Vermont National Guard Trashes Vermont Public Records Act
Latest Step Chipping Away at Civil, Political, and Human Rights
Vermont National Guard commanders have implemented a scheme to trash Vermont’s Public Records Act as it applies to them.
According to a letter from the State Judge Advocate, dated March 9, 2021, the Vermont National Guard refuses to provide documents showing the status of the investigation of the F-35 Complaint submitted by 657 Vermonters on October 22, 2020. The 62-page Complaint shows how the Guard’s F-35 training flights in a populated area violate Department of Defense Directives and Air Force Instructions that protect civilians from military operations. The State Judge Advocate letter asserted that the Guard’s Inspector General (IG) serves under the federal Department of Defense and, therefore, was not subject to the Vermont Public Records Act.
However, the State Judge Advocate’s letter denying state custody of any documents related to the Complaint omitted mention of facts disclosed in an email from the Inspector General, dated December 19, 2020. The IG wrote, “the investigation [of the F-35 Complaint] has been referred to the Commander and he has assigned it to our OPS group and representatives from public Affairs and the Wing.”
The Commander, the OPS (Operations) group, public affairs, and Wing are all members of the Vermont Air National Guard, a Vermont state agency. Any of the requested documents in the possession of any of those Vermont National Guard members or their units must be promptly delivered, as required by the Vermont Public Records Act, regardless of who the IG works for. The federal employment of the Inspector General is irrelevant to the status of the investigation, as the IG reported that it was transferred to Vermont National Guard members who are all under the authority of the Vermont Adjutant General.
The public records act request was only submitted after revelation of the transfer of the investigation of the Complaint to the very Commander and units responsible for the allegations in the Complaint. Air Force Instruction 90-301 bars such a “self-investigation” of a complaint. With the investigation now under the control of the very people directly responsible for the injuries described in the Complaint, the investigation cannot be “impartial, unbiased, objective, and thorough,” as also required by Air Force Instruction 90-301.
The present twisting and turning to avoid observing the Public Records Act request, and to avoid an impartial investigation of the Complaint, follows a long train of abuses by Vermont political and military leaders: knowingly punching down on 2,963 working class, minority, and immigrant Vermont families with hundreds of ear and brain damaging 115 decibel F-35 training flights each month. Knowingly violating military directives and instructions, Vermont and federal laws, constitutional rights, and international law with those F-35 flights in a densely populated area.
The abuses of civil, political, and human rights started in 2018, when Vermont leaders gave the middle finger to democracy itself by deciding to foist the F-35 after Burlington citizens voted for a town meeting resolution, 6,482 (55.3%) to 5,238 (44.7%) for “cancellation of the planned basing of the F-35 at the Burlington International Airport (BTV)."
Vermont political and military leaders continue stomping on democracy by ignoring the 2 to 1 town meeting vote in Winooski ten days ago to “urge the State to halt F-35 training flights in a densely populated area, such as Winooski?” Adopted Yes - 723 (67.1%), No - 354 (32.9%).
Does anyone think the naked violence committed by Vermont political and military leaders against their own citizens by ordering daily F-35 training flights in a densely populated area, and the blatant violations of law, will stop here?