Friday, May 30, 2008

An Active Duty Marine Tells Me, "The war is total bullshit, and everyone knows it."

A googlechat conversation I had last night with a Marine I know from Camp Pendleton:

X: hey whats going on

me: holy shit, where are you?

X: I am in Colorado right now...I leave June 5 [to go back to Camp Fallujah]

me: no shit, where in colorado?

X: [name of city], at my parents house.... where are you at?

me: I happen to be in Dallas right now

X: bounce all over the place dont you? lol

me: i do get around. are you still shipping out of Pendleton?

X: I flew into Dallas when I came home... I have already been over there for 6 months, I had to go to CPEN for shit [details of shit redacted] and then they let me come home for a week to see [Z]. [X's son]

me: from where?

X: from Kuwait

me: jesus. what is CPEN?

X: Camp Pendleton

me: ha! never saw that acronym, guess i was never one of the cool kids

X: shut the hell up cool kids lol

me: you know who you are. [Z] is with your parents?

X: yeah, since I have custody of him, he stays with them while I am deployed. what do you mean you know who you are?

me: you cool kids know who you are

X: whatever dude, I guess you were apart of us "cool kids" then, since you were always with us...

me: yeah, for a while, but only because I knew you . . . but now all the cool kids are in IVAW

X: yeah is all of that going for you? You know you came up in my investigation when I did my lat move? ["Lat move" is military parlance for lateral move, or a change in your MOS, military occupational specialty, that happens mid-carreer.]

me: really? they asked you if you knew me?

X: yeah, they said that they knew you [redacted] with me and that I kept in contact with you currently over email and myspace and wanted to know my involvement with you

me: HOLY SHIT! are you afraid to speak out now? because of that bullshit?

X: yeah it was pretty crazy...not really. because of my job now they know everything anyways, so Its not like I can hide anything.

me: so are you going to join ivaw anyway?

X: I got 3 years left buddy...Once I get out the war will be over lol PROBABLY NOT!! Even though the war is total bullshit, and everyone knows it.

me: ok, so you accept that it's bullshit. Do you really want to sit back and just watch more marines die for that bullshit?

X: not at all...and it is sad to see it happen. I dont know I am very confused on the whole subject...we need to pull us out so we dont lose any more, but if we do leave, that place will get ran the fuck over. Ive been in Basra and Sadr to see what is happening there so I dont know... I am totally against this war and us being over there, and seeing how much money we are spending, the lives that are lost and for what? So these fucking doon coons can make no progress in a modern society and as soon as we leave go back to the way they were thousands of years ago living their primitive lives

me: they have been in the business of civilization a lot longer than we have, they will manage

X: these people are never going to change. NEVER. Its not our place to make a little USA of them.

me: It is almost racist to presume that the arabs inhabiting the longest-civilized part of the world won't figure shit out with out our help!

X: agreed. let them do it on their own as everyone else in the modern islamic world has.

me: Well then fucking do something about it!

X: i am one person bro, with my hands tied. i have 3 years to keep low and a son to worry about, i dont need any crazy shit going on in my life right now...i just got rid of the crazy shit i dont need anymore.

me: and what kind of world do you want your son to grow up in? evil only triumphs when good men do nothing.

X: im moving him to switzerland when I get out...LOL

me: well, maybe we'll get around to nuking switzerland before we get over this whole fascism thing

X: yeah. well...I dont know. You make my head hurt thinking about all of this! :)

me: that is the pain of weakness leaving the soul [A take-off on the popular Marine expression, "Pain is weakness leaving the body."]
you have to get past the cognitive dissonance
you have to exercise your full freedom of mind without fear

X: yeah well maybe in 3 years i can have that luxury...for now...I keep lo pro

me: excuses are like assholes. no offense, it's part of being human, it's just not the best of our nature. the opposite of love is not hate, but rather fear

X: you are CRAZY. you have nothing to fear, I on the other hand do. For good reason

me: nothing to fear but fear itself, right?

X: oh man, I really dont want to go down this road...ill be back in a second, its 9, time for [Z] to go to sleep. If you are on we will talk more. If not you can reach me at ***-***-**** or my parents house ***-***-****. Try cell first.

me: i'll be here

A Music Video Tribute to Adam Kokesh

Very flattering, somewhat embarassing:

Monday, May 26, 2008

Alien Art Tattoo Offers Deal For Camp Lejeune Marines, IVAW

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Help Us Get the WSIA Documentary Out by September!


This year, a scrappy, determined band of soldiers and veterans turned this country on its head.

On March 13-16, Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) held Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan / Eyewitness Accounts of the Occupations in Washington, DC. Over one hundred active duty soldiers and veterans publicly testified—from their own experience–about what they consider to be the immoral and illegal nature of those occupations. They demanded immediate and unconditional withdrawal, and intend to force this issue onto the national stage.

Displaced Films and Northern Light Productions are producing the only documentary film that will be made about this historic moment, and the intense battle leading up to it. If you liked Sir! No Sir! you will love this new film. Winter Soldier/Iraq and Afghanistan will answer the question “Can a new GI Movement happen today?” with a resounding “Yes!”

The Winter Soldier Investigation was by any account a powerful, explosive, and controversial antiwar event, timed to mark the anniversary of the invasion of Iraq five years ago. No one who witnessed it could come out the same. But just as importantly, it transformed everyone involved in profound and unexpected ways. That transformation, both large-scale and deeply personal, is the subject we explore in our film.


We are in a desperate race to make the film and have it in the world by September this year, right in the height of the election campaign. We cannot make it without your financial support, and the more money we raise the faster the film can be completed. Every donation of $50 or more will get an advance copy of the DVD when it is available. Donations of $1,000 or more will be credited in the film.

But don’t limit yourself. This is a chance to play a direct, critical role in making history and forging a new future.


Send a check to:

Pangea Productions
c/o Displaced Films
3421 Fernwood Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90039

For secure credit card donation, go to:

Friday, May 23, 2008

PROUTness, IVAW Speaks Out, a Survey, a Break Up, and a Fat Army F*** In a Chow Hall in Iraq

Yesterday, I broke up with my girlfriend (long distance, Santa Cruz) of nearly one year by text message. Before you start throwing vegetables, let me explain. I was in California recently, and for a long time, the plan had been for her to move in at least for the summer, and she was going to fly back to DC with me. Well, I found out two days before leaving for California that she had not yet bought her ticket, and was not planning on coming out at all. Apparently, she was not ready.

I had rearranged a lot of my life for her, both literally and figuratively. I had even gotten her the furniture she had asked for and made room for it, including a desk in what would have been “our” bedroom. However, it was not the first time that she had made me feel foolish. There had been various times that she would seem to disappear for a week or so and not answer phone calls, emails or text messages.

We used to send each other a dozen text messages or so a day just to keep up and remind each other of our love. I would call her every night before going to bed and she would usually call me every morning when she woke up, even if just to say, “I love you. Have a great day. I'll be thinking about you.” So when she stopped answering my calls, I would always get worried, only to find out that she was just sick or something and was embarrassed, and did not want to speak to me.

Then, I decided to give her another chance after coming back from California, alone. Of course, all of my house mates asked where she was. She said she could come out for three weeks in June and for a while it seemed like things were patched up and we were going to go back to our lovey dovey calling and texting mode, but then she started ignoring me again, and I could not take it. Then she texted me, but would not call me, or answer when I called her, or respond to my text messages. I could not take it any more. After realizing that, I tried to call her several more times to no avail, and even left a few messages. Then I broke up with her by text message, and she finally texted me back to say she would mail me the things I had left with her, including my dog tags.

I still love her, and I think that I always will. Tragically, we had a close call, but as much as the stars seemed to be aligned in our favor, perhaps it was not meant to be.

So, on to lighter fare. “What is PROUTness?” I can hear you asking yourselves. Well, while I was breaking up with my girlfriend, I was driving down to Radford, VA, from Washington, DC for the World PROUT Assembly “Building a New World” Conference. I had committed us to doing a panel and a truth-in-recruiting workshop so I dragged along James Gilligan, James Morriss, Ray Curry, and Bill Main to help me out. Jason Hurd also hitched a ride up from Asheville with Dahlia Wasfi. We got in Thursday in plenty of time to get settled before the opening session.

In her keynote address, Lynne Stewart, quoted John Brown very poignantly, “Had I interfered in the matter which I admit, and which I admit has been fairly proved . . . had I so interfered in behalf of the rich, the powerful, the intelligent, or the so-called great . . . and suffered and sacrificed, what I have in this interference, it would have been all right. Every man in this Court would have deemed it an act worthy of reward rather than punishment.” When the conference organizer, Garda Ghista introduced us, she said that we had affirmed we were no longer soldiers of the rich and corrupt powers in America.

