Friday, June 08, 2007

 

Truth: The First Casualty of War


** Defend A Marine's Right to Speak Out: Support Liam Madden of the Boston Chapter of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) and co-founder of the Appeal for Redress.


Because of his courageous antiwar activism, the Marines are attempting to go after him and saddle him with an "other than honorable discharge"

Sign the Online Petition in defense of Liam Madden: http://www.petitiononline.com/liam/petition.html


Background: Former Marine Liam Madden and Adam Kokesh, who is also under attack, both served in Iraq and were both honorably discharged. Upon their return, they both joined Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW). Liam is also a cofounder of the Appeal for Redress, a statement signed by nearly 2,000 active-duty troops that garnered a lot of media coverage, and he has been helping to organize a bus tour to some 20 military bases throughout the eastern U.S. Adam has been in Germany, reaching out to soldiers at the U.S. Army base at Ansbach. Both Adam and Liam participated in the first installment of Operation First Casualty, in which IVAW members brought the war home through street theater by mounting "patrols" in the streets of Washington, D.C., on March 19. Now the Marine Corps is trying to make an example of them. Both men are still part of the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR), an inactive status that practically all troops pass through prior to final separation from the military.

Now, Both Adam and Liam are being charged with appearing in uniform at a political event. Additionally, Liam is being charged with "disloyal statements" for calling the war in Iraq "a war crime." Adam is facing a military hearing on Monday June 4th in Kansas where he will be "tried" by a panel of 3 officers. If found guilty, an "other than honorable discharge" will prevent him from ever being able to get a government job or many other types of jobs, similar to the effect of a criminal record. Liam has not received a hearing date yet, but he expects to.

Why we need to fight this: "The military is trying to stifle the IVAW's voice in the public discourse about the war," Liam has said. "If we are to have an informed and free discussion in society about the most pressing issue of our generation, the war in Iraq, then the voices of returning veterans are a crucial aspect."

This is an attempt to squash informed discussion of the true reality of their war as well squash the budding movement of antiwar soldiers and veterans turning against the war. "They perceive me as a figurehead or a vocal component of this, and it's their tendency to nip that in the bud by going after the figurehead. The troops are allegedly fighting for freedom and democracy, yet their voices are suppressed when they get home--if their voices go against the grain." They want to silence Liam's message that the whole war is a war crime- and you cannot "win" a war crime, you can only end it-- immediately. The military's charges against Liam send a threatening message to other soldiers and veterans that they should not dare to speak or organize against the war. If they get away with punishing Liam, the military will be emboldened to go after many other dissenters.

The antiwar movement must step up and send a message that it will have the backs of its antiwar brothers and sisters within the ranks of the military. Gary Kurpius, the national commander of the 2.4 million-member Veterans of Foreign Wars has recently made news with his statement that "Trying to hush up and punish fellow Americans for exercising the same democratic right we're trying to instill in Iraq is not what we're all about."


At a time when the majority of people in the US, the vast majority of Iraqis, and unprecedented numbers of US troops are against this war, we can't let some of the most important voices in the antiwar movement be silenced. This is about the important antiwar voice and contributions of Liam Madden but also about the current and future antiwar leadership of countless soldiers and veterans whose vocal and active opposition will be essential to ending this war.

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