Now that our Congress has religiously passed their pay raise, they decided to give the rest of us a break, lawmakers in a sudden rush to get home for the holidays, approved veterans' benefits, including a hike in GI bill educational benefits effective Jan. 1. Veterans, you better pass this around, home loans, veterans' disability compensation, military retired pay, Social Security a whopping 2.6 percent. Not as much as they got. The final passage of the bill did not come until Dec. 11, but it will be effective the first of the year.
Remember in World War II, it was island hopping, we never did find out where we were. In Korea, it was up hill going north and up hill going south. In Vietnam, it was run around in circles, then run into the tail end of your own company, then wonder how they got in front of you. The search for the mysteries, they are in caves like the Viet Congs, they are high-tailing it like the North Koreans, and deserting their equipment like the Chinese. Good job, Mr. President, get our troops home soon.
What I really wanted to rap about was the dilemma for the presidential tribunals, many in government, the media are beating this subject without really knowing where or when this law, if passed, will take effect. It's the first time a president has ordered anyone tried by a military tribunal since World War II, and it is troubling to say the least. Article I gives the Congress, not the president, the power to define and punish offenses against the law of nations, "this includes the power to constitute tribunals inferior to the Supreme Court."
Congress enacted the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), remember, when you AWOLs did not return after the weekend? You got a company punishment, article 204, later changed to article 15, the company commander gave you $150 fine, 30 days hard labor or a reduction in grade, I don't want to hear your stories, I got some of my own.
This same law applies to prisoners of war in our custody. Those suspected of terrorism most likely are not members of any foreign government's military. They are not lawful combatants and in effect they are nothing more than international criminals, so the UCMJ does not apply.
To our service personnel, wherever they may be, our prayers and our commitments.
Lawrence D. Okendo, Payson