Former Army Spc. Michael New, court-martialed in 1996 for refusing to
obey an order to wear a United Nations uniform, will appear before the
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, the highest military
tribunal in the land, on Feb. 4.
Considered a hero by many, the media-shy New refused to don the U.N.
uniform while stationed in Germany in 1995 during a peacekeeping
mission. This hearing is yet another in a long line of court battles
fought to reverse the bad conduct discharge the Army gave New in 1996.
Given his past court battles, New’s prospects for victory look grim.
This is his second appeal in the military court system — which New’s
father, Daniel, characterizes as “an intense adversarial relationship.”
“It’s not like a regular trial,” said Daniel New in an exclusive
Michael New’s lawyer will be given 15 minutes to outline his
arguments that New was not given a fair court martial. Judge Gary
Jewell, who decided the initial case, did not allow any evidence brought
before the panel of jurors on the basis that it was irrelevant to the
question of whether or not New had disobeyed orders to wear the U.N.
Following New’s statement, lawyers representing the U.S. Army will be
given 15 minutes to refute New’s arguments. At any time during the
one-hour proceeding, the panel of five presiding judges may interrupt
with questions that count against each side’s time, according to New’s
lawyer, retired Lt. Col. Henry Hamilton, a former Army lawyer.
“It doesn’t matter, in this case, whether [New] was right or wrong”
in his refusal to don U.N. accoutrements, said Capt. Paul Fiorino,
appointed by the Army to defend New in an earlier round of appeals. “The
fact is, he was denied a fair trial under the Uniform Code of Military
Justice. He was railroaded and that’s wrong. A defendant should be
allowed to present his evidence to those who determine his guilt.”
“We brought a mountain of evidence that the U.N. uniform is not
regulation,” Daniel New said.
But the Army maintains the issue before the court is simply whether
or not a soldier can disobey an order. Since the scope of the allowed
debate is so limited, New can no longer argue the real issue — should
an American soldier be subject to wearing foreign military uniforms and
serving under foreign military officers as occurred with New’s unit in
New’s officers told him that the president now has the authority to
place Americans under the United Nations, according to Presidential
Decision Directive 25, signed in 1994. While an executive summary of that directive exists, the document
itself is classified.
Supporters of New’s position claim that President Clinton has, under
PDD 25, “affected to render the military independent of and superior to
the civil power” — civil power being Congress, not the Commander in
Attempts to convince military courts that foreign command of U.S.
troops is unconstitutional have been declared “non-justiciable,” that
is, having political ramifications and involving constitutional
questions that military courts are unable to address.
However, New has been denied a hearing in civilian courts until the
military appeals are completed. The Army successfully argued that the
case is exclusively a military matter and has no place before civilian
Political ramifications may be exactly what some are avoiding in
their lack of comment on New’s case. WorldNetDaily repeatedly
attempted to contact Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee, D-Texas, representing New’s home state to no
avail. A staunch Clinton defender during the president’s impeachment
proceedings, she did not provide any comment on the matter.
Texas Sen. Kay Bailey-Hutchison, a Republican, also refused to take an
official stand regarding New’s case, demonstrating that the issue
crosses party lines.
“This is not a Republican or Democrat issue,” said Daniel New. “This
is a bi-partisan American issue” — and one that many other
congressional representatives have not shied away from.
Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Texas, not only
vocally supports New, but went so far as to sponsor a bill in
Congress that would have made it illegal to serve under any foreign
power, including the U.N., against a soldier’s will — a move that would
clear up any ambiguity on the part of the courts.
Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert also backs New’s position. Ironically,
though the list of New’s supporters in Congress is a long one with no
vocal opposition, the press has largely avoided the story.
Should New’s appeal be denied, he will either take his case before
the U.S. Supreme Court or return to federal court where he will again
attempt to raise the issue of whether the president has the authority to
place U.S. troops under foreign command.
Michael New currently lives in Texas
where he is continuing his education. He maintains his distance from
the media, saying, “I was prepared to go to prison. I wasn’t prepared
to be famous.”
Julie Foster is a staff
reporter for WorldNetDaily.