And it occurred to me that we as members of Iraq Veterans Against the War are not just witnesses and advocates. We are people who were all at one point ready to commit our lives to something we believe in. And we still are. And in “the movement” there are many warriors and we by no means have a monopoly on this role. Or as Camilo Mejia said at the end of Winter Soldier: Iraq & Afghanistan, “We are your new winter soldiers.” I don't know if he meant it that way, but I get it in a new way now and it really makes me want to shave my head again and get IVAW doing more close order drill.

So we did our panel yesterday and it was a resounding success. We tried an entirely different format from what we would normally do and it created an amazing energy in the room. That's the only way I can describe it without spilling the beans, but it was recorded, so hopefully the video will be posted soon. A significant chunk of the conference attendees were there, and it seems to have created quite a buzz. Apparently, they will all be at the workshop this afternoon. I'll let you know how it goes.

Take the Washington Post Survey "Should Veterans For Peace be allowed to march in the Memorial Day parade?"

This photo was sent in from a Marine buddy of mine, who also happens to be an IVAW member. The image says a lot, but the best part by far is the smirk on the Marine's face. Hoorah!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The VA Is Stealing Memorial Day From the Fallen

The VA has a new tradition. At least, this year is only the second time that the VA has campaigned to ask veterans to wear their medals on Memorial Day to “show your pride.” Memorial day is supposed to be a day for honoring and remembering the fallen, not to celebrate the accomplishments of the living. Nor is it intended as a day to find the most shameless self-promoting grease-head from whom to buy a used car. The pamphlet that is being distributed also says, “Your medals tell a story of service in the cause of freedom that all Americans need to hear.” My medals tell the story of occupation. But I do not need to wear my medals on Memorial day for every American to hear.

Some veterans are proud of their service, and rightly so. I am very proud of the reasons I served, but I would like to take Memorial Day to honor the Marines that fell fighting in Fallujah without celebrating my own accomplishments. In fact, there are many of us who are not particularly proud of the role that we played in the occupation that was the result of what can only be referred to as the war of choice that led to the deaths of our comrades in arms.

I mentioned this to Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs James Peake when I met him recently at the National Press Club.* He said it was his predecessor that initiated the campaign, and he supported it because he thought it was a good way for veterans to identify themselves as a community on this day that should be very important to veterans.

But that's what Veterans Day is for. Memorial Day is supposed to be for the whole country, for all of us as a nation to express our gratitude for, and to remember those who have fallen in the service of this great country. Is Memorial Day more important to the guy who racked up a chest full of medals in peace time, or to the mothers whose sons were killed because of Bush's choice? Sons who may have been buried with little more than a purple heart.

We all have a choice to make this Memorial Day. We can continue the perversion of patriotism that has turned national pride into unquestioning international arrogance, or we can take a day to appreciate the sacrifices that have been made, and honor those who gave their lives in support of this great experiment in democracy known as the United States of America. I will be with my brothers and sisters who live that appreciation every day by continuing to fight for those freedoms we have only by the blessing of our forefathers who fought to keep tyranny at bay. I will be fighting alongside the greatest patriots I have ever known: my fellow members of Iraq Veterans Against the War. None of us will be wearing our medals.**

*After his talk at the National Press Club on May 20th, 2008, James Peake answered a number of questions from cards that had been passed to the front table and were selected by the host. One was about the new GI bill, and it asked if he supported Webb's version or McCain's, and specifically if he was concerned about McCain's criticism that Webb's would be too good and encourage service members to get out of the military. Of course he did not challenge McCain's position, and did not take a firm stand, but I did get to talk to him afterwards. I told him that I had not gotten an ID card in the whole year I had been going to the VA here in DC despite trying to get one at almost every visit. He promised to do something about it and asked for my name. I gave him my card and got a call from someone in his office the same afternoon. We'll see how that goes. I also got a chance to point out to him that by McCain's logic (if you can call it that) for opposing the new GI bill, we should also do away with the entire VA, because it might be encouraging people to leave the military.

**On Memorial Day, May 26th, 2008, a group of IVAW members including myself will be convoying to Jacksonville, NC to get memorial tattoos at Alien Art Tattoo. The shop is owned by April Somdahl, whose brother committed suicide after coming back from his second tour, despite having been diagnosed with PTSD and being undeployable after his first tour. We will be there to honor him, and all of our brothers and sisters who have fallen. I will be getting a field expedient memorial (helmet and rifle) over an outline of Iraq.

Monday, May 19, 2008

IVAW Members Meet Iraq Ambassador, Discuss Restoring Iraqi Sovereignty

On May 17, 2008 three other members of Iraq Veterans Against the War and myself met with Iraqi ambassador Samir Sumaida’ie at the Iraqi Embassy open house. We got there just in time to get in line before they closed the gate. We started taking pictures with the plaque on the outside of the building when one of the embassy staff members, a gentleman in his mid thirties wearing a suit, approached us and offered to take our picture so we could all be in it.

I thanked him in Arabic and we started chatting. I told him about my time in Fallujah and asked him where he was from. He said Baghdad, and Mark Wilkerson asked him what was the last time he was there. He said he had been living in the US since 1982, the year I was born.

On the way in, we passed through a security checkpoint similar to the ones used at airports. I forgot that I was wearing steel-toe boots after taking my metallic personal effects out of my pockets, putting them on a little plastic tray, and stepping through the metal detector. The Iraqi man on the other side motioned me towards him and said, “No problem,” before waving me down with the wand. Having performed the same procedure without the courtesy of a wand on thousands of Iraqis, the irony was a kick in the nuts to say the least. We were now on sovereign Iraqi soil. Except for the sovereign part.

We were led into what seemed like a reception room with a handful of tourists where for thirty awkward seconds or so, we watched a video on a flat screen TV of an interview with two non-Arabs who seemed to be talking about Iraq. Then we were led back across the hall into another room that had a number of ancient artifacts and paintings on display.

There were also flat screen TVs around the room playing a sideshow that guided the viewer through the history of Iraq since at least its independence in 1932. While the first seventy years or so were pretty glossed over and left out a lot about the coup and the Iran-Iraq war, the recent history was much more thorough. As the slides changed, I eagerly awaited the timeline to get to 2004, to see the battles of Fallujah, or at least the handover of power, on June 28th, but both were noticeably absent.

While I was captivated by this sideshow, the other IVAW members were making their way around the room and meeting various staff members. Matthis Chiroux was particularly struck by the ancient artifacts on display; some were the recovered remains of collections that were looted after the invasion, most of which are still missing. One that caught his eye in particular was the statue of Entemena, a headless statue of a king from around 2400 bc that was excavated in Ur.

The statue has a very interesting history, even just since being dug up in the early 20th century by a joint expedition of the University of Pennsylvania and the British Museum. It was stolen during the looting of the Iraq National Museum in April of 2003. Ironically, it has been said that the statue may have originally came to Ur as a war trophy, since the inscription says it originally stood in Lagash. It was recovered in 2006 by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement wing of DHS, and is considered on of Interpol's most significant recoveries.

According to a press release from the Embassy of Iraq from June 25th, 2006 that was on the table there, “Maliki and Secretary for Homeland Security Michael Chertoff participated in a ceremony marking the repatriation of the diorite statue of Entemena to the Iraqi Government, at the Embassy of the Republic of Iraq.” As if to say, “we're sorry,” I guess.

Meanwhile, Kristofer Goldsmith was purchasing a book entitled History Begins At Sumer: Thirty-Nine Firsts In Recorded History from one of the embassy staffers. He was explaining to Kris how the proceeds from the book were going to raise awareness about artifacts that were looted during the invasion, and Kris was more than happy to support the cause.

Mark Wilkerson had already proceeded through the building and was downstairs checking out the two rooms that opened out onto the rear driveway, where a garage might have been. One of them was a souvenir shop and the other was a gallery with photos of various landmarks in Iraq like the Ruins of Ur and the Minaret at Samarra. There were also two pictures depicting Americans in Iraq. One was a photo of Petraeus sitting on a couch with an Iraqi in a suit and the other was an anonymous soldier smiling face to face with a little boy. I knew that Maliki would only send an ambassador who endorsed “his” platform, but it would be interesting to see with how much enthusiasm.

By then I had joined Kris and was talking with the staffer who sold him the book. He had left soon after the invasion and was very supportive of what we were doing, but was nervously quiet about it. Then the ambassador himself came in with his little entourage, which included a rather burly and surly Iraqi General with a mustache, who seemed to be a carbon copy of the half-dozen or so Iraqi generals that I met in Iraq.

