Military Families Speak Out Washington State Chapter

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Bring Them Home Now!

One of the features of military families in this war that differs from previous wars is that there are more young married soldiers.

Here are some statistics:

-- in Iraq war, soldiers often married, with children

-- 55% of military personnel are married. 56% of those married are between 22 and 29.

-- One million military children are under 11.

-- 40% are 5 or younger.

-- 63% of spouses work, including 87% of junior-enlisted spouses.

Source: Department of Defense and National Military Family Association.



Dissent is loyalty Robert Taft, the conservative Ohio senator who is a hero to many of today's conservatives, gave a speech at the Executive Club of Chicago in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor.

There are a number of paragraphs that are just grand, but here's the best one, which is worth quoting in full:

As a matter of general principle, I believe there can be no doubt that criticism in time of war is essential to the maintenance of any kind of democratic government

... too many people desire to suppress criticism simply because they think that it will give some comfort to the enemy to know that there is such criticism.

If that comfort makes the enemy feel better for a few moments, they are welcome to it as far as I am concerned, because
the maintenance of the right of criticism in the long run will do the country maintaining it a great deal more good than it will do the enemy,
and will prevent mistakes which might otherwise occur.

Drink in those words.

That's not William Fulbright two years into the Vietnam War.

It's not Ted Kennedy last week.

It's Mr. Republican, speaking -- when? Not mid-1943, or even March 1942

Taft delivered this speech ... on December 19, 1941!

That's right: Twelve days after the worst attack on American soil in the country's history,

perhaps with bodies still floating in the harbor,

the leader of the congressional opposition said to the president, 'we will question, we will probe, we will debate.'

By Michael Tomasky,
The AMERICAN Prospect online


Order and send postcards to Congress - Fund our Troops, Defund the

Bring Them Home Now postage stamps


For more information see Appeal for Redress website.


For more information go to dvd 'The Ground Truth' website.


Some Past Campaigns - Washington state chapter MFSO members participation

2007

(photo - Daniel Ellsberg, Lt. Ehren Watada)

(photo - Organizing Team; Lietta Ruger - MFSO - WA chapter introduces the Panelists)

(photo - on the Panel - Elizabeth Falzone - GSFSO/ MFSO - WA chapter and Rich Moniak - MFSO - Alaska chapter listen to two days of testimony)

(photo - close up of Panelists Elizabeth Falzone - GSFSO/ MFSO - WA chapter and Rich Moniak - MFSO - Alaska chapter)

(photo - rRetired Diplomat Col. Ann Wright gives her testimony)

(photo - Organizing Team - Lietta Ruger - MFSO - WA chapter with retired Col. Ann Wright - Testifier)

(photo - Stacy Bannerma, wife of returning Iraq veteran - WA Natl Guard, gives testimony)

(photo - close up Stacy Bannerman, author of 'When The War Came Home' gives her testimony. Formerly MFSO - WA chapter. For more on Stacy, her book, media archives, see her website at www.stacybannerman.com)

(photo - IVAW veterans Geoffrey Millard and former Lt. Harvey Tharp give their testimony)

See website; 'Citizens' Hearing on Legality of U.S. Actions in Iraq';

Jan 20-21- 2007, Tacoma, WA.

A 2 day citizens' tribunal support action in defense of Lt. Ehren Watada court martial at Fort Lewis.

(Organizing Team from MFSO - WA chapter; Lietta Ruger, Judy Linehan)

2006


(photo Lietta Ruger, MFSO- WA, in support Lt. Ehren Watada, June 2006, Tacoma, WA)

(photo - Jenny Keesey, Judy Linehan, Lietta Ruger - from MFSO-WA in support of Lt. Ehren Watada June 2006, Tacoma, WA)

(photo - Lietta Ruger, Judy Linehan, Jenny Keesey - from MFSO - WA chapter, June 2006, Tacoma, WA)

(photo - Judy Linehan, MFSO - WA at support rally for Lt. Watada, June 2006, Tacoma, WA)

June 2006 ongoing through court martial Feb 2007

For more information, see 'Thank You Lt. Ehren Watada' website.


(photo - right is Stacy Bannerman, MFSO -WA; organizing team)

Representative Brian Baird, Washington state 3rd Congressional District, in blue shirt comes out to talk with MFSO members at 'Operation House Call')

'Operation House Call' June thru August 2006 in Washington DC.

MFSO members make individual calls on Senators and Representatives advocating to Bring Them Home Now.

For more information go to 'Operation House Call' website.

postcards sent to Congress - summer 2006, 'Operation House Call'


2005


(photo - Lietta Ruger, MFSO-WA on central tour. Not pictured - Stacy Bannerman, MFSO -WA on northern tour)

Bring Them Home Now tour - Sept 1 thru Sept 25 2005. From Crawford, Texas to Washington DC. see Bring Them Home Now tour website


(photo - left Lietta Ruger, MFSO -WA with center Cindy Sheehan and right Juan Torres at Crawford, Texas, Camp Casey, Aug 9, 2005


2004

photos from Newshour with Jim Lehrer; segment 'Homefront Battles' aired Oct 2004.

Online video, audio and article still available at Newshour website. photo - Sue Niederer, MFSO. Her son U.S. Army 2nd Lt.Seth Dvorin, 24 yrs old was killed in Iraq Feb 3, 2004.

photo - Nancy Lessin, MFSO Co-Founder

photo - Lietta Ruger, MFSO - WA

photo - Stacy Bannerman, MFSO - WA


See at Seattle PI; List of casualties with Washington state ties

This is one of WA state casualties; Army Spc. Jonathan J. Santos, Whatcom County, Washington died Oct 15, 2004

Watch a slide show of family photos and listen to audio recordings of Army Cpl. Jonathan Santos' mother, brother and the woman who's documenting his life.

See the trailer for the documentary "The Corporal's Boots." (QuickTime 7 required).

A special thank you to mother, Doris Kent - GSFSO/ MFSO - WA for her generous sharing and contribution in speaking of her son's life and death in Iraq


Title 17 disclaimer In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.
Archive


Contact us


mfso@mfso.org




Military Families Speak Out
is an organization of people who are opposed to war in Iraq and who have relatives or loved ones in the military. We were formed in November of 2002 and have contacts with military families throughout the United States, and in other countries around the world.

As people with family members and loved ones in the military, we have both a special need and a unique role to play in speaking out against war in Iraq. It is our loved ones who are, or have been, or will be on the battlefront. It is our loved ones who are risking injury and death. It is our loved ones who are returning scarred from their experiences. It is our loved ones who will have to live with the injuries and deaths among innocent Iraqi civilians.

If you have family members or loved ones in the military and you are opposed to this war join us.

Send us an e-mail at
mfso@mfso.org
.
You can call us at 617-522-9323
or Send us mail at:
MFSO
P.O. Box 549
Jamaica Plain, MA 02130.

click here - MFSO Membership Form – to join Military Families Speak Out or

JOIN us by sending an e-mail to mfso@mfso.org.


