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Stop-loss Policy Upheld By Courts
Fri Jan 27, 2006 at 01:37:25 PM PST
In a series of cases, many decided in the last few weeks, the federal courts have upheld the controversial
"stop-loss" policy, which requires soldiers to remain in the military beyond their contracted term.
On Tuesday , a federal judge threw out a claim brought by two soldiers, David Qualls and Rafael Perez. Qualls'
case was dismissed as moot because he voluntarily re-enlisted after filing suit in 2004. Qualls said he re-enlisted to get
the $15,000 to avoid bankruptcy and provide for his family and children. As for Perez's claim, the judge ruled there was no
evidence that his recruiter misled him, nor was their a contractual breach on the part of the government. There were initially
eight soldiers in the lawsuit, but six dropped out after the judge refused to grant their request to stay anonymous.
Meanwhile, in Doe v. Rumsfeld (2006 WL 62337), the Ninth Circuit also upheld the military's stop-loss policy,
ruling that the policy is a "valid exercise of presidential power authorized by 10 U.S.C. § 12305(a)." Doe enlisted in the
military's "Try One" program, though his initial order had him deployed for two years. The court found that, despite the marketing
of "Try One," the government contract clearly stated that "[i]n time of national emergency declared by the President of the
United States, I[Doe] may be ordered to active duty" and that "my [Doe's] enlistment may be extended...."
Although several courts have now ruled on the legality of Bush's stop loss policy, the question remains: it
may be legal, but is it ethical? This bait-and-switch tactic has caused some 50,000 soldiers to be separated from their families
for an extended period of time. It directly impacts the morale of our troops. And in some cases, it causes our bravest to
die an untimely--and unnecessary--death.
They don't make yellow ribbons big enough to make up for that betrayal of our troops.
Bringing Home the Guard
More than 2,000 US soldiers have now died in the Iraq war. Polls show more
than half of Americans are in favor of withdrawal of at least some troops from Iraq. Yet, Congress has done little to make
that a reality.
A bipartisan bill demanding an exit strategy remains stalled in committee.
Last week, former presidential candidate John Kerry -- whose position on troops has shifted more than the desert sands --
issued only a tepid call for a withdrawal of 20,000 troops by Christmas. At least that's better than most of the Democrats'
so-called leaders: Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Harry Reid and Howard Dean have been silent on the issue. It is little wonder,
then, that the Pentagon recently "temporarily" increased the number of troops in Iraq from 138,000 to 160,000.
Fed up by the inaction of politicians on both sides of the aisle, a new group
is bypassing Congress to take the issue directly to the voters. Calling itself HomeFromIraqNow.org, it is sponsoring a binding initiative in Massachusetts to stop future deployment of National Guard troops overseas. If passed, it will prevent the governor
from allowing troops to be called up without a specific law passed by the state legislature -- at the same time urging the
governor to use all possible means to bring home those troops already outside the country. If successful in Massachusetts,
HomeFromIraqNow.org hopes to repeat the feat in some of the other 23 states that allow citizen petitions, creating nothing
short of a national referendum on the war itself.
"There is no popular support for the war," says Harold Hubschman, the group's
cofounder and chairman. "There needs to be a way for people to vote on the issue." The initiative focuses on the National
Guard because it is one of the few areas of the military that state government can exercise control over. While in the U.S.,
National Guard troops are under the command of the governor; only when they are federalized do they come under control of
Staying at Home
The basis for the initiative is a Supreme Court decision from 1990, when the
governor of Minnesota refused to allow National Guard members to be sent to Central America for a training mission. In its
ruling, the Supreme Court affirmed the right of the federal government to call up National Guard troops. But it also said
that governors could refuse a federal request if a deployment would impair its ability to serve or train for emergencies at
home, a loophole that governors could use to keep troops on the home front.
"Nobody can dispute that there are public safety and security issues today
being hampered by National Guard deployment to Iraq," says Hubschman. "There are weather-related crises. We are under threat
from terrorism. We need the National Guard to help us with those issues."
The best argument for recalling the National Guard, of course, is the recent
botched response to Katrina, in which more than a third of Louisiana Guard's troops and equipment were overseas while victims
waited days for troops to be mobilized from other states. Last week, a Congressional report slammed the Army's use of the
Guard to fight foreign wars, saying that such "heavy reliance on National Guard forces" is simply "not sustainable over time."
