Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Press Release - Adam Kokesh Rejects Marines' Plea Bargain

For Immediate Release:

May 29, 2007

For Further Information Contact:

Adam Kokesh ###-###-####

Kevin Zeese 301-996-6582

In Unprecedented Prosecution Former Marine Adam Kokesh Rejects Plea Bargain

Fights to Protect Free Speech Rights of Vets

Washington, DC: Former Marine Sergeant Adam Kokesh is embroiled in a conflict that could have major implications for the free speech rights of veterans especially recent Vets who are in the Inactive Ready Reserve. Kokesh is facing an administrative hearing for his anti-war activities but recognizing the high stakes the military has offered a plea bargain. In response, Kokesh rejected the offer saying it risks the “free speech rights” of vets and “allow you to silence the voices of those whose experiences are most relevant in the most pressing debate before the nation.” Below this release is his letter to Captain Sibert and Brigadier General Moore, who is the convening authority for the hearing.

This Friday at 5:00 PM at Union Station Kokesh will be participating in a press conference when he departs to Kansas City, MO for the hearing which is scheduled for June 4th at the Marine Mobilization Command. Adam Kokesh, his attorney, and his witnesses, will be taking the Yellow Rose of Texas Peace Bus from DC to Kansas City.

Adam Kokesh was deployed to Fallujah and received an honorable discharge last November. Since then, he has become active with the national organization, Iraq Veterans Against the War. After participating in Operation First Casualty, a demonstration at which he wore parts of his utility uniform, he received a warning from Major Whyte, an active duty Marine Corps Major who had been assigned to investigate the incident. After replying with a strongly worded email, the Marine Corps decided to prosecute him and separate him from the IRR with an Other Than Honorable Discharge. He could have ignored the letter of notification, but instead chose to exercise his right to challenge the decision in a hearing.

The implications of this hearing may be far reaching, as the prosecution of a member of the inactive reserves under these circumstances is unprecedented. At stake is the right of freedom of speech for the hundreds of thousands of members of the Inactive Ready Reserve, as well as the nation’s right to get the unbiased truth out of Iraq. Last week, the prosecuting attorney, Captain Sibert, offered Kokesh a general discharge. To accept this would be to allow the Marines to say that members of the IRR do not have freedom of speech, so naturally, he declined.

The hearing will be held on June 4, at the Marine Corps Mobilization Command in Kansas City, MO. Kokesh requested the hearing be held closer to Washington, DC, his current residence and a much more convenient location for the witnesses to the event in question, which happened in Washington, but was denied. He has the right to call witnesses, but has to provide for their transportation.

Adam Kokesh is represented by Mike Lebowitz and Eric Seitz. Mike Lebowitz is a combat veteran of Iraq, having been deployed in 2005-2006 as a paratrooper in the Pathfinder Company of the 101st Airborne Division. Lebowitz currently serves part-time as a JAG officer in the National Guard. He also is an attorney at the Washington, DC-based intellectual property law firm of Greenberg & Lieberman. Mike practices media law, First Amendment and military expression. He previously worked as a journalist and consultant in places such as East Africa and the Middle East. Ph: 202-625-7000, Fx: 202-625-7001, cell: 571-251-1490. Eric Seitz is an attorney engaged in private practice in Honolulu, Hawaii emphasizing civil rights, criminal defense, and military law. Mr. Seitz graduated from Oberlin College in 1966 and received his law degree from Boalt Hall (University of California at Berkeley) in 1969. Among the thousands of military cases in which he has participated Mr. Seitz represented Navy FN Patrick Chenoweth who was acquitted in a general court-martial of sabotage in time of war, Marine Cpl. Jeff Paterson who was the first service member to refuse to deploy during the first Gulf War, and most recently Army 1st Lt. Ehren Watada who refused to deploy to Iraq.

# # #

Dear Captain Sibert and Brigadier General Moore,

As an esteemed US Attorney and a General, you both must have a sense of the potential significance of my separation hearing. The prosecution of a member of the inactive reserve under these circumstances is unprecedented. As citizens, we all have a right to freedom of speech. In the Marines, we often joke that you signed away that freedom, and I understand the necessity for certain restrictions while on active duty. But those who have risked their lives to defend the rights of all Americans have a special claim to those rights when they have completed their service. Is the Marine Corps attempting to strip away those rights from the hundreds of thousands in the inactive reserves?

Maybe that’s not the case. Perhaps I am being singled out because I have become a vocal opponent of the war. Maybe Brigadier General Darrell L. Moore just got upset when he saw a picture of a Marine in the paper disagreeing with him. Maybe that’s when he decided to order Colonel Steve Brown, Deputy Commander of the Mobilization Command to recommend that I be separated with an Other Than Honorable Discharge. Maybe he thought that I would be intimidated by the long letter, the official letterhead, and the threats in official Marine Corps terminology. Maybe he thought that I would just ignore it, and let the Marines “paper-f***” me behind my back. Maybe I would shut up for a while. But let me tell you, you messed with the wrong veteran.

