhere will insist that all their commands are "Lawful Orders." But the command to take orders from a foreign national and act in the service of the United Nations - whose principles and purposes are antagonistic to those of the U.S. Constitution - is clearly (IMHO) contrary to Michael New's oath of service to "support and defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic [and] bear true faith and allegiance to the same." Being asked instead to bear faith and allegiance to foreign officers and the UN must be a real shock to soldiers who were recruited to defend the red, white, and blue. Our government will work hard to see that New's actions are branded and prosecuted as disobedience of a lawful order, but I'm glad someone has the courage to say "no" when asked to violate their oath.
Sadly, Michael New has been court martialed and dishonorably discharged, with very little press coverage. NPR ran a spot on it, starting off with an interview of a Deep South gun shop owner and militia member who supported New, as if that's typical of people who are concerned about the U.S. serving the United Nations. Then NPR took us to an especially boisterous Pentecostal revival meeting in the South and interviewed a few not-too-eloquent folks (many Southerners and Pentecostals are eloquent and intelligent - but the people chosen for the radio interviews were not) who expressed their fears of the New World Order while the noise of the revival continued in the background. Thanks, NPR, for your careful and thoughtful journalism.
A major issue for New's defense was PDD 25 - the secret Presidential Directive that Clinton signed detailing how the U.S. will serve with or under the United Nations in military operations. PDD 25 was cited by the prosecution to prove that the order given to New was a "lawful order." New's attorney rightly asked to see PDD 25 so he and New could learn just what the "law" of PDD 25 states. But permission was denied by the Federal Government, since PDD 25 was classified. Not even Congress was allowed to see PDD 25 (except perhaps for a few powerful members). What have we agreed to do for the United Nations? New was discharged dishonorably partly because of PDD 25, without being allowed to know what it requires. Shameful. (2012 Update: PDD 25 has since been released and is no longer secret. You can find it on the page of President Clinton's Presidential Directives at the Clinton Library, which has the following link to a PDF document: U.S. POLICY ON REFORMING MULTILATERAL PEACE OPERATIONS / PDD-25.)
Michael New's case was appealed to force the actual evidence to finally be presented. The government worked hard to delay the appeal, but in the end New's attorneys did get to see the evidence that had been used against him, and there was an astonishing twist. For details, see The Official Michael New Page, where the following press release can be found:
PRESS RELEASE, Michael New Legal Defense, 26 June 2012
Military Court to Review Order Forcing Soldiers to Serve Under United Nations
(District of Columbia) -- The Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces (CAAF) has given the U.S. Army a deadline of July 2 to enter arguments concerning the court-martial of an American soldier who refused to wear a United Nations uniform.
In 1996 the Army court-martialed Specialist Michael New, a medic serving in the 3rd Infantry Division in Germany, after he refused to wear a United Nations uniform and deploy on a U.N. mission into Macedonia. Mr. New was found guilty of disobeying a lawful order and sentenced to a Bad Conduct Discharge.
During his trial, New's attorneys requested the Army to provide a classified executive order entitled Presidential Decision Directive 25 (PDD25) that had been represented by the Army to New as one of the legal bases for the order issued by then-President Bill Clinton. The Army prosecutor refused, whereupon the military judge ordered the prosecutor to show the classified document to New's attorneys. The prosecutor then produced a document representing it to be the classified version of PDD 25. Unknown to the military judge and New's defense counsel, the document produced was not, in fact, the classified PDD 25. New did not discover this until 2009, well after the court-martial and appeals, when through a Mandatory Review process New got a hold of the real classified document.
After review of the classified document, New's attorneys concluded that the document proves that New was right in alleging that President Clinton did not have the authority to make the deployment, for it was in conflict with the United Nations Participation Act of 1945.
"The Army had that document, and that document provided exculpatory evidence in favor of specialist New, and they withheld it," Herb Titus, one of New's attorneys said. "Withholding evidence favorable to a defendant in a court-martial violates not only due process but military discovery rules."
Because the evidence did not come to light until after New's court-martial, and through no fault of New, New has filed a Petition of Coram Nobis with the military courts, asking the courts to overturn his conviction and bad conduct discharge as the first step to restoring New's military honor.
According to G. Gordon Liddy, who broke the case on national radio in 1995, "This is a threshold case involving questions never before answered concerning the Constitutional limitations on presidents and Congress, as well as questions about the American military and their role in international military actions."
Stunning. Michael New remains a hero to many who understand this case. May his case prevail.
One Man's Courage in Battle - Michael New
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