The first thing the ambassador hit me with was something to the effect of, “We want to make sure that your comrades and all Americans who have sacrificed so much have not done so in vain.” I had to reply with the all too gory lawnmower metaphor to quickly deconstruct this dangerous emotional appeal. “If you're working on a lawnmower, and you get a couple fingers chopped off by the blade, would you ever think that you had to put your arm in up to the elbow so that your fingers weren't lost in vain?” We went back and forth for a while and I had a chance to explain the essence of Iraq Veterans Against the War, and communicate my reasons for being a member, before I let him take a nearly uninterrupted thirty minutes to explain his platform.

We discussed Iran for a while, and he mentioned the power vacuum and the susceptibility to Iranian influence. He explained to me the significance of Ahmadinejad visiting Baghdad and being welcomed, but not getting to visit certain religious sites, which as a Shi'ite guest to Iraq, is very significant. But he did acknowledge the contrast to President Bush's visits, which only happen in secrecy and under the cover of darkness. He described Iraq as a carcass, or piece of meat that a circling group of vultures were taking pieces out of. He was afraid that in a “power vacuum” Iran would be able to get a bigger piece of influence. The implication was that American protection was needed, but he recognized that American contractors have also become vultures pulling at the carcass.

I had two points I had to make when he was done, however, and he graciously gave me his attention. I explained that from my experience, I realized that a single Iraqi cop has more of an effect of creating rule of law, which is what Iraq really needs, in a small Iraqi town, than an entire platoon of Marines who can impose martial law, piss people off, and make targets of themselves. He enthusiastically agreed that the best way Americans could support Iraq was to help get more Iraqi security forces on the streets rather than doing the patrolling ourselves.

He had also mentioned the numerous mistakes made by L. Paul Bremmer, a man I had served under for the first half of my time in Iraq, until the handover of power on June 28th. I told him that I had met Bremmer, served under him, looked him in the eyes, and even had a chance to question him when he spoke at my college after I came back, and I did not believe that all of the mistakes were honest mistakes because of the obscene profit that is to be had from instability.

I also pointed out that the best way to prevent future “mistakes” was to keep Americans from being in a position to make them, and to keep American corporations from being able to tear off chunks of Iraqi flesh. He ended by saying, “There is a lot of truth in what you say. I wish you the best of luck.”

He shook all of our hands and introduced us to a son of one of the staffers who was missing his right index, middle, and ring fingers. Apparently, he had lost them because he voted in 2004. Kris had a moment when he said that he recognized him from Iraq from right before the elections, but as Kris's appearance has changed drastically since then, the recognition was not mutual, although the Iraqi was taken aback and unsure for a while. He was now enjoying life as a student at an American university.

He told us of a time when students at his university in Baghdad had been killed and Mahdi Militia members were taking things from their bodies, even rings from their fingers, when US soldiers came and chased them away. He was a strong advocate of an American presence patrolling the streets, but was under the impression that Iraqis could continue to patrol side by side with US patrols, and somehow the Iraqis would eventually take charge and be able to establish rule of law with US-style military patrols. Matthis took the opportunity to quote Ben Franklin, “Those who sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither.” The Iraqi said he did not want Americans there forever, but could not describe a way for a transition to occur.

By then the open house had been over for a couple of hours and we were the only ones left who did not seem to have some business being there. So we said our goodbyes and found ourselves in a very nice alley behind embassy row. We walked back down Massachusetts Avenue to spend the rest of the afternoon laying on the grass in Dupont Circle, talking politics and reflecting on our visit to the the not-so-sovereign piece of Iraqi territory in Washington, DC.


I have seen some silly shit in my 18 years in the Marine Corps. This comes close to taking the cake.

What I have sent you is a 14 page acknowledgement form that is being required of every Marine assigned to the II Marine Expeditionary Force to initial and sign. We are told that everyone needs to print and complete a paper copy of this form to be maintained by the unit's Safety Officer. There are more than 47,000 Marines and sailors in II MEF. LtGen Keith Stalder is currently the Commanding General.

I recognize that we do subject ourselves to some silly rules when we serve in the military, but this is over the top. They tell us this is about safety. The reality is that this is just a means to inflict punishment on Marines. It also serves a method to avoid paying for Marines' injuries if they should get hurt operating a motor vehicle.

Feel free to post this Safety Form around as you see fit. This will be a shining example of stupid shit that I will share with prospective applicants who think they want to be Marines. Until we get out of Iraq, I would like to see no one volunteer for military service.

Semper Fidelis,

Jeff ******

And something from Jacqueline:

Adam Kokesh Proudly Welcomes Fellow Marine Marcus "Tex" Whitfill to IVAW

I first met Marcus while trying out for the Marine Corps Rugby Team in 2005. We hit it off, but I haven't seen him since then, and most of our communication has been through his annoying facebook applications. About six months after we met, he left the Marines and started thinking. Five months later he wrote the blog post below for his myspace profile. For some reason, he waited until just today to show it to me, and I asked him if he was a member of IVAW yet. In our facebook chat, he said, "Should I be?" To which I replied, "you bet your ass you should be, you have not only a right, but a responsibility to speak out once you realize that not only did those Marines that have passed die for a lie, but that more die for a lie every day." Thanks to our secure server, he will soon be a member of IVAW. "Welcome to the struggle, brother."
Marcus' Theory On Our War
Wednesday, September 27, 2006

I have been out of the Marines for 5 months now, and people always ask me what I think about this conflict that our country has got itself into. So I think I will share my thoughts on the subject.

First of all, I was in boot camp when 9/11 occurred. I could have been like you, walking around aimlessly, or in school. But i was in what some would call hell. Think of Marine Corps boot camp as a forced 3 month thought process, or for some, I can relate it to an extended wrestling practice.

My thoughts on that day weren't about lives lost or national emergency. They were selfish thoughts about how i could do this to myself. I joined for the college money; I didn't want to aim at anyone; or be aimed at for that matter. It was scary and exciting all at the same time. I saw people cry that day, but it wasn't about 9/11, it was a selfish and cowardly cry.

I came home to endless amounts of patriotism and it made me sick to my stomach. I like to think it was ludicrous that a country needed something like that to come together and rally around each other. The funny thing was that before I left in late June, my family, friends, and acquaintances had advised me that my decision to defend the country in return for an education was a bad one. When I got home on September 21st the same people treated me like a war hero. I don't know if it was the impending doom that I could have faced or that I was a crusader for their vindictive agenda. It was a weird time for me and I didn't even try to understand what had happened and ignored all media surrounding it. This was because I was under a rock that day and I could have never understood the fear that people felt that day.

I look at the conflicts that have occurred since and make this analysis:

Afghanistan wasn't the only country that was harboring terrorists and al-q. Several of my colleagues and eventually myself went on deployments all over southeast Asia as a pre-emptive strike against the Muslim religion as a whole. I don't know the exact figure but a lot of Muslims live in places like Singapore, due to religious profiling by our society and military leadership, we administered blanket coverage of all that is Muslim. This was because of the buzz term jihad. "If they are Muslim, then they have jihad in their hearts" I heard Bill Reilly say. The media expedited fear throughout the world.

I spent a fast two years in Japan with the fear of North Korea, Thailand, and the Philippines. I originally planned to only stay a year there, but the Iraq war started and they placed a hold on everybody in the USMC.

The Iraq war seemed to come on fast. Bush was very pressing with congress, almost to the point of being coercive. That really bothered me. Up to that point our country had been about 50/50 between neo-liberalism and neo-realism. We still had respect for the U.N and tried not to hop when they said no. Bush changed the regime in our country to a 85/15 between "n.r" and "n.l" leaning more towards the diplomacy of a bullet than the diplomacy of global sanction. I understand that we tried to sanction Iraq several times without any compliance. But did we need to undermine the authority of our global system?

Probably not, and here is why: France hates us, Spain has disdain for us, Russia disapproves, China is very careful about taking a stance but hasnt offered any support, and Saudi Arabia has us walking on eggshells. The only friend we have is the U.K. and its various territorial interests, i.e. Australia. The mob in the U.K. has placed enough pressure on blair for supporting us that he is going to resign though, so dont count on that for too much longer.

The bottom line is this: If you look at it objectively, if we weren't as hegemonic as we are and "representative democracy without religious influence" was somehow unpopular. If we had control of a large portion of one of the world's most consumed natural resource, and we had a leader who could be viewed as a complete "state"sman, or global system cowboy who worried about his own region. If we trying to build up our defenses to match the capabilities of our threats and were constantly hounded about it. What if somebody came into your backyard and thwarted your leader by force, and started to install a foreign system foregoing the "this is how we have always done it" mentality? Would you not see some dude in Parma firing up his combine and running over the "occupying force" What about american innovation when it came to improvised weapons? We have teenagers who can walk into schools and launch a full scale suicide mission on his/her fellow classmates. The only motivation behind those cases were the inability to fit in and being ostricized for it. Could you imagine what our citizens would do?

