US Army Response to Stand-To Anti-Obama Link

Last Friday I posted a diary regarding the linking of the Army Public Affairs web newsletter Stand To to a strongly anti-Obama posting in their 'What's being said in Blogs' section.  This had been originally reported by the Washington Post and Huffington Post linked to it on Friday at around midday regarding a Tuesday edition of Stand To.  The link was gone before midnight.

I posted the email address of Major General Anthony A. Cucolo III, Chief of Public Affairs, US Army and sent an email on the subject which can be found in the original diary.  I received a response from General Cucolo which in the interest of fairness, and with a sense of satisfaction in the integrity of the US Army, it seems appropriate to diarise here:

Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Caveats: NONE


Thank you very much for copying me on your note. Linking to this particular blog entry was a mistake -- as you state, in fact, an embarrassing and damaging oversight by us.

My team does Stand To! is a very important internal communications tool for the Army, with the intent of helping soldiers, Army Civilians and Families stay informed. Last year, I directed my crew that puts that item together to select articles and links -- from US and international sources -- that are both positive and negative about the Army. We believe to stay best informed, we must pay attention to all that others are saying -- even if we don't "like" it. It helps us understand how, what and to whom we should communicate to close the gap between perceptions and reality, part of our duty as Soldiers to keep the public and our Congress well-informed.

However, we must and will remain an apolitical organization. Our loyalty is to defending the ideals of the Constitution of the United States, and not to an individual or a symbol.

By going to that link -- a milblog that we have linked to in the past for other, more topical, content -- we violated our own guidelines.

I offer no excuse and accept full responsibility for this error. I want you to know that we have removed the blog and its archive. For what it is worth, we do post a disclaimer with every Stand To!, a portion of which follows:

"*External Links Disclaimer - The appearance of hyperlinks to external sites does not constitute endorsement by the Department of the U.S. Army of the linked web site or the information, products or services contained therein."

But I want to assure you, the disclaimer is not meant to cover prohibited issues such as partisan political activity (or even the perception of it) -- bottom line, even with the disclaimer, we should not be linking this type of material at all. Again, this is my responsibility, it is inexcusable, and we have taken immediate steps to remove the links and emplace better oversight so it does not happen again.

You and the public must have confidence that the armed forces, especially your Army, remain apolitical in every respect.

Thank you again for your note.

Very respectfully,

Tony Cucolo
Major General, US Army Chief, Army Public Affairs

Thanks, General.  As I said in the original diary, this is a housekeeping issue, no big deal, but it is gratifying to have a response from our military which demonstrates an apparently perfect understanding, at least, of the situation and the problem the link presented.  Good on General Cucolo and the US Army.  A small lesson, perhaps, in the importance of vigilant push-back and also a reason to take some pride in the process we enjoy in these United States.

Tags: Barack Obama, Election 2008, US Army (all tags)



Re: US Army Response to Stand-To Anti-Obama Link

Excellent job well done.

by Makey 2008-06-16 02:18AM | 0 recs
that's great news!

by slinkerwink 2008-06-16 02:27AM | 0 recs
Re: US Army Response to Stand-To Anti-Obama Link

Thank God we still have a professional army. We're still not like Carhtage relying on mercernaries for everything (well...there is a LARGE merc force in Iraq).

Good work Shaun, and thanks for the follow-up posting.

by catilinus 2008-06-16 02:37AM | 0 recs
God I love our military!

General, sir, for the record - you kick ass!  

A complete lack of butt-covering, dissembling, caveating and hiding behind other people.  

Admitting a mistake and taking responsibility for it.  Who would have thought.

Bravo, sir.


by chrisblask 2008-06-16 02:48AM | 0 recs
Re: God I love our military!

It's hard for me to admit this, but the General is a righteous dude, even if he is Army.  ;-)

P.S.  Love your sig.  Grace Hopper gave me my first "nanosecond."

by Purple with Green Stipes and Pink Polka Dots Dem 2008-06-16 02:05PM | 0 recs
Re: God I love our military!

I'm jealous!  Do you still have your nanosecond?

That's a legendary story.

For all you who don't know, Admiral Grace Hopper is the person who taped the moth into the logbook of ENIAC that was the first Computuer Bug (the book is in the Smithsonian, I believe), and used to give out pieces of wire about ten inches long to demonstrate how long a nanosecond is.  All of those references can be found on her wiki page.

by chrisblask 2008-06-16 02:50PM | 0 recs

actually it was a MARK II computer at Harvard, not ENIAC.

by chrisblask 2008-06-16 02:53PM | 0 recs
Re: God I love our military!

I met, (then Commodore), Adm Hopper during my plebe year in 1984.  She gave all of us a 9 or 10 inch piece of single strand telephone wire, (the kind with all the different colors).