MFSO - Become a Member

Membership in MFSO is open to anyone who has a family member or loved one serving, since August 2002, in any branch of our Armed Forces

* The Reserves

* The National Guard

* Returned from serving but still eligible for redeployment under stop loss.

There is no membership fee. Donations are welcome.

People who are not eligible for MFSO membership may join our Supporter Group. You are welcome to attend meetings that are open to the public, volunteer to help with event preparation and participate in our community actions and events. Supporters may purchase MFSO t-shirts and wear them with the "Proud Supporter of MFSO" button. Buttons may also be worn without the t-shirt.

Our Supporters provide emotional encouragement and physical help to our MFSO military families who are under extreme stress, especially if their loved one is in Iraq or Afghanistan

We welcome your involvement, please contact us.


click to see the list MFSO chapters other than Washington state forming around the country.


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CHRONOLOGICAL ARCHIVES
into our 3rd year of speaking out
13 Oct, 08 > 19 Oct, 08
31 Dec, 07 > 6 Jan, 08
29 Oct, 07 > 4 Nov, 07
10 Sep, 07 > 16 Sep, 07
16 Jul, 07 > 22 Jul, 07
2 Jul, 07 > 8 Jul, 07
4 Jun, 07 > 10 Jun, 07
28 May, 07 > 3 Jun, 07
21 May, 07 > 27 May, 07
14 May, 07 > 20 May, 07
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30 Apr, 07 > 6 May, 07
23 Apr, 07 > 29 Apr, 07
16 Apr, 07 > 22 Apr, 07
9 Apr, 07 > 15 Apr, 07
2 Apr, 07 > 8 Apr, 07
26 Mar, 07 > 1 Apr, 07
19 Mar, 07 > 25 Mar, 07
12 Mar, 07 > 18 Mar, 07
5 Mar, 07 > 11 Mar, 07
26 Feb, 07 > 4 Mar, 07
19 Feb, 07 > 25 Feb, 07
12 Feb, 07 > 18 Feb, 07
5 Feb, 07 > 11 Feb, 07
29 Jan, 07 > 4 Feb, 07
22 Jan, 07 > 28 Jan, 07
15 Jan, 07 > 21 Jan, 07
8 Jan, 07 > 14 Jan, 07
1 Jan, 07 > 7 Jan, 07
25 Dec, 06 > 31 Dec, 06
13 Nov, 06 > 19 Nov, 06
6 Nov, 06 > 12 Nov, 06
30 Oct, 06 > 5 Nov, 06
16 Oct, 06 > 22 Oct, 06
9 Oct, 06 > 15 Oct, 06
25 Sep, 06 > 1 Oct, 06
4 Sep, 06 > 10 Sep, 06
28 Aug, 06 > 3 Sep, 06
21 Aug, 06 > 27 Aug, 06
14 Aug, 06 > 20 Aug, 06
24 Jul, 06 > 30 Jul, 06
17 Jul, 06 > 23 Jul, 06
10 Jul, 06 > 16 Jul, 06
3 Jul, 06 > 9 Jul, 06
26 Jun, 06 > 2 Jul, 06
19 Jun, 06 > 25 Jun, 06
5 Jun, 06 > 11 Jun, 06
29 May, 06 > 4 Jun, 06
15 May, 06 > 21 May, 06
8 May, 06 > 14 May, 06
1 May, 06 > 7 May, 06
24 Apr, 06 > 30 Apr, 06
3 Apr, 06 > 9 Apr, 06
20 Mar, 06 > 26 Mar, 06
13 Mar, 06 > 19 Mar, 06
27 Feb, 06 > 5 Mar, 06
20 Feb, 06 > 26 Feb, 06
13 Feb, 06 > 19 Feb, 06
6 Feb, 06 > 12 Feb, 06
30 Jan, 06 > 5 Feb, 06
23 Jan, 06 > 29 Jan, 06
16 Jan, 06 > 22 Jan, 06
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17 Oct, 05 > 23 Oct, 05
26 Sep, 05 > 2 Oct, 05
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8 Aug, 05 > 14 Aug, 05
25 Jul, 05 > 31 Jul, 05
11 Jul, 05 > 17 Jul, 05
4 Jul, 05 > 10 Jul, 05
23 May, 05 > 29 May, 05
4 Apr, 05 > 10 Apr, 05
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1 Nov, 04 > 7 Nov, 04
18 Oct, 04 > 24 Oct, 04
11 Oct, 04 > 17 Oct, 04
4 Oct, 04 > 10 Oct, 04

Sunday, 19 November 2006

Now Playing: Voices in War Time
Topic: Events

"Voices in Wartime" curriculum at Bellevue and Shoreline Community Colleges 

Shoreline Community College;
This fall, a class at Shoreline Community College in north Seattle is using the
Voices in Wartime Education Project
to spark deep discussions about a painful topic. To the complete surprise of the teacher, almost every student is attending every session of a class at 7:30 AM. For many, this is the first time they have been prompted to think seriously about a subject they have previously avoided.

Bellevue Community College;
During the whole of the 2006-2007 school year, a campus-wide program sponsored by the Center for the Liberal Arts at Bellevue Community College is incorporating
Voices in Wartime Education Project
into its programming and events:


my added note; Voices in Wartime is a Seattle based enterprise and let's hope it serves as a prototype for schools all across the country - kudos and way to go Seattle - way to go Washington state! We have some very dedicated people at work in this state in different venues trying to bring attention to Iraq war, help our military and their families in what continues to be an uphill climb. Pushing that rock up the mountain has to be a better alternative than sinking in hopeless futility into the cesspool.

 at Bellevue Community College (continued)

    * Teachers from a broad mix of arts, humanities, and social sciences will be using the Voices in Wartime DVD, Anthology, and Curricula in their classes, including English composition, literature, sociology, history, political science, communications, drama, and English as a Second Language.
    * In a program called BCC Reads! thousands of students will read and discuss an extraordinary novel, The Things They Carried, by Vietnam veteran Tim O'Brian.
    * The campus radio station, KBCS, will broadcast a 25-weeklong series of Voices in Wartime stories told by students who are witnesses of war, whether they are combat veterans or family members of veterans, war refugees, or their relatives.
    * The weekly student newspaper, The Jibsheet, will publish Voices in Wartime stories from students based on their experiences and reactions to war.
    * A BCC faculty member, acting as a story curator, will work with other teachers to help a thousand or more students publish their essays and narratives on the Voices in Wartime website.

The Voices in Wartime Education Project is using art, dialogue, and education to create healing and social change - in the midst of an ongoing war. Our focus this year is to build a powerful and successful model - an educational program using the Voices in Wartime DVD, Anthology,  and Curricula that can have a deep and lasting affect on thousands of students and teachers nationwide.