More than 70,000 Guard members are now deployed overseas -- the largest use
of those forces since World War II. Yet the report found that because of years of under-funding and abandonment of equipment
in Iraq, Guard units now have an average of only 34% of the equipment they need to respond to an emergency or terrorist attack
at home. Some items -- such as radios, night-vision goggles, and trucks -- have been completely depleted by the war.
The lack of equipment and training puts troops called to active duty in particular
jeopardy. "It's just insanity when the government determines you should be called to active duty, but you have been laboring
for years under outdated equipment," says Staff Sergeant Andrew Sapp, a member of the Massachusetts National Guard who just
returned from an 18-month deployment north of Tikrit. In addition to ailing equipment, he says troops in his chemical hazmat
unit received inadequate training for their duties protecting a base from sniper fire and mortar attacks.
The 48-year-old high school teacher was not naive about the possibility he
might be called up to active duty some day. But seeing the buildup to Iraq was like "watching a train wreck happen and not
being able to stop it." "I always thought if I were called up for active duty, the circumstances would be dire enough that
we would really be talking about the national defense," he said. "We are not imperiled by Iraq. At some point, the citizens
have to ask themselves if they are willing to sacrifice the people in their community."
Since returning to Massachusetts this month, Sapp has broken ranks by joining
Military Families Speak Out, an organization of soldiers and family members that has been helping HomeFromIraqNow.org
gather signatures to put the National Guard petition on the ballot for next November. The coalition faces a daunting task,
needing to submit some 66,000 signatures to city clerks by November 23 in order to certify the initiative.
"It's going to be a challenge," admits Hubschman, who has run past ballot
on such issues as universal healthcare, representational voting, and cable company deregulation. Unlike other petitions he's
worked on, however, this one is being staffed completely by volunteers.
On a recent rainy Saturday, one of those volunteers, Dan Nolan, shivered in
a flannel coat outside a subway station in the Boston suburb of Somerville. A longtime antiwar activist, he was drawn to the
campaign for its concrete set of goals. "Rather than continuing to do the same protest methods that have lost their effectiveness,
this is a pointed initiative that focuses on the National Guard," says Nolan. "It allows us to have a continuity of dissent
between the massive 100,000 person demonstrations."
In an afternoon of gathering signatures, Nolan and a partner get about 100
names -- not bad considering the weather, but a far cry from the thousands they'll need if they hope to get this on the ballot
within the next few weeks. The coalition has made use of the recent vigils and a large antiwar rally featuring Cindy Sheehan
on Boston Common this past weekend to troll for more signatures.
Their best hope, however, may be the Internet. As its name suggests, HomeFromIraqNow.org
has posted its petition form online and is urging supporters to print out copies, circulate them among friends,
and send them in by the deadline. "Nobody has ever done this kind of campaign before," says Hubschman, "It's sort of the Howard
Dean strategy without a candidate."
Because of their reliance on the Web, the campaign doesn't have a count on
the number of signatures they have collected so far -- and won't until supporters start mailing in forms (for which the campaign
has set a deadline of November 15). If they do get the number of signatures required to put it on the ballot, then widespread
discontent with the war among Massachusetts' liberal electorate may make passing the initiative into law a comparatively easier
task. "There is not going to be any nuance to this," says Hubschman. "There are some issues that just can't be spun."
Rule of Romney
If the law gets passed next November, it would no doubt set up a legal challenge
-- either between the federal government and a governor who refuses to let troops be federalized, or between citizens of the
state and a governor who authorizes troops to be sent. With the current Massachusetts governor, the latter possibility is
more likely. Republican Mitt Romney has been a staunch supporter of Bush's adventures in Iraq, and has recently given a spate
of "get-tough-on-terrorism" speeches around the country. In fact, when a group of six families from Military Families Speak
Out recently met with him to urge him to use his ties to the Bush administration to call for a pullout of National Guard troops,
they found an unsympathetic ear.