I looked at it, thought it was interesting, and then promptly threw it away.  I have really come to regret that decision.

She was one hell of an interesting person.  She was already a legend 24 years ago, (at least to us). The hand full of times that I met her, were always entertaining.

Sorry to go way off topic. Let me know if you want to touch base off-line.

by Purple with Green Stipes and Pink Polka Dots Dem 2008-06-16 04:31PM | 0 recs
Re: US Army Response to Stand-To Anti-Obama Link
Good job, Shaun!
Whether the link was an oversight or not, if no one had done anything, it would still be there.
by skohayes 2008-06-16 03:12AM | 0 recs
Re: US Army Response to

Glad to see such a professional response.

FYI, I know quite a few Army officers who are most assuredly not Republicans.  It's not all lock-step over there.

by Reaper0Bot0 2008-06-16 04:42AM | 0 recs
I'm sure!

I heard from a man on a boat (Navy) that there's all stripes in the military, and I believe it!

by RisingTide 2008-06-16 08:17AM | 0 recs
Re: US Army Response to Stand-To Anti-Obama Link

Thanks for posting this, Shaun.  And I agree.  The military is usually portrayed by the Repubs as all red, but they can only get away with that if the civs (especially Dems) stand up and point out that we are forbidden from commenting or taking place in political activities.  And for just the reason that Gen. Cucolo gave - the military HAS to stay apolitical.

Kudos for addressing this, and posting the response!

by NoBlinkers 2008-06-16 05:17AM | 0 recs


Thank you for your prompt and comprehensive response.  I find your explanation restores my faith in the process in which, in a broad sense,
we are both active participants.  As you may be aware I had originally 'diarised' the Washington Post article on a progressive Democratic
website along with a copy of my email message to the Stand To! feedback account and copied to you.

In the interest of public responsibility, and given the unclassified nature of your response and the absence of caveats I have taken the liberty of
posting a subsequent diary on the same site citing your response in full.  I hope this meets with your approval and I want to thank you for taking the time to respond personally. Democrats are every bit as likely to hold our armed forces in esteem and I assure you that I personally hold the sacrifices and history of our men and women in uniform in high regard.


Shaun Appleby

Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Caveats: NONE

Thanks much, Shaun -- no doubt about it, patriotism and the willingness to defend the ideals upon which this nation was founded...and support those who do...knows no political party. I again want to thank you for catching this. Please continue to keep your eyes open for any other issues, perceived or real, that might indicate we (the military) might be straying from our core values; I would be happy to deal directly with
those issues!

Thank you for your continued support of Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen and their Families.

All the best,

MG Tony Cucolo

by Shaun Appleby 2008-06-16 05:32AM | 0 recs
That's ridiculously awesome

The Republicans have gotten away as the pro-military party for too long.  With the VA hopsital scandal, the contractor nightmare in Iraq, and the GI Bill fiasco, I hope that Republicans are connected to abusing the military for political gain for generations.

by Dracomicron 2008-06-16 05:45AM | 0 recs
Re: Today

Well done sir - I hope you won't have to send anything else, and the note makes me think there won't be another problem here.

Remember, most donations from the military went to Paul.

by Falsehood 2008-06-16 12:40PM | 0 recs
Re: US Army Response to Stand-To Anti-Obama Link

So now that we're such good friends do you think I should raise the subject of Rush on Armed Forces Radio?  Sigh.

by Shaun Appleby 2008-06-16 06:00AM | 0 recs
Re: US Army Response to Stand-To Anti-Obama Link

Absolutely, but while on that train of thought, I was thinking "Do we have a non-biased source of news and discussion available for our troops"?

Well NPR popped to mind, In the 24 hour cycle of NPR could someone claim that it passes the fairness doctrine with flying colors?

NPR will put me to sleep (I need my talk to be outrageously partisan, but hey Im a civilian!) but if non-partisan is what they want I think NPR would make a great alternative.

by CrushTheGOP2008 2008-06-16 06:26AM | 0 recs
Re: US Army Response to Stand-To Anti-Obama Link

Maybe we need a viable alternative to Rush which won't put people to sleep.

by Shaun Appleby 2008-06-16 06:34AM | 0 recs
Re: US Army Response to Stand-To Anti-Obama Link

We've got a text source that's not bad, called early bird - it's a compilation of MSM stories that are military related.  No comments, and they usually do a good job getting posts from various sources, pro and con.  Nothing that I know of that's radio, though, and early bird requires a .mil computer or for the military member to put in personal information.

The only con is that it's military-related only, but it's a pretty good source for that.

by NoBlinkers 2008-06-16 09:53AM | 0 recs
Re: US Army Response to Stand-To Anti-Obama Link

"Do we have a non-biased source of news and discussion available for our troops"?

