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