Count me among those not surprised by this news:
The Army Reserve, taxed by recruiting shortfalls and war-zone duty, has adopted a policy barring officers from leaving the service if their field is undermanned or they have not been deployed to Iraq, to Afghanistan or for homeland defense missions.
At the heart of the controversy is whether a law stating that commissioned reserve officers are appointed “for an indefinite term and are held during the pleasure of the President” gives the government the power to force them to serve permanently — as Army lawyers say — or only to discharge them against their will.
It’s an interesting debate, and if we are to continue with an all-volunteer army in which people actually wish to volunteer, the proper interpretation of that phrase seems clear. A reserve officer who has met his obligation should be allowed to resign.
That said, a court will decide, as it must whenever ridiculous, unclear language is used to craft legislation. Is “during the pleasure of the President” the worst phrase ever rendered by a legislative body? Legislative language surrounding obscenity probably trumps that, so let me be more specific. Could there be another law more tailored to fit the grandiose power ambitions of the current administration? I imagine Karl Rove and Alberto Gonzalez commenting that “during the pleasure of the President” is a particularly wonderful phrase. I’m sure it’s being added to all future signing statements. All that’s left to wonder is whether or not they feed grapes to President Bush upon command.