While there may be some purpose of this prosecution in order to maintain the, “good order and discipline” of the inactive reserve, it is clear by its prejudice that it is intended to silence the voices of dissent. Thousands of taxpayers’ dollars are being spent on this case. I love the Marine Corps, and to see it abused for political ends makes me sick. You should all be ashamed to call yourselves Marines.

I joined the Marines out of patriotism. I said that when I enlisted in 1999, before it was cool, and even wrote it as my reason on the form I filled out at the Military Entrance Processing Station. As Thomas Jefferson said, “Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.” Now that I am out of the Marines, I am continuing my patriotic duty by speaking out. It is Marines like you, Brigadier General Moore, and Colonel Brown, who are preventing the American public from hearing the truth about Iraq by intimidating those who would disagree with you from speaking out. If the policies that you support are so righteous, why are you afraid of the truth?

If I accept this “plea bargain,” I would have to allow you to punish me for speaking my mind, allow you to say that it is somehow less than honorable for thousands of IRR Marines to exercise their freedom of speech, allow you to silence the voices of those whose experiences are most relevant in the most pressing debate before the nation, and allow you to say that Thomas Jefferson was wrong. If this is your intent, I would ask to please, kindly, go f*** yourself. I will not allow it.

Semper Fi,

Adam Kokesh, PFC

Proud F***ing Civilian

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Legal Case Update: WE GOT A BUS!!!

When I told Brigadier General Moore that I would not roll over and accept an Other Than Honorable Discharge without a hearing, I requested that it be held close to DC because that’s where most of my witnesses and I live. But that request was denied and the hearing will be held at 8am on Monday, June 4 in Kansas City. While the Marine Corps was willing to fly me out for the hearing, there was nothing they would do to help get my witnesses there.

Enter Jim Goodnow. Jim is a member of Veterans For Peace and proud owner of the Yellow Rose of Texas Bus for Peace. He has graciously volunteered his bus and his time to drive myself, and my witnesses all the way to Kansas City from Washington, DC.

We will be leaving from Union Station at 6pm this Friday, driving to Columbus, then from Columbus to Kansas City on Saturday. We will be having a send-off press conference in front of Union Station at 5pm, and you are all welcome to attend, even those of you who are only reading this blog to get me in more trouble.

My attorney has just informed me that the Marines plan to use posts on my blog against me at my separation hearing. So, a quick message to those of you who are wasting government time and resources to spy on me: go fuck yourselves. I was very reluctant to start a blog after hearing the statistics that there are a bazillion new blogs and ten bazillion new blog posts every day. If everyone in the blogosphere is so busy posting this crap, who the hell is reading it? At least someone is reading this blog.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Last Action in Ansbach/The Stand Off

The IVAW German Expeditionary Team left Berlin Wednesday morning for Ansbach. After a harrowing run-in with autobahn traffic, we pulled up to the base at Katterbach just in time for the demonstration being hosted by the Ansbach Peace Coalition and the Ansbach Appeal. Reverend Hansjörg Meyer began with a speech, and I followed:

My fellow Americans,

My name is Adam Kokesh and I am a veteran of the occupation of Iraq. I served in Fallujah from February to September of 2004 with a Marine Corps Civil Affairs Team.

America is in a state of crisis. We are fighting a supposed war on the other side of the world, and there is no end in sight. It is draining our country of the financial resources to address the problems that face us at home and draining the lives and youths of Americas best and brightest. You are all patriots for putting on the uniform you wear today. I once wore such a uniform with great pride myself.

As Thomas Jefferson said, “Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.” That is why we are here today representing Iraq Veterans Against the War. I can only ask you to think for yourselves. As you prepare to deploy, I know that you are struggling with the reasons and rationalizations for our presence in Iraq. When I was there, I told myself, “At least we’re keeping the fight off American soil.” But for every insurgent we kill, there are two to kill the next day. We are making more enemies than we can count.

As patriots and citizens of the United States, you have certain rights, but with those rights come responsibilities. Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom. We must be vigilant to threats from within as well as from abroad. Ask yourself, where is the greater threat coming from? As General George Washington said, “When we assumed the Soldier, we did not lay aside the Citizen.”

I would not ask anyone to desert lightly, and I do not do so here today. I only ask that you ensure your actions are commensurate with your responsibilities as a United States citizen and patriot. Know your rights, explore your options. Learn what it means to be a conscientious objector. Succeed where I have failed. Should you choose to desert, the people of Ansbach will support you. It is not without great courage and consideration that they extend this offer. I hope you can appreciate that.

On behalf of Iraq Veterans Against the War, thank you for listening with an open mind.

