Thursday, June 07, 2007
KMBC's "Marine Loses Appeal In Military Protest Case" offers the latest on Adam Kokesh whose attorney filed an appeal of Monday's ruling/finding/recommendation that Kokesh receive a general discharge. Yesterday, Michael Lebowitz, one of Kokesh's two attorneys, filed an appeal for a new hearing due to the fact that the marines' rules demand only commissioned officers preside over the type of hearing Kokesh had Monday and one of the three member/judges was not a commissioned officer. KMBC reports Darrell L. Moore has "dismissed the appeal." Brig. Gen. Moore will not decide whether to go along with the panel's recommendations or not and is expected to issue a ruling within a week. Lebowitz is quoted by KMBC stating, "I find it unfortunate that Moore has the final say in that decision when he is the one who is in a way directly involved in this case because Adam Kokesh included him in one of his e-mails. That decision shouldn't be left to General Moore; it should be made by an unbiased individual." Brendan notes Dave Helling's "Marine protestor denied rehearing" (Kansas City Star):
Kokesh, a student at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., is scheduled to be separated from the reserves June 18 with his original, active-duty honorable discharge in place.
Under Marine rules, Lebowitz said, Moore can’t increase Kokesh’s punishment by issuing an other-than-honorable discharge.
He can only accept the board’s general discharge recommendation, or reinstate the honorable discharge.
Turning to the issue of politicians, Durham Gal notes Bob Geary's "Profiles in Courage -- and cowardice" (Raleigh Durham Independent):
So what does Congress do? It sends Bush a bill with all the money he asked for and no timetable, because if we put a timetable in it (the cowardly Democrats say) that mean man in the White House would tell everybody we hate the troops.
Yes, he would. That mean, careless (of the troops) and vastly unpopular man in the White House is also determined to keep our soldiers in Iraq until the last dog dies or the oil runs out--or until he starts it up with Iran and then the troops can be in Iraq and Iran.
Permanent bases, after all, were the whole point of Bush's invasion. It was never WMDs, Hillary.
Last week we saw how the House Democrats managed, John Kerry-style, to vote for the blank-check bill before they voted against it. They voted to bring the bill to the floor, that is, with a rule against proposing amendments (read: a timetable). Then, they very bravely voted against the same bill--most of them, but darn it, not quite enough of them to stop the minority Republicans from passing it over their very stern objections. LOL, if you can.
(Kucinich, to his credit, did not assist in this charade. He was one of the handful of Democrats--seven against, seven abstaining--who were actually for ending the war.)
Then, of course, the bill went to the Senate, where the majority Democrats also arranged (with Bush) for an up-or-down vote, blank-check bill or not. Result: Blank-check wins, 80-14! And among the 14 dissenters, those two brave presidential candidates who say they want the war to end, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.
But Sunday night, Edwards called them out for their lack of leadership on the issue, and he was right. Clinton and Obama finally did cast the "correct" vote, but not until the last possible minute, each apparently waiting for the other to take a stand before finally, with the vote clock running down, Obama entered the chamber and voted no, after which Clinton, rushing in, also voted no.
Until that moment, however, neither Clinton nor Obama had said a word about the bill, what was wrong with it, or that anything was wrong with it or with the Democratic leadership. They are the two leading candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination. Think they might've had some influence over what the Senate bill said if, that is, they'd wanted any influence?
Also on the subject of the illegal war and politicians, Charlie notes Ted Rall's "Mission Accomplished" (Boise Weekly):
"Like it or not, we ran out of options," said David Obey, the Democratic chairman of the House appropriations committee. "There has never been a chance of a snowball in Hades that Congress would cut off those funds to those troops in the field." Even Hillary Clinton, one of just 14 senators who voted no, said she'd thought "long and hard" about her vote because she wanted to "do everything we can to protect the troops."
Remember, this isn't about war--it's about logic. Cutting off funding would do nothing to jeopardize U.S. troops fighting in Iraq. That's obvious. It would, of course, endanger the war itself. Without Congressional appropriations, Bush would be forced to bring them home. Which would make them, despite the reductionist and false 2003 GOP talking point that the streets of some U.S. cities are more dangerous than Iraq, safer. A lot safer.
