February 26, 2010

Update: Army to transport in shackles jailed hip-hop soldier, SPC Marc Hall, from Savannah to Kuwait this evening.

FORT STEWART, GEORGIA - Jailed hip-hop soldier SPC Marc Hall unsuccessfully petitioned the Southern Georgia federal court and the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals last week to stop the Army from sending him to Iraq for a secret court martial over his angry "Stop-loss" song. Marc had simply asked for a public Fort Stewart trial. The Army has scheduled SPC Hall to be ransported in shackles this evening from Savannah to Kuwaiti via Spain.

SPC Hall has been shuffled between three different county jails in Georgia since being incarcerated on December 12, 2009 for expressing that he was "uncomfortable" redeploying to Iraq. On numerous occasions SPC Hall, a 34-year-old native of New York City, sought out mental health assistance from Fort Stewart officials, including via a military chaplain. On about Dec. 8, 2009, one week before his incarceration, SPC Hall filed an official IG complaint against his command for inadequate mental health evaluation and treatment.

David Gespass, civilian attorney for SPC Hall explained, "Not just the Constitution, but the rules for courts-martial, prohibit prosecutors from holding a court-martial in a combat zone as a pretext for depriving an accused of a public trial, counsel of his choice and necessary witnesses. Whatever the Army may claim, that is exactly what the Army is doing to Marc." Mr. Gespass is the president of the National Lawyers Guild. He is based in Birmingham, Alabama.

"[SPC Hall] alleges violation of his Sixth Amendment right to a public trial, as well as the First Amendment right of the public and media to attend the trial and report on it. He has alleged violation of his Sixth Amendment right to counsel of his choice and of the right to call witnesses in his favor." summarizes the brief filed in federal court.

"Among the numerous issues of significant public debate involved in SPC Hall's case include: The military's "Stop-loss" program, the limits on artistic expression by Soldiers, the treatment of Soldiers with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) while on active duty, and opposition to the continuing Iraq occupation from within the military. We are concerned thatthe Army appears to be planning to conduct the court martial in virtual secrecy," declared Jeff Paterson in a supporting exhibit filed with the court. Mr. Paterson is the project director of Courage to Resist (couragetoresist.org), an Oakland, California-based organization dedicated to supporting military objectors. SPC Hall is also a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War (ivaw.org), another organization working to provide legal, moral, and political support for SPC Hall and his family.


SPC Marc Hall produced and distributed an angry hip-hop song in July 2009 when he discovered that he would not be allowed to leave active duty due to the Army's "stop-loss" policy. SPC Hall continued to serve with his unit for the next four months. "I explained to [my first sergeant] that the hardcore rap song was a free expression of how people feel about the Army and its stop-loss policy. I explained that the song was neither a physical threat nor any threat whatsoever. I told him it was just hip-hop," explained SPC Hall.

On about Dec. 8, 2009, SPC Hall filed a formal "IG complaint" against his command for inadequate mental health evaluation and treatment. SPC Hall believes that from this point forward, his command sought to retaliate against him for taking this action.

When SPC Hall continued to express that he was "not comfortable with redeploying to Iraq," his unit used the hip-hop song as a pretext to incarcerate him on Dec. 12, 2009. The command likely believed SPC Hall would refuse to deploy anyway creating discomfort among other soldiers.

SPC Hall was charged Dec. 17, 2009, with five specifications in violation of Article 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Conduct, two of those for wrongfully communicating a threat based on song lyrics. Article 134 is the vague rule that outlaws anything "to the prejudice of good order and discipline."

On Feb. 1, 2010 SPC Hall underscored his non-violent outlook by formally applying for discharge from the Army as a conscientious objector. His application explains the transformation he went through during his year-long deployment to Iraq. The Army's attempts to now deploy him violate AR 600-8-105 (Military Orders) and the Army's Conscientious Objector regulations.

On Feb. 3, 2010 Fort Stewart, Georgia officials confirmed that the Army would transfer SPC Hall to Iraq for court martial "within a few days." The Army's press release stated, "The jurisdiction transfer ensures a full and fair trial for both SPC Hall and the United States." Nothing could be farther from the truth, at least for SPC Hall as detailed by yesterday's petition.

