[OPE-L:7337] Bush critic suspended by military/Officer's letter printed

From: Rakesh Bhandari (rakeshb@stanford.edu)
Date: Wed Jun 05 2002 - 14:48:01 EDT

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Wednesday, June 5, 2002 (SF Chronicle)
Bush critic suspended by military/Officer's letter printed
Ryan Kim, Chronicle Staff Writer

    An Air Force officer who accused President Bush of having prior knowledge
about Sept. 11 and using the attacks for political gain has been suspended
from the Monterey Defense Language Institute and could face court-martial.
    Lt. Col. Steve Butler, vice chancellor for student affairs at the
    was suspended on May 29 pending an investigation into a letter he wrote
that was published in the Monterey County Herald on May 26, military
sources said.
    In the letter, Butler called Bush a "joke" and said the president is using
the war on terrorism to muster political support.
    "Of course Bush knew about the impending attacks on America," Butler
wrote. "He did nothing to warn the American people because he needed this
war on terrorism. His daddy had Saddam and he needed Osama. . . . His
presidency was going nowhere."
    ". . . What is sleazy and contemptible is the president of the United
States not telling the American people what he knows for political gain,"
Butler wrote.
    Citing military regulations prohibiting officials from commenting on
ongoing investigations, Air Force spokesman Lt. Col. Art Haubold would not
tie Butler's letter to his suspension.
    "Butler has been administratively suspended from his position because of
an ongoing investigation," said Haubold.
    But other military sources said Butler was suspended for his remarks.
    Butler remains stationed at the institute on paid leave, said Haubold.
Haubold said the investigation will be conducted by local commanders at
the language institute.
    Butler, a 24-year veteran of the armed forces, served as a bomber
navigator in Desert Storm. He declined to comment Tuesday.
    "My lawyer has advised me to not make any comments," he said.
    Military sources said Butler was suspended under Article 88 of the Uniform
Code of Military Justice, which prohibits any commissioned officer from
using contemptuous words against the president, the vice president, other
prominent government officials or Congress.
    The maximum punishment under Article 88 is dismissal, forfeiture of all
pay and allowances and confinement for one year.
    The only known court-martial under Article 88 occurred in 1965, when 2nd
    Henry Howe was convicted of contemptuous words against President Lyndon
Johnson. He had participated in an off-base anti-war protest in El Paso,
    where he carried signs characterizing President Johnson as "petty,"
"ignorant" and "fascist."
    E-mail Ryan Kim at rkim@sfchronicle.com.
Copyright 2002 SF Chronicle

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