Then Thomas Cassidy, Jeff Englehart, and Chris Capps spoke. Chris told the story of his recent desertion. Then while Darnell Summers was speaking, and very effectively interacting with the troops passing by, Chris got in some trouble. Here is the story in his words:

I wasn't feeling that good after the long ride down to Ansbach so I gave a small speech. I just told my story of how I deserted. I knew Darnell had gotten a large reaction for quoting me and calling for soldiers to desert so it wasn't a giant surprise to me that I got a reaction from the "authorities" as well. First a uniformed polizei came up to me in the middle of the crowd and asked for my identification. He said, "The Army is looking for a Man named Capps but I don't think its you." He said they had a picture of this Chris Capps and it didn't look like me. At the point I decided to get the fuck out of there. The polizei wasn’t telling me to stay there or trying to detain me or anything so Meike and I walked to the van. People in civilian clothes and MP's followed us to the van. I got into the van but before Meike got into the van she was stopped by one f the people in civilian clothes. They lifted up their shirt to reveal a badge on their belt; they explained to Meike they were criminal polizei. The MP's then walked up to us and asked for my ID. I claimed I didn't have my military ID and handed them my passport. The CSM in charge of the MP's asked me if I was a marine (???????) and looked at a picture in his hand and compared it to me on my ID. I tried to pass off my military ID to Meike's back pocket but one of the polizei saw me and took my military ID. I thought they were getting ready to take me into custody on the spot but I heard them talking about the protest and at that point Michael Sharp from the Military Counseling Network showed up. Its is very easy to mistake Michael Sharp for a lawyer the way he acts and then cameras from the press started showing up and taking pictures. I knew my odds had just gone up then. The polizei started hassling the camera people and the MP CSM was on the phone trying to call up a patrol car to come pick me up. I told them that I was on leave until I was processed out of the army. Technically I am still under the MP's jurisdiction and they still could have taken me into custody, but then I told a young E-5 mp that I was on leave. He immediately asked to see my leave form, which I provided. He showed it to the CSM, they talked for a little while and analyzed the situation and then realized there was no just reason to detain me and that detaining me in front of what they thought was a lawyer, press, cameramen, and a protest would not be a good situation.

After that incident, I had noticed some soldiers gathering by the gate on the inside, and I decided that I would see if I could still get on base with my military ID to talk to them. I walked up to the gate and handed the private security guard my ID and driver’s license. He gave them back to me, and said to wait, then exchanged a few words in German with another guard, who said something about not letting me on. Then the first guard asked to see my IDs again. I said, “That’s OK. If you’re not going to let me on, why should I show them to you?” Then one of the MPs got involved and asked to see my military ID. I told him that I didn’t trust him, but I would hold it where he could see it. Then he asked to have it again. “Look, Sergeant, I don’t trust you. Is that too hard to understand? You can see my ID just fine without touching it.” “OK, can I see the back?” I flashed him the back and he got a call on his cell phone. “What? Did you need to get my social security number?” Then he said to no one in particular, “It’s OK, we’ve already got his social.”

The second guard emerged from the guard shack holding a small piece of paper and held it up in front of me. He said, “Yes, it’s him,” in German. I said, “Was ist das? Warum habst du das photo? Ist das mir in das photo?” “What is that? Why do you have that photo? Is that me in that photo?” He ignored me, so I said, “Was ist los? Kannst du sprachen?” “What’s wrong, can’t you talk?”

I chatted with the PFC who had the misfortune of being at the gate that afternoon, and had a nice conversation about living on the east coast. All the while, his Sergeant was there on the phone. Eventually the Polizei came up to me and told me that I wasn’t going to be allowed on base and they would arrest me if I went on base. I told them I was cool just hanging out at the gate, and so I did, just chatting with soldiers as they went by.

Later that night we had our send-off BBQ at Bernard’s house, and I must say, Germans grilling put American BBQs to shame. When we were finally able to tear everyone away, the students we had met with from the SDP presented us with some beautiful IVAW key chains that they had made for us. Then we were finally able to give Yana the time for her interview, which went until two in the morning. Then it was back to Flachi’s to get an hour’s sleep before catching the train to Frankfurt for the flight home. But that was just for Jeff and I. Tom had decided to stay in Germany until the G8. He doesn’t have any money, or a job, but he has lots of friends in Ansbach.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Late Update From Ansbach

After the march on the 19th, I went to the internet café to write my post about the day’s activities. The name of the place was, “Ali-Baba Internet Café.” I shit you not. The woman behind the counter did not look particularly Arabic, but was wearing a hijab. It just so happened that her English was a lot better than my German, but I thought it might be presumptuous to speak in Arabic. She gave me a number and I sat down in my assigned slot.

While browsing after taking care of business, I overheard two men speaking Arabic behind me. I leaned back in my chair and when their conversation ended, introduced myself in Arabic. I explained that I had worked in Civil Affairs and so on, and he told me that he was from Baghdad. This whole time I’ve been trying to revive my German, and Arabic words come to mind when the German words escape me, but suddenly the opposite was the case. We ended up having a crazy tri-lingual conversation, but he made a really interesting point that I had never considered about Iraq.