The Army continues to implement its stop-loss policy despite President Obama's promise to end the unfair practice that involuntarily extends the active duty service term of many soldiers. According to the Pentagon 120,000 soldiers have been affected by stop-loss since 2001 and 13,000 are currently serving under stop-loss orders.

Pentagon: The Iraq Withdrawal - NOT NOW

by Raed Jarrar, Published on Thursday, February 25, 2010 by CommonDreams
This Monday, Army Gen. Ray Odierno, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, asked officials in DC to approve contingency plans to delay the withdrawal of US combat forces. The next day, the New York times published an op-ed asking president Obama to delay the US withdrawal and keep some tens of thousands of troops in Iraq indefinitely. Both the Pentagon and NY times article argue that prolonging the occupation is for Iraq's own good. According to these latest attempts to prolong the occupation, if the US were to leave Iraqis alone the sky would fall, a genocidal civil war will erupt, and Iran will takeover their nation and rip it apart.

Excuses to prolong the military intervention in Iraq have been changing since 1990. Whether is was liberating Kuwait, protecting the region from Iraq, protecting the world from Iraq's WMDs, punishing Iraq for its role in the 9/11 attacks, finding Saddam Hussien and his sons, fighting the Baathists and Al-Qaeda, or the other dozens of stories the U.S. government never ran out of reasons to justify a continuous intervention in Iraq. Under President Bush, the withdrawal plan was linked to conditions on the ground, and had no fixed deadlines. Bush only promise what that "as Iraqis stand up, we will stand down". But Iraqis never managed to stand up, and the US never had to stand down.

Obama came with a completely different doctrine that thankfully makes prolonging the occupation harder than just making up a new lame excuse. He has promised on the campaign trail to withdraw all combat troops by August 31st of this year bringing the total number of US troops down to less than 50,000. Obama has also announced repeatedly that he will abide by the binding bi-lateral agreement between the two governments that requires all the US troops and contractors to leave Iraq by the end of 2011 without leaving any military bases behind. Both these promises are time-based, and not linked to the conditions on the ground. In addition, President Obama announced last week his intention to call an end to Operation Iraqi Freedom by August 31st, and to start the new non-combat mission as of September 1st this. The new mission, renamed "Operation New Dawn", should end by December 31st 2011 with the last US soldier and contractor out of Iraq.

Conditions on the ground in Iraq are horrible. After seven years under the US occupation, Iraqis are still without water, electricity, education, or health care. Iran's intervention and control of the Iraqi government stays at unprecedented levels. Iraq's armed forces are still infiltrated by the militias and controlled by political parties. But so far, the Obama administration has not attempted to use any of these facts as a reason to change the combat forces withdrawal plan, or to ask the Iraqi government to renegotiate the bi-lateral security agreement. This week's calls to prolong the occupation are surprising because they expose a conflict between the Pentagon on the one hand and the White House and Congress on the other hand. In fact, the executive and legislative branches in both the US and Iraq seem to be in agreement about implementing the time-based withdrawal, but the Pentagon is disagreeing with them all.

Obama should not forget that he is the Commander-in-Chief, and should stand up to the Pentagon. Iraq is broken, but the US military occupation is not a part of the solution. We cannot fix what the military occupation has damaged by prolonging it, neither can we help Iraqis build a democratic system by occupying them. We cannot protect Iraqis from other interventions by continuing our own. The first step in helping Iraqis work for a better future is sticking to the time-based withdrawal plan that Obama has promised and the two governments have agreed upon. President Obama should send a clear message to the Iraqi people to confirm that he is going to fulfill his promises and abide by the binding security agreement with Iraq, and this message must also be clear to the American people in this pivotal elections year.

Raed Jarrar is an Iraqi-born political analyst, and a Senior Fellow with Peace Action based in Washington, DC.

-thanks to Common Dreams

How about replacing "STOP LOSS" with "STOP WAR"

Good idea, Gerry! Let's go do it.

