Monday, September 29, 2008
Posted by Adam Kokesh at 1:31 AM
Friday, September 26, 2008
Another shot of the crowd and McCain sounding like a d-bag.
Posted by Adam Kokesh at 7:59 PM
Thursday, September 18, 2008
In this age of continuous feedback and instant gratification, it is uniquely satisfying to see the delayed fruits of our labor. In this case, it is in the form of a long-anticipated (at least by me) book written by independent, unembeded journalist, Aaron Glantz. While I am waiting to purchase my copy of Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan, Eyewitness Accounts of the Occupations at the Bus Boys & Poets book store to support Teaching for Change, you can get it from Amazon here. ***EDIT: You can get it from IVAW here.***
To view the archived footage of the raw WSIA testimony, click here.
BOOKS-IRAQ: "We Blew Her to Pieces"
By Dahr Jamail
MARFA, Texas, Sep 16 (IPS) - Aside from the Iraqi people, nobody knows what the U.S. military is doing in Iraq better than the soldiers themselves. A new book gives readers vivid and detailed accounts of the devastation the U.S. occupation has brought to Iraq, in the soldiers' own words.
"Winter Soldier Iraq and Afghanistan: Eyewitness Accounts of the Occupation," published by Haymarket Books Tuesday, is a gut-wrenching, historic chronicle of what the U.S. military has done to Iraq, as well as its own soldiers.
Authored by Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) and journalist Aaron Glantz, the book is a reader for hearings that took place in Silver Spring, Maryland between Mar. 13-16, 2008 at the National Labour College.
"I remember one woman walking by," said Jason Washburn, a corporal in the U.S. Marines who served three tours in Iraq. "She was carrying a huge bag, and she looked like she was heading toward us, so we lit her up with the Mark 19, which is an automatic grenade launcher, and when the dust settled, we realised that the bag was full of groceries. She had been trying to bring us food and we blew her to pieces."
Washburn testified on a panel that discussed the rules of engagement in Iraq, and how lax they were, even to the point of being virtually non-existent.
"During the course of my three tours, the rules of engagement changed a lot," Washburn's testimony continues. "The higher the threat the more viciously we were permitted and expected to respond."
His emotionally charged testimony, like all of those in the book that covered panels addressing dehumanisation, civilian testimony, sexism in the military, veterans' health care, and the breakdown of the military, raised issues that were repeated again and again by other veterans.
"Something else we were encouraged to do, almost with a wink and nudge, was to carry 'drop weapons', or by my third tour, 'drop shovels'. We would carry these weapons or shovels with us because if we accidentally shot a civilian, we could just toss the weapon on the body, and make them look like an insurgent," Washburn said.
Four days of searing testimony, witnessed by this writer, is consolidated into the book, which makes for a difficult read. One page after another is filled with devastating stories from the soldiers about what is being done in Iraq.
Everything from the taking of "trophy" photos of the dead, to torture and slaughtering of civilians is included.
"We're trying to build a historical record of what continues to happen in this war and what the war is really about," Glantz told IPS.
Hart Viges, a member of the 82nd Airborne Division of the Army who served one year in Iraq, tells of taking orders over the radio.
"One time they said to ﬁre on all taxicabs because the enemy was using them for transportation...One of the snipers replied back, 'Excuse me? Did I hear that right? Fire on all taxicabs?' The lieutenant colonel responded, 'You heard me, trooper, ﬁre on all taxicabs.' After that, the town lit up, with all the units ﬁring on cars. This was my ﬁrst experience with war, and that kind of set the tone for the rest of the deployment."
Vincent Emanuele, a Marine rifleman who spent a year in the al-Qaim area of Iraq near the Syrian border, told of emptying magazines of bullets into the city without identifying targets, running over corpses with Humvees and stopping to take "trophy" photos of bodies. "An act that took place quite often in Iraq was taking pot shots at cars that drove by," he said. "This was not an isolated incident, and it took place for most of our eight-month deployment."
Kelly Dougherty, the executive director of IVAW, blames the behaviour of soldiers in Iraq on the policies of the U.S. government. "The abuses committed in the occupations, far from being the result of a 'few bad apples' misbehaving, are the result of our government's Middle East policy, which is crafted in the highest spheres of U.S. power," she said.
