SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE — Officials at Scott Air Force Base say military personnel cannot publicly criticize their commander-in-chief — President Clinton — but strongly deny a rumor that a senior non-commissioned officer recently was punished for displaying an “Impeach Clinton” bumper sticker.
A flurry of e-mails have swept across the base in the last few weeks, warning people that it is illegal under military law to use “contemptuous language” about the president, regardless of the scandal in Washington, D.C.
The e-mails often include something about a master sergeant and an administrative punishment called an Article 15.
“To emphasize my point, a master sergeant at Scott Air Force Base has, within the last few days, received an Article 15 for displaying a bumper sticker on his car indicating that the president should be impeached,” reads one message dated Oct. 8.
There’s only one problem: It’s not true.
“We don’t know where they got that from, but it’s not true,” base spokesman Lt. Beth Szucs said of the punishment. “It did not happen.”
Szucs released a prepared statement by Lt. Col. Joe Heimann, the top lawyer for Scott’s 375th Airlift Wing, saying there have been “no incidences” of violations of military rules concerning public criticism.
One guess is that the story may be based on a hypothetical example used in some briefings, Szucs said.
Recently, many Air Force members have received e-mail copies of an article that appeared last month in the newspaper of an airbase in Wyoming.
Although some service members have published letters in unofficial publications criticizing Clinton for his relationship with Monica Lewinsky, there have been no reports of anyone being punished so far.
Originally Published, Oct. 25, 1998, Belleville News Democrat, Belleville,
(c) 1998, Belleville News-Democrat, Belleville, Ill
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