Let's start by taking a stand for Marc Hall. He stood up to resist Stop-Loss. He's now in a jail in Georgia waiting to be sent to Iraq so he can be illegally prosecuted over there. The Generals are out to make an example of him.

We need to raise money for his defense. Courage To Resist has a site to make donations. Visit the site and make a donation.

You can sign the petition at Courage To Resist and you can write a letter to Marc's own Commanding General:

Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Phillip
Deputy Commanding General—Rear
3rd Infantry Division (M)
42 Wayne Place, Suite 200
Fort Stewart, GA 31314-5000

General Charles Campbell
1777 Hardee Avenue SW
Fort McPherson, GA 30330-1062

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Don't just sit there . . .


If we want to end the wars, we need to support the GIs who refuse to fight.

Patrick Hart, a GI resister (in Canada) and an IVAW member has said:
"You want to 'support the troops'? Then listen to what we are saying. We are tired of endless wars. We are suffering from PTSD and out families are suffering from multiple deployments. The troops want to come home and we should bring all of them home now."

February 25, 2010

why i seldom buy the NY Times [Fw: Kkern's March 2010 column on Just War theorists and NY Times Op-Ed]

Ed Kinane (activist from the Syracuse Peace Community) :
kathy writes a monthly column. she's long been involved with christian peacemaker teams providing protective accompaniment here and in various hotspots round the world.

In recent years, Mennonites and other pacifist Christians have been reaching across theological and philosophical lines to find common ground with proponents of the Just War tradition. Just War theory sanctions war only when an aggressor is inflicting devastating violence on whole populations and when all other means of responding to this violence have proven ineffective. Most importantly, it considers all attacks on civilians unjustifiable. Thus, pacifists and Just War proponents can work together toward a similar goal: reducing the number of dead and damaged people in violent conflicts.

Of course, pacifists have the sneaky agenda of eventually convincing these people that none of the wars in recent history have followed Just War criteria, but even when we do not make converts, we can affirm the sparks of conscience in soldiers and guerillas who want to protect the defenseless and who think killing non-combatants is always wrong. I suspect that pacifists besides myself who watched the September 27 60 Minutes interview with General Stanley McChrystal, felt a brief stirring of approval when we heard him say that the U.S. should make not harming Afghan civilians a priority, even if it means losing more U.S. soldiers.

Thus, I was shocked when I read a New York Times Op-Ed criticizing McChrystal by a Lara M. Dadkhah, who called for the U.S. not to try avoiding civilian casualties in Afghanistan. McChrystal’s directive, she wrote, shows that the “pendulum has swung too far in favor of avoiding the death of innocents.” She said that U.S. troops should not “fight fair, ”and that the military should resume air strikes that kill civilians as well as combatants.

Media critics denounced the cynicism of the Op-Ed. But then they turned their critiques to the NYT itself. Why, they asked, had it sought out the opinion of someone whose only identification was that she worked for a “defense consulting company?” “What defense consulting company employs her?” asked Salon’s Glen Greenwald. “Do they have any ties to the war effort? Do they benefit from the grotesque policies she's advocating?”

Eventually, the NYT responded to the criticism by revealing that Dadkhah worked at Booz Allen, a poster child for the Military Industrial Complex. However, the NYT said, it had solicited her Op-Ed because of her work at the Small Wars Journal, not because of her work at Booz Allen.

In a follow up piece to his 18 February critique Greenwald wrote, “To summarize: the NYT Op-Ed Page decided, for whatever reasons, that it wanted to find someone to urge more civilian deaths in Afghanistan. The person it found to do that is someone about whom virtually nothing was known, yet works for one of the largest, most sprawling and influential defense firms in the nation, a virtual arm of the Pentagon, but they decided there was no reason to have its readers know that.”

All wars, regardless of their participants’ good intentions, result in the deaths of innocent people. [I can cite stacks of evidence for this principle when I engage proponents of Just War theory.] But Lara Dadkhah and the New York Times remind me that Just War proponents are not the people most responsible for the violence in our world. Those who blithely claim that killing civilians, if it gives one a strategic edge, is a good thing, the corporations that profit from the agony inflicted on these civilians, and the media who disguise and serve as a mouthpiece for the warmongers—they are at the heart of the violence.