Knowing this, however, does little to soften the emotional and moral devastation of the accounts.
"You see an individual with a white ﬂag and he does anything but approach you slowly and obey commands, assume it's a trick and kill him," Michael Leduc, a corporal in the Marines who was part of the U.S. attack of Fallujah in November 2004, said were the orders from his battalion JAG officer he received before entering the city.
This is an important book for the public of the United States, in particular, because the Winter Soldier testimonies were not covered by any of the larger media outlets, aside from the Washington Post, which ran a single piece on the event that was buried in the Metro section.
The New York Times, CNN, and network news channels ABC, NBC and CBS ignored it completely.
This is particularly important in light of the fact that, as former Marine Jon Turner stated, "Anytime we did have embedded reporters with us, our actions changed drastically. We never acted the same. We were always on key with everything, did everything by the book."
"To me it's about giving a picture of what war is like," Glantz added, "Because here in the U.S. we have this very sanitised version of what war is. But war is when we have a large group of armed people killing large numbers of other people. And that is the picture that people will get from reading veterans testimony...the true face of war."
Dehumanisation of the soldiers themselves is covered in the book, as it includes testimony of sexism, racism, and the plight of veterans upon their return home as they struggle to obtain care from the Veterans Administration.
There is much testimony on the dehumanisation of the Iraqi people as well. Brian Casler, a corporal in the Marines, spoke to some of this that he witnessed during the invasion of Iraq.
"But on these convoys, I saw marines defecate into MRE bags or urinate in bottles and throw them at children on the side of the road," he stated.
Numerous accounts from soldiers include the prevalence of degrading terms for Iraqis, such as "hajis," "towel-heads" and "sand-niggers".
Scott Ewing, who served in Iraq from 2005-2006, admitted on one panel that units intentionally gave candy to Iraqi children for reasons other than "winning hearts and minds".
"There was also another motive," Ewing said, "If the kids were around our vehicles, the bad guys wouldn't attack. We used the kids as human shields."
Glantz admits that it would be difficult for the average U.S. citizen to read the book, and believes it is important to keep in mind while doing so what it took for the veterans to give this historic testimony.
"They could have been heroes, but what they are doing here is even more heroic -- which is telling the truth," Glantz told IPS. "They didn't have to come forward. They chose to come forward."
Posted by Adam Kokesh at 3:08 AM
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Monday, September 15, 2008
Click on the images above to see the high res versions. To recreate the sign, you can go into any Kinko's and have them make each one as a 20" by 50" print, then laminate them back to back. I would love to see these every time McCain shows his face in public between now and election day!
Tell your friends, tell your enemies, even tell Obama supporters! Let's make this happen and keep showing people how full of crap McCain is!
(Apparently, someone is already making some money with these slogans on CafePress.)
Posted by Adam Kokesh at 2:15 AM
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Keep 'em coming and we might have to make this a Sunday tradition!
Bob Barr – Right Time, Right Party, Wrong Man
***I also think it's just a bit suspicious that a media which completely ignored Ron Paul would be giving him SO much positive coverage.***
I noticed that, but even when Barr gets all the good face time, he still looks like a tool. Thank God for the equalizing power of the internet.
***I almost wonder if he planned it this way for all the extra media coverage he would get. I mean here we are after the press conference and what are we talking about, but Bob Barr who wasn't even there.***
Good observation, but I'm chalking this one up to ineptitude. (He did used to work for the CIA.) This is not the first time he has demonstrated a complete lack of understanding of the Freedom Movement and the libertarian philosophy.
***He and his running mate had the balls to ask RP to join them. That was a bold move of leaders; if RP accepted, the revolution would be coming much faster.***
Ron Paul had said repeatedly, even before Barr was nominated, that he would not run for a third party. It wasn't a bold move of leaders, it was a pandering move of calculating hacks trying to reach out to a demographic that is too smart to fall for it.
