Honorable Burial Policy

 

Greg Abbott Ashli BabbittNewsmax is good at clickbait headlines and videos but falls far short in real reporting on the apparent Air Force refusal to support military burial honors for Ashli Babbitt, an honorably discharged Air Force veteran. The Newsmax story just features the angry, grieving mother and one attempt to call one military office before publication. There is not even a minimal effort to check the basic policy and law behind death benefits and military honors for veterans. Newsmax baits, I dig for your consideration, and leave you with a provocative possibility.

There are two pieces to the federal government honoring a veteran in death. The first piece is burial benefits, including burial in certain cemeteries, grave markers, and a folded flag. These are the statutory responsibility of the U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs (the VA). The second piece is a military honor detail at the internment, what used to be called a burial detail. This is a statutory duty of the Department of Defense. Each service has a duty to its own, fulfilled by active duty, and drilling Guard and Reserve service members. The statutory minimum is two service members in the military honors detail.

The general rule is that veterans who were separated from service under honorable or general conditions are entitled to certain VA burial benefits and military honors. Not surprisingly, then, the relevant law shows up in both Title 10 (Armed Forces) and Title 38 (Veterans’ Benefits). Here are the relevant bits, with emphasis added:

10 U.S. Code § 985 – Persons convicted of capital crimes; certain other persons: denial of specified burial-related benefits

(a)Prohibition of Performance of Military Honors.—The Secretary of a military department and the Secretary of Homeland Security, with respect to the Coast Guard when it is not operating as a service in the Navy, may not provide military honors (under section 1491 of this title or any other authority) at the funeral or burial of any of the following persons:

(1)A person described in section 2411(b) of title 38.
(2)A person who is a veteran (as defined in section 1491(h) of this title) or who died while on active duty or a member of a reserve component, when the circumstances surrounding the person’s death or other circumstances as specified by the Secretary of Defense are such that to provide military honors at the funeral or burial of the person would bring discredit upon the person’s service (or former service).

(b)Disqualification From Burial in Military Cemeteries.—Except as provided in subsection (c), a person who is ineligible for interment in a national cemetery under the control of the National Cemetery Administration by reason of section 2411(b) of title 38 is not entitled to or eligible for, and may not be provided, burial in—

(1)Arlington National Cemetery;
(2)the Soldiers’ and Airmen’s National Cemetery; or
(3)any other cemetery administered by the Secretary of a military department or the Secretary of Defense.

(c)Unclaimed Remains of Military Prisoners.—Subsection (b) shall not preclude the burial at the United States Disciplinary Barracks Cemetery at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, of a military prisoner, including a military prisoner who is a person described in section 2411(b) of title 38, who dies while in custody of a military department and whose remains are not claimed by the person authorized to direct disposition of the remains or by other persons legally authorized to dispose of the remains.

(d)Definition.—In this section, the term “burial” includes inurnment.

So, we seem to have two basic situations under which a veteran must be denied military honors at a funeral or internment ceremony. The first is defined in another statute, in Title 38. It turns out that Congress reacted to concerns about perpetrators of certain notorious crimes being honored, let alone buried with our honored departed veterans.

38 U.S. Code § 2411 – Prohibition against interment or memorialization in the National Cemetery Administration or Arlington National Cemetery of persons committing Federal or State capital crimes

(a)

(1)In the case of a person described in subsection (b), the appropriate Federal official may not—

(A)inter the remains of such person in a cemetery in the National Cemetery Administration or in Arlington National Cemetery; or
(B)honor the memory of such person in a memorial area in a cemetery in the National Cemetery Administration (described in section 2403(a) of this title) or in such an area in Arlington National Cemetery (described in section 2409(a) of this title).

(2)In the case of a person described in subsection (b)(1), (b)(2), or (b)(4), the prohibition under paragraph (1) shall not apply unless written notice of a conviction referred to in subsection (b)(1), (b)(2), or (b)(4), as the case may be, is received by the appropriate Federal official before the interment or memorialization of such person. Such written notice shall be furnished to such official by the Attorney General, in the case of a Federal crime, or by an appropriate State official, in the case of a State crime.

(b)A person referred to in subsection (a) is any of the following:

(1)A person who has been convicted of a Federal capital crime and whose conviction is final (other than a person whose sentence was commuted by the President).
(2)A person who has been convicted of a State capital crime and whose conviction is final (other than a person whose sentence was commuted by the Governor of a State).
(3)A person who—

(A)is found (as provided in subsection (c)) to have committed a Federal capital crime or a State capital crime, but
(B)has not been convicted of such crime by reason of such person not being available for trial due to death or flight to avoid prosecution.

