An Open Letter to STARRS Members: Service Academy Board of Visitor (BOV) Firings
Rod Bishop, Lt Gen, USAF (Ret), CEO, STARRS
STARRS was founded out of a desire to protect my alma mater, the United States Air Force Academy, from political intrusion. The Falcon football team, whether knowingly or unwittingly, created a video supporting a political movement. The Black Lives Matter Organization has self-declared that their objectives are derived from Marxist training and goals. Neither I nor many of my fellow graduates could stand by silently to watch the politicization of our beloved institution. We joined forces with Patriots from our sister service academies of West Point and Annapolis to form STARRS. We had a shared desire to get back on track returning the focus of the Academies to developing the best military leaders in the world. We know that this is a pre-eminent requirement to assure national security for our country.
Recently, the White House sent messages to every Republican appointed Service Academy member of the Board of Visitors (responsible for oversight) demanding their resignation by the end of the day. If they did not comply, they would all be terminated. Something like this is unprecedented. The unofficial policy of collegiality and cooperation was born of a desire for bi-partisanship as well as to keep the military non-political. This extremely partisan act is just further proof that the current administration wants politics to dominate the culture within the military.
STARRS deplores having politics of any stripe be a part of our military institutions. It was the fear of tyranny, like the heavy-handed rule of Great Britain, that the founders had in mind when they established our nation. General/President George Washington gave us all a wonderful example of putting the "Republic" above "self interest" and "politics." I hope President Washington’s legacy and tradition will not be ignored. The following articles highlight details of the inappropriateness of this action taken.
Politics and the Academy Boards of Visitors
Brent Ramsey, STARRS Director At Large
10 US Code §8468. Board of Visitors
(a) A Board of Visitors to the Naval Academy is constituted annually of:
(1) the chairman of the Committee on Armed Services of the Senate, or his designee;
(2) three other members of the Senate designated by the Vice President or the President pro tempore of the Senate, two of whom are members of the Committee on Appropriations of the Senate;
(3) the chairman of the Committee on Armed Services of the House of Representatives, or his designee;
(4) four other members of the House of Representatives designated by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, two of whom are members of the Committee on Appropriations of the House of Representatives; and
(5) six persons designated by the President.
(b) The persons designated by the President serve for three years each except that any member whose term of office has expired shall continue to serve until his successor is appointed.
The public law cited above establishes the Board of Visitors (“BOV”) for the United States Naval Academy. Similar provisions of law establish similar boards for the United States Military Academy and the United States Air Force Academy. These BOV’s are oversight boards created by Congress to investigate, oversee and make written recommendations about the Academies to the United States House Armed Services Committee, the United States Senate Armed Services Committee and/or the President of the United States. The duties of the BOV’s include the following:
The Board shall inquire into the state of morale and discipline, the curriculum, instruction, physical equipment, fiscal affairs, academic methods, and other matters relating to the Academy that the Board decides to consider.
On February 2, 2021 Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin suspended the three academy BOV’s. Those boards have been inactive since that date and unable to perform their congressionally mandated duties
On 15 July 2021, Heidi Stirrup filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging the suspension of the USAFA BOV. On 17 August 2021, additional plaintiffs were added to that lawsuit, including Congressmen Mark Green and Ralph Norman, four cadets and five of their parents, to challenge also the suspension of the BOV’s at West Point and the Naval Academy.
On 8 September 2021, President Biden demanded all the President Trump appointed members of the BOV’s, including Heidi Stirrup, a member of the USAFA BOV, resign by the close of business that day or be terminated as a member of the BOV at 6 PM that day. Later that day, Sean Spicer, former White House Press Secretary for President Trump, became a plaintiff as a member of the Naval Academy BOV.