"I was disappointed by his lack of compassion," says Rose Gonzalez, a member
of the delegation whose mother who was stationed in Iraq as part of Sapp's unit. "'It was this air of 'It's not my responsibility.'
I'm sick of hearing 'It's not my responsibility.'" At the meeting, Romney acknowledged that the war was launched on the basis
of faulty intelligence, but he said he had no authority to bring the state's 1,100 troops overseas back home.
That's true, says Hubschman; a governor doesn't have the authority to bring
home troops once they are federalized. But the ballot initiative also includes a nonbinding clause urging the governor to
use "all legal means" to advocate for withdrawal of troops already overseas. "The governor has a fairly powerful bully pulpit,"
he says. "The purpose of a ballot initiative is not just to force an unwilling governor to do something; it's also to endorse
an affirmative position."
Hubschman also notes that if the vote does get on the ballot for next year's
election, it is unlikely that Romney will be the one charged with enforcing it. The year 2006 is an election year for governor
in Massachusetts, and Romney has been relentlessly touring the country in preparation for what many see as his inevitable
run for president in 2008. At the same time, even if he does run for governor, he faces two strong challengers on the Democratic
side in State Attorney General Tom Reilly and dark horse candidate Deval Patrick, Bill Clinton's former assistant attorney
general, who might be more willing to use the bully pulpit to advocate for troop withdrawal. In one past interview, Patrick
called the Iraq war a "terrible, terrible mistake" and advocated withdrawal "as early as possible."
No matter what the eventual governor ends up doing, supporters of the initiative
argue that its passage would itself send a powerful antiwar message. The campaign is already gearing up to help put similar
initiatives on the ballot in states including Maine, California, and Michigan.
"No one in American history has ever had the opportunity to vote on a war,"
says Hubschman. "The other side can ignore a protest, and they can ignore a debate in Congress, but the one thing politicians
can't ignore is a vote. If our elected leaders won't vote against the war, the people will."
Michael Blanding is a freelance writer living in Boston. Read more of his
writing at MichaelBlanding.com.
for a new meeting with Governor Gregoire
At the request of Bear Dyson, who has health
problems and handed me her baton in support of the National Guard Resolution to Governor Gregoire, I contacted her aide (with
whom we've met before), and sent the following including a request for a new meeting.
Good morning Mr. Ginatta,
believe you are aware, our own Bear Dyson, who has been focused on arranging a meeting with Governor Gregoire and yourself
to discuss the status of our Washington National Guard members serving in Iraq, has experienced severe health problems and
asked me to take her baton.
the interests of time (yours and mine) on a workday where I suspect you are busy, I've chosen to use the email to convey the
current purpose and desire of Military Families Speak Out - Pac NW chapter.
The question of the deployment of Washington
National Guard troops as well as NG troops nation-wide is back on the front burner. It's a more significant issue in light
of Hurricane Katrina as well as the growing positive response to the questions raised by Cindy Sheehan outside the Bush ranch
in Crawford, Texas.
Support for the war in Iraq has now fallen below 50%. Growing support for and positive actions
taken in agreement with Mrs. Sheehan and the current Bring Them Home Now bus tour headed toward Washington D.C. reveal
the shifting mood of our national and state voters.
Three days ago, the city of Chicago passed a resolution demanding
that the Bush administration bring the troops home now. The vote was 29-9. Yesterday the the city of Philadelphia did the
same thing (the vote was 16-1). In Pittsburgh earlier this week the United Steel Workers announced their support and
a demand that the troops be brought home now. Yesterday the AFL-CIO in Philadelphia took the same step.
Katrina has morally empowered every state governor to initiate action aimed at returning the NG home where they belong. The
proportion of NG troops required by the Bush administration in Iraq as a percentage of the overall troop strength there is
an embarrassing testament to the folly of the incursion. On-going revelations of lies and deception used to obtain support
for the Iraq venture in the first place are not going to die down - rather will continue as this president's support remains
in freefall. The notion that somehow a need to complete the now-discredited Bush "mission" is no longer politcally supportable.