So to that situation I ask, why are we doing it to others? We are taking over by brute force and installing "a better way" to do business. A person of middle eastern descent predicted the future for me. Afghanistan and iraq are geographic neighbors to Iran, So militarily, that is a perfect situation for invasion. I hope this doesn't come to fruition, because that will mean i have to go back and support a cause i obviously do not believe in.

I hope you gained something from this and will think about supporting my brothers and sisters in arms. The policing actions of our neo-realism ideology need to stop, we lose credibility by trying to install democracy by force.

Have a nice day/evening/morning

A Message From A Friend of Mine in Iraq

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Whistle Blower Video and Bios

The following veterans will be testifying to harassment they received from the military for speaking out against the occupation of Iraq as members of Iraq Veterans Against the War with the No Fear Coalition on May 14th. They will be joined by Mike Lebowitz, an Iraq veteran and reserve JAG officer who specializes in military free speech cases. Summary statements similar to those that follow will be submitted for the record along with numerous supporting documents.

Adam Kokesh

I joined the United States Marine Corps Reserves through the delayed entry program in 1999 and shipped to Recruit Training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot on June 18, 2000. After graduating boot camp, I went to Marine Combat Training at Camp Pendleton and the Cannon Crewman Course at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. I attended drills at November Battery, 5th Battalion, 14th Marines, out of Pico Rivera, California while attending Claremont McKenna College. Despite being against the war before the war, I volunteered to go to Iraq when I found out that my unit was not getting activated because I believed that what we were doing after the invasion was responsible foreign policy, cleaning up our mess, and trying to do good by the Iraqi people.

After spending seven months as a Sergeant on a Marine Corps Civil Affairs team in the Fallujah area, I learned otherwise. It was clear to me that the policy being carried out in Iraq had little to do with the rhetoric being used to justify it. I came home, finished my degree, and got out of the Marines in November of 2006 with only until the next June 18th to be done with my obligation as a member of the Individual Ready Reserves. In January, 2007, I moved to Washington, DC to pursue a Master's Degree in Political Management at George Washington University, and in February of 2007, I joined Iraq Veterans Against the War, and became an advocate of our three points of unity: an immediate withdrawal of all occupying forces from Iraq, full benefits for returning veterans, and reparations for the Iraqi people.

To mark the start of the fifth year of the war, on March 19th, 2007, I participated in Operation First Casualty, so named because it has long been said that the first casualty of war is truth. In the case of Iraq, the truth was a casualty before the first shot was even fired. It was a mock combat patrol around the city of Washington, DC intended to give Americans a sense of what it was like to live under the American occupation in Iraq. We dressed in full combat fatigues and held our hands in such a way as to simulate holding rifles as is sometimes done in a military training environment. Our predecessors, Vietnam Veterans Against the War, had conducted similar demonstrations with plastic rifles, but in this fear-driven city with snipers on nearly every rooftop, we decided to use just our hands. We had civilians who volunteered to let us treat them the way that some Iraqis are treated by American patrols every day. They were accosted on the street, frisked, zip-cuffed, and had sand-bags placed over their heads. We also had volunteers orbiting the patrol passing out fliers describing what we were doing. In the spirit of the event, and to further make it clear that we representing ourselves, and not the military in any way, I had removed the name tapes and rank insignia from my uniform. It was abundantly clear that what we were doing was street theater. There had been a precedent set for this in the Supreme Court case, Schacht vs the United States, establishing street theater as protected free speech, and we were well within our rights to portray the reality of the occupation in this way.

I was contacted by email soon thereafter by Major Whyte, of the Marine Corps Mobilization Command in Kansas City, Missouri. (MOBCOM) He said that I may be in violation of certain regulations that I knew to be inapplicable, and that, “the law restricts your wearing of the uniform at certain events. Please call me or reply to this e-mail acknowledging your understanding of your obligations and responsibilities.” I soon found out that Cloy Richards, a fellow former Marine in the IRR had been receiving threats that were similar for some time. At the time, he was relying on a disability from the VA, GI Bill tuition assistance, and VA health care. For his PTSD, speaking out, and using his old uniform as a way to identify himself as a veteran, was the only effective treatment. In addition to emails and letters, he had received phone calls threatening to take away all of these benefits if he did not stop speaking out the way that he had been. This was enough to silence him for a time and send him into regression with his PTSD.

Knowing that the email I received was meant primarily for political harassment and contained no legitimate legal restrictions on my freedom of speech, I responded by speaking from the heart. After chastising the Major for wasting his active duty time investigating the political activities of an inactive reservist when we have Marines dying in Iraq every day, I told him that, “no, I am not replying to your email in order to acknowledge my understanding of my obligations and responsibilities, but rather to ask you to please, kindly, go fuck yourself.”

MOBCOM did not take too kindly to that, and the Deputy Commander sent me a letter that began, “You are hereby notified that I intend to recommend to the Commanding General, Marine Corps Mobilization Command, that you, the respondent, be discharged from the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves,” and said that he would be recommending that I receive an “Other Than Honorable” discharge, which would disqualify me from receiving the benefits that I had earned through my active service. The letter went on to cite articles 89 and 92 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which does not apply to members of the inactive reserves. Here, the UCMJ was illegally applied to accuse me of “misconduct,” and “commission of a serious offense.”

I consulted Mike Lebowitz, an attorney who specializes in military free speech cases, and we decided that I would exercise my right to challenge the discharge at a hearing before an “Administrative Separation Board” of three officers at MOBCOM. I was assigned a JAG attorney who was a Navy officer with little experience. The prosecutor was Captain Jeremy Sibert, a reserve Marine officer whose civilian employment was as an assistant US Attorney. He was activated just for this case. Due to the significant media attention the case had by then, the convening authority, Brigadier General Moore, attempted to kill the story by offering a plea bargain of a General Discharge. Standing on principle, I rejected it outright.

On June 4, 2007, I had my separation hearing at MOBCOM. After a whole day of hearing the arguments, the board recommended that I be separated with a General Discharge. The glaring flaw in their decision, was that it cited the UCMJ to assert that I had violated articles 89 and 92, but sided with the defense in the assertion that the UCMJ does not apply to the IRR. As is often the case with such matters, I believe that the outcome of this case was predetermined. The Pentagon probably decided that they could not lose face by dismissing this absurd case that exposed them to charges of fraud, waste, and abuse, but could not come down too harshly and strip me of all my benefits because of the implications for recruiting. Without an honorable discharge, I would no longer be eligible for any educational benefits, and by some legal opinions, would be forced to pay back the assistance that I received through the GI Bill as an undergrad. They were able to make this muddled decision that sent only one clear message, “If you are in the IRR, we can still punish you for speaking out.”

There was also at least a third IRR Marine going through the same harassment at the time. Liam Madden was charged with illegally wearing his uniform and making “disloyal statements” having said that the Iraq war was a war crime by Nuremberg standards. After the negative press generated by my case, the Marines tried to bury Madden's case with a plea bargain as well. They offered to drop the charges against him if he orally agreed to stop protesting wearing parts of his uniform. He replied in an email that was made available to the public online, and said that he would, “agree to not wear my military uniforms while engaged in any political protest . . . upon receiving a signed, written statement on official USMC letterhead acknowledging that my statements in question were neither disloyal nor inaccurate.” Of course, he never received such a statement, but that did not stop the Marines Corps from lying about him in a press release, claiming that he had agreed to stop protesting in uniform.

Although we were able to wrestle my case to a tie, the negative implications are far reaching. Given the nature of my illegal prosecution, it was a clear cut case of political harassment. The fact that none of the officers were held accountable for their abuse of military funding and resources to stifle political dissent bolstered the acceptability of this practice. Following my case, I received numerous emails of support from active duty Marines and veterans, some of whom said that I was speaking for them, and that they were glad that I had stood up to the command. Many of them expressed fear of getting in trouble for simply sending me an email. I can only imagine how many more of them would be speaking out if we had a military that respected the rights of service members to exercise their freedom of speech.

Geoff Millard

I joined the NY Army National guard in 1998 at the age of 17 and served for 9 years including tours of duty at ground zero after 9-11 and for 13 months in OIF. Despite disagreeing with the Iraq war, I served my full tour from Oct 04 through Oct 05. After returning home in 2005, I began to speak out against the war in accordance with the UCMJ as it pertains to the National Guard.

On March 19, 2006 I gave a speech in New York City at a concert with Michael Stipe (of R.E.M.) called the "Bring Them Home Now concert". As I Had not been previously assigned a unit, I got a call for an assignment and went in a few days early to find out what would be expected of me. At that unit, there was a picture from the speech with myself and Mr Stipe, only there was a target over my face. I laughed it off as a joke among GIs until the duty Sergeant told me that I would be sent t a rifle range that weekend. I truly believe that had I gone to the range that day I would not have made it home. I also believe that I was targeted for speaking out against the war not for my performance as a soldier.