The Naval Academy Board of Visitors has been in existence since 1879. Dozens of Congresses over a 140+ year time span have supported their mission and functions as a necessary oversight body to provide advice and counsel on the well-being of Naval Academy midshipmen. Yet, in 2021, the current president decided to unilaterally ignore the congressional intent and political balance that spans much of the nation’s history to inject political imbalance into the oversight of the military academies. When the press inquired as to why such an unprecedented firing of 18 Trump appointees had occurred so abruptly and without any advance warning, the president’s press secretary answered that the president needed members on the boards that were “qualified to serve” and represented “our values.” Apparently General Jack Keane, a former Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, and Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, the former National Security Advisor, were among those the president questioned as being qualified to serve and whose values are somehow not compatible with his.
As a matter of law and prudence, these actions against legally appointed and serving BOV members are troubling. DoD’s suspension of the academy boards has shut them down completely, thereby preventing any BOV oversight or recommendations since last February at a time when each of the academies has unprecedented problems, including honor scandals, COVID, resistance to mandatory vaccinations, critical race theory teachings, purging of “extremists” defined only as “white supremacists” but not including ANTIFA or BLM, sexual assault and suicides. It is hard to fathom how DoD legally and morally can justify so blatantly eliminating Congress’ oversight of the academies through its BOV's, especially when Article I, Section 8, Clause 14 of the U.S. Constitution, provides that “[The Congress shall have the Power . . .] to make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces.”
Without a doubt, appropriate legal authorities within the administration are aware of court rulings on the matter of BOV tenure. A recent Supreme Court decision reaffirms, citing two previous Supreme Court decisions, that the US Constitution allows “tenure protection,” meaning that congress can prevent the president from replacing lower-level “inferior officers” appointed by the president who, like members of the BOVs, make recommendations but have little or no authority. Members of the BOVs are not even “inferior officers” as they have no executive authority and can only make recommendations. Congress passed statutes setting the terms of BOV members. The threshold issue is whether by passing these statutes and setting these terms Congress intended to prohibit the president from removing a presidential appointee allowed by Congress prior to the expiration of the term set by statute. According to the Supreme Court, the President cannot fire and replace Presidential appointees before the expiration of their statutory terms if Congress intended to prohibit early termination of presidential appointments to the BOV. Not allowing these BOV members lawfully appointed by the previous president to serve out their terms set by statute smacks of political gamesmanship and those who put the president up to it should be identified and rooted out of government. No president of any party should put up with such nonsense. Not only are the lives and reputations of 18 distinguished Americans needlessly sullied and tarnished, but the important role they have been playing for years to help and attend to the needs of our academies’ cadets and midshipmen has been eliminated, replaced with confusion and acrimony. The cadets at the U.S. Military Academy must be especially demoralized and confused as the publicly maligned Lt. Gen H.R. McMaster was presented with the Distinguished West Point Graduate award on 11 September.
This attempted removal of lawfully appointed BOV members is another example of politics invading the US military. This type of influence has no place in the military. The military must be free of all partisanship in order to do its job of defending the nation. If the military is swayed by the ebb and flow of politics, election to election, it will irreparably damage its effectiveness as a warfighting organization. The military should have a single-minded focus on supporting and defending the constitution of the United States and nothing else.
