Having received an honorable discharge from active duty, former Marine Sgt. Adam Kokesh thought he could once again partake in all the privileges of civilian life, namely free speech. So Mr. Kokesh, who'd served one tour of duty in Fallujah with a civil affairs unit, became active in the antiwar movement.
There was one problem, though: Kokesh wasn't technically out of the military. He was still part of the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR), a gray area of military service where personnel are neither active duty nor entirely civilians. So when Marine Corps officials noticed pictures in The Washington Post of Kokesh protesting while wearing pieces of his uniform --– OK for civilians, not for anyone in the military -- they took disciplinary action. On Monday, the Corps recommended a downgrade of Kokesh's honorable discharge to a general discharge.
That probably won't affect his veterans' benefits. But two other marines in the IRR face similar charges and risk losing their veterans' benefits, such as healthcare and money for education.
The three marines' situation has raised questions about when military personnel officially become civilians entitled to free speech and all the other rights that Americans outside the service enjoy. Additionally, legal experts have accused Marine Corps officials of overstepping boundaries and have questioned their motives.
Although veterans have donned parts of their uniforms while protesting other wars, it is extremely rare, perhaps unprecedented, to be punished for doing so. A brigadier general is scheduled to decide Kokesh's case Friday.
The above is from Tom A. Peter's "For US military veterans, a free-speech dispute" (Christian Science Monitor). Adam Kokesh's case is playing out in the press (still) as if it's the same as Cloy Richards and Liam Madden's and it's not. It is in that they are all be targeted. But what Kokesh participated in was street theater and the Supreme Court ruled on this in 1970 but try to find any of our press, big or small, who will address that. Now when I took constitutional law, we were told these Supreme Cases were important but, of course, journalists rarely take constitutional law. They learn how to grab a list of facts and write an insta-article. So for those visitors who feel I've been so hard on the media this week, they've earned it. (And you should probably skip this site on July 4th and Labor Day -- both of which will contain media posts that will upset the delicate sensibilities of some.) As for the ding bats who've been writing (whose legal basis seems to be a high school civics class they apparently slept through) . . .
Let's reply to one of the many here.
Please take into account the Supreme Court ruled in 1970 that the US military had NO say over theater productions and Justice Hugo Black specifically noted that included street theater.
Please take into account that whether or not "you" do not put your 'military family' down, he did not attack the military.
Please take into account fatigues are not uniforms and -- if indeed you are a military member -- you're quite aware of that.
Please take into account that your suggestion that 'uniforms' must be taken off when voicing an opinion against the illegal war but they can be worn to demonstrate 'support' for the country is laughable. Supporting an illegal war is advocacy and doesn't sound 'patriotic.' It does sound pathetic and stupid. Kokesh believes firmly the war is illegal; therefore, it is his duty to speak out and speaking out is an act of patriotism. You appear to have confused a democracy with a totalitarian state revolving around a cult of personality leader.
When he and other members of Iraq Veterans Against the War speak out, they are still doing 'their duty' both as American citizens and as veterans. If everyone who knew the war was wrong would use their own voices, the illegal war would be over. Instead?
They're just there to try and make the people free,
But the way that they're doing it, it don't seem like that to me.
Just more blood-letting and misery and tears
That this poor country's known for the last twenty years,
And the war drags on.
-- words and lyrics by Mick Softly (available on Donovan's Fairytale)
Last Thursday, the American military fatality count in Iraq, since the start of the illegal war, stood at 3475 (ICCC). Tonight? 3504. How much lower would the number be if everyone used their voices to speak out against the war? How many more will die because too many are afraid to use their voices or because too many treat the illegal war as an after thought?
The snapshot today resulted in the same visitor who supports Barack Obama e-mailing to complain. Here's some reality. Everyone running is evaluated on Iraq alone -- I didn't slam the laughable health care plan Obama's offered. Obama can be slammed when he's wrong. This is the visitor who felt I was unfair to Obama. I'd avoided mentioning him here at all while I considered that. That meant not highlighting some fine writing at Black Agenda Report. Too bad, he gets the same treatment as any other politician.
In the debate Sunday, he made a point to tell John Edwards that he (Edwards) was four years later. (See Wally's "THIS JUST IN! BULLY BOY TALKING POINTS NOT GOING TO FLY IN 2008!" and Cedric's "Obama and Clinton get their clocks cleaned" from today, by the way.) That's interesting if you want to examine it. Forget that Obama's done nothing in the Senate since elected for one minute, Obama wants credit for speaking out against the war in 2003 and for some of 2004. Now, in 2007, he wants to run for president. Where is his plan for Iraq?
If someone knew the war was wrong in 2003 and they are a politician, shouldn't they be proposing a detailed plan? Dennis Kucinich has one. Where's Barack Obama's plan? He wants to be president. He thinks he's seasoned and experienced enough. He told John Edwards he was 'four and a half years too late' on Sunday. Well, where's Obama's plan? Mike Gravel has a plan. Where's Obama's? Chris Dodd and Bill Richardson have plans. Where's Obama's? Seems if you're going to call someone else late to the party, you might need to have your own homework done.