A Teachable Moment in America?

Three and a half years after the invasion of Iraq, I believe our country is nearing an historic "teachable moment" when we may be open to new insight into how we can live in a more sustainable and peaceful world. Out of the chaos and wreckage of war might come a new understanding of the terrible human cost of war, and the legacy of trauma created by war. And we might arrive at new wisdom that will help us discover peaceful alternatives to war

Voices in Wartime,
4509 Interlake Ave. N. #263,
Seattle, WA 98103-6782
Phone - 206-632-7587

Home -  http://voicesinwartime.org

About the Movie - http://voicesinwartime.org/movie.htm

About the Education Project- http://voicesinwartime.org/about.htm

Contact Us - http://voicesinwartime.org/contact.htm
Email - info@voicesinwartime.org
Phone - 206-632-7587

Voices in Wartime is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that aims to transform how we respond to, engage in, and recover from conflict, through education and the arts. The Education Project offers tools, philosophies, and learning methods that can help us transform the conditions under which conflict becomes intractable and violent.


Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PST
Sunday, 12 November 2006

Now Playing: Arthur Ruger
Topic: Members Speak Out

Support the Troops? VFW cut and ran

I see where the VFW chose to endorse a Republican candidate who has never served in the military and repudiate Tammy Duckworth, a Democratic candidate who is not only a Vet but lost both legs in the Occupation of Iraq. If the local VFW comes calling to recruit me into membership, they need to send someone like Bill Moyer, a 73-year-old vet who wore the "bullshit protector" in his ear while at the VFW convention.

The apparent thinking as voiced by the VFW endorsing entity had to do with the Repug's track record of cheap talk and votes in support of military and or veteran issues ... as if a newly elected Iraq Veteran in Congress would not vote with an even greater wisdom.

There is a horrendous naiveté in this action in that VFW veterans who have been there and done that have taken a coward's route perhaps voting more their fear about pensions and health benefits (ironically endangered more under Bushco than any administration) than demonstrating any long-time veteran's genuine desire for national well-being.

If so, this in a way makes of the VFW the same corporate capitalists as jokers like Delay, Ney, and Burns  and others who accept money from Abramhoff in exchange for votes and endorsements.

 

 

Choosing the republicans for such a sissified reason demonstrates not only a lack of current courage, but a blind-sighted gullibility to the cheap talk of a desperate republican party;

the same republican party which also includes an extra-ordinary number of citizens the age of the VFW'ers who not only did not serve, but went out of their way to avoid the military.

Although VFW would certainly not want to support an anti-war candidate perceived as a "socialist/commie" espousing lots of contraries to American political and economic traditions, to choose a did-not-serve party puppet over one of their own for shabby and inaccurate reasons demonstrated questionable veteran wisdom.

Senator McCain typifies the waffled-thought and behavior manifested by the VFW.

The mantle of being the last great Republican veteran seems now to be Robert Dole and not John McCain who has cheapened his life with a political hypocrisy that has in no justified itself by his courageous performance and record while wearing the uniform.

There was a time at the end of the 1990's when I was willing to put down the TV clicker and get out to work for McCain for president - regardless of party affiliation.

No longer.

McCain's performance over the past two years is emarrassing. The VFW has now joined his club. What will we see next - as we saw with George and John -  a VFW and the little president in a foto bear hug to complete the deal?

When I finally arrived at a time of interest in organizations like VFW and the American Legion I ignored the temptation to join them - primarily because I had become dismayed by their tendency to look the other way while blindly believing and supporting insincere and manipulative presidents ... er, commanders-in-chief.

There is no reason for a Veteran to support this particular CIC in his pretend uniforms and pilot jackets and who has been able to perform the one simple thing his puppeteers require - talk cheap flag talk.

I'd like to think that the older generation of Veterans contains but a more mature reflection of the younger Vet's organizations;

groups like Veterans for Peace, Vietnam Veterans Against the War and Iraq Veterans Against the War, the epitome of why veterans are wiser than never-served civilians who think war is a game;

veterans who easily demonstrate a greater and wiser perspective of how civic duty blends with military duty in this day and this age of placing party above country and political profit above military well-being.

Why is that one may ask?

Perhaps because the older American Legion and VFW veterans were not betrayed by presidents who prioritized genuine national best-interest behind party priorities and  unsound economic ideologies

- ideologies which have proven themselves extremely advantageous for business and wealth at the expense of the working class from which comes the majority of soldiers .

Veterans on pensions should know better than to support robber barons.

VFP, VVAW and IVAW  are primarily populated by military veterans whose sense of civic responsibility transcends any blind and naïve trusting of a leader merely because of his supposed CIC uniform.

VFW and the American Legion have supported this current American shyster president despite his obvious leadership ineptness. If there's one thing all veterans of all ages know, it's when the officer has his head up his ass and doesn't know shit from shinola. We've all been there, seen that and done that.

Wise veterans do not ascribe to the little president any high moral authority and patriotic wisdom. He doesn't have it, doesn't wield it, and no amount of old-time chain-of-command blind loyalty will create it.

Nevertheless, because the little man became President of the United States, VFW behaves as if there is a tooth fairy-type of spirit that visited small George in the dark quiet of his first night in the White House;

that the patriotic tooth fairy in some mystical way poured a spirit of civic wisdom into that small mind;

forcing his born-again dreams aside so the wisdom of Lincoln and the courage of Eisenhower somehow blended.

Some version of this assumptive logic lies behind the VFW decision to repudiate the Democratic candidate who has paid more than her fair share of dues;

all the while making themselves look like foolish game-players who think political endorsements are things to brag to Mabel about after the lights go out.

As a military veteran I continue to withhold any endorsement of the VFW and will continue my refusal to join them in any kind of society of pretend patriotism that worships lack of form without substance;

that lives in darkness and crows unwisely in foolish gratitude for any mushroom food tossed in their direction.

Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PST
Sunday, 5 November 2006

Now Playing: Arthur Ruger
Topic: Soldiers Speak Out

Military Newspapers, real patriotism & outrageous courage from a surprising source


Tomorrow the Air Force Times, The Army Times, The Navy Times and the Marine Times are publishing an editorial calling for Bush to fire Rumsfeld. The editorial says Rumsfeld has "lost credibility" with top officers.

As a legitimate action of genuine political support of our sons and daughters at war, the implication of these editorials is enormous. They  accomplish more in one moment than 6 years of presidential appearances on military installations, in military communities and at VFW and American Legion Conventions.

In addition, the military "Times" editorials effectively counter the shabby and foolish decision of the VFW to endorse a did-not-serve cheap-talking Republican candidate rather than Democratic Congressional candidate Tammy Duckworth, an Iraq veteran who lost both legs to the Republican Occupation of Iraq.

 

Without doubt, historically these newspapers have been solidly in the Bush-as-CIC adoration society. That they now choose to risk disfavor among their subscription base which is - of course primarily military families - speaks loudly and clearly about the changed direction of the political breeze in this country.