Both parties, with the media playing along, have painted a bleak, transparently ridiculous portrait of besieged American soldiers, surrounded by rabid insurgents. It's The Alamo 2007, or maybe 2008, and our brave young men and women go down, fighting to the last man (or woman) until they run out of ammo, cursing Washington politicians for failing them. Save the last bullet for me, buddy!
It is baffling that this fiction prompted any response from the media, or Democratic pols, beyond dismissive laughter. The fact that it carried the day in a congressional vote, without even a word of comment from national barometer Jon Stewart, stands as testimony to the triumph of what Mike Judge termed "idiocracy."
"Thank goodness we are finally here," Republican Congressman John Boehner said in reference to the Democratic agreement to support the war, "choking up" for C-SPAN. "Three and a half months [the time spent on the debate] to respond to our troops and their families is too long," added his colleague Roy Blunt. What are they talking about? The troops don't need or want the appropriation. They get a paycheck whether they're stationed in Iraq or here in the States. The congressional appropriation in question goes to weapons manufacturers, contracting firms such as Halliburton and Iraqi tribal sheiks in the form of bribes. The troops don't see a cent, much less their families.
What puts our troops in harm's way is the war. No war, no worries. Sure, Iraq falls apart (faster). Sure, Iraqis die (faster). But lost in the malarkey is the brutal truth: Voting for more money for the war means more troops get killed and wounded. Again, there are valid arguments for subjecting them to these risks. But there is no logical basis for the claim that the money will make them safer.
And yet people still attempt to pretend that the supplemental gave any money to US service members. It didn't. Congress didn't have to pass anything. John Edwards suggested sending the same thing back to the Bully Boy. They could have done that. Or they could have done nothing. It would have been the easiest cover: "We voted it. He vetoed it. We did our part, ask him why he didn't want the supplemental." Best thing to do would have been to stand up and say, "No more money for an illegal war." Bully Boy would've had to start bringing troops home.
But there's no bravery in Congressional leadership. Thankfully, we can find elsewhere. Trevor notes Ian Sands' "Faces of Conflict: Marine Corps challenge anti-war vets" (Boston Phoenix):
Each summer, it seems, the Iraq War springs another issue for the peace movement to rally around, symbolized by a specific face with a story to tell. In 2005, it was Cindy Sheehan’s loss and her dogged insistence that Bush explain why we invaded Iraq, where she lost her 24-year-old son. In 2006, it was Lieutenant Ehren Watada’s refusal to deploy. This summer, the latest phase of the movement may be epitomized by two more faces: Marine Corporal Adam Kokesh and Marine Sergeant and Boston-chapter president of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) Liam Madden, both of whom were honorably discharged from the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR), a group of unpaid reservists that can be, but rarely are, called up. The pair learned this past week that the Marine Corps was recommending they receive “other than honorable” discharges as a result of certain aspects of their anti-war activities.
Mike's father notes Margery Eagan's article on Lisa Hayes (who is not a war resister, just someone who got screwed by the system) from the Boston Herald:
New Hampshire National Guard specialist Lisa Hayes - who’s done two tours of duty in Iraq, a total of 16 months - was, until late yesterday, facingprison time, desertion charges and/or dishonorable discharge because she refused to return to Iraq before settling a custody fight over her daughter Brystal, 7.
[. . .]
"I feel utterly betrayed by the U.S. Military," says Karen Jeffries. She's been like a mother to Lisa Hayes, who has no family of her own. "They always talk about how the children of the troops will be their first priority. And look what’s happened."
Lisa's has been a difficult life, says Jeffries. She was in foster care as a teenager when authorities suspected physical abuse. She found out about her biological father's death when somebody told her "in a grocery store."
After a brief marriage to and divorce from Brystal's father, Lisa Hayes determined "to educate herself and become a professional to care for Brystal the best she could," said Jeffries. When the money ran out, like so many others, she enlisted because the service would help her complete her education.
But within months, Lisa Hayes was in Iraq, her little girl in the custody of her ex-husband. Then this winter, after weeks of trying and failing to reach Brystal or her father, Hayes learned of brawls at her ex-husband's home. The Concord Monitor reported Sunday that the father claimed his live-in girlfriend struck him with a phone, knocked him to the ground, duct-taped his wrists together, then slammed his head into the ground. A court later ruled that leaving Brystal there "would pose an impermissible risk."