February 23, 2010

Marc Hall still in Georgia jail. Military shows off PTSD treatment.

Army Spc. and Iraq war veteran Marc Hall.

The good news is that Marc Hall is still in the states, incarcerated at the Evans County Jail in Claxton, GA. This is only 'good news' because the military is threatening to send him to Iraq to face court-martial any day. It is not reasonable to expect a fair and public trial in Iraq for many reasons, including extreme limitations on possible witnesses.

For those who are not familiar with Marc's situation, read Dahr Jamail's article here and a previous post here for more information and a link to his song. After Marc found out he was being stop-lossed, he recorded an angry hip hop song and sent it to the Pentagon. They did nothing for weeks. When he refused to go back to the war a few days before his outfit deployed, he was arrested for his song. Marc was refusing to go back and kill innocent people so they locked him up.
"Marc did nothing to no one. He is an example of the treatment of soldiers with PTSD while still on active duty. His song was a call for help. The army's answer was jail."
Friends and Family of Army Spc Marc Hall are organizing support and fundraising for his defense. Courage to Resist has set up a dedicated donation/fund page for Marc Hall. Because of the cruel and ridiculous behavior of the military it is urgent that we make our donations as soon as possible. Evidently the Generals are split on what to do. Half of them want to burn him and make an example for other soldiers considering refusing to go again. Let them know they are not only not winning the hearts and minds of their own soldiers, they're not winning ours either.
Other organizations and folks should feel free to create their own
forwarding page to the following link:
Courage To Resist will provide ongoing reports of donations.

February 20, 2010

Cindy Sheehan to Veterans For Peace: Camp OUT NOW

Dear Friends,

Veterans For Peace (the organization and the members) and I go way back--way before Camp Casey in the Summer of 2005.

Exactly five weeks after Casey was killed in Iraq, his dad and I traveled six hours down the coast to attend Arlington West in Santa Barbara after I saw a report on CNN that featured the monument and Veterans for Peace.

The night before I went to Crawford to demand a meeting with George Bush, I spoke at the VFP convention and you all know what happened next--Bush did not meet with me, and we set up Camp Casey. I could not have done that or the rest of my activities since then without the help of you Vets and Veterans for Peace.

Now, my new organization, Peace of the Action, is setting up and anti-war camp on the lawn of the Washington Monument in DC called, Camp OUT NOW. Camp OUT NOW (named by VFP member, Ward Reilly from Baton Rouge) will be a sustained camp and we will perform daily acts of civil resistance until our demands are heard and met.

I am writing to invite you to all or part of this courageous and audacious action.

I am once again honored by the support of Veterans For Peace and I look forward to being involved in Camp OUT NOW with you all.

In love, peace and solidarity,
Cindy Sheehan and the Peace of the Action Team

-thanks to Veterans For Peace

February 12, 2010

Alexis Hutchinson wins freedom and family

(Photo: James Dao, NY Times. 2/12/10)
In short, we win! Alexis did not go to Afghanistan, will not go to jail, will not be separated from her baby Kamani, and will get out of the Army. To everyone who signed the petition or donated to her legal defense, thank you.
by Friends and Family of Alexis Hutchinson.

February 11, 2010

Hutchinson will receive an “Other Than Honorable” discharge, but will not be facing criminal charges at a court martial, which would have subjected her to a bad conduct discharge and up to a year in jail if she lost, as well as a criminal record. Ms. Sussman stated: “we would have fought the court martial, and I think that we had valid defenses if it went to trial. However, this resolution will give Alexis closure and the ability to move on immediately, without a lengthy trial and possible jail term.” They believe that at trial, the evidence would show that Spc. Hutchinson had intended to deploy until her childcare plans fell through.

The Army has regulations which anticipate the situation of single parents having plans for childcare during deployment fall through. The regulations call for an extension of time to find alternate care-givers, and to discharge a parent honorably if no solution is found. Sussman states: “Here, the Army did not act according to their own regulations, and did not value the family responsibilities of this soldier. If they had, Spc. Hutchinson would not have been in this situation and would be getting a better discharge.”