He said that the sectarian violence was a new phenomenon, to which I objected, “No, it’s thousands of years old.” But he meant in recent history. He said that there had been no sectarian violence under Saddam (except by the government of course) and none in the years before Saddam came to power. His theory about the sectarian violence is that it came out of the racial balance requirements by the US government for the interim Iraqi government. He said these criteria made Iraqis think that they had to compete on racist terms. Now, he has family in Iraq, but hasn’t been there for ten years so he might not be the best-informed Iraqi, but it’s an interesting theory to consider.

The next day we all had our big interviews with Nightline. Look for them to do an eight-minute segment on the IVAW German Expeditionary Team. In the evening, we attended the Memorial for Iraq War Victims in Burgerpark, followed by a religious service led by Reverend Hansjörg Meyer. The theme of the sermon was, “Turn Swords into Plowshares!” but it was in German, naturally, and most of it beyond my vocabulary. It was a beautiful outdoor service with some great singing, which included, “We Shall Overcome,” and acoustic guitar performances.

Berlin, baby, Berlin!

As I write this, I am in very full nine-seater van as the IVAW German expeditionary team makes its way back to Ansbach after a successful excursion to Berlin. On board are the four members of the team, (Chris Capps, Jeff Englehart, Thomas Cassidy, and myself) Boris Meyer of the Ansbach Peace Coalition, Darnell Stephen Summers of the Stop the War Brigade, Chris’s wife Meike Schubert, their son, Leon, and Yana, a Czech reporter who has been tagging along since we left Ansbach. We’re stuck in traffic on the autobahn.

Our first event yesterday was a press conference with two German reporters a woman from the Associated Press. By the time we got back to Darnell’s friend’s home that evening, it was already on the homepage of This morning, there were four pages of comments on the article. Unfortunately, AP forgot to mention any one of the three reasons for us to be in Germany. And on top of that, ran the story next to a picture of a group of CodePinkers protesting in front of the White House with a big peace sign. No offense to CodePink of course, but IVAW is trying to portray a different image. This morning I posted a reply and you can see it here.

After the press conference, Darnell treated us to an exclusive tour of an incredible archive of antiwar and military resistance books and documents. The archive was originally compiled by the author of Resistance in the US Armed Forces, but he has passed away, and passed the archive on to another caretaker who was more than happy to share it with a few of the guys who will help to “write the next chapter.”

Then we met with a representative of a member of the German Parliament over dinner.
We discussed German politics as they relate to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and German policy towards the US forces stationed in Germany. He is looking for information that may affect that policy. I am not at liberty to discuss any more of the specifics of that conversation, but if you have any information that may be relevant, the point of contact on the matter is Tom, and he can be reached at

Then it was time for the big press conference/panel discussion arranged by the American Voices Abroad Military Project. The crowd was very receptive, and we got a chance to really make a connection with people. I read my statement in German, which gets better every time. My proficiency has also progressed to the point that I was able to answer parts of many of the questions in German. It might not seem like a big deal when you have translators, but if you have ever worked with one, you know it’s a lot more effective to be able to communicate directly.

I’ve been doing my best to prepare for my impending legal battle from here, but in the van, it’s a bit tricky. And soon we will be at the protest at the Katterbach base in Ansbach.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Legal Defense Fund for Adam Kokesh

May 22, 2007

Dear Friend of Iraq Veterans Against the War,

My name is Adam Kokesh and I need your help. Because of my involvement in IVAW, I have been singled out and called for a military hearing to be made an example of for those of us who have spoken out against the war. I have been an active member of IVAW for a mere four months, but have already garnered enough attention to be perceived as a threat by those using our military to maintain political support for the occupation of Iraq.

Because my second activation as a reservist extended past my six-year obligation, I am only in the Inactive Ready Reserve from my honorable discharge from active duty last November to June 18th. After my discharge, I moved to Washington, DC to get a Master’s in Political Management at GWU, and joined IVAW. I have since appeared on behalf of IVAW speaking at concerts, universities, and high schools. I have written about my views on the occupation and my military experience for the IVAW website and on my blog.

Most notably, I participated in Operation First Casualty on March 19th. This was a mock combat patrol through Washington, DC in order to bring home the truth of the occupation of Iraq, because the first casualty of war is the truth. I appeared in my uniform, without my name, without rank, and without the patch that says US MARINES. I received an email of warning about possible violations of the UCMJ for appearing in uniform at a political event. Instead of ignoring it like everyone I know who has received similar emails, I wrote a strongly worded reply admonishing the Major who was “investigating” me for wasting time on such trivial matters. The text of that email is posted here.

I soon received a package from the Marine Corps informing me of a separation hearing to re-separate me with an Other Than Honorable Discharge. A scan of the complete package can be seen below. I have sought private counsel for this hearing, as is my right. I intend to bring as many witnesses as possible to testify to both the character of my service and the nature of my involvement with IVAW. The Marine Corps only made it known to us today that the hearing will be held on June 4, in a mere 13 days. They have also decided to activate me for the hearing and hold it in Kansas City, home of the Marine Corps Mobilization Command.