And Joe Biden? He's calling for a primary debate on the topic of Iraq:
Following the announcement yesterday by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) of six sanctioned Presidential Debates, Senator Joe Biden called on all four participating network news Presidents to organize one 90-minute debate focused solely on ending the War in Iraq. Biden also asked DNC Chairman Howard Dean to join him in his efforts.
Click here to find the petition and add your voice to the debate.
The American people want to understand our plans for ending the Iraq war, and numerous news outlets all agree that Iraq is the defining issue of the upcoming Presidential election. As such, the Concord Monitor argued that, "Joe Biden is absolutely right about one thing: 60 seconds is not enough time to debate the future of Iraq. He's called for a 90-minute debate on that one topic alone. The other candidates for president should sign on to the idea and find a television network willing to give them the airtime." [Concord Monitor, 5/2/07] Des Moines Regiser columnist David Yepsen also endorsed a debate on Iraq. Yepsen said that a debate should be held "on Iraq and the U.S. role in the world." [Des Moines Register, 5/8/07]
This community despises Barack Obama so no votes are lost by any of my comments. Gina, Betty and Kendrick have been much more vocal (and on the money) than anything I've stated here. And if that's confusing to the Obama lover, he might try leaving behind the 'boy wonder' press and asking himself questions. Obama continues to utilize the 'red' and 'blue' state lie even though he called it out in 2004. He has a transportation 'plan' that reveals he knows nothing about the country. Not having the money for public transportation fees is a problem . . . if you have public transportation. Time and again, he demonstrates how empty and thought free his slogans are. Instead of whining to me about how you love Barack Obama, you might try demanding from your candidate that he do some serious work.
And hype's not going to win a general election. If he's serious, he needs to get serious. And these people who say, "Remember Reagan's rule!" Reagan's rule came into being when he was a Republican. I know some on the left and 'left' think they need to ape the right, but I don't. And I don't think anyone calling out the flaws in Democratic candidates is doing a disservice. The primaries should be tough. There's this stupid idea put forward by those whose 'history' begins in 1992 that an easy, breezy primary is the best thing and anything else means that the Republicans will draw their knives. Based on what? Not reality. The Republicans draw the knives anyway. Better for candidates to address issues now then to go through another August 2004 Swiftboating where a candidate's never been tested on that issue and his 'team' tells him to sit it out. More importantly, my only goal is to be honest. I'm not a Party Hack.
And if you think about the Party Hack's and how they sold out the peace movement in March, you'll realize that the last thing we need is more Party Hacks. If a trinagulator ends up in the White House, Party Hacks will tell you (as they did in March) that they are realistic and this is the best we can get and blah blah blah. Whomever ends up in the White House needs to hear from the American people. And the people don't need to be confronted with a team of Party Hacks acting as bouncers. If Hillary Clinton were to win, for instance, pressure would need to be applied constantly.
Barack Obama thinks NPR is the far left (or think that's what to write in a book to win voters). That should bother everyone. And the fact that he wants credit for speaking out (actually wants credit for speaking out as early as 2002) but has yet to provide any leadership or plan of significance on the issue of Iraq, that he repeats the lie that Congress had to approve the supplemental because the money would go to the soldiers (if he really believes that lie, then maybe he should have voted for it?), should bother everyone.
While the likes of Patty Williams talks him up ("Harvard Law Review!"), the reality is Latino voters (a key block of voters) are very aware that he supported the nonsense wall being built currently. His sole Iraq legislation borrowed heavily from the centrist-right-leaning James Baker Circle Jerk. Which should remind people that he had to ask that the DLC remove his name from their rolls in 2004. His book, if you can get beyond the gushy slogans, reads like the work of a centrist and there's the fact that his opponents in elections always seem to have skeletons in their closets (or the appearence of them) that just happen to pop out when Obama's trailing badly. He's a dirty campaigner with no Democratic plan for ending the illegal war (let alone a left plan). That's reality and Patty Williams can gush all she wants and make a fool of herself endlessly (apparently some things can't be helped) but he's untested, he lacks experience and he's shown no bold vision. When you factor all of that in, it's no surprise the mainstream media crowned him as a front runner. (And, for the record, when someone goes after Michelle Obama's business practices, he has no right to cry foul after he's benefitted from charges of domestic abuse or unsealed court records of his opponents which humiliated not only the opposing candidates, but the families.)
If he wants to get serious about Iraq (which would require that he stop attempting the centrist route -- which is what he does when he speaks to the Council of Foreign [Business] Relations or writes for their periodical), he'll be noted for that here. More than likely, he won't get serious. It would mean giving up his 'front runner' status. The media crowned him for a reason and it wasn't because he was the "Great Left Hope."
Liam Madden held a press conference today and I write about that in tomorrow's gina & krista round-robin. Turning to another person speaking up and being slammed for it, Camilo Mejia was the subject of a trashy article by New Times and it's resulted in two letters being printed which Rob noted:
Regarding "Hero or Coward" (May 3) by Francisco Alvarado: Is Camilo Mejia a coward? Three letter-writers in the past two weeks (and who knows how many readers) have said yes. They can't read his mind. And they cite no empirical evidence (such as quotes about pants-sh*tting), so for them, refusal to fight must mean cowardice.