Currently Spc. Hutchinson remains assigned to Hunter Army Airfield near Savannah, Georgia, where she has been posted since February 2008.

On November 5, 2009, after childcare plans fell through, Alexis was faced with the dilemma of having no one to take care of her son when she deployed. She did not show up for the plane, and when she reported the following day the Army arrested her and removed her son from her.

Her son was allegedly placed in an Army day care, and his grandmother picked him up a few days later. Alexis was granted leave to go home for the holidays in December, and returned to Georgia with baby Kamani in early January. Both Hutchinson and her son are currently at Hunter Army Airfield.

In January, the Army filed court martial charges against Spc.
Hutchinson, and refused to discharge her under the regulations allowing for discharges for reasons of parenthood responsibility.

-thanks again to Courage To Resist

War veterans and resisters say "All Out for March 20th-National March on Washington!"

February 11, 2010

War Resister, Cliff Cornell, gets early release from prison.

We've watched Travis from shortly after Victor Agosto, stop-lossed soldier, refused to return to the wars. Victor inspired Travis to stand up for what he believed. Travis stood up, refused to go to Afghanistan and was sentenced to prison for a year. Hopefully his action combined with those of other war resisters will inspire more soldiers to make their stand.

We need to be ready to help these men and women with personal support, with their legal costs and with care for their families while they are in prison (when applicable). We need to support the organizations that support out War Resisters.

It is a wonderful turn of events that Travis got a reduction in sentence. It didn't just fall out of the sky. Many people worked hard to bring this about.

As we watch the US military escalate its war effort and bring death to more people, with no effective response from our elected representatives ( and with little hope of seeing this change until our soldiers refuse to fight), we must escalate our commitment to these soldiers and veterans. As Howard Zinn said,
“I can think of nothing more important in stopping the war in Iraq than for the soldiers themselves to refuse to fight.”

Here are two posts about Treavis' sentence reduction:

Courage To Resist:
Travis Bishop wins three month reduction in sentence

Hundreds of letters from supporters credited. This successful appeal was funded by Courage to Resist and supporters like you. However, we're still $650 short on paying off Travis' legal fees. Please donate if you can.

February 10, 2010

FORT HOOD, Texas – Sergeant Travis Bishop received word this week that he was given a 3 month suspension of the 12 month sentence he got last year for refusing to deploy to Afghanistan based on his Christian religious beliefs against war. Sgt. Bishop has been imprisoned at the Fort Lewis, Washington stockade since August 16, 2009. Lt. General Robert Cone, commanding general of Fort Hood approved the sentence reduction on February 4th after considering Sgt. Bishop’s clemency application.

Sgt. Bishop’s clemency application included a legal brief (alleging problems at trial, problems with the processing of Bishop’s conscientious objector claim, and mistreatment at the Fort Lewis brig), a hand-written letter from Sgt. Bishop, and 433 letters (signed by a total of 538 people from 21 different countries) from members of Amnesty International calling for Sgt. Bishop to be released.


Sgt. Bishop’s civilian attorney, James M. Branum, estimates that Sgt. Bishop will be released no later than March 31 based on the amount of good behavior credit Sgt. Bishop has earned.

In an emotional response, Sgt. Bishop asked his legal team to relay this message to the public, “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you to everyone who wrote letters and supported me! This is amazing and unprecedented.”

Sgt. Bishop went on to say that his plans after release are to see his family and friends and then “to try to start this new life that I’ve been granted. I think it is safe to say my life has been completely changed by this. I won’t be going to what my life was like before. Lots of changes are in store for me.” Sgt. Bishop said he hopes to continue to speak out against war and will be returning to Texas to pursue a career as a country musician.


Sgt. Bishop also said he had no regrets and that he urges others who are feeling moral conflicts with war to follow their conscience, but to not wait as long as he did to get help.