This case is important because the intimidation of servicemen who speak out will suppress the truth about Iraq. With the help of IVAW, I intend to fight this to the end and stand up for the rights of all members of our armed forces. Please support this effort by mailing a check made out to IVAW with “Adam Kokesh Legal Defense Fund” in the memo to PO Box 8296, Philadelphia, PA 19101 or by going here, clicking on “Donate Now” and including “Adam Kokesh Legal Defense Fund” in the Special Project Support window. Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments.


Adam Kokesh

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Ansbach Peace Rally and March

Today, we made good on our promise to support the German peace movement, the Ansbach Peace Coalition, and the Ansbach Appeal. After a press conference in the morning, we met at the staging area in the middle of the city. The crosses for the die-in were arranged in peace symbol in the middle of the plaza. There was a police escort present, which performed professionally the whole time.

We unfurled our banner and the German Expeditionary Team fell in line where we were told. While we were waiting, there was a commotion on the other side of the plaza. It looked to me like a fight had broken out, but the scufflers disappeared momentarily into an alley and we could only hear the screams, some of which were in English. Then, a small crowd victoriously emerged, escorting a raving lunatic in an orange jump suit who looked strangely familiar, screaming obscenities: “Who do you think you are! I’m George Bush! You can’t do this! I’ll call the Marines! You can’t stop me. I am the ruler of the world!“ They put him in a cage and everyone had some fun taunting him, poking him, and rapping on the bars.

The march was on. We left the plaza, and after a few minutes we were asked to get to the front of the column. We were surprised by the request, but quite honored. The police escort led us along the route, which included parts of a major road, a divider on a very busy street, and then back through the pedestrian area to the plaza at the center of the city. I could still hear the anguished cries of my once commander-in-chief behind me.

Reverend Hansjörg Meyer led off with a prayer and a speech, and then I was asked to speak on behalf of IVAW:

“Wir sind Irak Veteranen Gegen den Krieg! My name is Adam Kokesh and I was in Fallujah in 2004 with the Marines. I want to thank the Ansbach Peace Coalition for inviting us to participate today and support the German peace movement. You have been accused of being anti-American, but if it is anti-American to call for peace in this time of war, then I too, am anti-American. But I’m not, I love my country as you love yours, and we do this because it is our patriotic duty. It is great to see the people of Germany stand up to their government to say that it does not reflect the will of the people, especially here in Ansbach, where you have made a stand against the expansion of the US Army base. We support you in your resistance.”

While a WWII air raid siren blared over the loudspeakers, a handful of people in the crowd stepped forward into the cleared area and performed a die-in. Then came the sounds of jets and bombs falling. Our translator was there and told me that this is still a very scary thing for Germans to hear. He had just been speaking to an older woman who was a child during the war and said that she still jumped at certain noises and was rather unnerved by the sounds on the speakers. It occurred to me how lucky America is to have not had to experience modern warfare on our own soil. This does, however, make us somewhat ignorant of the conditions of “affected people.”

Chalk outlines were drawn around the bodies and the crosses that had been a part of the peace symbol were placed upon them. Then the sound of bombs dropping faded into the Jimmy Hendrix rendition of the national anthem. The violence of his interludes made this the perfect song to capture the sentiment. I wonder if Hendrix had thought of the power of that song when he performed it, but presented in this context, it brought tears to my eyes. Apparently, he didn’t mean for it to be a political statement, but as a portrayal of American in distress, it was very effectively used as part of one.

Then, Boris Meyer of the Ansbach Peace Coalition and coordinator of the event gave a speech. Although I missed most of it because it was in German, I picked up enough to get that he was talking about the Democrats in Congress, the proposed timeline, and the American anti-war/anti-troop debate. It really is a sad sign that America is in distress when Germans care more about American politics than most Americans.

The Subhumans in Frankfurt

Meike Schubert arranged for another concert appearance for the IVAW German Expeditionary Team in Frankfurt Thursday night. The Subhumans are back together and back on the road, and they were kind enough to loan us their mic and their audience for a few minutes. Jeff Englehart was particularly stoked as a long-time fan of the Subhumans.

When we were backstage, Jeff got a chance to sit down with lead singer Dick Lucas. The Subhumans are a British band and they talked about the differences between the anti-war movements in the US and Britain. It seems that in Western Europe and increasingly in Eastern Europe, the movement has a lot more enthusiasm, and by comparison, Americans are apathetic and feel helpless. They also discussed the global implications of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the complicity of the world, especially Germany.

As Jeff said onstage, “The war is not an American problem, or a German problem, but a global problem.” Naturally, the G8 came up, as it was on the minds of many of the punks in attendance who are planning on protesting when it comes to the Heilegen Dam in June. And of course, Jeff also got to ask him about their new album, which they will start recording next week.

The crowd was authentic punk. You can still pick out the people who wash the gel out of their hair and put on a suit the next day, but there are a lot more with excessive piercings and serious mohawks and bihawks. In the US, I think the ratio is usually reversed. When we spoke, the crowd was very receptive. Dick called us up on stage and I introduced us in German. After I said that I had been in Fallujah, a British guy in the crowd handed me his beer and said, “Here you go mate. This will help you forget about it.”