***Dave Nalle said...
***What Ron Paul did at his press conference was to endorse third parties which support everything from forced redistribution of wealth to giving up US sovereignty to foreign powers. It was a betrayal of everything the liberty movement has tried to achieve. Paul rendered himself irrelevant once and for all. Barr, on the other hand, did the right thing by not playing along with Paul's egotistical grandstanding and he deserves our support for putting liberty ahead of political opportunism. www.republicofdave.com***
Wrong! Ron Paul did not ENDORSE any of the other candidates. If the Freedom Movement wants to achieve anything, it needs to be willing to work around issues with allies of differing ideologies. I would even define the Freedom Movement to be as broad as anyone who would sign on to the four-point platform. “Egotistical grandstanding” for Ron Paul at this point would look like announcing an independent run for president, and holding his own press conference. Wait, isn't that what Barr did?
***You are a true Patriot. I think Bob Barr is a plant who was meant to bring the LP down. Never again. By the way, your speech at the Rally in Minneapolis made me cry like a baby.***
As long as it makes you want to fight like a rabid wolverine!
***Adam, thank you again for everything you have been doing since your return from Baghdad. I am not happy that you had to go thru this situation, however, if McCain wins, we all will have many many more 'situations' to go thru... Please, a vote for Obama may hurt, but hey, if Ann Coulter can stomach a vote for McCain, whom she loathes, surely you can spare a vote for the man who is promising to bring home our brothers and sisters.***
Damn! How many times do I have to say this: I cannot in good conscience vote for a pro-war candidate. Obama wants to keep 40k troops in Iraq indefinitely, on permanent bases, add more Blackwater mercenaries, and have a surge in Afghanistan. If that's not pro-war, I don't know what is.
McCain and Obama will both perpetuate the decline this country is on at about the same rate. The difference is that Obama will do it smoothly, sing you a lullaby, and after four years we might be more screwed as the public will be lulled into submission. McCain will do it erratically and clumsily, piss people off, and get more of the public engaged, if only because of their shared disgust for him. Both are “situations” that are not good for this country. I will be voting third party or writing in Ron Paul.
***Mike Blankenship said...
***I can't believe you're still running around with your IVAW t-shirt on acting like you're going to get anything accomplished in stopping the war in Iraq. We're on our way to Victory in Iraq, no thanks to any of you anti-war pukes. Or haven't you all figured that out yet?***
You'd better mother-f'in' believe it! Does it make “Victory” more likely when you capitalize it? Or haven't you figured out that you can't win an occupation?
***Doug Burlison said...
***Adam, I do not know you, you do not know me, but as a fellow lover of Liberty, I urge you to reconsider the status of your Barr endorsement. Granted, those of us in internet land are not as close to this issue as you are, and perhaps that gives us a different perspective about this whole matter. I am saddened by how things have transpired in both the Barr and the Paul camps, and I feel that in the interests of Liberty in America, it is time for some bilateral leadership from both sides. It seems that you are in a unique position to make this happen. . . . None of us are perfect, yet somehow, we need to come together. Can you help this struggle by providing that kind of leadership?***
I am also saddened by these recent developments which will harm the movement in the short-term and perhaps mid-term too, but in the long run, we are better off without Barr, and with a higher standard of leadership and cooperation.
If by “the Barr and the Paul camps” you mean their actual staffers, they represent only a minute part of this movement. We don't need “bilateral leadership” to unite these camps. We need leadership like what Ron Paul demonstrated by bringing some powerful people together on important issues. There is a lot still to be done, and I'm working on it!
***I love Ron Paul. But he's just a man. An incredible man, but the idea of Liberty, now that's something you can't keep down. Liberty is an eternal principle, has no lifespan, and is only limited by *our resolve* to bring it to the fore. . . . I want maximum Liberty, maximum personal responsibility, and to be divested from a "Government" that uses the fruit of my labor to oppress, occupy and murder hundreds of thousands of people. Ron Paul came the closest, but I'm not giving up because I have no one to "rally under". . . . Don't get me wrong. I'll certainly promote candidates who support my dreams and vision for America (indeed, the world). But I won't blindly associate with a party (such as the Libertarian party), vote for a candidate as sleezy as Barr, just to assure ballot access for the LP candidate in four years. There's so many better ways to go about getting what we want. Campaign for Liberty supporters aren't lost if they associate their freedom with responsibility. They're only lost if they think they need Ron Paul to lead them or tell them what to do. I don't :) To quote an awesome bumper sticker, we don't need leaders, we need Liberty. I don't mean we shouldn't get behind those who stand a chance of representing us. I'm just never going to hand my power over completely to someone else and expect them to do the whole job. It's my job. It's your job. Jump in, the water's fine.***
F'in' a, right on! Thank you.
