(USA Features) Active duty and retired Office of Naval Intelligence members have been instructed they are not to publicly “disrespect” President Joe Biden on the heels of a chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan and the death of 13 U.S. military personnel in a suicide attack on Thursday.
In an email from the ONI’s chief of staff, members were informed and reminded that under the Uniform Code of Military Justice and a Department of Defense directive clause they are not permitted to show contempt for government leaders including the president, vice president, members of Congress, the secretary of defense, and others, the Daily Wire reported, citing an email.
“Given the heightened political and social atmosphere surrounding Afghanistan, it is important to remind our uniformed personnel (active duty and reservists on temporary active duty) and military retirees of their responsibilities and obligations under Article 88 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice and Department of Defense Directive 1344.10,” the email said, according to the outlet.
“While it is vital to protect the constitutional right of freedom of expression for these groups, consistent with mission accomplishment, national security, and good order and discipline, it’s important to remember certain limitations,” the email continued.
“Namely, uniformed personnel and military retirees are prohibited from disrespecting senior government leadership (e.g. the President, Vice President, Congress, Secretary of Defense, Service Secretaries, etc.),” it said.
Under the same guidance and regulations, ONI personnel, current and retired, also cannot participate in partisan political activities or distribute partisan literature.
“An internal ONI member told The Daily Wire that these policies were more relaxed under the Trump administration and recalled retired officers condemning the former President,” the outlet reported.
The email also notes that ONI “civilians” are also required to follow the same rules.
Members were specifically ordered to avoid “being too vocal in criticism of, say, the President.”
“Even for civilians, you are reminded of the danger that your public comments will/could be attributed to ONI or the Department of Defense,” the memo continued.
“While you are entitled to your opinion and to share your opinion amongst those you know and trust, being too vocal in criticism of, say, the President or members of the military and civilian leadership may reflect poorly on ONI,” it added.
“It is important to share your opinions, if you choose to do so, in a professional manner that does not call into question your employment, the Department of Defense, or the federal government as a whole,” said the email.
The message also sought to assuage angst among ONI members regarding the fall of Afghanistan back into the hands of the Taliban after U.S. forces and NATO had fought there for 20 years.
“After Kabul fell to the Taliban last week, the scenes of chaos and desperation have been hard for all Americans to watch, especially for those of us in the national security establishment, as well as those who served selflessly in Afghanistan over the last 20 years,” said the ONI Chief of Staff, according to the Daily Wire.
“Watching the Taliban sweep back into power after two decades of investment can be a bitter pill to swallow.”