Then Chris announced that he was an Army deserter and the crowd went nuts. Jeff spoke about German complicity in the war and the global implications. Then the British guy yelled, “No, it’s America’s problem!” And Jeff said, “No, it’s the world’s problem.” “It’s George Bush’s problem!” “No, it’s not just Bush. It’s bigger than that. It’s a systematic problem.”

After the show, I got to meet some young men from Yugoslavia who had left for Germany years ago because of the war. After listening to their stories, including that of one who had been randomly shot through the leg, I got a new sense of what it meant to be one of the “affected people.” I was struck by how much I had been one of the “affecting people,” and had been trapped in that typical American mentality. But more on that later.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Operation Ansbach Peace Herald, direct action by the IVAW German Expeditionary Team

Today, the IVAW German Expeditionary Team conducted its first on base action. Our host, Jurgen Wangler, drove the four of us to the US Army base in Ansbach. At the gate, we deployed Team 1, Chris Capps and Thomas Cassidy. Jurgen turned the car around and we watched as Chris used his military ID to get him and Tom on base.

Then Jurgen parked around the corner, and we deployed Team 2, Jeff Englehart and myself. When we got to the gate, the guard said that I couldn’t bring Jeff on with me because I was not registered in their system, even though I had a valid military ID. Jeff busted out the perfect story, “We’re backpacking around Europe, and we just wanted to come on base to use the PX. I just need to get some toiletries. See, I used to be in the Army too, but my ID is expired.” The guard suggested Jeff give me a list and wait for me. So I carried on alone.

Chris and Tom walked to the chow hall together, and got in line. While waiting in line, Tom had an awkward moment when he noticed that he was standing between two groups of soldiers he had met the night before at the Ansbach Spring Fest. They said, “What’s up?” and that was it. They paid and went through the chow line separately, then sat on opposite sides of the biggest room in the chow hall. When I got in, I saw Tom sitting at a table with a soldier and pretended that running into him was a coincidence. “Do you mind watching my gear while I get some chow? Anything good here?”

I got my chow and sat down next to him. The big screen TV in the corner was tuned to the Armed Forces Network, official TV station of the US military. It just so happened to be showing the O’Reilly Factor, and he was saying something about the “left wing hate machine” cranking up to slander Jerry Falwell right after his death. I made some offhand remark, and the soldier started talking about how much he hates O’Reilly.

I got up and put my tray onto the conveyor belt, then came back to Tom who did the same. Then it was time. I gave him the flyers from Jeff’s bag and walked to the far side of the room next to Chris. The flyers were just copies of this letter and the standard IVAW flyers. I said, in my commanding Marine Corps voice, “Can I have everyone’s attention please?” The room went silent and while Chris filmed, I read the following:

My name is Adam Kokesh and I am a former Marine and veteran of the occupation of Iraq. I am in Ansbach with the Ansbach Peace Coalition and I am here to deliver a message from the people of Ansbach:

May 17, 2007

To the American soldiers stationed in Ansbach,

The people of Ansbach support you, and you are welcome as always in our city. As we have always said, Americans are always welcome in Germany, just leave your guns at home.

As you know, twenty five hundred American Soldiers will soon be leaving this base to support the occupation of Iraq. Because of this, and the proposed expansion of this base, we are speaking out in opposition of the policies of the US government. But we want to make it clear that we stand in solidarity with the individual troops who are asked to sacrifice for the execution of these policies.

This Saturday, the 19th at 1430, we will have a demonstration in the middle of Ansbach to protest the use of German soil in the ongoing occupation of Iraq.

On Sunday, the 20th at 1700, we will be at the Shlossplatz praying for the victims of the war in Iraq. We pray for the people of Iraq, and the American servicemen who have died serving your country.

On Wednesday the 23rd at 1700 we will be at the gates of this base to protest the expansion of the base and the upcoming deployment.

Last August, the US Army announced its plans to expand this base and close off the road that runs through it. This would double the number of helicopters training here that wake us up in the middle of the night. This would also entail the theft of the land of local farmers, and necessitate that another road be built at the expense of the German taxpayers.

On Thursday the 24th, at 1000 during your farewell ceremony, we will be holding a vigil at the gates of this base to pray for your safe return.

You are all invited to join us this Friday for a beer at the Kammerspiele on Maximillian Street near the Gazebo at 1900. Please come meet with us to discuss the issues before us in a relaxed atmosphere.

Again, we support you, the troops who serve their country with honorable intentions to provide for your national defense, but we oppose the policies of the US Government that do nothing to defend America. If any of you should decide to leave the Army while in Germany and throw down your arms, the people of Ansbach will support you and do our best to provide you with aid, comfort, and sanctuary. We wish to build a new relationship between the people of Germany and the people of America on the basis of peace, reconciliation, and understanding.