Mark Wilkerson

I joined the United States Army in June 2002 as a military policeman, and after training, I was sent to Fort Hood, TX with the 401st Military Police Company, 720th Military Police Battalion, and in March 2003, I deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. I spent the majority of my year in Iraq in Tikrit and Samarra, providing convoy security and various operations inside these cities and others.

I returned from Iraq in March of 2004, and made the decision to apply for Conscientious Objector Status. When I informed my squad leader of this decision, I was told to wait until June when I would be promoted to Specialist. I did as I was told and waited. During this time, I spoke out against the war, speaking about it with my friends in my unit, and also with my family, much as I had while I was in Iraq. In June, I was approached by a Staff Sergeant in my company, and was handed a copy of Army Regulation 600-43, which outlines the standards of the Conscientious Objector application. I was told then by her that I had two weeks to turn in my application or it would not be considered. Facing a time crunch, I hurriedly prepared and turned in my application. Over the next 5 months, I attempted to convey my real feelings about war and violence, and prove to the military that I truly was a Conscientious Objector. This proved difficult to do, and the process was made harder due to the intimidation and harassment I received from members of my chain-of-command. It was in the space of these 5 months that my battalion was informed that we would be deploying again to Iraq in January 2005.

During my application, I faced interviews with a Chaplin, a civilian psychologist, and a military investigator. Some of the harassment I faced came from the psychologist, who called me a coward for not wanting to participate in war. As a Vietnam veteran, he claimed that he could not believe that a soldier wouldn't be willing to fight and kill for his country. During my interview with the Chaplin, I was asked if I attended church, and when I told him I did not, he asked how I could know that war is wrong if I don't consult the Bible and God for advice. This sentiment was echoed by my 1SG during several conversations I had with him concerning my C.O. status. When I pointed out that one of the Ten Commandments was "Thou Shall Not Kill", the Chaplin laughed and claimed that the correct translation was "Thou Shall not Murder" and what we were doing in Iraq was justified by God. It was no surprise to me when these gentlemen wrote opinions against my C.O. Claim.

Also during this time, the buildup to the presidential election was under way, and, as it was my right, I placed two bumper stickers on my truck. One read "War is Not the Answer" and the other said "Kerry Edwards 04." The very next day, I was pulled over by Fort Hood police for no reason other than diligent questioning about my bumper stickers. They told me that they thought the vehicle was stolen, because surely "no real soldier would vote Democrat," and they wanted to make sure that the truck was indeed mine. After my bumper sticker was seen by my 1SG, a formation was called, and when plugging voter registration, my 1SG told everyone that we had two choices in the election: "There is either George Bush or the traitor."

Perhaps the most damaging of all the harassment I faced came from a SSG in my company. When escorting me to a meeting with the Chaplin, this SSG told me he was passing on a message to me from "high above", claiming that if I embarrassed the unit or made them look foolish, I "might not find myself returning from Iraq a second time." This made me fear for my life, not from the enemy, but from my own chain-of-command. The fear instilled in me from that statement helped play a role in my decision to go AWOL from the military when my Conscientious Objector status was denied, rather than deploy to Iraq with my Battalion.

In addition to the harassment I have talked about, there were several mistruths told to me about timelines, deadlines, and military attorney availability which all figured into my lack of preparation during the Conscientious Objector process. I ended up turning myself back in at Fort Hood in August of 2006, and in February of 2007, I was sentenced to 7 months of military confinement at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. I ended up serving five and was given a Bad Conduct Discharge. It seems to me that the process of proving conscientious objection is difficult in an all-volunteer army, especially for a 20 year-old. But the pressure that comes with attempting to prove this is made more difficult when faced with the harassment I received throughout the process.

In conclusion, I was a young man who decided to join the military with the best intentions at heart. But after being in a war, my heart told me something wasn't right, and when I expressed that, I was ostracized and shunned by those who I served with and trusted with my own life.

Thomas J. Buonomo

Upon entrance into the military and once again upon commissioning, I took an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. I never thought I would have to fulfill my obligations in the manner in which I did, but I can say without hesitation that I would do so again in defense of our democracy, our national honor, and the rule of law. In 2002 I left for basic training at the U.S. Air Force Academy the morning after my high school graduation. As a fourth-class cadet, or freshman, I watched the president on television in March 2003 as he presented a final ultimatum to Saddam Hussein to disarm. I was eager to be part of what I viewed then as an effort to liberate oppressed peoples and establish democracy in the place of dictatorship. As the next four years unfolded, however, my perspective began to change.

My first inkling that something was awry was the dubious prewar intelligence process, which I began to read about sometime between my third- and second-class years at the Academy. It caused me great consternation to learn that numerous claims made by administration officials between 2002 and 2003 regarding supposed intelligence on Iraq were known to be false or derived from previously discredited sources. It gradually became apparent to me that Congress, the American public, and the international community had been manipulated into an unnecessary war, the consequences of which we have yet to fathom.

By this time I was deeply despondent and spent many a sleepless night wrestling with the personal moral implications of these facts. After several months of tortured deliberation I decided that despite the dubious manner in which the administration had justified the invasion of Iraq, I could best serve our nation by following the orders of my commander-in-chief and encouraging Congress to exercise its power to hold the officials involved accountable. Despite my letters and those of hundreds of thousands of other Americans imploring action, Congress did and has done nothing.

At the end of my second-class year I received a pilot training slot, one of the most coveted opportunities in the military. I instead chose to cross-commission into the Army as a Military Intelligence Officer, for several reasons. First, I had majored in Political Science and Middle East Studies and minored in Arabic at the Academy. This, I considered, would make me a much more valuable asset to our ground forces, engaged as they are in day-to-day interaction with the people and with inadequate understanding of their language and culture. I also felt very passionately about our involvement in Iraq in particular, believing at the time that despite the so-called “intelligence failures” and gross negligence in planning for reconstruction and stability operations, we were there to help the Iraqi people and had a responsibility to do so. It was with these considerations in mind that I elected to become a Soldier.
By the end of my first-class year I had fallen into deep despair, having read about the Abu Ghuraib scandal and what increasingly appeared to be an official cover-up, involving efforts by administration officials and military commanders to place responsibility for it on a handful of deviant, low-ranking soldiers. I anguished in silence over the thought of being an instrument of an administration which had compromised our nation’s principles. Shortly after being commissioned as an Army officer, I decided I had had enough.

My emotional disposition quickly changed from despair to fury after I began reading about this government’s efforts to pressure the Iraqi government to cede de facto control of its energy resources to U.S. multinational corporations. It did not take long to comprehend the ultimate objective- to control the Iraqi economy and therefore its government through command of its resources –and the consequences- perpetual instability, and therefore an indefinite occupation necessary to keep a government widely viewed as collaborationist in power.

I began to voice my dissent. I wrote letters to legislators and forwarded them to my peers, encouraging them to do the same. I signed petitions. At every opportunity I conversed with classmates in my military training courses, sending them news articles to educate them. Eventually I was warned by my chain-of-command. Given the impression that the issue was that I was sending unsolicited correspondence to my peers, I restricted my opinions to friends and others who expressed an interest in listening to what I had to say. I quickly learned that the real issue was the substance of what I was saying rather than the manner in which I had been communicating it, as I had been led to believe earlier.

I came under investigation for alleged violations of Articles 88, 92, 133, and 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (contempt toward public officials, disobeying a lawful order, conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman, and disloyal statements, respectively). Though I was never charged with any crime, my chain-of-command called into question my loyalty and on October 5, 2007 I was involuntarily discharged from the Army. My security clearance was suspended, effectively blacklisting me from obtaining an intelligence position in the civilian world. I have since become an organizer with Iraq Veterans Against the War, considering that the best service I can give to my country at this time is to continue to voice my dissent, without apology or reservation.

When a commander-in-chief violates the law, deceives members of the branch of government responsible for sending Americans to war, uses the military for geopolitical gain, and threatens the Constitution of the United States, what is the duty of a Soldier and an Officer? I will tell you, without hesitation: to support and defend the Constitution against those who behave in a monarchical fashion, as if they are above it; to vocally oppose the expansion of empire abroad which is leading to the erosion of democracy at home. I have sought recourse through appeals to Congress to act, but no action has been forthcoming. Where is moral and political courage to be found? If not among our elected representatives, we must find it in ourselves- and act.