The time has come for the citizens and leaders in each state to intitiate the actions needed to bring about change.
as I hope you know, does not have as its agenda a non-support of the military. Rather, we consider holding leadership accountable
for decisions that place our loved ones in harm's way as a patriotic duty that equals a soldier's obligation to defend
the country and follow the chain of command. Troops cannot do that in full confidence if they do not bear with them the confidence
that citizens at home are "watching their backs;" supporting them fully but making sure the leadership is kept honest. That's
the basis of democracy and patriotism.
We are proud of our governor and support her in her role.
on the Bring Them Home Now bus tour include Northwest members Stacy Bannerman and Lietta Ruger who have been speaking
publically from city to city as the buses near D.C. Currently a western tour is being planned and a visit with the Governor
is what we hope to arrange with you.
My wife, Lietta Ruger, is on the Central bus in the BTHN tour and has met with
reps of Senators Bayh and Lugar in Indiana, Dewine and Voinovich in Ohio and Specter and Santorum in Pennsylvania so far.
Her impressions have been that consistently, the Republican Senator's reps have been evasive, attempted to short-circuit or
deflect questions and divert the discussions in an effort to waste time. At the end of the interview with Senator Lugar's
rep, Lietta asked him to have the Senator call her.
"Why would I do that?" he replied, "You are not his constituent."
I have something to say to him." she replied.
I am also the President of Local 970 of the Washington Federation of
State Employees and am aware of the direction national union support for our troops has taken. I've met Governor Gregoire,
have heard her speak to our union convention, and am therefore aware that she is not ideologically opposed to what we citizens
who speak out in support of our NG troops have been saying.
We think the time to take further action regarding bringing
our National Guard troops home is now. We believe the our Governor would be willing to hear us out and that we represent a
powerful, willing and public advocacy in support of her.
Reference: Military Families Speak Out Pacific Northwest
Dying to Preserve the Lies
Chicago City Council urges immediate withdrawal of U-S troops from Iraq
Bloomington Resolutions Oppose Iraq War, Patriot Act, Seek Higher Minimum Wage
Philadephia resolution:Click for copy in PDF
Pacific Northwest Portal's WASHBLOG:Lietta Ruger: Bring Them Home Now Tour Notes 9/5 -
Thank you for taking time to read this.
Please get back to me via email or telephone
Bay Center WA
The Daily Evergreen (WSU)
Monday, April 4, 2005 -
Group looks to bring National Guard
Fire season means more troops needed, families argue
by Ben Everstine, Staff WriterThe Washington State Governor's office is anticipating a record fire season, and additional help is needed. More than
3,000 Washington National Guard troops will be returning home from the War in Iraq this summer
On top of all this, however, is a group of military families that are pushing
to bring every single National Guard soldier home.
The organization, called Washington Military Families Speak Out (WMFSO) is
the local branch of the larger MFSO that is working to bring National Guard troops home in other parts of the Northwest in
coordination with the efforts to help with the fire season.
According to their Web site, the members of the group have family members
involved in Iraq, including ones that were part of the Ft. Lewis group that was attacked in December. Lietta Ruger, a senior
member of the Pacific Northwest MFSO, says all of the National Guard is needed at home.
"We have National Guard activated to a point that is beyond normal, and we
have needs at the state level," Ruger said. "The concerns go above and beyond politics."
The group has brought a resolution, which is available online, to the Governor's
office with hopes to form a continuing conversation and a formation of a task force to help. The most important part of this
process is citizen involvement Ruger said, and this is what the group is working toward at this time.
"We are optimistic and hopeful that the citizens will respond to the states
needs," Ruger said. "It's not just a military family concern, it is a state voter constituency concern."
Steve Pierce, a member of the Governor's Communications Office, said Governor
Gregoire is planning to bring 3,000 of the 3,600 currently deployed National Guard troops home to help with the fire season.
The Governor understands the position of the families, but a full withdrawal is not possible, he said.
"The Governor is proud of the service of the brave men and women in the National
Guard," Pierce said. "But we must recognize the need of the country."
There is a strong number of National Guard members here at WSU, said Charii
Higgins, the Veteran's Affairs Administrator, and many have been active in current operations.
"There are quite a few students at WSU that have gone to Iraq, are in Iraq
or will go to Iraq," Higgins said. "Those who have come back have all their fingers and toes, thankfully."
