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Saturday, February 04, 2006

They Get Letters

To the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff:

On January 31st, 2006, you joined together with other high-ranking military officers to send a letter to Mr. Phillip Bennett, the managing editor of the Washington Post, criticizing editorial cartoonist Tom Toles for a cartoon which you feel was insulting to the men and women of the armed forces.

While I agree with your assertion that "newspapers are free to address any topic, including the state of rediness of of today's Armed Forces", I strongly object to your choice to send a letter to the editor complaining about the content of an editorial cartoon on any grounds.

If you addressed the editor of the Washington Post as concerned civilians, I would have no problem with your letter. Everyone has a right to an opinion. However, you decided to throw the weight of your authority as military brass behind your complaint by referring to your rank and using Joint Chiefs of Staff official letterhead...How can this be seen as anything other than an attempt to intimidate the newspaper and cartoonist in question?

In your capacity as a high-ranking military offical--the role you stress repeatedly in your correspondence--you have no business attempting to interfere with the right of free expression guaranteed to us by the constitution.

Perhaps the nation would be better served if you spent more of your time studying war plans, Iraqi history, or Arabic rather than responding testily to cartoons.


Steve Lindstrom
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