A Slap in the Face, Courtesy of the Department of Veterans Affairs
***I wish that every person who puts a yellow ribbon magnet on the back of their car would actually do something to support our soldiers-- at least write their congressman demanding reform. Otherwise that cheap magnet is nothing but a hollow platitude that only makes the owner self-righteous.***
You're not the only one who feels that way. A lot of vets get really pissed off when they see yellow ribbons because it's not even a message of support, it's a directive, an order, telling someone else to support the troops. One of my veteran friends hates them so much that whenever he sees one he takes it. He's got quite the collection on his fridge now.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart to everyone who put comments of support on this post. It definitely helped to read them as I was still dealing with this. It's also beautiful to see that the brotherhood of veterans transcends politics. (Thanks TSO)
Pissing In McCain's Kool-Aid
***Did you get wrapped up in the chaos in the streets of St. Paul, MN while you were sticking it to McCain? It was appalling. Nearly three hundred people: protesters, innocent bystanders, and media were rounded up like cattle, pinned to a bridge, and then arrested for unlawful assembly. Civil liberties out the door. Sickening. You made a guest star appearance in my tribute video to those who were braver than me to try to be heard. I hope that is okay? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vp7AUQJMOKw***
I didn't see much of the chaos, since I was busy working from the inside. That video is more than ok, it's an honor to be included!
***Right when McCain was speaking and I saw the cut to you holding the sign I literally spit out my pepsi all ovr the floor and scremed out "HOLY SHIT THATS ADAM KOKESH!!!" My finace jumped off the couch and got mad at me for screaming so loudly . . . After watching your speech at the March and at the Rally I think it is best for you to run for congress. If you do, i'll drop $2,300 in your campaign. :)***
I have heard a lot of stories like that and I'm glad that I achieved the goals that my sponsors in the soft drink and carpet industries laid out for me. I plan on running for Congress eventually, but you'd better send me some contact info or tell me the check is in the mail!
***Sure would love a written transcript of the speech you gave last night....word for word. Can you post it on your site.***
It doesn't exist. That was straight off the cuff.
***How do you feel as a soldier who put his life on the line to fight for his country about people who burn the American Flag?***
The flag is just a symbol. Burning it is just symbolic. It saddens me that someone would do such a thing to trash our country, but it is no different than chanting “death to America,” and just as childish. I still consider it a means of self-expression, and the freedom of speech means nothing without the right to say what others don't want to hear, so I would never do anything to encroach on someone else's right to destroy their own property, or express themselves in whatever way they see fit so long as it doesn't interfere with anyone else's rights. In fact, I will still fight to the death to defend it.
***World Power Network said...
***I loved your speech. It was very enlightening that our troops swore to uphold the constitution, not the government. I would suggest that you lay off the take up arms against the government angle. That is liable to get you thrown in jail and we don't need to take up arms against the government. We just need the military to refuse to take up arms against US citizens and other things which violate the constitution. The fascist state rules through fear. If the members of the Military disobey orders, stand down and will not cause fear, the fascist will fold like origami.***
I agree, but I never advocated that we take up arms against the government. There may be isolated incidents of violence in our revolution, as there have been throughout our history, and we must be ready to defend ourselves, but when the time comes to physically challenge the government, I have no doubt that the troops will be on our side. The point is that we must bring the same dedication and commitment and be ready to make the ultimate sacrifice as undoubtedly, some of us will be called upon to do. Not ALL of the troops will be on our side, but we must have the courage to look them all in the eye just the same.