The Army Times is pretty damn neutral. A while back they even stirred controversy when they called for Donald Rumsfeld to resign.

Not sure about other outlets, I just mostly access mainstream media from television, radio and the internet.  

by USArmyParatrooper 2008-06-16 01:34PM | 0 recs
Re: US Army Response to Stand-To Anti-Obama Link

very intereting diary Shaun. Please follow up and see that the change does/did take place, huh? Words are easy and often used to placate-- The Bush years have turned me into a complete, "I'll believe it when I see it." And of courfse periodic checks to see it stays "changed" are important toooooooooo :)

by linfar 2008-06-16 07:45AM | 0 recs
Re: US Army Response to Stand-To Anti-Obama Link

What a fantastic response you received.  I wouldn't have expected a response so thorough in it's understanding of the intricacies of the situation.  Thanks for sharing it with us.  It makes me hopeful that the army will be more vigilant about this sort of thing in the future.

by Tenafly Viper 2008-06-16 12:40PM | 0 recs
My Correspondence with the Blogger

The owner of the blog site "knee deep in the hooah" is actually a reasonable guy. I brought up the issue of Senator Webb's new GI Bill, and he invited me to write a guest blog about it. I'm probably going to write it tonight

by USArmyParatrooper 2008-06-16 01:10PM | 0 recs
Just For the Record

The original journalist who broke this story had a subsequent post as well:

Yesterday, I noted an Army website that linked to a patently political attack on Sen. Barack Obama. At some point yesterday, the Army's public affairs office removed the link from its page, so it's not there anymore. (I pulled a screenshot of the page earlier in the week, in case you want to compare.) Kudos to the Army for its quick course correction here.

Phillip Carter - The Army Corrects Course Washington Post 13 June 08

But note the comment from your blogger friend on that same page.

by Shaun Appleby 2008-06-16 02:34PM | 0 recs
Re: Just For the Record

I'm not following. Which comment on which page?

by USArmyParatrooper 2008-06-16 03:44PM | 0 recs
Re: Just For the Record

A Mr.Hooah! comments on the follow up posting in the Washington Post here.

by Shaun Appleby 2008-06-16 04:32PM | 0 recs
Re: Just For the Record


He was a bit upset because suddenly he got bombarded with upset people when, really, Standto linking his blog wasn't his doing.

His site isn't a dedicated "anti-Obama" site. He just blogged an opinion and suddenly it spreads everywhere.

by USArmyParatrooper 2008-06-16 04:46PM | 0 recs
Re: Just For the Record

The perils of blogging, I suppose.  By the way, the links in your DK comment on this diary subject, your request for help with your GI Bill piece, seem to be broken.  Good luck, please post the link when you write it.

by Shaun Appleby 2008-06-16 04:53PM | 0 recs

I just posted the corrected links

by USArmyParatrooper 2008-06-16 05:11PM | 0 recs
Hey, Shaun

If you don't mind could you please cross post this diary on Dailykos? This story had legs there as well.

by USArmyParatrooper 2008-06-16 01:12PM | 0 recs
Re: Hey, Shaun


by Shaun Appleby 2008-06-16 02:18PM | 0 recs
This Just In

Dear Mr. Appleby,

Please accept our deepest apologies for linking the June 10 edition of Stand-To to a blog by a military member's father with an entry that had political overtones.  It was subsequently removed and an apology has been posted. The United States Army and other military and government organizations are prohibited as you know, from engaging in partisan political activity. While the appearance of hyperlinks to external Web sites does not constitute any form of endorsement by the U.S. Army, linked sites involving politics could be perceived as partisan. In the future, we will strive to avoid any appearance of political debate.  Engaging in such partisanship is not the intent of Stand-To.

Thank you for contacting the STAND-TO! editorial staff on this issue.  Please know that your thoughts are certainly taken to heart and are helpful in making sure that STAND-TO! maintains the level of success it has had as a marquee public communication tool for the U.S. Army since 2004.

Very respectfully,

STAND-TO! Editorial Staff

by Shaun Appleby 2008-06-16 01:14PM | 0 recs
#1 on DKOS Rec list and #2 here

Well done!

by chrisblask 2008-06-16 05:13PM | 0 recs
Re: #1 on DKOS Rec list and #2 here

All in a good cause, and thanks.

by Shaun Appleby 2008-06-16 05:21PM | 0 recs
Re: US Army Response to Stand-To Anti-Obama Link

Good stuff.  Thanks for taking the lead on this, and thanks to the general for promptly addressing the problem.

by libertyleft 2008-06-16 06:15PM | 0 recs


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