Thank you,

The People of Ansbach

While I was reading the letter, an E-7 in ACUs came up to me and nearly whispered, “Can you stop reading that, please?” But I just ignored him and kept reading. Then he asked to see my ID and I kept reading. Then he walked away to harass Tom, who was “handling the literature.” The E-7 asked him how he got on post, and if he could see his ID, to which Tom gleefully replied, “No, I don’t think so.” The E-7 then made a few weak grabs at him and the flyers, which he ducked.

When I finished, I walked out into the entryway looking for Tom, who had been busy on the officers’ side of the chow hall. While Tom and Chris ducked out, an MP (Military Police) came in and one of the civilians working at the chow hall pointed me out to him. “Is everything alright, sir?” To which I replied, “Yeah, I’m cool.” Then walked out.

I saw Chris and Tom ahead of me on the sidewalk. They were being followed by the same E-7 that had harassed us earlier. After a few seconds, the group of soldiers walking behind him noticed that he had grabbed the wrong hat and was wearing one with a PFC’s insignia. He mumbled a weak excuse and kept following Tom and Chris. When they got to the gate, they were able to convince the German private security guard to give them Tom’s passport right before the E-7 tried to stop them. Tom grabbed it and ran down the street.

I saw the scuffle, and thought I should try to disassociate myself. I kept walking straight past the gate when the First Sergeant who was following me finally decided to let me know that he was actually following me. “Hey, you! Where are you going?” “Cash sales.” “You need to get out of here.” By then the civilian from the chow hall had caught up with us and was pointing at me. Since Tom and Chris had gotten through, I just kept walking to the gate. As I got to the security guard standing in the pedestrian passageway, the soldiers behind me started yelling. “Hey, stop that guy!” “Hey, you need to detain him!” “Stop him!” The security guard told me to stop and I just kept walking. He grabbed my sleeve, but didn’t even hold on. I turned the corner and just kept walking. I looked back and the First Sergeant was there watching me, but by then I was home free. Jurgen swung around the corner and I jumped in the car. As Chris passed the gate with his driver, the First Sergeant was left standing outside the gate, shaking his fist at the car with a look of perturbed confusion on his face.

A video of the action can be seen here.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Best Damn Email I Have Ever Recieved

Dear Sergeant Kokesh,

I just wanted to drop you a line and let you know that I support you and your actions from the bottom of my heart. I enlisted in the Marine Corps out of a desire to do my civic duty and help America be a better place. Instead I have found myself a pawn to the Bush administration's ignorant, gluttonous, and uncaring fiscal goals.

Like you, I continue to believe that the Marine Corps is a decent and wholesome organization. It helps boys become men. However, I have come to realize it also turns boys into cattle, to feed a third parties profit. I have several years left on my contract, and I wonder daily when my number will come up.

Please, never lose faith, and continue to fight the good fight. You've got fellow Marines depending on you.


Just so it's clear, this young Marine did include his name, location, and unit in the email, but requested that they not be published online. This is the kind of Marine the peace movement needs to be reaching out to. They are out there. I replied that is was not just heartening to hear that he supports me, but that the sentiments IVAW is expressing are shared by those who are still among "the troops." I hope that this email will be a galvanizing force in the movement, even if that is only the veterans movement. I intend to frame it and hang it next to my door when I get a door to hang it by.

Chris Capps Joins the Crew in Germany!

Chris Capps, a fellow IVAW member who I first met at our east coast strategy retreat, joined us on our tour yesterday after an interesting adventure with the Army. He even gave a statement at the press conference. Here is the email he sent to his friends describing what happened:

This is Chris Capps. Last tuesday I turned myself in at Ft. Sill Oklahoma
from being a deserter. Friday I was finshed outprocessing out of the army. I
have been placed on indefinite unpaid leave until they mail me my DD-214. I
am now in Ansbach germany helping the peace movement here.

-chris capps

Chris Capps is an Iraq veteran and deserted to avoid deployment to Afghanistan. Technically, a member of the US Military can be sentenced to death for desertion, but it hasn't happened in decades. It's true, the Army is getting soft! But his story serves as an important example of how easy it can be for troops to get out with reasonable punishment. We are glad to have him back in the real world.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

An Important Message to the People of Germany

Three members of IVAW, Jeff Englehart, Thomas Cassidy, and myself, are currently touring Germany to spread the message of IVAW, reach out to American active duty personnel, and support the German peace movement. Of particular interest is the community movement in Ansbach to stop the expansion of the US Army base there. Darnell Stephen Summers of the Stop the War Brigade, an international veterans peace organization based in Germany, organized the trip.

On the morning of Thursday, the 10 of May, after spending all night packing all my earthly belongings into my Bronco, I caught a bus from DC to New York to catch a flight to Frankfurt. It was only right before boarding that I got to meet Tom and Jeff. I had the pleasure of wearing my new “We Will Not Be Silent” t-shirt, which was supplied by Artists Against the War. This is their traditional t-shirt that says, “we will not be silent” in Arabic, and then underneath in English in small letters. This has particular relevance to the history of the Nazi Party. If you are not familiar with the story behind these t-shirts, please read the story here.

