Revolution #93, June 24, 2007

U.S. Military Targets Iraq War Vets for Speaking Out Against the War

Liam Madden, and Adam Kokesh, members of the Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), have been waging a political struggle against the U.S. military’s attempts to revoke their “honorable discharge” status because of their public opposition to the war.

Madden and Kokesh have been passionately speaking out against the war, organizing veterans, and joining in protests along with a growing number of Iraq War veterans. They have participated in mock army patrols in several cities organized by IVAW called "Operation First Casualty"--the "first causality" being the truth about the war. On the ABC program Good Morning America, Kokesh explained that these street theater events "bring home a small taste of the reality that Iraqis face every day living in an occupied country."

Liam and Adam are in the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR), a category which means that they are not active duty but could be called back into service in the event of an emergency. The military claims that various restrictions, including on political speech, that apply to active-duty soldiers also apply to those who are in the IRR. A press release from IVAW on the military hearing in Adam’s case states, "The implications of Kokesh's hearing may be far reaching, as the prosecution of a IRR military member under these circumstances is unprecedented."

While still on active duty, Liam Madden co-founded the Appeal For Redress petition to Congress calling for immediate U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, which has been signed by over 2,000 active-duty troops. He is currently on the Advisory Board of World Can’t Wait—Drive Out the Bush Regime. In June Liam received a certified letter from the military saying, "Sgt. Liam Madden is facing administrative action for unauthorized wear of the military uniform and disloyal statement." The military is going after Liam for wearing a part of his military uniform during an anti-war protest and stating during a February 17 speech in New York that "the war in Iraq according to the Nuremberg principles is a war crime and a crime of aggression" and that "the President has betrayed the U.S. service members by committing them to a war crime."

Kokesh received an email from the military that he was being investigated. Aside from being charged with violating regulations for wearing a part of his uniform in “Operation First Casualty,” Adam was accused of making "disrespectful comments to a superior commissioned officer." Speaking about this, Adam said, "I have to ask to those proponents of the current administrations policies, if the cause in Iraq is so just and so righteous, why are you so afraid of the truth? Why is it necessary to silence the voices of Veterans to remove them of their credibility to prevent them from wearing their uniforms while expressing their freedom of speech?"

The military’s attempt to silence Madden and Kokesh has received widespread media coverage. In addition Good Morning America, CNN and the Washington Post have covered the story.

Revoking of honorable discharge status could result in a veteran losing all military benefits including pay, health care, disability benefits, and money for college. At the June 13 hearing for Adam Kokesh, a military panel recommended a "general discharge," which is below honorable discharge and above dishonorable discharge, and which means that military benefits will not be taken away. Adam plans to appeal the recommendation. A hearing for Liam has not been set yet.

The military’s outrageous attempt to silence Kokesh and Madden is part of their efforts to squash the voices of resistance among veterans and active-duty troops. People must oppose this, and support Kokesh, Madden, and others who are stepping out against the U.S. war in Iraq.

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