(4)A person—

(A)who has been convicted of a Federal or State crime causing the person to be a tier III sex offender for purposes of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (42 U.S.C. 16901 et seq.); [1]
(B)who, for such crime, is sentenced to a minimum of life imprisonment; and
(C)whose conviction is final (other than a person whose sentence was commuted by the President or Governor of a State, as the case may be).

So, this is not about crimes in general, even felonies in general. Congress was legislating very narrowly here, barring the worst of the worst, capital crime convicts, not people claimed to have committed crimes at the Capital. The most monstrous sex offenders, not deplorable political offenders. That takes care of 10 U.S. Code § 985 (a) (1).

So, we are left with 10 U.S. Code § 985 (a) (2). Having covered themselves in the case of two especially notorious sets of criminal offenders, Congress decided to avoid direct responsibility for other unforeseen situations that would draw the same level of public ire. So, they delegated to the service secretaries and the Secretary of Defense.

Look at how the law reads:

. . . when the circumstances surrounding the person’s death or other circumstances as specified by the Secretary of Defense are such that to provide military honors at the funeral or burial of the person would bring discredit upon the person’s service (or former service).

So, the Congress apparently delegated to the Secretary of the Air Force the responsibility to determine if the circumstances around Ashli Babbitt’s death were such as to bring discredit on the Air Force, if two airmen provided a military honors detail at her funeral or internment, presenting the folded flag to her mother. The next question to ask, beyond this post, is what procedure is set in place for first deciding and then providing an appeal process on the determination of Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall?

[Update:] All of the above pertains to federal law, governing Department of Defense and individual armed services’ actions. This includes the National Guard in federal status. However, federal law does not govern the Army and Air National Guards in their state status. Texas Governor Abbott has confronted Xiden and the Democratic Peoples Party’s deliberate subversion of our constitutional republic,  both on the border and COVID-19 diktats. Here, Abbott has a chance to confront Xiden, the Wicked Witch of the House, and their RepubliCAN’T collaborators in Congress. Governor Greg Abbott, as the commander in chief of the Texas Air National Guard, should order a full state military honor detail,  issue a Texas Memorial Certificate mirroring the Presidential Memorial Certificate, and provide a national flag for presentation to Ashli Babbitt’s mother. This would clearly, coolly make the point to the members of the Texas Guard, to the good and bad federal troops stationed in Texas, and to the federal tyrants that Texas has the will to fully exercise its authority to the limits of the real, the written and ratified, Constitution.

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  1. Sisyphus Member
    Sisyphus
    @Sisyphus

    Well done, sir.

    • #1
  2. Jim McConnell Member
    Jim McConnell
    @JimMcConnell

    Thank you for the clarification, Colonel.

    • #2
  3. cdor Member
    cdor
    @cdor

    The left is ubiquitous when it comes to destroying anyone associated with the January 6 riots. Why are they so focused on that event? What is it that causes them such fear? They surrounded themselves with 30000 plus national guard for months. They are holding people who participated… unarmed… without bail for close to a year, and those who have had trials are receiving punishment far in excess of any wrongdoing. All of this is being done under a veil of secrecy that can only lead one to suspect a pernicious cover-up. Ashli Babbitt doesn’t deserve such disgraceful treatment. Clifford has uncovered the bureaucratic excuse for her treatment. But, as usual with our current regime, revenge seems to be the wine they drink. They are tearing our country apart and they do not care. It is what they want. It is scary how eager our military is to participate.

    • #3
  4. WiesbadenJake Coolidge
    WiesbadenJake
    @WiesbadenJake

    It seems it is not enough that the state has sanctioned the killing of an unarmed woman but feels the need to go beyond taking her life to removing any possible shred of state-sanctioned dignity for her family by allowing her recognition of her honorable service in her burial. The need (or lust) to humiliate one’s ‘opponents’ seems strong with the current power structure. No Grants or Lincolns among this bunch, it would seem. Should give us all pause….

    • #4
  5. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    WiesbadenJake (View Comment):

    It seems it is not enough that the state has sanctioned the killing of an unarmed woman but feels the need to go beyond taking her life to removing any possible shred of state-sanctioned dignity for her family by allowing her recognition of her honorable service in her burial. The need (or lust) to humiliate one’s ‘opponents’ seems strong with the current power structure. No Grants or Lincolns among this bunch, it would seem. Should give us all pause….

