Three years ago, an Army sergeant who worked as a public affairs officer for the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment emailed his superior warning him that one of the articles prepared by Boeing for the company’s internal news service contained classified intelligence regarding SOAR’s involvement in the 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden.
For this — for trying to do the right thing by tipping off his supervisor to the potential publication of classified intelligence — Army Sgt. Ricardo Branch has since been ordered discharged, according to The Washington Times.
The problem was that Branch, a third-generation soldier who has served three tours in Iraq, sent the email to his supervisor via a non-secure .mil address. Moreover, in the email he included the exact sentence from Boeing that contained classified information. Perhaps he had been trying to offer proof of his claim instead of just slinging accusations around.
Either way, his supervisor notified Army intelligence, and two months later Branch agreed to a form of nonjudicial punishment known as an Article 15. For admitting to his alleged “crime,” he then received an oral reprimand and was soon transferred to South Korea.
Everything was peachy afterward until 2015, when, in response to debilitating budget cuts by then-President Barack Obama, the Army began seeking to reduce personnel by identifying so-called “blemished” soldiers. Sadly, Branch was identified as one of these soldiers, and a new investigation was launched.
Long story short, as of Sunday the Army sergeant had only 10 days left before his 13-year career came to an abrupt end. And to make matters worse, this punishment was quite undeserved, especially given that the classified intelligence Branch revealed in the email to his superior was revealed first by Obama and then by the Army’s news service.
“Obama and former Vice President Joe Biden discussed SOAR’s connection to the bin Laden raid in 2011, days after the operation, when they visited Fort Campbell, Kentucky, and personally thanked the ‘Night Stalkers,’ in private, for their role,” the Washington Free Beacon explained. “The Army subsequently published a story on the meeting on its website, Army.mil.”
Another article about the meeting was subsequently published on May 9, according to the Free Beacon. To this day, these articles remain online.
“The Army just doesn’t want to take responsibility for the fact that Obama told 2,000-plus Fort Campbell soldiers in a public forum after the private meeting with SOAR,” Branch complained.
But apparently it had zero problems with ruining this dedicated soldier’s career over him trying to stop the dissemination of classified intelligence.
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