A copy of Heidi Stirrup’s answer to the request that she resign is quoted in full below:
September 12, 2021
Catherine M. Russell
Assistant to the President Director
White House Office of Presidential Personnel
Dear Ms. Russell:
I am responding to your email and letter to me dated September 8, 2021, requesting my resignation as a Member of the Air Force Academy Board of Visitors, and stating that if you have not received that resignation by the close of business on that date, my position with the Board will be terminated effective 6:00 pm on that date. Please be advised that I have not resigned and will not do so. Moreover, I have received no official notification that my position with the Board has been terminated, and therefore consider that it has not been terminated. I understand that the resignations of other academy Board of Visitor members also have been requested and termination of their Board positions also threatened. These resignation demands and threatened terminations are unprecedented and, I believe, bad policy because they are divisive, destroy the politically balanced structure of the Boards of Visitors as created by Congress and deprive the academies of the diversity of experience, knowledge and perspectives the academies traditionally have had and need in order for the academies to fulfill their missions competently and in a manner reflective of all of the American people. Moreover, and most importantly, termination of membership on an academy Board of Visitors would be illegal. Congressional statutes expressly provide the dates of expiration for academy Boards of Visitors membership positions. For example, my tenure as a Member of the Air Force Academy Board of Visitors is governed by 10 U.S.C. § 9455(b), (c), which when applied requires that my tenure does not expire until after December 30, 2021. This result is supported by a recent United States Supreme Court decision reaffirming that Congress can continue to provide “tenure protection,” recognized for decades as valid by the courts, for Presidential appointments of inferior officers with narrowly defined duties, which would include Members of academy Boards of Visitors who have no authority but can only make recommendations and issue reports as narrowly defined by statute. See Seila Law LLC v. Consumer Fin. Prot. Bureau, 140 S. Ct. 2183, 2192, citing United States v. Perkins, 116 U. S. 483, 6 S. Ct. 449, 29 L. Ed. 700, 21 Ct. Cl. 499 (1886); Morrison v. Olson, 487 U. S. 654, 108 S. Ct. 2597, 101 L. Ed. 2d 569 (1988). Please identify to me any legal authority believed to authorize the termination of my Membership to the Air Force Academy Board of Visitors.
John Lucas made the following points in his article published in The Federalist on 10 Sep:
- This is not happening by accident. And there is no greater danger to the country than this effort to politicize the military by ensuring that all officers hew to the political party line of this administration.
- Think about that: Those overseeing the education of our future military leaders must align themselves with Joe Biden’s thinking and values. Scary thought.
One last link is from Richard A. Epstein from the Hoover Institution who writes this opinion piece asserting Biden’s naked power grab. He concludes that presidential appointees such as service academy board of visitor members do not work for the president. Rather, they serve on independent boards to simply make recommendations without exercising any authority. Assertions of power such as these firings are decaying our political culture.
STARRS Leadership Spotlight
Rod Bishop, Lt Gen, USAF (Ret)
President/CEO, STARRS Inc.
Lieutenant General Rod Bishop retired from active duty in August 2008 after 34 years of service in the United States Air Force. His last assignment was as Commander, 3rd Air Force, United States Air Forces in Europe, Ramstein AB, Germany, where he oversaw all American air and space activities in the 93 countries in Europe and Africa. Following many and varied operational flying assignments early in his career in which he served as an aircraft commander, instructor pilot and flight examiner in various aircraft, General Bishop held many key positions throughout the United States Air Force where he commanded airmen at every operational level including two Squadrons, an Operations Group, an Airlift Wing, a Numbered Air Force and Air Command, Europe while also completing numerous strategic Air Force and Joint assignments throughout the Department of Defense. General Bishop was the Director of Planning and Policy at US SOUTHERN Command, Miami, FL, and when promoted to Major General he became the Deputy Combatant Commander, assisting in the oversight of all US military activities in the 32 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.
General Bishop has a BS degree in Engineering Management from the USAF Academy (graduating with the Class of 1974), an MS degree from the University of Southern California in Systems Management and two Masters Degrees in National Security Studies from the Naval War College and the National War College. His overseas operational/combat experience includes DESERT STORM, Somalia, Bosnia, Kosovo, (Air War over Serbia in which he served as the DIRMOBFOR) and Haiti.
During the 2 years immediately following retirement, General Bishop served as a Senior Mentor to the United States Air Force. He was formerly a consultant to EADs and a Senior Advisor to National Air Cargo. He has served on the Board of National Air Cargo Holdings, Inc and other boards.
It was his love and devotion to the Air Force and our country that led him, and a handful of other USAFA grads, to question the military's drift into the detrimental philosophy of identity politics and its support of the Marxist ideology infecting our nation. STARRS was formed to further this mission of keeping our military "politics free" and educate Americans on the dangers of this Marxist invasion. He would tell you, this is the most important mission of his life.
Discrimination Against Me and
the Founders’ Writings
Jane Hampton Cook, STARRS member
This summer I was asked to contribute a chapter about women and religion for a book about myths from the American Revolution. The editor of a historical journal recommended me as a chapter contributor. The coordinating author thought that I would bring a fresh perspective because I am not a professor but have published nine historical books and numerous articles for various news outlets. He thought my writing style would better appeal to college students, the book’s target audience.