I ask them to do a thought experiment: Sergeant Schultz of the Nazi German army in, say, Lithuania in 1944, decides he can no longer kill and invade and occupy. He deserts and goes back to Munich. Is he a coward or a hero? Or (more difficult) to whom is he hero, and to whom is he a coward? Most of us here in Miami would say he's a hero.
If you believe that the Iraq war is illegal and immoral (as I do), you consider Camilo a hero. If you believe the Iraq war is good and just, you must allow for Camilo to consider otherwise, and allow him to follow his conscience.
Cowardice is not the issue here. Sometimes it takes more courage to say, "Sir, no sir," than to go along with the program.
Eric Smith Miami
The "Hero or coward?" question New Times posed is bunk. The Broward edition of New Times doesn't publish "Get Your War On" -- does that make you heroes or cowards? The real coward keeps his mouth shut and pumps an RPG into residential windows upon command from brain-dead, backwoods sergeants and then pisses on the resultant corpses in foreign lands, as Marines did recently in Haditha, Iraq. Anyone who waddles through basic training holding an M-16 without visualizing the exit wound its projectile would make coming out the back of mommy's head is a mental derelict. Is Mejia a coward for road-testing lethal weapons for three years and then using them in Iraq on random humans, choosing to stay in bed instead of report back for more? Who cares!? Army Regulation 635-20, Conscientious Objection as Soldier, was written for those of us who resisted the call to murder when the light bulb went on after strafing grass huts in the Mekong. Leave Combat16Romeo and others like him to measure their morality and courage by standards of military industrial bloodletting; Camilo Mejia and others willing to do prison for their beliefs have guts. It's always easier to keep your mouth shut and pull the trigger; otherwise you become the target.
Robert Dollar Kendall
Lastly, Marci notes this from CODEPINK:
Can you imagine being afraid to leave your home because of the very real threat of attack--whether by bomb or bullet or stone? This is a fear, a threat, Iraqi women have to live with every single day.
In April 2006, CODEPINK released Iraqi Women Under Siege, a detailed report on the status of Iraqi women. In it, we describe the serious deterioration of women's rights since the U.S. invasion. We explore how the high level of violence in Iraq has constrained women's lives and limited their options, leaving them and their families to grapple with the traumatic impact of war both physically and psychologically.
We also produced a video based on our sponsorship of a tour of Iraqi women to the United States, Women Say NO to War: Iraqi and American Women Speak Out. You can order it here.
Unfortunately, since we produced these materials, the situation of Iraqi women has gotten dramatically worse. A recent Reuters article documents how sectarian violence is forcing Iraqi women from their jobs and into arranged marriages. We receive heartbreaking letters from our friends in Iraq on a regular basis. Here is an excerpt from one we received a week ago:
Our country before the war in 2003 was beautiful, clean, shiny, full of historic monuments and huge universities. The streets were full of people working, visiting friends and families, drinking tea until very late at night.
Our country was full of colors. Today the only colors are red and dark, red by the blood and dark by the smoke of bombs and cars burning.
We are ready to clean our country, we are ready to rebuild our country with our hands, we are ready to forget that our petrol and our history were stolen. All we ask for is security. Is it so much to ask for?
Unfortunately, security is almost impossible to come by for Iraqi women. In the Kurdish north, the part of the country insulated from most of the violence, the situation of women has reached new lows. Du'a Khalil Aswad, a 17 year old from the town of Bashiqa, in Iraqi Kurdistan, was stoned to death on April 7, 2007. She came from a family of Yazidi faith, and was snatched from her home by Yazidi men who had discovered that she was in love with a Muslim Arab man and had visited him. In front of hundreds of people, including local police, they dragged her to the center of town and stoned her to death. Townspeople watched and even filmed this barbaric act. You can see a portion of the tape here (viewer discretion is STRONGLY advised). The killers, obviously well known in the community, are still free.
We have created a petition which demands that the Iraqi Government and Kurdistan Regional Government condemn this brutal act and bring the killers to justice and that they outlaw honor killings, as well as all violence and oppression of women. You can sign it here.
We will deliver this petition to the Iraqi Embassy and Kurdish Representatives in Washington, DC. Together we can raise our voices to help our sisters in Iraq.
For further information about the status of Iraqi women, and to learn how women in Iraq are organizing to fight for their own rights, please visit the website of the Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq.
With outrage and compassion,Dana, Desiree, Farida, Gael, Gayle, Jodie, Karin, Libby, Medea, Nancy, Patricia, Rae and Samantha
P.S. On the home front, we need to continue to pressure Congress to end the war and bring our troops home. Sign up to join our Phone-A-Thon this summer and give your community an easy way to speak out against war. For more information, click here.
The e-mail address for this site is firstname.lastname@example.org.
and the war drags on
iraq veterans against the war
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