    Unity over Division, as the Biden yard signs said.   (Or was it the other way around?)  

    • #5
  6. Columbo Member
    Columbo
    @Columbo

    cdor (View Comment):

    The left is ubiquitous when it comes to destroying anyone associated with the January 6 riots. Why are they so focused on that event? What is it that causes them such fear? They surrounded themselves with 30000 plus national guard for months. They are holding people who participated… unarmed… without bail for close to a year, and those who have had trials are receiving punishment far in excess of any wrongdoing. All of this is being done under a veil of secrecy that can only lead one to suspect a pernicious cover-up. Ashli Babbitt doesn’t deserve such disgraceful treatment. Clifford has uncovered the bureaucratic excuse for her treatment. But, as usual with our current regime, revenge seems to be the wine they drink. They are tearing our country apart and they do not care. It is what they want. It is scary how eager our military is to participate.

    • #6
  7. EHerring Coolidge
    EHerring
    @EHerring

    I can see not burying her in Arlington, even though rogue politicians are buried there, but her honorable service should have earned her a grave marker and a flag. By current standards, I can be denied a plot, marker, and flag for being white and thus and automatically assumed to be a racist white supremacist. She trespassed and was unarmed.

    • #7
  8. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    EHerring (View Comment):

    I can see not burying her in Arlington, even though rogue politicians are buried there, but her honorable service should have earned her a grave marker and a flag. By current standards, I can be denied a plot, marker, and flag for being white and thus and automatically assumed to be a racist white supremacist. She trespassed and was unarmed.

    To clarify, the Air Force is apparently telling her mother that there will not be a military honor detail. That has nothing to do with the VA providing a grave marker and a folded flag. So, what is being withheld is a minimum of two Air Force airmen in their dress uniform participating in the interment ceremony, folding and presenting the flag to Ashley Babbitt’s mother on behalf of a grateful nation.

    • #8
  9. EHerring Coolidge
    EHerring
    @EHerring

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    EHerring (View Comment):

    I can see not burying her in Arlington, even though rogue politicians are buried there, but her honorable service should have earned her a grave marker and a flag. By current standards, I can be denied a plot, marker, and flag for being white and thus and automatically assumed to be a racist white supremacist. She trespassed and was unarmed.

    To clarify, the Air Force is apparently telling her mother that there will not be a military honor detail. That has nothing to do with the VA providing a grave marker and a folded flag. So, what is being withheld is a minimum of two Air Force airmen in their dress uniform participating in the interment ceremony, folding and presenting the flag to Ashley Babbitt’s mother on behalf of a grateful nation.

    If a flag is being supplied, I would hope the family has enough friends who could fold the flag honorably and correctly. Whether or not the AF thinks she deserves that, the flag does.

    • #9
  10. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    EHerring (View Comment):

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    EHerring (View Comment):

    I can see not burying her in Arlington, even though rogue politicians are buried there, but her honorable service should have earned her a grave marker and a flag. By current standards, I can be denied a plot, marker, and flag for being white and thus and automatically assumed to be a racist white supremacist. She trespassed and was unarmed.

    To clarify, the Air Force is apparently telling her mother that there will not be a military honor detail. That has nothing to do with the VA providing a grave marker and a folded flag. So, what is being withheld is a minimum of two Air Force airmen in their dress uniform participating in the interment ceremony, folding and presenting the flag to Ashley Babbitt’s mother on behalf of a grateful nation.

    If a flag is being supplied, I would hope the family has enough friends who could fold the flag honorably and correctly. Whether or not the AF thinks she deserves that, the flag does.

    Indeed, one or more local veterans’ organization post could choose to provide a rifle salute and play Taps. I assume the Patriot Riders would provide escort from morgue/funeral home to the cemetery if asked.

    • #10
  11. Gary Robbins Reagan
    Gary Robbins
    @GaryRobbins

    Thank you for running this down.

    • #11
  12. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot) Member
    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot)
    @ArizonaPatriot

    Clifford, this is a fine analysis.  Thank you.

    I have one question, about your interpretation near the end, when you address the exception in 10 USC 985(a)(2):

    Clifford A. Brown:

    Look at how the law reads:

    . . . when the circumstances surrounding the person’s death or other circumstances as specified by the Secretary of Defense are such that to provide military honors at the funeral or burial of the person would bring discredit upon the person’s service (or former service).

