First they were mocked online for posing in a bizarre “hostage-taking” scene. Now they’re being investigated for taking part in a political event in uniform. The soldiers who appeared in a Democratic video can’t catch a break.
As the Democratic National Convention voted on Tuesday to confirm Joe Biden as its presidential candidate, delegates appeared by video link to cast their votes for the former vice president. One such stream, from American Samoa, drew ridicule, as the territory’s top Democrats appeared flanked by a pair of masked soldiers in a scene reminiscent of a ransom video.
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The video clip drew laughter online, but the two soldiers could soon be in bigger trouble.
The Pentagon announced on Wednesday that it would investigate the two soldiers – reservists with the 9th Mission Support Command – for breaching the Defense Department’s rules on political neutrality.
“Wearing a uniform to a partisan political event like this is prohibited,” Army spokesman Lt. Col. Emanuel Ortiz said in a statement. “Examples of prohibited political activities include campaigning for a candidate, soliciting contributions, marching in a partisan parade, and wearing the uniform to a partisan event.”
American Samoa has the highest rate of military enlistment of any US state or territory, and Democratic officials told the Military Times news source that the two soldiers’ inclusion was intended to “celebrate American Samoa’s legacy of military service.” However, at a press conference on Wednesday, party spokeswoman Xochitl Hinojosa acknowledged that their appearance was “an oversight.”
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