Quick note. Some are having trouble with entries being displayed. I don't know what to say on that. There was a snapshot yesterday as well as two brief entries last night. If those aren't showing up, go to the mirror site (where I'll cross-post as soon as this goes up).
Finally, Marcia notes John Catalinotto's "USMC retreats on bad discharge" (Workers World):
The U.S. Marine Corps launched another offensive this May--this one not a landing on some foreign beach but a legal attack on its own anti-war Iraq veterans. Given the results of the first skirmish in Kansas City, Mo., on June 4, the USMC already seems to be deciding that it might retreat rather than find itself fighting another losing battle with a popular army.
Instead of deciding on a less-than-honorable discharge for PFC Adam Kokesh, a board of three Marine officers admitted that military rules shouldn't apply to members of its Inactive Ready Reserve and recommended a "general discharge," barely a punishment. Kokesh will still appeal to get his honorable discharge restored.
The hearing arose following an action by a group of about a dozen members of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), who performed street theater in a few cities to bring the war home. Dressed not in complete official uniforms, but in outfits resembling uniforms, they acted out the kind of roundups of the civilian population that occur daily in Iraq. Anti-war activists played the role of Iraqi civilians.
It caused quite an uproar to see Marines pushing civilians down on the street, covering their heads with bags, terrorizing them. Someone in the Pentagon must have disliked having it known that Marines in Iraq were acting like Nazi SS troops did in occupied Poland in 1942. The officers decided to take steps to try to stop the veterans from exercising their right to free speech. (See www.ivaw.org for more information and videos.)
Brass try to stop street theater
The USMC brought charges against Kokesh, and charges are pending against Staff Sgt. Liam Madden and Cpl. Cloy Richards, in effect, for speaking out against the war.
While the charges cannot lead to imprisonment, getting a less-than-honorable discharge has serious consequences. Since Richards is disabled, he would lose monthly disability payments and also could lose the free medical care now available to him. The troops could also lose or even be forced to repay educational benefits.
If the Marine Corps succeeds in enforcing less-than-honorable discharges, it could intimidate other veterans. But bringing charges like these in a broadly anti-war atmosphere can also boomerang on the brass.
One surprising result of the Marines' charges is that the Veterans of Foreign Wars, a veterans' group that almost always backs U.S. government policy, made a statement supporting the Marine veterans' right to speech and to protest. This VFW position is a sign of widespread disgust with the Iraq experience, even though the VFW says it backs the war.
The veterans involved acted more angry than intimidated. They went on a special bus covered with anti-war slogans--called the Yellow Rose of Texas Bus for Peace--from Washington to Kansas City from June 1 to 3 and gave interviews to the media all along the way. At each stop they drew more attention to the existence of a solid group of anti-war Iraq veterans. They also said that the Marines who are still on active duty and still in Iraq support them.
Madden, who received an honorable discharge from active duty Jan. 20, was a co-initiator of the "Appeal for Redress" and is known among aware GIs. The "appeal" effectively calls for a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. Issued first last Oct. 23, it is now signed by nearly 2,000 active-duty troops--60 percent of whom have spent at least one tour of duty in Iraq.
Call for defense committee
Navy Petty Officer Jonathan Hutto, who initiated the appeal with Madden and is now chairperson of the Appeal for Redress Task Force, sent out a statement to active duty troops on May 31 calling for the formation of a defense committee of active-duty troops and National Guard for "Madden and all those within the ranks who face reprisal and/or retaliation from the brass anywhere in the world for speaking out against an unjust war."
The statement notes that the "disloyal statement" Madden is charged with making stems from his saying on a college campus that the U.S. has committed "war crimes" in Iraq.
"Madden maintains he could never be disloyal being he served on the ground in Iraq for seven months and served his country for five years. Furthermore, Madden maintains if the uniform can be worn for imperialist adventures, surely it can be worn for peace and justice," wrote Hutto.
Besides spreading publicity and raising money to support Madden and others, a goal of the defense committee will be to "mobilize a grass-roots movement from the bottom-up calling for an end to retaliation/reprisals, an end to the Iraq War and democracy within the ranks." (www.appealforredress.org)
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