    So, the Congress apparently delegated to the Secretary of the Air Force the responsibility to determine if the circumstances around Ashli Babbitt’s death were such as to bring discredit on the Air Force, if two airmen provided a military honors detail at her funeral or internment, presenting the folded flag to her mother.

    The statutory text seems to leave this decision to the Secretary of Defense.  That is a different (and higher) office than the Secretary of the Air Force.  Why do you conclude that it was the Secretary of the Air Force who would be the one to make a determination in this particular case?   I do understand that Ms. Babbitt was an Air Force veteran, but the statutory text does not assign the decision to the secretary of the particular service branch.

    It is possible that SecDef has delegated this responsibility in some way, perhaps to the service branch secretaries, perhaps to others.  If so, I don’t see an explanation of this in your analysis.

    This is a minor point, but I’m curious.

    • #12
  13. Steve C. Member
    Steve C.
    @user_531302

    As I remember, burials in Arlington, because of space constraints, are restricted. 

    • #13
  14. EHerring Coolidge
    EHerring
    @EHerring

    Steve C. (View Comment):

    As I remember, burials in Arlington, because of space constraints, are restricted.

    There are very long waits, 6 months at least last I heard. We will opt for the federal cemetery in our state to keep it simple for the family.

    • #14
  15. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    Clifford, this is a fine analysis. Thank you.

    I have one question, about your interpretation near the end, when you address the exception in 10 USC 985(a)(2):

    Clifford A. Brown:

    Look at how the law reads:

    . . . when the circumstances surrounding the person’s death or other circumstances as specified by the Secretary of Defense are such that to provide military honors at the funeral or burial of the person would bring discredit upon the person’s service (or former service).

    So, the Congress apparently delegated to the Secretary of the Air Force the responsibility to determine if the circumstances around Ashli Babbitt’s death were such as to bring discredit on the Air Force, if two airmen provided a military honors detail at her funeral or internment, presenting the folded flag to her mother.

    The statutory text seems to leave this decision to the Secretary of Defense. That is a different (and higher) office than the Secretary of the Air Force. Why do you conclude that it was the Secretary of the Air Force who would be the one to make a determination in this particular case? I do understand that Ms. Babbitt was an Air Force veteran, but the statutory text does not assign the decision to the secretary of the particular service branch.

    It is possible that SecDef has delegated this responsibility in some way, perhaps to the service branch secretaries, perhaps to others. If so, I don’t see an explanation of this in your analysis.

    This is a minor point, but I’m curious.

    I read “circumstances surrounding the person’s death” as legislatively dictated and so in the hands of the service secretary, while the phase after “or” encompasses things not anticipated by Congress that the Secretary of Defense might find would “bring discredit upon the service in which the person had served. I understand Congress to have intended the Secretary of Defense to catch unanticipated situations, putting them into the category of things “such that to provide military honors at the funeral or burial of the person would bring discredit upon the person’s service (or former service).”

    I go back to the top and read the responsibility falling on the service secretaries to have procedures in place to catch the cases flagged by law or Secretary of Defense policy/determination. Each service is expected to support its own survivors. An Army spouse is not presented a folded flag by an Air Force sergeant or officer, for instance.

    Given the extremely limited statutory prohibitions, capital crimes and life sentence eligible sexual offenses, I don’t think the Congress was signalling the Department of Defense to start defining a series of prohibitions or picking and choosing unpopular or disfavored circumstances.

    I suspect that the Secretary of Defense keeps a hand in the “circumstances surrounding death” category to harmonize rules across services. It would not do for Navy veterans to be denied military honors while Army veterans in the exact same circumstances were honored. Congress, however, does not seem to have dictated this.

    • #15
  16. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot) Member
    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot)
    @ArizonaPatriot

    Clifford, further to your #15: Good argument, and thanks.  There’s some ambiguity in the statutory language, but I think that your interpretation is the most plausible.

    • #16
  17. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    EHerring (View Comment):

    Steve C. (View Comment):

    As I remember, burials in Arlington, because of space constraints, are restricted.

    There are very long waits, 6 months at least last I heard. We will opt for the federal cemetery in our state to keep it simple for the family.

    Yes. And, the burial itself is not directly at issue here. That is a VA matter, not DOD. The military services only are tasked with providing uniformed personnel to render military honors at the funeral or burial. It is this service that is being denied. It seems to me that the VA benefits are restricted only by the statutorily defined capital and life sentence eligible sexual offenses. If Bernie Madoff had a DD-214 marked “honorable,” I believe he would be entitled to a grave marker, but the Secretary of Defense might well be justified in finding that the circumstances of his harm to society was such that it would bring discredit on the service to have an honor detail participate in his funeral or burial.