Posted by Adam Kokesh at 11:53 PM
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Thursday, September 11, 2008
I attended Ron Paul's press conference yesterday expecting Bob Barr to be there. It was going to be as close to an endorsement as Barr could get from Paul. I almost came with a sign that said “Veterans For Barr.” Boy, am I glad I didn't.
Ron Paul had decided to throw some of his now considerable weight behind the electoral issues that marginalize third party candidates and got all four major third party candidates to endorse a four-point platform that included libertarian positions on foreign policy, privacy, the national debt, and the federal reserve.
When I think of the freedom movement, I think of it as broadly as possible. Everyone who thinks the government is too big, too intrusive, too burdensome, and not representing our will abroad with the current interventionist foreign policy is part of the freedom movement. We are a diverse group, and we do not need to be uniform in all of our beliefs to be unified against a government that is out of control. What Ron Paul did was put that down into four points of agreement and got a team united behind them in a very powerful way. It may not have been as dramatic as some people were hoping, but it was beautiful. Our founders would have recognized the importance of what Paul was doing, or as Benjamin Franklin said, “We must all hang together or most assuredly we will all hang separately.”
Bob Barr just had to ruin it for everyone for his own selfish reasons. He had agreed to the platform, and agreed to be at the event, only to withdraw thirty minutes before it happened. There was an empty seat for him on the stage. Paul was gracious and kind, saying things like, “if he can make it,” but behind the scenes he was angry and hurt.
I went to Barr's own press conference right afterwards still giving him the benefit of the doubt. I had hoped that he had a good reason for not being there that I was not aware of. Maybe he would say he had a personal issue. But instead, I sat there and listened to him prattle on about Ross Perot and getting votes and forcing policy issues and “principled leadership.” Then he asked Ron Paul to be his VP.
I was fuming. I had reservations about Barr before publicly endorsing him, but I even offered my support in a letter that was delivered through the LP staff which was ignored by the campaign. I thought his transformation was genuine and that it was a powerful sign for the LP to elect a newcomer, as if to say “we will embrace anyone who comes around to our principles.” Unfortunately, we picked Barr instead. He has since shown himself to not fully comprehend or endorse the philosophy, having praised the troop surge, argued for intervention in Iran and South America, and advocated a national sales tax. He has also run as far from the LP as possible, and there is still no link to the LP on his website. His lack of willingness to work with other people on key issues (issues any true libertarian would be passionate about) is very revealing.
I raised my hand and stood up to speak when Russ Verney acknowledged me. Maybe he realized who I was when I did not claim any press credentials, but he interrupted me and tried to get me to sit down. One of his staffers actually got up and stood next to me, looking like he was ready to carry me out. I guess he realized that was not a good idea. I ignored him and pressed on, despite Verney's continued interruptions. I don't remember exactly what I said, but what I was trying to say went something like this:
“What Ron Paul was doing today was taking leadership on some issues that I know you agree with and your lack of willingness to be a part of a team and work with others on these issues is telling. You have spoken a lot just now about leadership and unity, but it is clear you care about neither, except when you are the leader, and people are united behind you. Good leadership includes good followership and today, you showed your lack of both, and a complete lack of integrity. I am retracting my endorsement.”
The freedom movement is bigger than any one party, and any one leader. The revolution of which I speak is a revolution of values, of political culture, and of the understanding of the responsibility of being a good citizen. When that happens, it will be reflected in our political system one way or another, be it through the Republicans, Democrats, Green Party, Constitution Party, or an independent candidate. As a moderate libertarian, I still believe that the Libertarian Party will be the mechanism by which our movement will come to fruition and I will remain an enthusiastic lifetime member. More than the party or any one candidate, I am committed to this movement, my country, and my principles.
I have signed a petition to have Bob Barr removed from the Libertarian Party ticket. Please click here and sign this petition to join me in this effort. Please forward this to everyone you know who cares about the future of this movement and the Libertarian Party.
Russ Verney is full of crap. Click here to read his response to the events of the last day in which he praises Bush's leadership, exploits 9/11, and claims that Ron Paul's press conference was “about promoting a man.” Maybe their campaign strategy goes something like, “Screw liberty, screw the issues, screw the principles of the party of principle. If we can just get enough votes this year, we can get Bob back on the ticket in four!” He was right about Wayne Allen Root though: it was gracious of him to step off the ticket for Ron Paul, but of course if Barr gave a crap about the movement, he would have offered Ron Paul the top spot on the ticket.