According to Mr. Branum, there are many who had a role in securing Sgt. Bishop’s early release. These people include:
Jeff Paterson, Sarah Lazare and everyone else at Courage to Resist
Chuck Luther (fearless G.I. Advocate and head of Disposablewarriors.com),
CPT Glendening with the US Army Trial Defense Services (trial co-counsel)
Cynthia Thomas (director of the Under the Hood G.I. Coffee house in Killeen),
Victor Agosto (fellow Afghanistan war resister)
Michael Kern, and the rest of the Fort Hood chapter of Iraq Veterans Against the War,
the many Texans who traveled to Fort Hood to attend Travis’ trial and to protest in the weeks he was being held in the Bell County jail,
Dahr Jamail and Eric Thompson (who provided compelling first-hand account reporting from the trial),
Legrand Jones (post-trial co-counsel at Fort Lewis),
the London office of Amnesty International,
Seth Manzell (director of Coffee Strong, the GI coffee house at Fort Lewis),
Gerry Condon, president of Greater Seattle Veterans For Peace, and all of the other local supporters of Travis in the Tacoma-Seattle area,
the 538 people who wrote letters of support for Travis
the many people who have written letters to Travis while he has been in the brig at Fort Lewis.”

Supporters of Sgt. Bishop are urged to continue to write him (instructions on how to do this can be found at www.couragetoresist.org) and also to donate to help cover his post-trial
defense costs (you can do this at www.couragetoresist.org/travis

Alice Embree / / February 10, 2010
Sgt. Travis Bishop has learned that the 12-month sentence he is serving at Fort Lewis will be reduced by three months. Sgt. Bishop was sentenced at Fort Hood near Killeen, Texas, in August 2009 for refusing orders to deploy to Afghanistan.

Sgt. Bishop, a Kentucky native and country singer, enlisted in 2004. He was deployed to Korea and then to Iraq. He had served five years of active duty when he refused orders based on religious reasons.

One of the people testifying against Bishop at his court martial was the chaplain he had hoped would listen to his concerns. Instead, Lt. Col. Ronald Leininger had reduced the amount of time scheduled for their original interview and then repeatedly took phone calls during the session. In his official statement, the chaplain said that people with Bishop’s religious heritage were “generally pro-military service with no pacifist tendencies in doctrine or practice.”

Lt. General Robert Cone, commanding general of Fort Hood approved the sentence reduction on February 4, after considering Sgt. Bishop’s clemency application. The clemency request included a legal brief alleging problems in the processing of Bishop’s conscientious objector claim, problems with the trial proceedings, and mistreatment at Fort Lewis where Sgt. Bishop has been detained.

In large part, the reduction in sentence is due to the dogged perseverance of GI rights attorney James Branum, and the public pressure that was brought to bear. Sgt. Bishop’s clemency request included 433 letters (signed by a total of 538 people from 21 different countries). Many came from pastors who disagreed with the military chaplain’s view on their churchs' support for conscientious objection.

Through his attorney, Sgt. Bishop relayed his thanks to all his supporters. He said he had no regrets and urged others who are feeling moral conflicts with war to follow their conscience, but not to wait as long as he did to get help.

Attorney James Branum released the news of Sgt. Bishop’s early release and ackowledged many supporters, including the GI coffeehouses, Under the Hood in Killeen and Coffee Strong near Fort Lewis in Washington, Amnesty International’s London office and Courage to Resist. Sgt. Bishop’s release is expected to be no later than March 31, based on the amount of good behavior credit he has earned.

Supporters of Sgt. Bishop can find instructions on writing him at www.couragetoresist.org.

February 6, 2010

Fort Huachuca Demonstrator in Federal Court Wednesday

Joshua Harris, a California graduate student, is set to appear for arraignment at the U.S. District Court, 405 W. Congress Street, Tucson on Wednesday, February 3, to answer criminal charges following his arrest last November 15 during a protest of military involvement in torture and robotic warfare. He is on the docket for an 8:30 a.m. arraignment, along with other unrelated arraignments scheduled that day.

Harris, 33, is charged under Arizona law with trespass onto the U.S. Army's Fort Huachuca in Sierra Vista, Arizona, and with refusing to provide a truthful name. His prosecution is proceeding in federal court in Tucson under the Assimilative Crimes Act (18 USC 13).

