Wednesday, June 27, 2007

"Ex-Marine is offered deal" (Bob Audette)

Former Marine Liam Madden is not going quietly into the night, fading away like an old soldier.
He has been threatened with an "other than honorable discharge" from the Individual Ready Reserves for wearing a uniform during a political protest and for "making disloyal statements" at a speech in New York City.

[. . .]
Madden, who spent seven months in Iraq, said he will agree to stop wearing the uniform at protests if the Marine Corps puts in writing "that my statements are neither disloyal nor inaccurate." They are telling him, he said, that he shouldn't say anything that puts the Marine
Corps or the war in Iraq in a negative light.
"And I can't agree to do that," said Madden, who talked with the Reformer by mobile phone from North Carolina. Madden and other war veterans are visiting military communities on the East Coast, talking with active duty members and their families about why they oppose the war. "The reception has been great," said Madden. "They appreciate what we are doing," he said, in part because they are all veterans and not "armchair protestors" who have never served in the military. "We're just regular guys."

The above is from Bob Audette's "Ex-Marine is offered deal" (Brattleboro Reformer). Liam Madden, Cloy Richards and Adam Kokesh are veterans who have served in Iraq and are now members of Iraq Veterans Against the War. The visiting of bases is part of a summer base tour that goes to Camp Lejune in Jacksonville, NC today at 7:00 pm and follows with: Fort Jackson in Columbia, South Carolina on June 18th 7:00 pm; the US Social Forum in Atlanta, GA on June 30th at 7:00 pm; Fort Benning in Columbus, GA on July 1st at 7:00 pm; a fundraiser in Philadelphia on June 3rd at 6:00 pm; a fundraiser in NYC on July 5th at 7:00 pm; the Naval Sub Marine Base in Groton, CT on July 6th at 7:00 pm; and concluding at Fort Drum in NY on July 8th at 4:00 pm. Madden, Richards and Kokesh have been targeted by the military brass in an attempt to silence them. On that topic, from the Charleston Gazette's "Vets against war: Threatened by Pentagon:"

Reducing Kokesh’s discharge to “other than honorable” could threaten his education, health and other benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs. After a hearing in Kansas City last week, Marine Lt. Gen. John Bergman recommended that Kokesh get a “general discharge under honorable conditions.” It was still a penalty, but Kokesh could keep his veteran’s benefits.
Kokesh, now a master’s degree student at George Washington University, is appealing the ruling. “We can’t drop this,” he said. “The Marine Corps got away with something in this case.”
Kokesh plans to keep the public updated using his own Internet site, on which he describes himself as “a proud veteran and member of Iraq Veterans Against the War.”
Commenting on Kokesh and other anti-war veterans, Kurpius said, “These Marines went to war, did their duty, and were honorably discharged from the active roles. I may disagree with their message, but I will always defend their right to say it.”
Kokesh and Kurpius both merit praise for defending free speech as guaranteed in America’s Bill of Rights.

Kurplius is Gary Kurpius who heads the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW). Turning to the New York Times and focusing on the Iraqi Parliament, this is from Richard A. Oppel Jr.'s "Raid on Top Sunni Official Adds to Iraqi Internal Feuding:"

Iraqi forces raided the home of Culture Minister Asad al-Hashimi early Tuesday after an arrest warrant accused him of masterminding the 2005 attempted assassination of Mithal al-Alusi, now a member of Parliament who was once a top aide to Ahmad Chalabi.
The raid represented the latest difficulty in efforts to reconcile the dominant Shiite and Kurdish factions, who control the government, with Sunni politicians like Mr. Hashimi who say they are being marginalized and singled out. Mr. Hashimi was in hiding after the raid, and his party called the charges a trumped-up attempt to discredit a Sunni leader.

And on the same topic, Lloyd notes John Ward Anderson's "Iraqi Minister Sought in Assassination Attempt" (Washington Post):

Iraqi law enforcement officials stretched a dragnet over the Green Zone and other parts of the capital Tuesday, seeking to arrest the country's culture minister in connection with an attempted political assassination two years ago in which three people were killed, Iraqi officials said.
Government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said an arrest warrant had been issued for Culture Minister Asad Kamal al-Hashimi in the February 2005 attempted assassination of Mithal al-Alusi, a newly elected independent member of parliament who had been harshly criticized by many politicians here after he visited Israel in 2004. Alusi was not injured in the attack, but two sons, Ayman, 22, and Jamal, 30, were killed, as was a bodyguard.

[. . .]
Sunni political groups Tuesday criticized the warrant against Hashimi, saying it was an attempt by the Shiite-led government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to exclude Sunni politicians from the political process.
A statement by Hashimi's party, the Iraqi Accordance Front, the largest Sunni bloc in parliament, said two gunmen involved in the attack had been tortured into falsely implicating Hashimi. The minister, in a telephone interview with the al-Jazeera satellite television network, said the case was "fabricated" to damage his party and "to run us out of the country."

One indicator on what's actually happening would be when the warrant was issued. As with other high profile warrants, does this date back many years and, if so, has it just been acted upon now?

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