Dick Cheney to West Point Cadets: Constitution, What Constitution?

Jim Capo
JBS
Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Let's make sure wartime economist David R. Henderson is not the only one to notice Dick Cheney's likely intentional re-interpretation of the military oath of the United States. Here is how Mr. Cheney wrapped up his commencement address to the graduating class at West Point on May 25:

On your first day of Army life, each one of you raised your right hand and took an oath. And you will swear again today to defend the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. That is your vow, that is the business you're in.

Was this just bad fact checking by the Vice-President's speech writers, or is this just another example of how meaningless Mr. Cheney and the rest of his team believe the U.S. Constitution to now be in their scheme of things? Here is the pertinent phrase from the actual military oath that we believe to still be in effect unless there is some other Presidential Directive we are as yet unaware of:

I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic;

The military oath is certainly no minor matter that lends itself to misstatement in prepared remarks by the #2 man in the chain of command.

Speaking of the threat posed by Al Qaeda while building for his close with the new Cheney Military Oath, our Vice President offered what could be a revealing statement as to his intentions:

Capture one of these killers, and he'll be quick to demand the protections of the Geneva Convention and the Constitution of the United States.

Could it be that Mr. Cheney believes the Constitution of the United States is dangerous because it might be used against us by our enemies? Actions of his administration certainly seem to indicate that. Perhaps we can take solace though in the fact that Mr. Cheney still alludes to the Constitution being a document that provides protections not just for terrorists but also We the People.

Sidebar: Rewording the Miltary Oath to suit a particular vision for our country is not without precedent. The first oath under the Constitution was approved by Act of Congress 29 September 1789. It came in two parts:

Part 1: I do solemnly swear or affirm (as the case may be) that I will support the constitution of the United States.

Part 2:- I do solemnly swear or affirm (as the case may be) to bear true allegiance to the United States of America, and to serve them honestly and faithfully, against all their enemies or opposers whatsoever...

In 1830 the oath for officers, like Dick Cheney has done, dropped the reference to the Constitution but still maintained the notion of sovereign states:

"I, _____, appointed a _____ in the Army of the United States, do solemnly swear, or affirm, that I will bear true allegiance to the United States of America, and that I will serve them honestly and faithfully against all their enemies or opposers whatsoever

In 1884, the post 14th Amendment Military Oath was updated to reflect the new realities driven home by the previous 9/11 "everything changed" moment in our history of 4/12:

I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same...

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