Every time there is an anti-war rally, march, die-in, puke-in etc. you can find several protesters dressed in official military uniforms. The ones in uniform usually claim to have served in Iraq or Afghanistan. While some are truly vets, others are obvious posers (i.e. Jesse Macbeth). The uniforms are typically defaced with IVAW slogans or logos done in black marker. The tops are unbuttoned to show off the latest protest t-shirt. Medals and ribbons are usually in plentiful supply as a sign of "real service".
Two of the members of IVAW (Iraq Veterans Against the War), Adam Kokesh and Liam Madden are facing hearings by the Marine Corps for their protest attire. But if you read David Montgomery’s article, Antiwar to the Corps, in the Washington Post, you would think that the Marines were attempting to silence an anti-war voice. Not only did Montgomery miss the entire reason for the hearings, but he overlooked a few facts in his reporting.
Montgomery gave the background of the case...
In a case that raises questions about free speech, the Marines have launched investigations of three inactive reservists for wearing their uniforms during antiwar protests and allegedly making statements characterized as "disrespectful" or "disloyal."
Upon learning he was being investigated for wearing his uniform during the mock patrol, Kokesh wrote an e-mail to the investigating officer, Maj. John Whyte
Kokesh was notified by Major John Whyte via email of the investigation in March 2007. Major Whyte stated that he was reminding a “fellow Marine” of his obligations and duties, specifically the wearing of all or part of his uniform while engaged in political demonstrations or activities. Kokesh displayed his machismo and responded with extreme disrespect. He told Major Whyte to perform an act that is physically impossible then proceeded to sign the email "Adam Kokesh, PFC (Proud F*#@ing Civilian). There were no “alleged” statements as Montgomery implied. Kokesh was so proud of his response that he posted his response on his blog and at the IVAW website.
While Kokesh may have been honorably discharged from active duty, he was turned down for his requested second tour of duty in Iraq. Kokesh admits that he received Non Judicial Punishment and was reduced to the rank of Corporal for purchasing a pistol from an Iraqi policeman and bringing it home as a souvenir. He even wrote about the episode in his reply to Major Whyte.
Montgomery explained why Kokesh is free to wear and say whatever he wants at protests…
But, counters Lebowitz, unlike other types of reservists who have specific paid duties, Individual Ready Reservists are not paid, have no weekend drill requirements and no chain of command. Therefore, he argues, they are civilians, unless summoned back to duty. And if they are civilians, they can say pretty much what they want.
According to Maj. Whyte’s original email, Kokesh is considered active with the Reserves until June 18, 2007. While on an anti-war tour in Germany earlier this month, Kokesh wrote about using his military ID to get on the US Base to spread some anti-war venom…
When we got to the gate, the guard said that I couldn’t bring Jeff on with me because I was not registered in their system, even though I had a valid military ID. Jeff busted out the perfect story, “We’re backpacking around Europe, and we just wanted to come on base to use the PX. I just need to get some toiletries. See, I used to be in the Army too, but my ID is expired.” The guard suggested Jeff give me a list and wait for me. So I carried on alone.
As John said over at This Ain’t Hell…
He had a valid military ID card - he hadn’t been discharged, he’s subject to the UCMJ. Case closed.
Montgomery reported that Kokesh had no plans to curb his antiwar work, despite the consequences. That was quite obvious this weekend when Kokesh participated in another episode of IVAW Street Theater in NYC while wearing his military uniform.
If you want to read more, you can go to GI Special over at the Iraqi "Resistance" (in normal people's words - insurgent) website, Al Basrah. I encourage everyone to read through the entire GI Special Newsletter - Dishonorable Scum in Command edition. While reading GI Special, remember that members of IVAW are editors and contributors for this poison.
This is not about free speech or stifling dissent. It is about breaking the rules of the military that you signed up for. It's time for the military to start cracking down on these guys. If you want the benefits of the military, you gotta abide by the rules. Being a rock star with the anti-war crowd doesn't give you a free pass.