NEW: Chairman of Joint Chiefs tells U-S military "no modifications" to current transgender policy until implementation guidance given. pic.twitter.com/BRO9QnoG2p— Peter Alexander (@PeterAlexander) July 27, 2017
The Joint Chiefs are saying that a tweet is not an official Presidential action.* More than that, as Josh Marshall points out, it's not even in the chain of command:
The President is Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, with vast powers that position grants him. But the President does not and cannot just dial up the head of Central Command and order a war. There is a specific and statutory chain of command. Under the 1986 Goldwater-Nichols Act, the key players in the process are the President, the Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the heads of the Unified Commands – Central Command, European Command, Pacific Command, et al. The key element of Goldwater-Nichols was diminishing the power of the service chiefs in favor of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and Combatant Commanders. But the Secretary of Defense remains the key link in the conveyance of commands from the President to the uniformed military.So this tweet is itself "fake news!" It is a null set, an empty gesture.
We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats' feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar
Shape without form, shade without colour,
Paralysed force, gesture without motion;
Who knew Eliot was predicting Trump?
*There is a theological angle here, based on speech-act theory. God speaks, and creation occurs (check Genesis 1). But the President acts through the system of laws and chains of command established by those laws. The President tweets, but it doesn't make anything happen.