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Fissures in the Military? Lt. Col. accuses Bush

The Monterey (County) Herald in CA reports on Lt. Col.'s public accusation of Bush in 9/11, and military's clampdown.
Kevin Howe's writes.
Posted on Tue, Jun. 04, 2002
Presidio officer relieved of his duties after letter about attacks
khowe (at)

An Air Force officer has been relieved from duties at the Presidio of Monterey after publication of his letter to the editor accusing President George W. Bush of having advance knowledge of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Lt. Col. Steve Butler was serving as vice chancellor for student affairs at the Defense Language Institute when he wrote the letter, which was published in The Herald on May 26.

The letter accuses Bush of allowing the attacks to occur for political reasons.

The letter reads in part: "Of course Bush knew about the impending attacks on America. 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. He wasn't elected by the American people, but placed into the Oval Office by the conservative Supreme Court (if you really want to know why the justices voted like they did, I suggest 'Supreme Injustice' by Alan Dershowitz), the economy was sliding into the usual Republican pits and he needed something to hang his presidency on."

Butler's letter called the president's course of action "sleazy and contemptible."

Army spokesman Sgt. Mitch Frazier said Butler "has been administratively suspended from his position as vice chancellor/student affairs pending the outcome of an investigation."

"Further details are not available at this time as the investigation is ongoing," Frazier said.

Butler could not be reached for comment Monday, but his wife, Shelly Butler, said the military had given her husband "a lot of grief" over the letter. He was relieved of his duties at the language school and has been assigned to temporary duty at Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield, she said.

She said he plans to retire in a few weeks after 24 years in the Air Force, including duty as a combat pilot in Desert Storm.

In addition to criticism from the military, she said, "we got a few phone calls from people we don't even know" supporting his position. She said his friends also are being supportive, "but work-wise, people won't say anything."

Article 88 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice says that "any commissioned officer who uses contemptuous words against the president, the vice president, Congress, the secretary of defense, the secretary of a military department, the secretary of transportation or the governor or legislature of any state, territory, commonwealth, or possession in which he is on duty or present shall be punished as a court-martial may direct."

The last Article 88 court-martial came in 1965 when an Army second lieutenant was prosecuted for taking part in an anti-war protest in Texas, according to Lt. Col. Maritza S. Ryan of the Army Judge Advocate General Corps.

Ryan said the Pentagon "quietly issued" memos reminding officers of the Article 88 provisions after President Clinton became embroiled in the Monica Lewinsky scandal, setting off a number of articles and letters to the editor from military officers.

Kevin Howe can be reached at 646-4416.



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