WASHINGTON – Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett Thursday asked President Clinton to overturn the conviction of the Army medic sentenced to discharge for refusing to wear U.N. insignia while on a peace-keeping duty in Macedonia.
Bartlett, a Frederick Republican, announced his intent to introduce a resolution urging Clinton’s action. Cosponsors Rep. James Traficant, D-Ohio, and Rep. David Funderburk, R-N.C., appeared with him at the press conference.
Bartlett contends that ordering Spc. Michael New, 22, to wear the U.N. uniform was unlawful. He said that without prior congressional approval, U.S. troops cannot be placed under foreign command.
“Michael New is an American hero,” Bartlett said. “A twice- decorated soldier, Michael New took the extraordinary step of jeopardizing a brilliant career to defend our Constitution.”
White House spokesmen were unavailable for comment.
When New refused last fall to wear U.N. insignia, he argued that he had sworn allegiance to the U.S. Constitution, not the United Nations.
Bartlett said New was acting on principle and was willing to serve in a U.S. Army uniform, but not that of the United Nations.
New was sentenced Wednesday to a bad conduct discharge from the Army after a court-martial jury found him guilty of refusing to wear U.N. insignia and accept foreign command.
His discharge must be reviewed and approved by Gen. Montgomery C. Meigs, commander of the 3rd Infantry Division. New remains on active duty until then and could remain on active duty if he decides to appeal, according to an Army spokesman. A bad-conduct discharge would make him ineligible for veterans’ benefits and is a federal offense, but not a felony, the spokesman said. – 30 –