The White House can't really launch a swift-boat-liars campaign against these Military Times publications because of who the subscribers are, but they can fall back on their own historical cupidity and go to the dumb-them-down well one more time before the election.

Regardless of White House and Tony Snow protestations that  "the military papers, produced for military personnel by a subsidiary of Gannett, are biased,"  the dumber statement Snow and Bushco made was that the editorials are  "a caricature" and a "shabby piece of work" filled with inaccuracies.  

I find it ironically apropos that such a phrasing comes from Mr. Snow who himself in his short career as Scotty McLellan's replacement has been nothing but a caricature and given us nothing but shabby pieces of work filled with inaccuracies in his own role.

When asked at the press conference "Has the President seen or been told about the editorials?"

Snow replied,

"He's been told about the editorial.

... His reaction was just to sort of shrug it off. I mean, he understands what editorial writers sometimes do, and in this case, they're grandstanding.

The notion that somehow, as the editorial says, that this is not intended to influence the elections -- you've got to be kidding me. I mean, if they didn't want it to influence the elections, they could have published it Wednesday."

I suppose Snow is making a valid Republican talking point about the timing. But isn't timing part and parcel of when you write an editorial?

Not to mention the "timing" thing when Saddam is sentenced to hang three days before the mid-term election - as if when we vote we have been reminded that Republicans and the President who couldn't find WMD's under his own desk and gave up trying to find OBL deserves our vote now because we're finally getting around to executing the guy they said would attack America with WMD's.

The importance of these editorials is not the call to dismiss Mr. Rumsfeld who long ago proved totally incapable of running an invasion and occupation.

Rather, the importance is that the angry and disgusted breeze blowing every more fiercely against Republicans, neo-cons and the true betrayers of our military loved ones is reaching gale-force.

More American military families are speaking out, voicing opinions they used to suppress out of patriotic habit - and fear of insitutional military retribution - confirming what we've all known for more than three years.

Our military families are losing their most precious blood;  

the vigorous and disciplined young men and women of our future.

The shabbiest work and caricature that was always the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq sits broadly in loud full view of the American conscience.

More and more Americans have awakend from a fixation on dummies who eat insects and swim with worms,

on who can dance and who can't,

on a shallow focus on the wrong American idols,

on whether or not gay neighbors are the greatest threat to America,

because Iraq dominates our fears and hopes. The military Times editorials are worth their weight in tons of the real gold of American values.


Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PST
Saturday, 21 October 2006

Topic: Soldiers Speak Out
APPEAL FOR REDRESS by active duty troops.

mail from MFSO mfso@mfso.org on Oct 21,2006

Dear Member of Military Families Speak Out,

Recently a number of active duty Sailors and Marines started a project to give current service members a voice in the call to bring our troops home from Iraq. They initiated an APPEAL FOR REDRESS to be delivered to Congress.

According to their website www.appealforredress.org:

     "Many active duty, reserve, and guard service members are concerned about the war in Iraq and support the withdrawal of U.S. troops. The Appeal for Redress provides a way in which individual service members can appeal to their Congressional Representative and US Senators to urge an end to the U.S. military occupation."

The text of the APPEAL FOR REDRESS is short, simple, patriotic and respectful in tone:

    As a patriotic American proud to serve the nation in uniform, I respectfully urge my political leaders in Congress to support the prompt withdrawal of all American military forces and bases from Iraq . Staying in Iraq will not work and is not worth the price. It is time for U.S. troops to come home.

This appeal gives current service members a concrete, legal way to let their voices be heard. See http://www.appealforredress.org/php/legal.php for more information about the legal basis for this APPEAL FOR REDRESS.

If your loved one(s) in the military are Active Duty, Guard or Reserves and if they oppose the war in Iraq, please share this email with them to see if they are interested in submitting an APPEAL FOR REDRESS at www.appealforredress.org.

 If you or your loved one(s) know others who might be interested, please let them know about the APPEAL FOR REDRESS. The active duty service members spearheading this project are seeking to collect thousands of APPEALS FOR REDRESS from Active Duty, Reserve and Guard service members. They plan to deliver these to Congress in mid-January, around the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day holiday.

Thus far, service men and women from Norfolk, Virginia; Quantico; Ft. Hood, Texas; Ft. Campbell, Kentucky; several other U.S. bases, and bases in Germany, Iraq and Afghanistan have submitted APPEALS FOR REDRESS on-line.

Iraq Veterans Against the War has sent this information to its membership. Military Families Speak Out is now sending this to our members.

We understand that there will be an article about the APPEAL FOR REDRESS in Navy Times on Monday, October 23rd; and subsequent press events involving the active duty troops who are spearheading and supporting this action.

If your loved one(s)/relation(s) in the service would like more information about this project, we can connect them with the active duty servicemembers who began this project and are currently speaking with fellow servicemembers on bases across the country and around the world about the APPEAL FOR REDRESS.

You can reach us at mailto:mfso@mfso.org

Please be in touch and let us know if your loved one(s) are interested in this APPEAL FOR REDRESS and/or have any questions.

In Peace and Solidarity,

Nancy Lessin and Charley Richardson

for Military Families Speak Out

www.mfso.org

http://www.bringthemhomenow.org

Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PDT
Sunday, 15 October 2006

Topic: MFSO National
National Military Families Speak Out Committe;  Take Care of Them When They Get Home Outreach. 
 
As this committee which has a high number of MFSO members from many states continues to discern approaches to the vast issue of returning veteran care, reports should be forthcoming along the way. 
 
There are 2 from Washington state MFSO chapter on this committee; Anne Leigh ughz4@comcast.net, and Lietta Ruger   rugerla@centurytel.net).  
 
Recently in discussion with Bill Moyer of Backbone Campaign, he posited some useful questions in terms of what is it that we want the public to know and what actions do we want them to take to help.  
 
Additionally, Stacy Bannerman, sbannerman@comcast.net,  from MFSO chapter in Washington has some independent activities in the works trying to adrress this vast issue as well.  
 
Before the holidays and again recently this past weekend, I've had 2 separate independent WA documentary filmmakers inquire about finding Iraq Veterans willing to talk on camera (identities can be concealed on camera) about their own experiences and unmet needs regarding medical/health issues.

Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PDT
Tuesday, 26 September 2006

Topic: Local Lobbying

I spoke with Gene Marx via telephone last night and asked him to write and send a detailed eye-witness account of the meeting. The following was in my morning email - Arthur

VICTORY for BELLINGHAM: Troops Home! Resolution Passes 6-1

On Monday night, Oct 9th, the Bellingham City Council passed the Troops Home! Resolution by a 6-1 vote, with only Councilman Bob Ryan voting against it, becoming the first city in Washington State and the 108th nationally to adopt such an initiative.