He said that I would receive the contract after submitting my mailing address. Then the publisher asked for my resume and an abstract before they would send the contract. Quoting original sources, I wrote this abstract:
The spirit that prevails among men of all degrees, all ages and sexes is the spirit of liberty,” Abigail Adams wrote on May 22, 1775, to a London bookseller in an attempt to convert him to support America’s cause. Ever an egalitarian, Abigail understood that the philosophy guiding the war of independence appealed to all people, including women. She continued by writing: “For this they are determined to risk all their property and their lives ‘nor shrink unnerv’d before a tyrant’s face.’
Abigail’s story as a breadwinner, farmer, and informal intellectual advisor to her husband dispels the myth that the American Revolution was fought only by men. She was far from alone. Women such as Martha Washington, Phillis Wheatley, Mercy Otis Warren, Deborah Sampson, and others made significant contributions to the American Revolution, proving that the spirit of liberty was for women, too.
Years later, her husband John Adams reflected on the Revolutionary War. “The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people. A change in their religious sentiments of their duties and obligations,” he wrote to a newspaper publisher in 1818.
Adams explained that differences between the states threatened their ability to unite. They were “so different, there was so great a variety of religions, they were composed of so many different nations, their customs, manners and habits had so little resemblance.” Uniting them in the same principles and theory was a “very difficult enterprise.”
His views reveal that America’s first diversity struggle was over religion, dispelling the myth that the colonies were not diverse. The stories of different religious groups, such as Quakers, Jews, Catholics, and Moravians, show that Americans had to learn to tolerate each other’s’ religious differences in order to establish a representative government.
Imagine my shock when the publisher rejected this abstract and immediately pulled me from the project without discussion. The editor explained that this book was focused on what historians have said in the past 50 years about the American Revolution, not what happened nearly 250 years ago.
This approach is one of the root problems of how we communicate American history, especially in the academic world. Too many historians are navel gazers. They focus too much on historical interpretations and not the actual history. As a result, they are too focused on how they look to their peers rather than digging into the original writings of the founders to examine what the founders said about an event, battle, philosophy, friend, foe and so on.
What is more important to communicate to college students about women in the American Revolution? Should they know what Abigail Adams said and experienced based on her own writings? Or should they know what historians in the past few decades have said about Abigail Adams?
How did I respond to this Cambridge-based publisher? Instead of acknowledging their rejection with passive acceptance, I changed my usual tactic. Because of critical race theory and the 1619 agenda, I decided to push back. I told the editor that I was angry at his publisher’s discrimination against me. I told him that I thought their approach was misguided and that I cared what the founders had to say, not what modern historians think. I told him that I primarily work with primary source material. I believe that the voices of those who lived through history provided the best key to understanding our past.
One of the strange aspects of this battle over history is that it comes when we have digital access to more original information than ever before. The need to strain through the handwriting of letters or squint and scroll on microfilm has lessened significantly.
Today, the harvest of history is ripe, with more opportunities today to digitally discover historical newspapers and the original writings of our founders than ever before. In the past 10 years, the writings of the founders have become widely and digitally available through founders.archives.gov and other databases. This means that we can keyword search through letters, proclamations and documents of dozens of founders, such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin. For example, John Adams used the word integrity in 319 documents. This shows us that the word was important to him.
The job of historians should look at the historical record first and then interpret, not interpret based on interpretations. Perhaps there was a need in the 1900s to interpret based on interpretations because it was so difficult to access original material. But that need is largely gone. Instead teachers, professors and historians need to become originalists in how we approach American history.
 Adams, John. "To Hezekiah Niles," Feb. 13, 1818.
