Library - Reading Room
Supporting Materials for Sir! No Sir!
With the last issue of LEFT FACE (Vol. l No. 4), heeding all existing military regulations (LEFT FACE is published off-post during off-duty hours with our own money and equipment), the authors submitted a request for approval to distribute on the Fort McClellan Military Reservation. Colonel William A. McKean's response: “After careful consideration of your request for approval to distribute Vol. l, No. 4, LEFT FACE, on Fort McClellan on 14 December, you are advised that the request is hereby denied. The basis for this denial is that the contents thereof are deemed prejudical to military loyalty, discipline and morale at this installation. A report of this denial is being made to Department of the Army. You are further advised that distribution of this publication on this installation without permission, (an action which has already been accomplished), is in violation of existing regulations.” Immediately after receiving the distribution denial, we submitted a request for a more explicit explanation of the basis for denial. Commanders may not prevent distribution of a publication simply because he does not like its contents.
“Installation commanders will not. ..take action to control or restrict dissemination of publications, even if such publications are believed to be in poor taste or unfairly critical of government policies or officials.” (AR 210-10) The regulation also states that “Troops are generally entitled to the free access to news and publications which other citizens enjoy.” Yet not only U. S. Army Photo has Colonel McKean denied us our Constitutional rights of free speech and free press, but he has also ignored our request for a reasonable justification of the basis for denial.
First: We are all citizens of the United States of America. Second: We are all members of the United States Army.
We are the citizen–soldiers. In our system of government, the Army cannot ask that every soldier agree with every policy and program of our government. Indeed, the First Amendment to the Constitution requires that one be permitted to believe what he will. The right to express opinions on matters of public and personal concern is secured to the citizen-soldier by the Constitution and the laws of the land. “Dissent,” in the literal sense of disagreement with policies of the government, is a right of every citizen soldier. It is in the interest of ALL citizens of the United States that we fight this denial of Constitutionally protected rights. The war will continue!
The LEFT FACE staff agreed that we should petition the United States Congress, another Constitutionally preserved right. The text of the petition:
We the undersigned are active duty servicemen-women stationed at Fort McClellan, Alabama. We believe that GIs—WACs United Against the War in Vietnam should be given the right to distribute their newspaper LEFT FACE on the Fort McClellan Military Reservation without persecution, intimidation and harassment from the military authorities. Signature on this petition is an affirmation of freedom of the press and does not necessarily represent an endorsement of the views expressed in LEFT FACE.
The petition was circulated widely and dispite [sic] the imminent holidays over 200 signatures were obtained. Again military authorities disregarded the law. GIs were circulating petitions at the Hilltop Service Club on a Saturday night (December 13th), until directed by Miss Rutherford, the civilian manager, to cease gathering signatures. They complied and asked for an explanation. After contacting the Staff Duty Officer, she agreed that petitioning was well within our rights. During this time an unidenified [sic] man dressed in civilian clothing had entered the Club office and taken the petition from Miss Rutherford. The petition belonged to Sgt. Lewis A. Delano, and when he noticed that this man was copying names from the petition, Delano picked it up from the desk explaining that this was unjustified. Without warning the man jumped from his seat, throwing Delano out the Office door. With one arm around Delano's throat, he forced the petition out of Delano's hands. As the petition fell to the floor, he worked Delano up against the wall, screaming that nobody “touches” something when he was using it. He dared Sp/4 Chuck Pearce to pick the petition up from the floor. Pearce tried, but the man's foot slamned [sic] down on it. Finally he released Delano. The GIs asked for his idenification [sic], and he was SSG Johnnie Moore of the 111th MP Company, a favorite of Col. Mckean, his “boy. “ Delano asked that he return the petition. He wouldn't. Delano asked for a receit [sic], again he refused. The GIs left to proceed to the MP Station to press charges. There they were told to return the next Monday, which they did. Delano was questioned by a Lt. Col. (ex. you ever been to China?) and laughed at by the MPs. While he was writing his statement, Sgt. Jones, an MP, told him that if possible they would try to jail him for perjury, even be- fore Jones read the statement. When the witnesses to the assault and larcency [sic] arrivied [sic], they were also harassed. Sp/4 Pearce was questioned about his political beliefs and off—duty activities by Sgt. Jones. Sp/4 Tom Cuccaro, after completing his statement, was told by Jones that several other statements directly contradicted his. In spite of the hostility and lies, the statements were made.
By the middle of January, no action had been taken. Delano acted. He initiated charges of assault and larcency [sic] (violations of Articles 121 and l28 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice) against Moore. (Moore has vowed to “get” the GIs according to rumor.)
Copies of the petition will begin circulating again this month, giving all GIs— WACs the opportunity to sign it.
The LEFT FACE staff will submit a request for approval to distribute. If they are again refused their rights, without suitable explanation, legal aid will be obtained for Federal Court action.
Editors, LEFT FACE
“With newspapers, there is sometimes disorder; without them, there is always slavery.”— Benjamin Constant [19th Century French painter]
Left Face, no. 5