Councilman Terry Bornemann sponsored the resolution and strongly supported the Troops Home! Advisory Committee's efforts from the outset in June. The resolution was co-sponsored by Councilwoman Joan Beardsley.

Before the vote, Bornemann, a Vietnam Veteran, powerfully stated that he supported this resolution to honor Gold Star mother Doris Kent, whose son Corporal Jonathan Santos was killed in Iraq two years ago this week, and other parents of soldiers; and also to honor the many Vietnam Veterans who still suffer from the consequences of that war.

Council President Gene Knutson said that when our national representatives won't listen, the people come to their local politicians.

 

" When the federal government isn't listening, and the state government isn't listening, where do citizens go? They go to their local officials...we are elected officials, and we have that right to do what we're doing here tonight."

 

Knutson also took on stay-the-course detractors.

"Look at the highest levels of our government that are using cut-and-run, look at the people that are using cut-and-run, look at their military backgrounds."

When Council Member Joan Beardsley questioned whether it was appropriate for the city council to make a vote on behalf of ALL the citizens of Bellingham, Bornemann and Knutson strongly stated that every time the Council votes, they are voting on behalf of the City of Bellingham and ALL its citizens.

In addition to making Northwest news, Bellingham's victory is being celebrated by the national peace movement and Cities for Progress.

Whatcom Peace and Justice Center (www.whatcompjc.org), under Executive Director Marie Marchand, was the Resolution's organizational sponsor from its inception.

For a refreshing counter-balance to The Bellingham Herald's inaccurate coverage of the council meeting, check out Seattle's KOMO 4's 11:00 pm news from Monday night, October 9.

Bellingham's victory was the top news story, even trumping N. Korea's test detonation. The powerful City Council presentation (Sep 25th - beginning at 22 minutes) and successful vote (Oct 9th - beginning at 54 1/2 minutes) can be viewed on http://cob.org/council/packets.htm.

 

Thanks,
Gene Marx
VicePresident,
Board of Directors,
Whatcom Peace and Justice
360-738-8462

 

 

 

 

On September 26, 2006,  about 150 people gathered at a Bellingham City Council meeting to present a Troops Out Now resolution.  

A group of Bellingham parents of soldiers (both deceased and Iraq veterans) and peace advocates prepared and presented the resolution proposal to the Bellingham city council.

Among these families are members of Military Families Speak Out Washington State Chapter.

Speakers included Doris Kent, Victoria Marx, Susan Livingston, Eileen Herring, and other parents of soldiers.

MFSO member Anna Lawson from Bellingham explains that "this   resolution, of course, has no power other than highlighting that one city strongly opposes federal policy and actions.
... and we hope that Bellingham's council will be the first of many in Washington to do so."

Bellingham Herald Article: City asked to send anti-war message

Parents of soldiers bring resolution to council, 150 attend meeting

The link below describes the resolution and provides much more information.

RESOLUTION URGING THE US CONGRESS TO END THE OCCUPATION OF IRAQ & BRING OUR TROOPS SAFELY HOME NOW

QUICK FACTS

The Troops Home! Resolution urges Congress to end the occupation of Iraq and bring American troops home.

Some 106 other U.S. cities have passed similar troop withdrawal resolutions.

To date, no other Washington cities were listed as having passed this type of resolution.

For citizens in other cities in Washington state interested in initiating a City Council resolution to bring the troops home; see the toolkit at link Cities for Progress.

The council will vote at its Oct. 9 meeting to adopt the resolution or not.

Video of the City Council meeting is available online  (September 25, 2006).
The Hearing begins around minute 22 of the video.



Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PDT
Tuesday, 5 September 2006

Now Playing: Jessie Archibald
Topic: Members Speak Out

Tacoma News Tribune
Published: September 5th, 2006 01:00 AM
 
When will soldiers know that their job is done?
JESSIE ARCHIBALD; Tacoma
 
At least 62 U.S. service members died in Iraq in August, compared with 43 in July. President Bush tells us, “We’ll stay until we get the job done.”
 
What is our soldiers’ job?
To find weapons of mass destruction?
To free Iraq?
To stop Iraqis from killing each another?
To rebuild Iraq?
 
None of these goals is being met.
How will we know when the job is done?
When we lose 3,000 troops?
4,000?
 
Now we are told that we have to fight the terrorists there, or they will fight us here. I say, let them come and bring our soldiers home to protect us on our home front instead of in that sweltering desert in Iraq.
 
Our brave young soldiers have suffered enough. This war is a failed effort, not for lack of hard work by our brave young soldiers. It is their commanders at the highest level who have failed them because there is no plan for success. It is not worth it to continue to lose our most valuable resource: our young people who otherwise would have their whole lives in front of them.
 
I applaud the Raging Grannies who understand this and am sad for families that continue to lose loved ones each day while this war rages on.
 
When will the American people say enough is enough?
We need to take back our country by voting out those who want to continue the endless bloodshed.


Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PDT
Wednesday, 30 August 2006

Now Playing: Lietta Ruger at Washblog
Topic: Local Lobbying

Two more Ft Lewis Stryker soldiers killed - Cantwell to rally support from veterans

Two different stories this morning struck me in what seems a cruel juxtaposition of WA Senate elections politicking this Iraq invasion/occupation. Story in The Olympian - Sen. Cantwell meets in a rally with veterans who support (in my opinion, her mediocre politically profitably emerging ) position on Iraq; another story today in Tacoma News Tribune reports two Fort Lewis soldiers - Stryker - died in Iraq Sunday.  The count is three Fort Lewis soldiers of the recently deployed (June 06) Stryker brigade our of Fort Lewis who have died in Iraq.

These were two of the six U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq this past weekend, Sunday. The reports tell of an explosive, violent, bloody Sunday in Baghdad.  

It seems to me still a bit unclear what Sen. Cantwell wants to have happen in Iraq; quoting from The Olympian article

Cantwell also has supported efforts to turn the management of the country over to Iraqis more quickly. She has differed from her main opponent, McGavick, who acknowledges mistakes have been made in the Iraq occupation but bluntly opposes talk of a timetable for withdrawing troops.

Oh so close to November elections, and if we could just hold on till then ... yeah, I know the argument.   In other words, despite civil war in Iraq, despite it now being politically correct and acceptable to take issue with the Bush failed policy in Iraq, still politicians want to hedge their bets in fear of the November elections.

 ... in fear ....  tell our deployed troops and their families why they have to continue to die while their politicians at home play it safe.

In June, I posted story reporting on Operation House Call at Washblog that if we wait till November elections, 350 more U.S. troops will die, untold numbers will suffer casualties, and hundreds to thousands of Iraqis will die.  

Guess we keep on just counting the fallen right up through November; Sen. Cantwell gets re-elected, then what?   More deaths until the Iraqis take control - more quickly?  What does quickly mean, anyway - 2 years, 1 year, 1 month - what?