Michael J. Lebowitz

Prior to becoming an attorney and Army JAG officer, I was already recognized as an award-winning international journalist. After graduating from Case Western Reserve University School of Law, I served as a legal consultant in East Africa and the Middle East where I focused on media law and judicial reform. In November 2004, I enlisted in the U.S. Army. In 2005-2006, I served in Iraq as a paratrooper with the elite Pathfinder Company of the 101st Airborne Division. I was recognized and decorated by the command for my direct role in capturing high-value individuals throughout Iraq that included foreign fighters, insurgents, terrorist masterminds and financiers. Upon my return from Iraq, I served in the 101st Aviation Brigade JAG office where I aided in prosecution activities. Currently, I am a JAG captain with the Virginia Army National Guard. In that capacity, I am a defense counsel for the 29th Infantry Division where I provide legal assistance to those enlisted soldiers and officers subject to adverse action. I also help advise the command, negotiate agreements and provide confidential legal assistance to any service member. My civilian practice is dedicated to my work at the DC-based law firm of Greenberg & Lieberman. While at the firm, I have engaged in numerous military defense cases and continues to offer civilian counsel and assistance to service members and their families on military-related issues. I also am recognized as an authority on the subject of military expression, and have been quoted in numerous media outlets including the Washington Post, CNN and USA Today.

Since becoming associated with the military and its culture, I have been involved as an attorney in a number of cases that fall under the rubric of the Military Whistleblower Act. But it was a violation of the Act by the command against me that first thrust me into this area of the law. In 2006, I was offered a direct commission in the active-duty Army. My command emphatically supported this as I had a sterling reputation and received many accolades for my service in Iraq. Soon after, I also was offered a direct commission in the National Guard. I opted to accept the National Guard commission instead of staying on active duty. The command opposed this as they expressed a negative view of the Guard. The command indicated they would only sign off on the active duty commission. I contested this decision which ultimately led to a letter to my US Congressman, Rep. Jim Moran. Upon being forced to respond to the Congressman’s inquiry, the command ranging from battalion commander down to sergeant major and company commander voiced their anger at the letter to Rep. Moran. I was called into the office of the battalion commander where I was threatened with retaliation that included doing whatever it took to cancel the commission offer and ensure that I spent the rest of my time in the Army as an E-4. A specific threat was to make phone calls claiming that I “was not officer material.” The company commander added that he should “flag your ass” to keep me from leaving because I went behind their backs and contacted the Congressman (I actually did extend the courtesy beforehand). Until I left, the treatment and verbal abuse was quite profound based solely on the congressional letter. This type of behavior is specifically forbidden by the Military Whistleblower Act. The Act states that a letter to a member of Congress is protected and does not have to claim wrongdoing. Threats in retaliation also are specifically forbidden in this case.

While the violation that occurred in my case is minor compared to other cases, I have since represented and advised service members on their Whistleblower issues. For example, I advised an Army Specialist who handled supply for his infantry unit while deployed to Iraq in late 2006. This 29-year old soldier had no history of wrongdoing and appeared very dedicated to his job. He claimed that the company executive officer (XO) was wrongfully fixing the supply books to make up for lost equipment. The Specialist also claimed that the XO was manipulating his position so that certain soldiers would be financially charged or otherwise held responsible for losing equipment that they in fact never signed for. The Specialist confronted the company commander with this claim and stated that he would report it to the IG if the situation was not rectified. The command responded with a threat and proceeded to change their attitude toward him that included humiliation such as “smoking him” with constant “disciplinary” push-ups and other physical exertion that caused him to receive a back injury. The Specialist suddenly was called back home on emergency leave because his father was very sick. The command made wild claims that he was AWOL and other blatantly wrong accusations to effectively even the score to intimidate the Specialist from reporting his claims. Upon return from Iraq, the Specialist continued to be treated poorly with tacit mention of his claims and potential to going to the IG. After working with the Soldier, he secured a transfer to a different unit and was quickly laterally promoted to Corporal for his good work. While I cannot know whether his claims were valid, the point is that the command did whatever it could to keep this Soldier from initiating an outside investigation.

From my experience, many service members do not know their rights when it comes to reporting potential malfeasance. Particularly for lower enlisted service members, there is a great deal of intimidation involved from their superiors. Moreover, their superiors also may not be aware of the rights of their subordinates. This is based on numerous phone calls and emails I receive from current and former service members wanting to know what they should do after being intimidated for such issues. In the end, Soldiers inevitably see the treatment of personnel such as the aforementioned Specialist and realize life would be much easier if they turned a blind eye.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Winter Soldier On The Hill - Matthis Chiroux - The Icing On The Cake

Yesterday, eight other members of IVAW and myself testified before Congress regarding Winter Soldier, and our experiences in Iraq. While there are a lot more videos in the works, and a lot more I have to say about this, I have a busy day ahead with lots of interviews and meetings, and I want to share this with you:

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Statement Before the Whistleblower Tribunal

Sponsored by Congresswoman Jackson Lee
May 14th, 2008

Good morning. My name is Adam Kokesh and I served as a Sergeant on a Marine Corps Civil Affairs team in the Fallujah area. I now serve as a member of the Board of Directors of Iraq Veterans Against the War. Since our founding in the fall of 2004, IVAW has called for three things: the immediate withdrawal of all occupying forces from Iraq, full benefits for returning veterans, and reparations for the Iraqi people. We have over a thousand members, in 43 chapters, in 48 states, in Germany, in Canada, and in Iraq. We have members on active duty, in the Reserves, in the Guard, and in every branch of service. We are the only organization of veterans of the Global War On Terror that requires proof of service for membership. We take it as our duty to speak out, and to cut through the lies, spin, and propaganda that are being used to manipulate society into supporting a war that is not in our best interest as a nation. If America could see what the boots on the ground really thought of this occupation, it would not continue for another day. We are an organization of whistleblowers.

And like the other whistleblowers you will hear from today, we face many of the same challenges, but also a set of challenges that are unique to the military, because the military has a distinct power over service members. I joined the Marines for the challenges, so harassment was part of the bargain for me, but I never expected it to come for political reasons. When service members are in a combat environment, risking our lives on a regular basis becomes part of the bargain as well. The possibility of harassment becoming a matter of life or death, has always been very effective in silencing dissent.

Some military whistleblowers are trying to get accountability for a specific incident or to correct a particular injustice. Some of us are simply trying to tell our stories and portray things that to us are all too commonplace. The only people that do not support whistleblowers are the ones who are up to something. That we have faced the challenges we have, is a testament to the fact that someone is up to something in Iraq. Not only is the occupation immoral, illegal, and bad for America, it is fundamentally corrupt, and those that are benefiting from it do not want Americans to understand that reality.

While some service members who come to this conclusion, face legal consequences for resisting their direct participation in the occupation, some of us have faced unjust consequences for exercising the rights that are supposed to be guaranteed to us not just in the First Amendment of the Constitution, but under military law as well. Today you will hear from four members of Iraq Veterans Against the War who have experienced retaliatory harassment for exercising their rights in keeping with their consciences, and while honoring their oaths to support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

Geoff Millard served with the New York Army National Guard for nine years including a year in Tikrit. After coming home from Iraq and attending an anti-war event, he was made to fear for his life from his command. Mark Wilkerson served in Tikrit and Samarra with the 401st Military Police Company. When he came home, he decided to apply for Conscientious Objector status, but was threatened and harassed in such a way that he had no choice but to go AWOL when his application was denied. Thomas J. Buonomo graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy with a degree in Political Science and Middle East Studies and a minor in Arabic, then volunteered to cross-commission into the Army in order to support our ground forces. Shortly after qualifying as a Military Intelligence Officer, his security clearance was suspended, and he was involuntarily discharged for expressing views contrary to the administration. We will also be joined by attorney Mike Lebowitz, who served in Iraq as a paratrooper with the elite Pathfinder Company of the 101st Airborne Division, and is currently a JAG captain with the Virginia Army National Guard where he serves as a defense counsel for the 29th Infantry Division, providing legal assistance to troops subject to adverse action. In his civilian practice, he specializes in military free speech issues. Together, our testimony will make it clear that it is essential the No Fear Act II includes language that truly holds military retaliators accountable and serves as a deterrent for harassment. In addition to our oral statements, we will be submitting substantiating legal documents for the tribunal's records.

In my case, I was a member of the inactive reserves when I joined Iraq Veterans Against the War and participated in a guerrilla street theater action called Operation First Casualty. It was called that because it has long been said that the first casualty of war is the truth, and we wanted to bring some of the truth of what was going on in Iraq home to the American people in the form of a mock combat patrol through the streets of Washington, DC. Knowing that the Uniform Code of Military Justice does not apply to members of the inactive reserves, I knew that I was within my rights to wear certain uniform items in the execution of this street theater, because I was not representing myself as a member of the military. In addition to removing rank insignia and name tapes, our squad was surrounded by volunteers distributing fliers that described exactly who we were, and what we were doing.