Higgins said it is up to the individual units of the National Guard and the
governor to decide what the soldiers will do during the fire season. When asked about the families' resolution to bring all
the troops home, the Veteran's Affairs Office declined to comment.
Brendon Kepner, the president of the College Republicans, sympathizes with
the families, but says it is much more important that they stay in Iraq to help the spread of democracy.
"To withdraw like this wouldn't go well," Kepner said. "Those who are pushing
aren't realizing the importance."
Ruger said that the resolution has been brought to the attention of Antonio
Ginatta of the governor's policy advisory office. Since then, however, there as not been a formal comment.
Pierce said there will be no formal comment from the governor, except that
she sympathizes with the families and understands their position.
Similar actions have been made in other states around the nation. The first
movement to bring home National Guard troops occurred in a Vermont town hall meeting, Ruger said. Also, according to the WMFSO
Web site, similar actions have been made in Oregon and Montana where the state will also bring home some of it's National
Guard to help fight fires.
Ruger said the most important thing is to have an ongoing dialogue with the
governor's office and to not turn this into a game of politics.
"We want to be supportive of Governor Gregoire," Ruger said.
Another MFSO Pac NW member volunteers to get involved. And she's gifted.
Bear and I met this morning. Bear said she wants to focus her part of the
presentation to Mr Ginatta on the ways the Iraq affects Guardsmen and
their family members. I said I would research the legal authority the Governor could exercise over the Guard. Bear kindly
gave me email address of other MFSO members who might be able to help on the legal front.
I'll forward info to both of you as it comes in. She also asked me to go with
the 2 of you to Olympia. I welcome any suggestion you may have to help me research these issue. thank you again for everything
that you do. Anne Marie Leigh
Anyone else to volunteer or add suggestions send to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Monday, March 7, 2005
Resolution presented to Washington State
Governor, Christine Gregoire
Washington State Citizens’ Call Upon Governor Christine Gregoire
to Affirmatively Act to Seek Withdrawal of National Guard Troops from Iraq:
Comments from Executive Policy Advisor, Antonio
Ginatta, as reported in the Daily Olympian
Fort Lewis soldier's
family urges Gregoire to oppose deployment
by Brad Shannon
Three military-family activists hoping to pull U.S. troops back
from Iraq have met with an aide to Gov. Christine Gregoire, urging her to question President Bush's authority to keep Washington
National Guard troops deployed in the occupied country.
"This group was very serious ... very direct. The governor will hear about it,
and we'll see where she goes with it," said Antonio Ginatta, Gregoire's policy adviser on general government issues, including
Ginatta met with Susan Livingston, sister of Fort Lewis-based
Stryker Brigade member Joe Blickenstaff, who died in Iraq, as well as widow Angela Blickenstaff and Lietta Ruger. Ruger said
she has a nephew and son-in-law who served in Iraq.
"He said there will be continued dialogue," Livingston said
of Ginatta after the meeting. Blickenstaff was among the first Fort Lewis-based Stryker soldiers to die in Iraq, and Livingston
said "the governor has a duty to do everything in her power to bring our National Guard troops home as soon as possible, and
to make certain they stay here, where we need them."
In a move the activists said was repeated in Oregon with Gov.
Ted Kulongoski, they pointed out to Ginatta that the state's drought conditions make it more likely Washington will need Guard
troops to deal with wildfire.
The three women are affiliated with military family groups such
as the Washington Chapter of Gold Star Families for Peace and Military Families Against the War.
They noted that Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer on Friday asked
the Pentagon to return some of that state's Guardsmen in order to fight wildfires. CNN quoted Schweitzer as saying: "Somebody's
going to have a blowup. Is it Northern Idaho, is it Eastern Washington, or is it Montana?"
"I know our governor has expressed a particular
concern for our veterans returning home from Iraq," Ginatta said. "So I know she will be interested in hearing about the meeting.
... This will get raised to her in the next couple of days."
click here to download Washington Resolution
You can download copy of the Resolution presented to Washington Governor
Gregoires office. We encourage distribution freely. We encourage citizens to sign the Resolution and mail to Governor
Gregoire's office at:
Governor Christine Gregoire
Office of the Governor
PO Box 4002
Olympia, WA 98504-0002
Invitation and Action: Delegation from
Military Families Speak Out and Gold Star Families for Peace traveled to Olympia State Capitol Monday, March 7, to meet with
Governor's Office and present the Resolution compelling Governor Gregoire to call home the National Guard troops.