When is it acceptable to redeploy the troops out of Iraq using established military protocols (not Congressionally set time-tables - what do they know about it anyway)?  When is it acceptable to bring them home NOW (which doesn't mean by tomorrow, despite politicians, including Sen. Cantwell, pooh-poohing and using tactic to dismiss the message in deliberate obtuseness of implying when we say Now, it means tomorrow)?   When is it acceptable for Congress to get around to pulling the funding of this failed policy in the Iraq invasion/occupation.  

Sidebar note; reading an article at Truthout by Geoffry Millard,an Iraq veteran and member of IVAW and VFP, is it true that Dal LaManga, co-chair of Sen. Maria Cantwell's 2006 campaign was among the delegation that met in Jordan with eleven members of the Iraqi parliament August 2 this month in a US Peace Delegation?  

According to article at truthout,  part of a 12-person peace delegation included CODEPINK co-founders Medea Benjamin, Jody Evans and Gale Murphy; former US Army colonel and US diplomat Ann Wright; ex-state senator from California Tom Hayden; United For Peace and Justice national co-chair Judith Le Blanc; an Iraqi-American, Raed Jarrar, of Global Exchange; Franciscan priest Father Luis Vitale; Congressional candidate against the war Jeeni Criscenzo (D-Calif.); businessman and peace activist Dal LaMagna; a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War; and others.

... I wonder what Dal LaMagna learned from this meeting and shared with Senator Cantwell. Since I recognize most of the names of the people who comprised that delegation, it is a hopeful sign to me that Dal LaMagna is keeping company among the voices for bring them home Now. There is hope yet ... perhaps ... why can't it be sooner than later?


Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PDT
Wednesday, 23 August 2006

Now Playing: Lietta Ruger at Washblog
Topic: Media Involvement

Any Reason to Keep Funding Iraq invasion/occupation?


Arthur Ruger, my veteran husband, taking a position at Veterans for Peace conference, Seattle, WA, Aug 12, 2006.

-- 172nd Stryker Brigade extended in stop loss, sent to Baghdad after a year deployment in Iraq. July 27, 2006 (Read backdoor draft of involuntary service, involuntary military) Many were on their way home, actually arrived home after a year in Iraq, only to be turned back and sent to Baghdad in a stop-loss extension.  This happened in our family also back in April 2004; 1st Armored was to come home in April 2004, after a year in Iraq. They were extended, stop lossed at very last minute and our two, who were with 1st Armored - we had homecoming plans in the works - were kept in Iraq an additional 3 months due to Sadr City uprising.

Bring Home 172nd Stryker Brigade a non-political, non agenda website intended only  to permit families of 172nd Stryker to express their thoughts and feelings.  Why is it valuable?  It reflects some of the military families who hold more traditional military culture views and in exhaustion are beginning to speak out - not by joining an organization, but some of the stories written by the families speak to how fragile the military families are feeling at this point in history.

-- U.S. military calling back troops who've been out of uniform for years Aug 20, 2006 Marines, IRR (Individual Ready Reserves) being called up to deploy to Iraq - as many as 20,000. (whisper; pre-curser to an all out military draft?)

-- Fort Lewis soldier killed Aug 23, 2006 - Stryker Brigade, 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division,out of Fort Lewis, recently redeployed to Iraq in second deployment, June 2006

--   Article; 7 Facts Making Sense of Our Iraq Disaster   Aug 20, 2006

Any reason not to authentically support our troops by bringing them home Now and stop funding the Iraq invasion/occupation Now - before November elections? Senators, Representatives, Congress, Washingtonians, People?

read more on the flip..

  It doesn't look at all like a troop call down in Iraq; quite the opposite.  So much for transition in 2006, when Iraqis stand up, troops can stand down.  Oh, that's not the Dem position anymore is it?  Now it's something like 'it might have been a mistake'. Courageous people like Ned Lamont change the political playing field in taking an absolute stand - gee, and he wins the election!  There is a message there, not unlike the message I've been trying to put forth here at Washblog for months....

  Article; 7 Facts Making Sense of Our Iraq Disaster   by Michael Schwartz, Aug 20, 2006

1. The Iraqi Government Is Little More Than a Group of "Talking Heads"
  -- A minimally viable central government is built on at least three foundations: the coercive capacity to maintain order, an administrative apparatus that can deliver government services and directives to society, and the resources to manage these functions. The Iraqi government has none of these attributes -- and no prospect of developing them.

2. There Is No Iraqi Army
  -- The "Iraqi Army" is a misnomer. The government's military consists of Iraqi units integrated into the U.S.-commanded occupation army. These units rely on the Americans for intelligence, logistics, and -- lacking almost all heavy weaponry themselves -- artillery, tanks, and any kind of airpower. (The Iraqi "Air Force" typically consists of fewer then 10 planes with no combat capability.) The government has no real control over either personnel or strategy.

3. The Recent Decline in American Casualties Is Not a Result of Less Fighting (and Anyway, It's Probably Ending)
  -- At the beginning of August, the press carried reports of a significant decline in U.S. casualties, punctuated with announcements from American officials that the military situation was improving. The figures (compiled by the Brookings Institute) do show a decline in U.S. military deaths (76 in April, 69 in May, 63 in June, and then only 48 in July). But these were offset by dramatic increases in Iraqi military fatalities, which almost doubled in July as the U.S. sent larger numbers of Iraqi units into battle, and as undermanned American units were redeployed from al-Anbar province, the heartland of the Sunni insurgency, to civil-war-torn Baghdad in preparation for a big push to recapture various out-of-control neighborhoods in the capital.

4. Most Iraqi Cities Have Active and Often Viable Local Governments
  -- Neither the Iraqi government, nor the American-led occupation has a significant presence in most parts of Iraq. This is well-publicized in the three Kurdish provinces, which are ruled by a stable Kurdish government without any outside presence; less so in Shia urban areas where various religio-political groups -- notably the Sadrists, the Supreme Council of Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), Da'wa , and Fadhila -- vie for local control, and then organize cities and towns around their own political and religious platforms. While there is often violent friction among these groups -- particularly when the contest for control of an area is undecided -- most cities and towns are largely peaceful as local governments and local populations struggle to provide city services without a viable national economy.

5. Outside Baghdad, Violence Arrives with the Occupation Army
  -- The portrait of chaos across Iraq that our news generally offers us is a genuine half-truth. Certainly, Baghdad has been plunged into massive and worsening disarray as both the war against the Americans and the civil war have come to be concentrated there, and as the terrifying process of ethnic cleansing has hit neighborhood after neighborhood, and is now beginning to seep into the environs of the capital.

However, outside Baghdad (with the exception of the northern cities of Kirkuk and Mosul, where historic friction among Kurd, Sunni, and Turkman has created a different version of sectarian violence), Iraqi cities tend to be reasonably ethnically homogeneous and to have at least quasi-stable governments. The real violence often only arrives when the occupation military makes its periodic sweeps aimed at recapturing cities where it has lost all authority and even presence.