    • #17
  18. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    I don’t get this debate.  Babbitt was, what, thirty years old and five years in the Air Force.  The military did not define her.  A funeral is in good part an affirmation of one’s life in total.  The military was only a part of it.

    I don’t know the law or custom of this.  But what I do get is that a funeral as affirmation.  The family wanted the military funeral as an affirmation of Babbitt’s life.  This is good.

    And the military did not want her funeral to be an affirmation of her life, but wanted her value as a person to be brought down to nothing by their political judgment upon the last hour of her life.  This is propaganda.  This is disrespectful.  This is pandering to the sensibilities of those they would manipulate and control — this is their narrative.  This is bad.

    • #18
  19. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    Flicker (View Comment):

    I don’t get this debate. Babbitt was, what, thirty years old and five years in the Air Force. The military did not define her. A funeral is in good part an affirmation of one’s life in total. The military was only a part of it.

    I don’t know the law or custom of this. But what I do get is that a funeral as affirmation. The family wanted the military funeral as an affirmation of Babbitt’s life. This is good.

    And the military did not want her funeral to be an affirmation of her life, but wanted her value as a person to be brought down to nothing by their political judgment upon the last hour of her life. This is propaganda. This is disrespectful. This is pandering to the sensibilities of those they would manipulate and control — this is their narrative. This is bad.

    Grant all of this, and then look at the statute. The argument is over whether the circumstances around her death were such that a military honor detail’s participation in her burial would bring discredit on the Air Force. There are always cameras, even video, so will the images and video of an Air Force sergeant presenting a folded flag to Babbitt’s mother bring discredit on the Air Force, when paired in the news and commentary with the circumstances of her death?

    If she died in a bar brawl, I believe she would get the military honor detail if requested. If she died in bed after notoriously bilking a series of infirm elderly people out of their life savings, I suspect the Secretary of Defense would be justified in telling the Air Force to not participate. If she was a convicted low level drug dealer and died of an overdose, I bet her service would still be honored, and there would be no great national controversy one way or the other, even if she became the public face of the opioid crisis.

    If Ashli Babbitt is denied a military honor detail, then are the circumstances of January 6 such that every other veteran who entered the Capital building will be ruled out of military honors at burial?

    Bear in mind, she is almost certainly entitled to a grave marker, head stone, from the VA, marking her branch of service, her rank, and any war in which she served.

    • #19
  20. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):

    I don’t get this debate. Babbitt was, what, thirty years old and five years in the Air Force. The military did not define her. A funeral is in good part an affirmation of one’s life in total. The military was only a part of it.

    I don’t know the law or custom of this. But what I do get is that a funeral as affirmation. The family wanted the military funeral as an affirmation of Babbitt’s life. This is good.

    And the military did not want her funeral to be an affirmation of her life, but wanted her value as a person to be brought down to nothing by their political judgment upon the last hour of her life. This is propaganda. This is disrespectful. This is pandering to the sensibilities of those they would manipulate and control — this is their narrative. This is bad.

    Grant all of this, and then look at the statute. The argument is over whether the circumstances around her death were such that a military honor detail’s participation in her burial would bring discredit on the Air Force. There are always cameras, even video, so will the images and video of an Air Force sergeant presenting a folded flag to Babbitt’s mother bring discredit on the Air Force, when paired in the news and commentary with the circumstances of her death?

    If she died in a bar brawl, I believe she would get the military honor detail if requested. If she died in bed after notoriously bilking a series of infirm elderly people out of their life savings, I suspect the Secretary of Defense would be justified in telling the Air Force to not participate. If she was a convicted low level drug dealer and died of an overdose, I bet her service would still be honored, and there would be no great national controversy one way or the other, even if she became the public face of the opioid crisis.

    If Ashli Babbitt is denied a military honor detail, then are the circumstances of January 6 such that every other veteran who entered the Capital building will be ruled out of military honors at burial?

    Bear in mind, she is almost certainly entitled to a grave marker, head stone, from the VA, marking her branch of service, her rank, and any war in which she served.

    Yes, the law is subject to individual interpretation of the one making the final decision, I suppose.  And I think he chose dishonor over honor, for Babbitt.  And yes, it was a decision made with the cameras in mind.  From the government’s perspective, this is not so much about Babbitt’s being worthy or not, it’s about the narrative.  (I mean, she wasn’t the one doing the shooting.)