After a long flight, we arrived in Frankfurt and were met by Darnell and Rudi Friedrich of Connection E.V., which supports international war resistors and has been instrumental in organizing our trip. We then took a train to his home in Offenbach and spent most of the day planning and strategizing for the tour.

That evening we kicked off our tour with an appearance at an underground punk show in Frankfurt featuring Scheisse Minnelli and Christ on Parade. Meike Schubert coordinated the event. The concert was held literally underground in a vast cold storage cellar that had been used as a bomb shelter during World War II. I even got to have my picture taken by a sign that was spray-painted onto the bricks where there was an airlock for gas attacks. We got to meet a number of active duty soldiers stationed in Heidelberg. Most were decidedly anti-war, and one in particular described his friends as his anti-war crew of “about three squads.” I see an IVAW chapter waiting to happen.

The next day we got on a train to Ansbach, but for an unrevealed reason, the track was blocked, and after an hour we had to turn around and go back to Frankfurt, then take a circuitous route that got us to Ansbach at about nine. We met Boris Meyer, of the Ansbach Peace Coaltion, and Vice Chairman of the citizen action group, Enough is Enough, who took us to the home of our host in Ansbach, Jurgen Wangler, where we had a reception and a BBQ.

That evening we went to Darnell’s favorite hangout in Ansbach, Gazebo Billiards, which is a popular hangout for American troops stationed here. After making good on my promise to beat Darnell silly at the pool table, I got to meet with a number of soldiers who were grappling with their upcoming deployments to Iraq. One of them wanted to challenge me to a game of pool and wanted to bet drinks, so I told him if he won I would buy him a drink, but if he won, he had to read our IVAW pamphlet. I won.

Talking to these guys wasn’t easy, but most of our discussions ended with me telling them that if they go to Iraq, they should only do so after making an informed decision and having “done your homework first.” They all seemed to take that to heart.

Today we got to sleep in and Tom and Jeff went to Nuremburg for the day to revisit their old stomping grounds. I am the only one in our group who has not been stationed in Germany. I stayed back to translate our statement for the press conference tomorrow and continue planning with Boris. The advanced text of that statement is here below:

Statement for Press Conference 070514

We are Iraq Veterans Against the War. My name is Adam Kokesh and I served in Fallujah from February to September of 2004 with a Marine Corps Civil Affairs Team. Tom Cassidy served in Ba’qubah from February 2004 to February 2005 as a battalion logistics coordinator with the First Infantry Division. Jeff Englehart served in Ba’qubah from February 2004 to February 2005 as a Cavalry Scout with the First Infantry Division.

Iraq Veterans Against the War has three objectives. First and foremost, bring the troops home now. And when we say the troops, we mean all the troops. It doesn’t matter if they’re wearing an Army uniform, a Marine Corps uniform, a Navy uniform, an Air Force uniform, a Bechtel uniform, a CACI uniform, a Blackwater uniform, a KBR uniform, or a god-damned Halliburton uniform. And when we say now, we don’t mean six months from now, or eighteen months from now, or fifty years from now. Now means now.

Second, take care of the troops when they get home. Support the troops means support the veterans. We have troops returning from Iraq with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Traumatic Brain Injury, missing limbs, and depleted uranium poisoning. The US government refuses to acknowledge the problems associated with depleted uranium, and troops cannot get tested. Of the 1.5 million veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, only one fourth of them have left the military and we are already seeing the inadequacies of the Department of Veterans Affairs. And there is no plan to accommodate the other three quarters. And yet the President of the United States still claims to support the troops.

Third, pay reparations to the Iraqi people. America owes them a debt, which we will never be able to repay. But we can try to put this behind us by acknowledging what we have done, apologizing, and attempting to make amends.

We are here to reach out to active duty members of the United States military stationed in Germany and let them know what they can do to help stop the US occupation of Iraq. Soldiers need to know that when they decide to resist, they will have the support and thanks of the global moral majority.

We are also here to support the German peace movement. As in the United States, protestors are often dismissed as ignorant and childish, but with the voices of veterans backing them up, they have the credibility they deserve. It is clear that real change will not come from your government or ours, but rather from the righteous voice of compassion.

The people of Ansbach have chosen to stand up not only to the imperialism of the United States, but also their own country’s history of complicity. The US military has long chosen its own tactical advantage over the consideration of the people in the communities that it affects and claims to protect. It is sad that it has taken so long for Germans to make this stand, but we support them in their opposition.

Germany has long been complicit in America’s aggression. There is no longer any valid premise for the vast American presence in this country. It is not for your security or benefit, but supposedly for the benefit of America, and it is not in the world’s best interest. The lesson of World War II should not be to remain silent during the next war of aggression.

In the words of Dante Alighieri, “The hottest layers of hell are reserved for those who in times of great moral crises maintain their neutrality.

On behalf of all peace loving people of the world, wir shweigen nicht!