6. There Is a Growing Resistance Movement in the Shia Areas of Iraq
  -- read more at link article

7. There Are Three Distinct Types of Terrorism in Iraq, All Directly or Indirectly Connected to the Occupation
   -- read more at link article

Where the 7 Facts Lead

With this terror triumvirate at the center of Iraqi society, we now enter the horrible era of ethnic cleansing, the logical extension of multidimensional terror.

When the U.S. toppled the Hussein regime, there was little sectarian sentiment outside of Kurdistan, which had longstanding nationalist ambitions. Even today, opinion polls show that more than two-thirds of Sunnis and Shia stand opposed to the idea of any further weakening of the central government and are not in favor of federation, no less dividing Iraq into three separate nations.

Nevertheless, ethnic cleansing by both Shia and Sunni has become the order of the day in many of the neighborhoods of Baghdad, replete with house burnings, physical assaults, torture, and murder, all directed against those who resist leaving their homes. These acts are aimed at creating religiously homogeneous neighborhoods.

This is a terrifying development that derives from the rising tide of terrorism. Sunnis believe that they must expel their Shia neighbors to stop them from giving the Shiite death squads the names of resistance fighters and their supporters. Shia believe that they must expel their Sunni neighbors to stop them from providing information and cover for car-bombing attacks. And, as the situation matures, militants on both sides come to embrace removal -- period. As these actions escalate, feeding on each other, more and more individuals, caught in a vise of fear and bent on revenge, embrace the infernal logic of terrorism: that it is acceptable to punish everyone for the actions of a tiny minority.

There is still some hope for the Iraqis to recover their equilibrium. All the centripetal forces in Iraq derive from the American occupation, and might still be sufficiently reduced by an American departure followed by a viable reconstruction program embraced by the key elements inside of Iraq. But if the occupation continues, there will certainly come a point -- perhaps already passed -- when the collapse of government legitimacy, the destruction wrought by the war, and the horror of terrorist violence become self-sustaining. If that point is reached, all parties will enter a new territory with incalculable consequences.

by Michael Schwartz, Professor of Sociology and Faculty Director of the Undergraduate College of Global Studies at Stony Brook University, has written extensively on popular protest and insurgency, and on American business and government dynamics. His work on Iraq has appeared on numerous Internet sites, including Tomdispatch, Asia Times, Mother Jones.com, and ZNet; and in print in Contexts, Against the Current, and Z Magazine. His books include Radical Protest and Social Structure, and Social Policy and the Conservative Agenda (edited, with Clarence Lo). His email address is Ms42@optonline.net.


Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PDT
Monday, 14 August 2006

Now Playing: Dahr Jamail Truthout.org
Topic: Lt. Ehren Watada
 Ehren Watada
By Dahr Jamail
Monday 14 August 2006

On Saturday night, I was lucky enough to be at the Veterans for Peace National Convention.

For that night, Lt. Ehren Watada was able to give the following speech, which I've just received permission to post here. The speech was met with a powerful, standing ovation from the vets who've been there.

Lt. Ehren Watada, for those who don't already know, became the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse deployment to the unlawful war and occupation in Iraq. While doing this on June 22, 2006, Watada said,

"As the order to take part in an illegal act is ultimately unlawful as well, I must refuse that order."

Just as Watada took the stage and began to speak, over 50 members of Iraq Veterans Against the War filed in behind him. Watada, surprised by this and obviously taken aback by the symbolic act, turned back to the audience, took some deep breaths, then gave this speech:
"Thank you everyone. Thank you all for your tremendous support.

How honored and delighted I am to be in the same room with you tonight. I am deeply humbled by being in the company of such wonderful speakers. You are all true American patriots. Although long since out of uniform, you continue to fight for the very same principles you once swore to uphold and defend.

No one knows the devastation and suffering of war more than veterans - which is why we should always be the first to prevent it.

I wasn't entirely sure what to say tonight. I thought as a leader in general I should speak to motivate. Now I know that this isn't the military and surely there are many out there who outranked me at one point or another - and yes, I'm just a Lieutenant.

And yet, I feel as though we are all citizens of this great country and what I have to say is not a matter of authority - but from one citizen to another.

We have all seen this war tear apart our country over the past three years. It seems as though nothing we've done, from vigils to protests to letters to Congress, have had any effect in persuading the powers that be. Tonight I will speak to you on my ideas for a change of strategy.

I am here tonight because I took a leap of faith. My action is not the first and it certainly will not be the last. Yet, on behalf of those who follow, I require your help - your sacrifice - and that of countless other Americans.

I may fail.

We may fail.

But nothing we have tried has worked so far. It is time for change and the change starts with all of us.

I stand before you today, not as an expert - not as one who pretends to have all the answers. I am simply an American and a servant of the American people. My humble opinions today are just that.

I realize that you may not agree with everything I have to say. However, I did not choose to be a leader for popularity. I did it to serve and make better the soldiers of this country. And I swore to carry out this charge honorably under the rule of law.

Today, I speak with you about a radical idea. It is one born from the very concept of the American soldier (or service member). It became instrumental in ending the Vietnam War - but it has been long since forgotten.

The idea is this:
that to stop an illegal and unjust war, the soldiers can choose to stop fighting it.

Now it is not an easy task for the soldier. For he or she must be aware that they are being used for ill-gain. They must hold themselves responsible for individual action. They must remember duty to the Constitution and the people supersedes the ideologies of their leadership.

The soldier must be willing to face ostracism by their peers, worry over the survival of their families, and of course the loss of personal freedom. They must know that resisting an authoritarian government at home is equally important to fighting a foreign aggressor on the battlefield.

Finally, those wearing the uniform must know beyond any shadow of a doubt that by refusing immoral and illegal orders they will be supported by the people not with mere words but by action. The American soldier must rise above the socialization that tells them authority should always be obeyed without question. Rank should be respected but never blindly followed.

Awareness of the history of atrocities and destruction committed in the name of America - either through direct military intervention or by proxy war - is crucial. They must realize that this is a war not out of self-defense but by choice, for profit and imperialistic domination.

WMD, ties to Al Qaeda, and ties to 9/11 never existed and never will. The soldier must know that our narrowly and questionably elected officials intentionally manipulated the evidence presented to Congress, the public, and the world to make the case for war.

They must know that neither Congress nor this administration has the authority to violate the prohibition against pre-emptive war - an American law that still stands today. This same administration uses us for rampant violations of time-tested laws banning torture and degradation of prisoners of war.

Though the American soldier wants to do right, the illegitimacy of the occupation itself, the policies of this administration, and rules of engagement of desperate field commanders will ultimately force them to be party to war crimes. They must know some of these facts, if not all, in order to act.