    • #20
  21. CACrabtree Coolidge
    CACrabtree
    @CACrabtree

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    EHerring (View Comment):

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    EHerring (View Comment):

    I can see not burying her in Arlington, even though rogue politicians are buried there, but her honorable service should have earned her a grave marker and a flag. By current standards, I can be denied a plot, marker, and flag for being white and thus and automatically assumed to be a racist white supremacist. She trespassed and was unarmed.

    To clarify, the Air Force is apparently telling her mother that there will not be a military honor detail. That has nothing to do with the VA providing a grave marker and a folded flag. So, what is being withheld is a minimum of two Air Force airmen in their dress uniform participating in the interment ceremony, folding and presenting the flag to Ashley Babbitt’s mother on behalf of a grateful nation.

    If a flag is being supplied, I would hope the family has enough friends who could fold the flag honorably and correctly. Whether or not the AF thinks she deserves that, the flag does.

    Indeed, one or more local veterans’ organization post could choose to provide a rifle salute and play Taps. I assume the Patriot Riders would provide escort from morgue/funeral home to the cemetery if asked.

    Exactly.  My legion and VFW posts do several ceremonies a month.  If Babbitt had been in our geographical area, I’m sure we would have jumped at the opportunity.  To me, it will not matter if it’s an active duty Honor Guard or my friends from the legion post who present the flag to my widow (D*mn, it feels weird to write that!).  

    • #21
  22. EHerring Coolidge
    EHerring
    @EHerring

    Flicker (View Comment):

    I don’t get this debate. Babbitt was, what, thirty years old and five years in the Air Force. The military did not define her. A funeral is in good part an affirmation of one’s life in total. The military was only a part of it.

    I don’t know the law or custom of this. But what I do get is that a funeral as affirmation. The family wanted the military funeral as an affirmation of Babbitt’s life. This is good.

    And the military did not want her funeral to be an affirmation of her life, but wanted her value as a person to be brought down to nothing by their political judgment upon the last hour of her life. This is propaganda. This is disrespectful. This is pandering to the sensibilities of those they would manipulate and control — this is their narrative. This is bad.

    I believe she served 7 years. 

    • #22
  23. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    EHerring (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):

    I don’t get this debate. Babbitt was, what, thirty years old and five years in the Air Force. The military did not define her. A funeral is in good part an affirmation of one’s life in total. The military was only a part of it.

    I don’t know the law or custom of this. But what I do get is that a funeral as affirmation. The family wanted the military funeral as an affirmation of Babbitt’s life. This is good.

    And the military did not want her funeral to be an affirmation of her life, but wanted her value as a person to be brought down to nothing by their political judgment upon the last hour of her life. This is propaganda. This is disrespectful. This is pandering to the sensibilities of those they would manipulate and control — this is their narrative. This is bad.

    I believe she served 7 years.

    And that’s a part of her, but it’s not all of her.  She was also a wife and entrepreneur and daughter.  I’m saying that whether she deserved a military funeral or not I don’t know, but that I think it was denied for optics because of the last half hour or so of her life.

    • #23
  24. Columbo Member
    Columbo
    @Columbo

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    Clifford, this is a fine analysis. Thank you.

    I have one question, about your interpretation near the end, when you address the exception in 10 USC 985(a)(2):

    Clifford A. Brown:

    Look at how the law reads:

    . . . when the circumstances surrounding the person’s death or other circumstances as specified by the Secretary of Defense are such that to provide military honors at the funeral or burial of the person would bring discredit upon the person’s service (or former service).

    So, the Congress apparently delegated to the Secretary of the Air Force the responsibility to determine if the circumstances around Ashli Babbitt’s death were such as to bring discredit on the Air Force, if two airmen provided a military honors detail at her funeral or internment, presenting the folded flag to her mother.

    The statutory text seems to leave this decision to the Secretary of Defense. That is a different (and higher) office than the Secretary of the Air Force. Why do you conclude that it was the Secretary of the Air Force who would be the one to make a determination in this particular case? I do understand that Ms. Babbitt was an Air Force veteran, but the statutory text does not assign the decision to the secretary of the particular service branch.

    It is possible that SecDef has delegated this responsibility in some way, perhaps to the service branch secretaries, perhaps to others. If so, I don’t see an explanation of this in your analysis.

    This is a minor point, but I’m curious.

    Forest. Trees. Don’t be ignorant.

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