Air Force colonel suspended after bad-mouthing Bush

By Kim Curtis, The Associated Press
Wednesday June 05, 2002

Accused Bush of allowing Sept. 11 attacks to  

boost political career 


SAN FRANCISCO – A U.S. Air Force colonel who called President Bush “a joke” and accused him of allowing the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks to happen because “his presidency was going nowhere,” has been suspended and could face a court-martial. 

The letter from Lt. Col. Steve Butler, who was vice chancellor for student affairs at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, was published May 26 in The (Monterey County) Herald. 

“He did nothing to warn the American people because he needed this war on terrorism,” Butler wrote. “His daddy had Saddam and he needed Osama. His presidency was going nowhere. ... This guy is a joke.” 

Butler, who called Bush’s alleged silence “sleazy and contemptible,” was suspended from his position on May 29 pending the outcome of an investigation into his remarks, Air Force spokeswoman Valerie Burkes said Tuesday. He remains assigned to the Defense Language Institute. 

Butler, who entered active duty in April 1979, was a navigator during Desert Storm, Burkes said. His wife, Shelly, told The Herald that Butler plans to retire in a few weeks. 

Military law specifically prohibits “contemptuous words against the president” and other political leaders. 

The prohibition against anti-government speech goes back to 1776, when soldiers were forbidden from using “traitorous or disrespectful words.” The rules were updated several times and “traitorous or disrespectful” changed to “contemptuous.”