My picture and name appeared in the Washington Post's coverage of the event, and I soon received an email of warning from Major John R Whyte of the Marine Corps Mobilization Command, who identified himself as my Investigating Officer and said, “As a member of the Reserve Component, until 18 JUN 2007, the law restricts your wearing of the uniform at certain events. Please call me or reply to this e-mail acknowledging your understanding of your obligations and responsibilities.” I replied by saying that he was wrong to investigate the political activities of an inactive reservist when as an active duty Major, he could be doing something to bring our fellow Marines home alive from Iraq, and used an expletive to express my displeasure with his waste of military resources. The next communication that I received from the Marines was a letter explaining their intent to charge me under the Uniform Code of Military Justice and separate me with an Other Than Honorable discharge, which theoretically would have disqualified me from any benefits that I had earned through my service. After a significant legal battle and extreme pressure brought to bear on the Marines as a result of the negative media attention, I was separated with a General Discharge, which theoretically would disqualify me from any education benefits, and theoretically make me liable for the money that I had previously received through the GI bill. Around the same time, Marines serving at the Marine Corps Mobilization Command called Cloy Richards, a two combat tour veteran in the inactive reserves who has an 80% disability rating, is using the GI bill to help get through college, and is dependent on the VA for treatment. They threatened to take all of that away if he did not stop protesting. They also tried to prosecute Liam Madden, another former Marine and member of the inactive reserves for making “disloyal statements.”

The way that the Marine Corps Mobilization Command came after me was illegal, the decision of the separation board was legally faulty, and it was a clear-cut case of political harassment. Although we were able to achieve what seemed like wrestling things to a tie, the Marine Corps was able to send two very strong messages: We don't want you speaking out against the occupation or even portraying the reality of the every day in Iraq, and even if you're in the inactive reserves, we can still control your fate. I spoke out within my rights, and was punished. To my knowledge, none of the officers responsible for this unnecessary waste of military resources, or for any other cases of retaliatory harassment against IVAW members, have ever been held accountable.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Urgent Update – Whistleblower Tribunal – Winter Soldier: On The Hill

It is four thirty in the morning, and I am about to get a couple hours of sleep before getting on the metro to Capitol Hill. Today, I will be testifying at the Whistleblower Tribunal being hosted by Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee and the No Fear Coalition. The IVAW press release for this event is at the bottom of this post, and for more details you can visit In the evening, I will be attending the The Walter E. Fauntroy No FEAR Awards Reception from 6-8pm. From their press release: “Please come and support Members of Congress and courageous individuals who fight for a government free of corruption, discrimination and abuse.”

Location: 2168 Rayburn House Office Building, Gold Room
Master of Ceremonies: Mr. Joe Madison,
Senator John Kerry
Senator Charles Grassley
Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee
Congressman John Conyers
Congressman James Clyburn
Congressman F. James Sensenbrenner
Congressman Danny Davis
Mr. Aaron C. King
Mr. Adam Kokesh
Rev. Lennox Yearwood
Mr. Lawrence Lucus, USDA Minority Coalition
Ms. Janet Howard
Mr. Lawrence Lucus
Dr. Roland Chalifoux
Why not news – Kevin Berends and Tylerwestbrook

The next day, Thursday, I will be testifying at Winter Soldier: On The Hill. To find out more, please go to our website.

For the original footage of my testimony at Winter Soldier: Iraq & Afghanistan, please click here.

IVAW Whistleblowers Press Release:

Media Advisory: May 9, 2008
Contact: Adam Kokesh, 505-470-1917, adam dot kokesh at
IVAW Members to testify at Whistleblower Hearings

WHAT: Congressional No Fear Tribunal
WHO: Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) & The No Fear Institute
WHEN: May 14, 9:30am-12pm (House) & 2-4pm (Senate)
WHERE: Rayburn House Office Building 334, Dirksen Senate Office Building 215
WHY: To gather information about discrimination and reprisal against whistleblowers.

Washington, DC – On Wed. May 14, four members of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) will be testifying about retaliatory harassment they have experienced during their military service. As participants in the Congressional No Fear Tribunal, which is being sponsored by the No Fear Institute, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee and Senator Charles Grassley, they will be presenting testimony to both the Senate and the House of Representatives.

IVAW members will be sharing their personal stories to advocate for legislation that would prevent and/or hold accountable military commanders for punishing their subordinates for speaking out within their rights.

Testifiers include:

Adam Kokesh, former Marine and member of IVAW’s Board of Directors, who will discuss the downgrading of discharges and harassment of members of the Marine Corps IRR (Individual Ready Reserve).

Geoff Millard, Infantryman with NY Army National Guard, who will testify to threats and harassment he received while serving.

Mark Wilkerson, former Military Police Officer in Iraq, who will discuss the harassment he received while attempting to get his CO (Conscientious Objector) status approved.

Thomas J Buonomo, former Military Intelligence Officer, who will testify about being involuntarily discharged from the Army after sending letters to his Congressional representatives.

IVAW members will be joined by attorney Mike Lebowitz, a reserve JAG officer and Iraq veteran who specializes in military free speech issues. Adam Kokesh will also be giving a keynote address on Monday, May 12th, as part of the Whistleblower Week's opening plenary session.

Iraq Veterans Against the War was founded in 2004 to give those who have served in the military since September 11, 2001 a way to come together and speak out against an unjust, illegal and unwinnable occupation. Today, IVAW has over 1,000 members in 43 states, Washington, D.C. and Canada and on military bases overseas.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Veterans Denied Rights By Veterans?

A recent press release from VFP DC:

Washington D.C. May 9, 2008

On April 14, 2008 Veterans For Peace, Delwin Anderson Memorial chapter of Washington D.C. was officially accepted to join the National Memorial Day parade on May 26, 2008.
On April 28 Veterans For Peace received notice that the organization did not meet the criteria to participate. This notice was sent by the American Veterans Center which is the organizer for the parade.

The parade director's revocation of Veterans For Peace participation stated "Unfortunately, we cannot have elements in the parade that have any type of political message or wish to promote a viewpoint." Veterans For Peace responded with a request for reconsideration because there was no agenda for presenting any type of political message or viewpoint. Veterans For Peace has not received any further communication from the parade director or the American Veterans Center.

This chapter has lost three WWII members since July 2007 and there are not many parades left for the two survivors to join. Plans were made to have the WWII veterans and Mrs. Delwin Anderson ride in a convertible and VFP members would march in the front and rear of the convertible with VFP and American flags. It is difficult to express their disappointment.

Veterans For Peace chapters throughout America have been receiving similar treatment from other parade organizers especially this past Veterans Day. Veterans For Peace does not accept veterans trying to keep other veterans from being seen in public. It is in the public interest to be aware that veterans who once took an oath to support and defend the Constitution are participating in efforts to deny their fellow veterans rights that are accorded to us all.

Since 2006 the Delwin Anderson chapter of Veterans For Peace has grown in number and participated in a number of local public events in Virginia including the Prince William County Fair, the Vienna Halloween parade, the Fall For Fairfax festivals and the Vienna Memorial Day weekend festivals. On Veterans Day 2007 the chapter was invited to the Kennedy Center by the Washington Chorus and the occasion was used to officially name the chapter the Delwin Anderson Memorial Chapter. The chapter has also been featured in the Washington Post and local media publications and broadcasts. Veterans For Peace is always warmly accepted by the general public when it participates in mainstream events.

Why does it appear that fellow veterans are trying to block the public's view of Veterans For Peace? Maybe it only seems that way because the major sponsors of the parade include the Ross Perot Foundation, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, the nation of Kuwait, the U.S. Army and the National Rifle Association. If there is a political message in the parade, it comes from the American Veterans Center and not from Veterans For Peace. A closer look into the backgrounds of the staff at the American Veterans Center reveals a very politically oriented viewpoint built from the blood and bones of veterans.

The original acceptance letter and rejection notice are online at

Michael McPhearson
National Executive Director
Veterans For Peace
TEL: 314 725-6005

Michael Marceau
Vice President
Veterans For Peace
Delwin Anderson Memorial chapter
TEL: 301-542-9867

Anthony Teolis
Veterans For Peace
Delwin Anderson Memorial Chapter
TEL: 703-402-1763

Mackie Christenson
Parade Director
National Memorial Day Parade
Office: 703 302 1012 x 227
Cell: 703 350 0184

Friday, May 9, 2008

Celebrating the Destruction of an MRAP?

A friend of mine at Quantico just leaked the following PowerPoint presentation to me. I called the number at the bottom of the first slide and was able to speak with Major Ruhlen, who seems to be getting an annoying number of calls about this. His number is redacted here. He claimed that someone had just slapped his “letterhead” on this one, and he had nothing to do with this file or anything to do with the MRAP for that matter. In fact, he even said that he did not know how much an MRAP costs.

