Recent reports that the U.S. Justice Department is dropping criminal prosecution of retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn have generated considerable chatter. Many conclude the former Trump administration senior advisor was politically maligned.

While Flynn may now not go to prison, we should not lose sight of an important singular fact — Flynn is a dishonest man.

Without getting into legal intricacies of whether Flynn should or should not be prosecuted, the facts are undisputed. While under oath and promising to tell the truth, Flynn was asked by law enforcement officials if he met with Russian diplomats. Flynn knowingly lied to those law enforcement officials.

Then, in consultation with highly paid defense attorneys, he pled guilty to lying. Even if we disagree on whether Flynn’s actions deserve jail time, we should all agree that what Flynn did was unethical and improper.

We should also remember that Vice President Mike Pence explicitly asked Flynn if he had met with Russian diplomats after the 2016 election. Flynn knowingly lied to the then vice president-elect and said he had not.

Retired U.S. Army Lieutenant General Michael Flynn at a campaign rally for Donald Trump at the Phoenix Convention Center in Arizona in 2016. Flickr: Gage Skidmore

Pence, trusting Flynn’s word, then represented to the American people the news that Flynn never met with Russian officials. A retired U.S. Army general officer, selected as National Security Advisor to the president, making a conscious decision to affirmatively mislead the Vice-President easily is summed up in one word — wrong.

And I am especially concerned that many view the Justice Department’s decision to drop prosecution of Flynn as a clear vindication. That is simply not the case.

Grave Breach Of Trust

If a junior 2nd lieutenant affirmatively lied to his or her company commander and then that commander, relying upon the lieutenant’s misrepresentation, misled a Colonel, all in the U.S. military would immediately recognize this as a grave breach of military trust. Our military drills into all young officers and NCOs the critical importance of honesty.

It should not matter that Flynn once wore stars on his shoulders as a general or was the incoming national security advisor — becoming a general or national security official must never become a license to engage in selfish dishonesty.

The troubling lesson I find too many young service members take from the Flynn case is not that a general might lie, but that dishonesty is a core character trait of all flag officers. A belief such as this damages the ability of our military to effectively execute its mission.

Flynn graduated from West Point where the cadet honor code famously states: “We will not lie, steal, or cheat, nor tolerate among us anyone who does.”

What Flynn did was unethical and improper.

Flynn is a man who either blissfully forgets this code or sneers at it in willful ignorance. This is not a man our country, and especially our service members, should view as exonerated.

I appreciate that there are reasonable people who feel that Flynn is going free on a “legal technicality,” and also those who believe his actions deserve prison time. There is ample room for debate on whether the Trump or Obama administration officials were too political in handling the Flynn case.

But the core truth should not be in dispute, especially for those of us who serve in the military: Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn may not be a criminal, but he is a liar.

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