Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, should be subject to an Article 32 Hearing under the provisions of the Uniform Code of Military Justice for his conduct and statements as memorialized in the Bob Woodward book “Peril,” and the Aug. 8, 2022, New Yorker magazine excerpt of a forthcoming book by Susan B. Glasser and Peter Baker.
An Article 32 Hearing is the military equivalent of a civilian grand jury, and should probable cause of the commission of a crime be established, it would lead to Gen. Milley’s court-martial. The Army has an affirmative duty to maintain good order and discipline, especially with regard to senior leader misconduct.
History provides an example of a senior officer engaged in misconduct. Assistant Chief of the Army Air Service Brig. Gen. Billy Mitchell was court-martialed in 1925 for remarks to the press concerning two deadly military aviation accidents.
Mitchell made the following offending statements: “These incidents are the direct result of the incompetency, criminal negligence and almost treasonable administration of the national defense by the Navy and War Departments,” and “The bodies of my former companions in the air molder under the soil in America, and Asia, Europe and Africa, many, yes a great many, sent there directly by official stupidity.”
On Dec. 17, 1925, Mitchell was found guilty of “conduct of a nature to bring discredit upon the military service.” The court suspended Mitchell from rank, command, and duty, with the forfeiture of all pay and allowances for five years. Mitchell resigned from his commission as an Army officer on Feb. 1, 1926. Some would say that history vindicated Mitchell, with the coming of World War II. Nonetheless, Mitchell paid the price for press statements outside the scope of his authority and for his insubordination.
Gen. Milley called his communist Chinese military counterpart in October 2020 and January 2021 with unauthorized promises and assurances of advanced warnings of U.S. military intentions and actions. America learned of these contacts through the book “Peril,” authored by Mr. Woodward and Robert Costa. In the book, Gen. Milley is quoted as saying, “General Li, I want to assure you that the American government is stable and everything is going to be OK. We are not going to attack or conduct any kinetic operations against you.” And then, reportedly, Gen. Milley said this: “General Li, you and I have known each other for five years. If we’re going to attack, I’m going to call you ahead of time. It’s not going to be a surprise.”
Gen. Milley admitted to making the calls. A spokesman for Gen. Milley stated that Gen. Milley acted within his authority as the senior military adviser to the president and the secretary of defense, yet Gen. Milley failed to consult any civilian authority, a fact confirmed by Christopher Miller, the former acting secretary of defense, and by former President Donald Trump.
Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a graduate of West Point and an Army officer, as well as a lawyer, congressman and former director of the CIA, described Gen. Milley’s actions: “If you had a senior military leader, who is simply an adviser, tell the Chinese Communist Party that they would get notice of an attack, this rivals anything we’ve seen in our nation’s history.”
Mr. Woodward and Mr. Costa “obtained” a copy of a call transcript between Gen. Milley and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi concerning Mr. Trump and nuclear weapons. The book provides detailed quotes from both Gen. Milley and Mrs. Pelosi. In one exchange, Mrs. Pelosi at length attacks Mr. Trump, saying “they couldn’t even stop him from an assault on the Capitol,” and that “he’s crazy. You know he’s crazy. He’s been crazy for a long time.”
“So don’t say you don’t know what his state of mind is. He’s crazy and what he did yesterday is further evidence of his craziness. But anyway, I appreciate what you said.”
Gen. Milley responds to Mrs. Pelosi, “Madam Speaker, I agree with you on everything.”
Gen. Milley obviously cooperated in some manner with Mr. Woodward. Freedom of Information Act requests for call transcripts were stonewalled by the Pentagon. Gen. Milley is hiding the information from the American people and forcing a current lawsuit in federal court to compel him to release information he selectively leaked to friendly reporters.
Mr. Baker and Ms. Glasser make clear that Gen. Milley loathed Mr. Trump and was grossly insubordinate. The authors quote Gen. Milley saying, “F—- that s—-, I’ll just fight him” [President Trump], and, “If they want to court-martial me, or put me in prison, have at it. But I will fight from the inside.” A general “fighting from the inside” against the president is the very definition of subversion.
Gen. Milley must be held to account for his conduct and selectively leaked statements. His conduct goes far beyond the controversy of the Mitchell court-martial. Mitchell pales by comparison. His reported actions, if true, are the most egregious examples of treasonous subversion by a commissioned officer of the United States since Maj. Gen. Benedict Arnold.
• Chris Farrell is the Director of Investigations & Research for Judicial Watch and a former U.S. Army Counterintelligence Officer.