Posted by Adam Kokesh at 1:42 PM
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
I had another anxiety attack today. I left the post office and walked to my car. The rage was building, the despair was creeping, and I could tell I was losing it, but I kept going. I called my advisor from the Disabled American Veterans, and screamed into the phone. I got into the car, still yelling, and started the engine.
I had just gotten three letters from the VA. The first two were just like the ones I had been receiving for months. “We are still processing your application for compensation. We apologize for the delay.” It had taken me years to be able to admit to myself that I had PTSD. I registered with the VA when I got off active duty. The first time I went to the VA hospital, I knew the numbers, and I knew it was a disaster. Then I saw it first hand.
At first I saw the Vietnam vets. Men that were hustled through their midlife years and were walking with canes or in wheelchairs, sometimes muttering to themselves the regrets that only a broken soldier knows. Then I saw the World War II vets, clinging to life with the pride of a dieing breed. Then I saw the vets that looked like me. They bore the scars I recognized but couldn't feel. The IEDs of Fallujah echoed in the halls.
I thought I didn't belong. I got a consultation for PTSD, but missed my first appointment and never rescheduled. I didn't want to be a burden. There were those far more deserving than I. But then I needed help, and help came in the form of a fistful of prescriptions. It didn't help.
Then a Vietnam vet told me that I had earned my due. I needed to file for disability. It was the cost of my innocence, but I felt dirty to put a price tag on that and I didn't want to even ask what kind of check came with the “70%” label. So I filled out a lot of forms, and in a gut-wrenching all-nighter, described in detail my “stressors.” With my advisor, I turned in the forms in person in a building that could only make a bureaucrat smile.
It took me over a year and a meeting in person with the secretary of the VA just to get an ID card. I wasn't surprised when they wanted me to fill out more forms and I sent them in, like a good little veteran. Then over the course of months, the letters came. “We apologize for the delay.”
Today was different. The third letter I opened said, “We determined that the following condition was not related to your military service, so service connection couldn't be granted: Medical Description, Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)” “Service connection for post-traumatic stress disorder is denied.” “Review of your DD214, Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty, and 201 Personnel file are negative for any evidence of combat medals or ribbons that can be considered evidence of participation in a stressful episode.” Bureaucratic words that still slice like razors to the bone. I guess they didn't see my Combat Action Ribbon, or Navy Commendation Medal. Maybe I really was crazy before I joined the Marines!
I was livid to say the least. As I drove on and the desperation overcame the anger I cried. I turned up the music to drown the sorrow, but the tears kept coming. I know there is an appeals process that I intend to pursue, but this is worse than being called a “phony soldier” by some neocon nut job. So I guess it's back to being another struggling veteran, trying to figure out how I will cover the rent this month.
But my veteran friends were able to put things in perspective for me. I spoke to Scot Camil, whose courage as a veteran speaking out against the war in Vietnam has been a great source of inspiration for me. I spoke to Chris Hill of Gathering of Eagles, who happens to be a bit of a war fetishist, but understands the brotherhood of veterans. I spoke to Jeremy Williams, who served with me in the same unit at Camp Pendleton, and is now toiling as a tireless veterans advocate in Texas. It could be a lot worse. And before I went to bed, I spoke to my muse and heard the music and she touched my soul and everything was right as rain again.
Posted by Adam Kokesh at 5:34 AM
Monday, September 8, 2008
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
I have been in Minneapolis for the last week, first for the IVAW/VFP national convention and then for the launch events for the Campaign For Liberty which culminated last night with the Rally For The Republic. I wish I could sit here and write about all the amazing experiences I have had recently, but there is someone who wants to get an IVAW t-shirt on the floor of the RNC! Duty calls!
I was not planning on speaking at the rally last night, but the organizers decided to squeeze me in at the last minute to introduce Aimee Allen. So I leave you with this:
Posted by Adam Kokesh at 3:28 PM