Mark Twain once remarked,
"Each man must for himself alone decide what is right and what is wrong, which course is patriotic and which isn't. You cannot shirk this and be a man. To decide against your conviction is to be an unqualified and inexcusable traitor, both to yourself and to your country …"

 By this, each and every American soldier, marine, airman, and sailor is responsible for their choices and their actions. The freedom to choose is only one that we can deny ourselves. The oath we take swears allegiance not to one man but to a document of principles and laws designed to protect the people.

Enlisting in the military does not relinquish one's right to seek the truth - neither does it excuse one from rational thought nor the ability to distinguish between right and wrong. "I was only following orders" is never an excuse. The Nuremburg Trials showed America and the world that citizenry as well as soldiers have the unrelinquishable obligation to refuse complicity in war crimes perpetrated by their government.

Widespread torture and inhumane treatment of detainees is a war crime. A war of aggression born through an unofficial policy of prevention is a crime against the peace. An occupation violating the very essence of international humanitarian law and sovereignty is a crime against humanity. These crimes are funded by our tax dollars. Should citizens choose to remain silent through self-imposed ignorance or choice, it makes them as culpable as the soldier in these crimes.

The Constitution is no mere document - neither is it old, out-dated, or irrelevant. It is the embodiment of all that Americans hold dear: truth, justice, and equality for all. It is the formula for a government of the people and by the people. It is a government that is transparent and accountable to whom they serve. It dictates a system of checks and balances and separation of powers to prevent the evil that is tyranny.

As strong as the Constitution is, it is not foolproof. It does not fully take into account the frailty of human nature. Profit, greed, and hunger for power can corrupt individuals as much as they can corrupt institutions.

The founders of the Constitution could not have imagined how money would infect our political system. Neither could they believe a standing army would be used for profit and manifest destiny. Like any common dictatorship, soldiers would be ordered to commit acts of such heinous nature as to be deemed most ungentlemanly and unbecoming that of a free country.

The American soldier is not a mercenary. He or she does not simply fight wars for payment. Indeed, the state of the American soldier is worse than that of a mercenary. For a soldier-for-hire can walk away if they are disgusted by their employer's actions. Instead, especially when it comes to war, American soldiers become indentured servants whether they volunteer out of patriotism or are drafted through economic desperation.

Does it matter what the soldier believes is morally right?

If this is a war of necessity, why force men and women to fight?

When it comes to a war of ideology, the lines between right and wrong are blurred. How tragic it is when the term Catch-22 defines the modern American military. Aside from the reality of indentured servitude, the American soldier in theory is much nobler. Soldier or officer, when we swear our oath it is first and foremost to the Constitution and its protectorate, the people.

If soldiers realized this war is contrary to what the Constitution extols - if they stood up and threw their weapons down - no President could ever initiate a war of choice again.

When we say, "… Against all enemies foreign and domestic," what if elected leaders became the enemy? Whose orders do we follow? The answer is the conscience that lies in each soldier, each American, and each human being.

Our duty to the Constitution is an obligation, not a choice. The military, and especially the Army, is an institution of fraternity and close-knit camaraderie. Peer pressure exists to ensure cohesiveness but it stamps out individualism and individual thought. The idea of brotherhood is difficult to pull away from if the alternative is loneliness and isolation.

If we want soldiers to choose the right but difficult path - they must know beyond any shadow of a doubt that they will be supported by Americans. To support the troops who resist, you must make your voices heard. If they see thousands supporting me, they will know.

I have heard your support, as has Suzanne Swift, and Ricky Clousing - but many others have not.

Increasingly, more soldiers are questioning what they are being asked to do. Yet, the majority lack awareness to the truth that is buried beneath the headlines. Many more see no alternative but to obey.

We must show open-minded soldiers a choice and we must give them courage to act. Three weeks ago, Sgt. Hernandez from the 172nd Stryker Brigade was killed, leaving behind a wife and two children. In an interview, his wife said he sacrificed his life so that his family could survive. I'm sure Sgt. Hernandez cherished the camaraderie of his brothers, but given a choice, I doubt he would put himself in a position to leave his family husbandless and fatherless.

Yet that's the point, you see. People like Sgt. Hernandez don't have a choice. The choices are to fight in Iraq or let your family starve. Many soldiers don't refuse this war en mass because, like all of us,, they value their families over their own lives and perhaps their conscience.

Who would willingly spend years in prison for principle and morality while denying their family sustenance?

I tell this to you because you must know that to stop this war, for the soldiers to stop fighting it, they must have the unconditional support of the people. I have seen this support with my own eyes. For me it was a leap of faith. For other soldiers, they do not have that luxury. They must know it and you must show it to them. Convince them that no matter how long they sit in prison, no matter how long this country takes to right itself, their families will have a roof over their heads, food in their stomachs, opportunities and education.

This is a daunting task. It requires the sacrifice of all of us. Why must Canadians feed and house our fellow Americans who have chosen to do the right thing? We should be the ones taking care of our own.

Are we that powerless - are we that unwilling to risk something for those who can truly end this war?

How do you support the troops but not the war? By supporting those who can truly stop it; let them know that resistance to participate in an illegal war is not futile and not without a future. I have broken no law but the code of silence and unquestioning loyalty. If I am guilty of any crime, it is that I learned too much and cared too deeply for the meaningless loss of my fellow soldiers and my fellow human beings.

If I am to be punished it should be for following the rule of law over the immoral orders of one man. If I am to be punished it should be for not acting sooner.

Martin Luther King Jr. once said,
"History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period … was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people."

Now, I'm not a hero. I am a leader of men who said enough is enough. Those who called for war prior to the invasion compared diplomacy with Saddam to the compromises made with Hitler.

I say, we compromise now by allowing a government that uses war as the first option instead of the last to act with impunity.

Many have said this about the World Trade Towers, "Never Again."

I agree. Never again will we allow those who threaten our way of life to reign free - be they terrorists or elected officials. The time to fight back is now - the time to stand up and be counted is today.

I'll end with one more Martin Luther King Jr. quote:
"One who breaks an unjust law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law."

Thank you and bless you all.

 

The only thing Watada said that I would disagree with is that he claimed that he is not a hero. He is a leader, yet again, by taking this stance. And he may never know how many lives he has already touched.

Today, it is up to the anti-war movement to make sure his leadership touches as many soldiers' lives in Iraq as possible.

Watada is making his stand. He needs continued support. As he said, if more American soldiers in Iraq know that they, along with their families, will be supported if they stand up against this illegal occupation, countless more will follow, and this repulsive war will end.

-Dahr Jamail is an independent journalist who has reported for the Guardian, the Independent, and the Sunday Herald. He now writes regularly for Inter Press Service and Truthout. He maintains a web site at dahrjamailiraq.com.



Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PDT
Updated: Sunday, 18 March 2007 11:21 AM PDT

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Criticism of the President is Patriotic

"The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the nation as a whole. Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly as necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile.

"To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or any one else.

But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about any one else."

Theodore Roosevelt, 1918, Lincoln and Free Speech