I Am Not White: Obliterating Critical Race Theory
By David Scott Strain
The author contends Critical Race Theory (CRT) is the ultimate in explicit racism. And since CRT threatens to turn our country into something so corrupt that it becomes a grotesque caricature of its founding principles, purposes, and standing as the greatest country in the world, there is a simple way to prevent this: Just say, “No.” Say no to what “they” want you to identify as. Refusing to respond to questions or to check a box with respect to what race you are, removes the “identity” out of “identity politics.” It’s akin to quitting smoking. It’s not a simple thing to do, to kick the social habit of being “forced” to check a box, where we’re lumped into groups in order to pit us against one another. Assigning feelings of privilege, guilt, debts owed, against purported modern-day victims --hopeful collectors on so-called debts --diminishes everyone. We need to crush CRT! Now!
Evidence of Indoctrination
in the Military
Note from a Parent of a USAFA Cadet
Below is the Sept reading list:
· The Culture Map by Erin Meyer
· Stamped by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi
· The Power of Different by Gail Saltz M.D.
· Despite the Best Intentions by Amanda E. Lewis
· Trans in College by Z. Nicolazzo and Kristen A. Renn
· The Culture Code by Daniel Coyle
· The Other Americans by Laila Lalami
· Think Again by Adam Grant
· Identity and Cultural Diversity: What Social Psychology Can Teach Us by Maykel Verkuyten
· The Color of My Words by Lynn Joseph
As a parent I am wondering how the list was compiled, and if any other viewpoints were left off because they may cause controversy. Why was Matt Lohmeier's book left off? Who created the list? Was the BOV informed of this list? Did the Academy Superintendent approve these books?
As a parent I thought that the Air Force Academy is helping educate future war fighters. Why are there no books about the Constitution, Bill of Rights and the republic that was created by the Founders of the Constitution. What does Trans in College have to do with the mission of the USAF? Some of the authors are clearly anti-American.
Boots On The Ground Perspectives
Email from a STARRS subscriber:
This is more a question to the retired officers than a comment or message. I'm currently a SNCO in the Air Force (Guard). I'm having a really hard time squaring my oath with the stuff that is going on now and the way that the upper echelons of leadership are behaving and have behaved in the past several years. I took an oath to defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and DOMESTIC, and right now the men I'm supposed to obey without question at the top of my chain are looking more like enemies than leaders. So what do I do? Because going along to get along doesn't sit right with me, but the message I'm getting from current and former military members is that the only way to deal with patently illegal and bad orders is to resign. But that's not what my oath says.
To be clear, I'm not asking if it's okay to start or participate in a coup. At the same time, giving up and running away don't seem to be helping the situation. And I don't want to see a military composed of wokists who have zero problem with putting down civilians "for the greater good". I hate this situation. I hate everything about it. I don't trust or respect the people I'm supposed to both trust and respect. I can't believe I'm the only one who feels this way, and we need leadership. I've already taken the time to sit and make some decisions about how to handle different illegal orders, should they ever come down. Beyond that, I'm rudderless. And please know, I say all this at risk of my clearance. I love my country, and I would never betray it. The government and military leadership are acting more like tin-pot dictators who are destroying the country and organization I love.
Rod Bishop responds:
Thank you for reaching out to STARRS and expressing your concerns. We understand that the current situation is difficult to serve under. However, you should be encouraged that the threat to our Constitutional Republic is becoming more apparent to key politicians and patriotic Americans across the country! Patriots are rising up to push back against the neo-Marxist movement throughout all sectors of society. Patriotic, Constitution-loving citizens will prevail over this Marxist invasion and deception; but we must stick together, stand tall and work hard! STARRS was formed to engage and defeat this Marxist, wokist attack on our country. We are in the fight until we have turned the tide of communist creep in the U.S. and our military forces. We took an oath to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, whether foreign or domestic and we and millions more in this country will honor that oath.
Senator Cotton and Representative Crenshaw have established a whistleblower website to gather examples of how woke, CRT, and other neo-Marxist ideologies are being pushed on the ranks and the adverse impact it is having. STARRS encourages all concerned active duty personnel to submit their stories to the following: (https://twitter.com/SenTomCotton; https://radiopatriot.net/2021/06/16/military-tip-line-on-line-cotton-and-crenshaw/) and STARRS. What have you experienced in your unit, on your base, etc.? What is the impact you have observed regarding morale, readiness, unit effectiveness, retention, unit cohesion/climate, etc. Specific, well explained examples will help us fight the good fight to save our country!