Meeting was with Executive Policy Advisor, Antonio Ginatta, of the Governor's
Executive Policy Office. Antonio Ginatta was receptive, attentive and encouraging in listening to the delegations concerns,
as well as receiving the Resolution. There will be continued meetings.
All are invited to participate in downloading a copy of the Resolution,
signing it with your name, address and sending to the Governor's office. (download and address above)
Governor Christine Gregoire
Office of the Governor
PO Box 40002
Olympia, WA 98504-0002
As well, you can sign a copy of the Resolution and submit to your own Legislative
Representatives. Find your Representative at link below;
Washington State Citizens’ Call Upon Governor Christine Gregoire to
Affirmatively Act to Seek Withdrawal of National Guard Troops from Iraq:
Whereas, the conditions underlying the Authorization for use of Military
Force against Iraq Resolution (PL 107-243), have been proven false or declared invalid;
Whereas, the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States
(also known as the 9-11 Commission), was unable to find any connection between the tragedy of 9-11 and the people or government
Whereas, the President has declared the weapons of mass destruction, one
of the pretexts for preemptory action, do not exist;
Whereas, there never was a threat to the security of the United States posed
by Saddam Hussein or the people of Iraq;
Whereas, the January elections in Iraq, the election of a National Assembly,
and the effort to create a new constitution, all applauded by the President as indications of the birth of democracy in the
region, also serve to indicate that Iraq no longer represents a threat, real or imagined, to the security of the United States;
Whereas, the United Nations sanctions, also tied to the weapons of mass
destruction and to the regime of Saddam Hussein, and which serve as a secondary basis for the authorization of military action,
are no longer valid, and whereas even the United States is calling for the end of the U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection
Commission (UNMOVIC); Whereas, the Governor and State Legislature have a particular responsibility to the members of the Washington
National Guard, their families and to the community that they serve;
Whereas, the Washington National Guard was created, in part, for the protection
of the citizens of Washington from natural disasters or threats of violence within the state boundaries, as well as to protect
the sovereignty of US borders;
Whereas, Washington’s National Guard troops have been called up in
numbers, at nearly the highest per capita level of any state, to serve on active duty in Iraq;
Whereas, National Guard troops have been poorly equipped and have received
only rudimentary training for service in this war, and are therefore suffering casualties at rates considerably higher than
those of regular Army troops;
Whereas, Washington’s National Guard troops are being subjected to
unfair and involuntary extensions of duty well beyond the terms of their enlistment contracts,and their families, employers
and communities have had to bear the hardship of accommodating the prolonged absence of the Guard members;
Whereas, the National Guard at home in Washington has been decimated by
the mobilization of our troops for these foreign wars, and whereas, a disproportionate number of National Guard members, in
civilian life, serve as police officers, firefighters, EMT personnel, prison guards, etc., their absence has left our own
communities vulnerable and ill-prepared for any natural disaster or terrorist attack
within our own state borders;
Whereas, fewer and fewer Washingtonians are willing to enlist in the National
Guard because of the inappropriate use and unfair treatment of Guard troops by the US Defense Department and Army, leaving
the likelihood that Washington could be left unprotected for years to come;
Whereas, the prospect of further cuts to federal spending in human services
and other local assistance programs, and the threat of additional cuts tothe already criminally impoverished Veterans Administration,
will place additional demands on currently overstressed state and local social services;
Therefore Be It Resolved: The citizens of the State of Washington demand
the Governor exercise her power as Commander-in-Chief of the Washington National Guard to publicly compel the President of
the United States to justify the continued deployment of Washington National Guard personnel in, or in support of, the military
incursion in Iraq, pursuant to PL 107-243, and further to pursue and exhaust every avenue in her power to immediately bring,
or cause to be
brought home, all Washington National Guard troops presently serving in Iraq, or in training for that war,
and to prevent their re-deployment in support thereof.
Presented by: Military Families Speak Out. Gold Star
Families for Peace, Veterans for Peace, and National Lawyers Guild