After a quick google search, I was able to find out that the MRAP costs about a million dollars. The presentation says that “everyone walked away from a 500 lb explosion.” I have no idea how they were able to determine the weight of the explosive. Perhaps they picked up all the scraps of shrapnel and put them back together. But odds are, the explosives used came from an old Iraqi stockpile. Even if it really was 500 pounds of explosives, it probably cost Saddam just a few dollars to make, and didn't cost anything for the people who were responsible for putting it under the MRAP.

If our enemies can cost us a million dollars at almost no cost, and send us off giddily making Power Point presentations about it, we are pretty much fucked as a country.

Notice that the author says, “EVERYONE IN THE VEHICLE WALKED AWAY,” and “the driver got some broken ribs.” “Walked away,” isn't exactly a medical term. Now, I'm sure the soldiers were grateful to be in an MRAP and not a humvee, but I'm just as sure that they are not thrilled about the possibility of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) symptoms that may be with them for the rest of their lives.

The cost of the average humvee is about $140,000. Is it worth the extra cost of the MRAPs to save soldiers lives? Absolutely, if that was the equation in a bubble. The real question is, is it worth investing millions of dollars in this effort to force insurgents to make a marginally bigger bomb? But in the meantime, who is asking, “Should we stop making people want to blow us up and bleed us into bankrupcy?”

Here is the text from the first slide of the presentation, which is dated May 1st:

Soldiers survived!!

This is one of the new "hardened" MRAP vehicles that was hit by a 500 lb bomb (IED). The vehicle was totally destroyed, but EVERYONE IN THE VEHICLE WALKED AWAY.

Note the unusual construction of the bottom of the hardened Pathfinder APC. Note the bottom looks like the hull of a ship. The blast picked up the truck and turned it around! The driver got some broken ribs (see the photo of the steering wheel), but that's it. Everyone walked away from a 500 lb explosion directly beneath their vehicle.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

The Prez In The Fez!

Last Tuesday I got to see Khalil Bendib's act, "The Prez in the Fez." It was hilarious and insightful. Khalil uses his humor and Muslim perspective to cut through a lot of the ways in which we are deluding ourselves as a country. His main gig is as a cartoonist and you can see some of his work here:

He sent me this cartoon and said he will be coming to my event in Marin on Tuesday at the College of Marin.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Happy May Day from the Iraq Labour Movement

Today, I will be at CSUF presenting on the implications of the Winter Soldier testimonies for our understanding of the occupation on the Iraqi people, so I thought it would be appropriate to share this with you. (from US Labor Against the War)

May Day 2008 Statement from the Iraqi Labour Movement
To the Workers and All Peace Loving People of the World

April 29th, 2008

On this day of international labour solidarity we call on our fellow trade unionists and all those worldwide who have stood against war and occupation to increase support for our struggle for freedom from occupation - both the military and economic.

We call upon the governments, corporations and institutions behind the ongoing occupation of Iraq to respond to our demands for real democracy, true sovereignty and self-determination free of all foreign interference.

Five years of invasion, war and occupation have brought nothing but death, destruction, misery and suffering to our people. In the name of our “liberation,” the invaders have destroyed our nation’s infrastructure, bombed our neighbourhoods, broken into our homes, traumatized our children, assaulted and arrested many of our family members and neighbours, permitted the looting of our national treasures, and turned nearly twenty percent of our people into refugees.

The invaders helped to foment and then exploit sectarian divisions and terror attacks where there had been none. Our union offices have been raided. Union property has been seized and destroyed. Our bank accounts have been frozen. Our leaders have been beaten, arrested, abducted and assassinated. Our rights as workers have been routinely violated.

The Ba’athist legislation of 1987, which banned trade unions in the public sector and public enterprises (80% of all workers), is still in effect, enforced by Paul Bremer’s post-invasion Occupation Authority and then by all subsequent Iraqi administrations. This is an attack on our rights and basic precepts of a democratic society, and is a grim reminder of the shadow of dictatorship still stalking our country.

Despite the horrific conditions in our country, we continue to organise and protest against the occupation, against workplaces abuses, and for better treatment and safer conditions.

Despite the sectarian plots around us, we believe in unity and solidarity and a common aim of public service, equality, and freedom to organise without external intrusions and coercion.

Our legitimacy comes from our members. Our principles of organisation are based on transparent and internationally recognised International Labour Organisation standards.

We call upon our allies and all the world’s peace-loving peoples to help us to end the nightmare of occupation and restore our sovereignty and national independence so that we can chart our own course to the future.

1) We demand an immediate withdrawal of all foreign troops from our country, and utterly reject the agreement being negotiated with the USA for long-term bases and a military presence. The continued occupation fuels the violence in Iraq rather than alleviating it. Iraq must be returned to full sovereignty.

2) We demand the passage of a labour law promised by our Constitution, which adheres to ILO principles and on which Iraqi trade unionists have been fully consulted, to protect the rights of workers to organize, bargain and strike, independent of state control and interference.

3) We demand an end to meddling in our sovereign economic affairs by the International Monetary Fund, USA and UK. We demand withdrawal of all economic conditionalities attached to the IMF's agreements with Iraq, removal of US and UK economic "advisers" from the corridors of Iraqi government, and a recognition by those bodies that no major economic decisions concerning our services and resources can be made while foreign troops occupy the country.

4) We demand that the US government and others immediately cease lobbying for the oil law, which would fracture the country and hand control over our oil to multinational companies like Exxon, BP and Shell. We demand that all oil companies be prevented from entering into any long-term agreement concerning oil while Iraq remains occupied. We demand that the Iraqi government tear up the current draft of the oil law, and begin to develop a legitimate oil policy based on full and genuine consultation with the Iraqi people. Only after all occupation forces are gone should a long term plan for the development of our oil resources be adopted.

We seek your support and solidarity to help us end the military and economic occupation of our country. We ask for your solidarity for our right to organise and strike in defence of our interests as workers and of our public services and resources. Our public services are the legacy of generations before us and the inheritance of all future generations and must not be privatised.

We thank you for standing by us. We too stand with you in your own struggles for real democracy which we know you also struggle for, and against privatisation, exploitation and daily disempowerment in your workplaces and lives.

We commend those of you who have organised strikes and demonstrations to end the occupation in solidarity with us and we hope these actions will continue.

We look forward to the day when we have a world based on co-operation and solidarity. We look forward to a world free from war, sectarianism, competition and exploitation.

Endorsed by: (signers as of 4/29/08)

Hassan Juma’a Awad, President, Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions (IFOU)
Faleh Abood Umara, Deputy, Central Council, Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions (IFOU)
Falah Alwan, President, Federation of Workers Councils and Unions in Iraq (FWCUI)
Subhi Albadri, President, General Federation of Workers Councils and Unions in Iraq (GFWCUI)
Nathim Rathi, President, Iraqi Port Workers Trade Union
Samir Almuawi, President, Engineering Professionals Trade Union
Ghzi Mushatat, President, Mechanic and Print Shop Trade Union
Waleed Alamiri, President, Electricity Trade Union
Ilham Talabani, President, Banking Services Trade Union
Abdullah Ubaid, President, Railway Trade Union
Ammar Ali, President, Transportation Trade Union
Abdalzahra Abdilhassan, President, Service Employees Trade Union
Sundus Sabeeh, President, Barber Shop Workers Trade Union
Kareem Lefta Sindan, President, Lumber and Construction Trade Union, General Federation of Iraqi Workers (GFIW)
Sabah Almusawi, President, Wasit Independent Trade Union
Shakir Hameed, President, Lumber And Construction Trade Union (GFWCUI)
Awad Ahmed, President, Teachers Federation of Salahideen
Alaa Ghazi Mushatat, President, Agricultural And Food Substance Industries
Adnan Rathi Shakir, President, Water Resources Trade Union
Nahrawan Yas, President, Woman Affairs Bureau
Sabah Alyasiri, President (GFWCUI) Babil
Ali Tahi, President (GFWCUI) Najaf
Ali Abbas, President (GFWCUI) Basra
Muhi Abdalhussien, President (GFWCUI), Wasit
Ali Hashim Abdilhussien, President (GFWCUI) Kerbala
Ali Hussien, President (GFWCUI) Anbar
Mustafa Ameen, Arab Workers Bureau, President (GFWCUI)
Thameer Mzeail, Health Services, Union Committee
Khadija Saeed Abdullah, Teachers Federation, Member
Asmahan, Khudair, Woman Affairs, Textile Trade Unions
Adil Aljabiri, Oil Workers Trade Union Executive Bureau Member
Muhi Abdalhussien, Nadia Flaih, Service Employees Trade Unions
Rawneq Mohammed, Member, Media and Print Shop Trade Union
Abdlakareem Abdalsada, Vice President (GFWCUI)
Saeed Nima, Vice President (GFWCUI)
Sabri Abdalkareem, Member, (GFWCUI) Babil
Amjad Aljawhary, Representative of GFWCUI in North America