Once victory has been achieved and the enemy defeated, we will need experienced patriotic leaders throughout the services to rebuild and restore our military to the world class status it once was.
Hang in there! Do what you can to educate your peers and subordinates on the Constitution, how our republic is supposed to work, and the progress we have made through our national journey toward “forming a more perfect union!”
We may not yet be perfect, but as someone who has traveled the world, I can tell you we are much further along than any other country! This is why people leave their homes to walk across south and central America, brave shark infested seas in rickety boats between Cuba and Florida, or even desperately cling to airplanes leaving Kabul to get here! If we were as racist and deplorable as BLM, ANTIFA and the radical left say we are, why would so many be risking everything to get here and why is there not a flood of people trying to leave?
It may take some time, but inspirational ideals expressed in our founding documents will prevail and you will be needed to rebuild!
Lt Gen Rod Bishop, USAF (Ret)
President and CEO, STARRS
“Freedom Is Never More Than One
Generation Away From Extinction”
The Indoctrination of America’s Children
(Note, although STARRS focuses on the impact of CRT in the military, our high schools provide the cadets and recruits who are the future of our military and its ability to defend America. Teaching CRT in K-12 schools impacts the military adversely in two ways. First children of military personnel in schools are taught values that are foreign to their parent’s military values and can lead to friction between them and their service member parents. Second, if America’s youth are taught that America is evil, racist, and needs to be completely rebuilt into a Marxist or Socialist country, it will adversely affect our ability to attract quality young people to the military. Who wants to serve, defend and potentially give their lives for an evil racist country)
Videos continue to surface aimed at educating Americans on the dangers of neo-Marxist indoctrination and demonstrating the destructive impacts on our society.
1. Anti-American indoctrination is making people do actions like this:
2. A teacher tells his students that Trump is “extremely racist" and when he sees a Trump sign in front of a house, he “immediately thinks that they’re racist.”
3. Interview with Heritage Foundation senior fellow Mike Gonzalez, author of “BLM: The Making of a New Marxist Revolution”
Gonzalez states the Black Lives Matter organization has encouraged Americans, especially young people, to embrace communist ideology. Gonzalez exposes the true agenda of the BLM movement which is the fundamental overthrow of our American system including the abolition of the nuclear family and the overthrow of capitalism to be replaced by totalitarian Marxism.
A Call To Action
We thank you for expressing interest in STARRS and encourage you to take an active role. Engage your elected representatives at the local, state and national levels and express your concerns. Educate your fellow citizens by speaking at gatherings, writing editorials for local papers, talking to school boards and encouraging others to join us. If you have experienced the impact of this corrosive racist ideology, please share your story and observations through the link below.
© Photo by ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images
People talk before the start of a rally against "critical race theory" (CRT) being taught in schools at the Loudoun County Government center in Leesburg, Virginia on June 12, 2021.
The Free to Learn Coalition, an anti-Critical Race Theory (CRT) organization, is launching a $500,000 advertising campaign taking aim at the Loudoun County School Board. It will air on local broadcast TV in the DC-Maryland-VA area for the next week.
Over the past year, Loudoun County has been a frequent battleground of CRT, which holds that America is fundamentally racist and teaches people to view every social interaction and person in terms of race. Its adherents pursue “antiracism” through a number of avenues like ignoring merit and objective truth.
Please support STARRS’ mission to unify, not divide, ensure that the U.S. military remains free of politics, and to educate Americans of the danger of neo-Marxism and Critical Race Theory ideology, by sending donations to: STARRS, PO Box 468, Monument, CO 80132
*** STARRS is a newly formed corporation, whose 501(c)3 status is pending with the IRS. Once approval for our educational mission is received, STARRS will be a qualified organization eligible to receive deductible charitable contributions, effective 26 April 2021.***