Harris is the only one among five people arrested during the November demonstration to be prosecuted. Four others were released within the hour after identifying themselves to military police and receiving a formal letter barring them from entering the base for one year.

Harris was released later that day, having identified himself after being cited for the offenses. He initially said he was there representing a victim of torture, and had only given that man's name.

Following is the statement explaining why the five were among 150 people protesting at Ft. Huachuca.

More information about the November demonstration can be found at:

February 5, 2010

Stop the Illegal Extradition of Iraq Vet Marc Hall to Iraq.

US military plans to extradite stop-lossed Iraq war vet to Iraq for court martial over protest rap song

Veterans for Peace, IVAW, Courage To Resist and many others are encouraging us to support Marc immediately as he may be shipped out any day. Following are two posts about his situation.

The Auburn Journal in California:

Since December 11 an Iraq War veteran and rap musician named Marc Hall as been sitting in the Liberty, Georgia jail. Hall wrote an anti-war song when he was issued a "stop-loss" order after he had finished his tour in Iraq and returned home to his wife and kids and his music.

Under his hip-hop alias, Marc Watercus, Marc Hall sent his song to the Pentagon to protest the stop-loss policy. Hall told his military superiors he opposed stop-loss and the war in Iraq and that his song was a “free expression of how people feel about the Army and its stop-loss policy.” Hall's sergeant told him he actually liked the song and didn’t consider it to be seditious or a threat.

But Hall's base commander at Ft. Stewart had Hall arrested. He then contracted with civilian police authorities to imprison Hall until some future date when a court marshal might be convened. Then the Pentagon enhanced the charges against Hall by claiming that Hall's song had “communicated a threat” to his fellow soldiers.

Using stop-loss, the Pentagon has prevented 120,000 soldiers from leaving the military when their contract is up. Originally intended to prevent having to withdraw soldiers from the battlefield if their active duty contracts expired while they were engaged in combat, stop-loss has morphed into a ploy to force soldiers to remain in the military unwillingly to make up for low reenlistment numbers. Stop-loss orders generally hit soldiers who have come home and who, like Hall, have returned to their families and civilian life.

Attorney Jim Klimanski, a member of the National Lawyers Guild and the Military Law Task Force, has been following Hall’s case. Klimanski says that the military is grossly “overreacting” and that Hall’s musical protest is protected by the First Amendment.

Marc Hall and other stop-loss victims look at the unending wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and believe that they are doomed to keep returning to battle until they are killed. Hall says his song is simply reflecting this attitude, a common one among troops who have been forced to serve multiple combat deployments in violation of their military contracts.

We can support Marc Hall and others like him who feel stop-loss is a travesty and violation of our basic liberties as Americans. Call your elected representatives and demand that Hall and other stop-loss protesters be released. Tell military age men and women tempted by promises of college funding and "signing bonuses" the truth. Let them know that they can be prevented from ever using their GI benefits by being stop-lossed to death. Make them aware that at the military’s whim they can be kept under fire virtually forever, just like Marc Hall and 120,000 other betrayed troops.

Selena Coppa's facebook page:
IVAW Press Release: Please Share!

Fort Stewart, Ga. – The US military plans to extradite a stop-lossed Iraq war veteran to Iraq “within a few days” to face a court martial for allegedly threatening military officers in a protest rap song he made.

Spc. Marc Hall has been jailed in the Liberty County Jail near Fort Stewart, Ga., since Dec. 11 because he wrote a song called “Stop Loss” about the practice of involuntarily extending military members’ contracts.

"It is our belief that the Army would violate its own regulations by deploying Marc and it would certainly violate his right to due process by making it far more difficult to get witnesses. It appears the Army doesn't believe it can get a conviction in a fair and public trial. We will do whatever we can to insure he remain in the United States," said Hall’s civilian attorney, David Gespass.

Gespass claims the Army's attempts to deploy Hall violate Army Regulations 600-8-105 and the Army's conscientious objector regulations. Hall applied for a conscientious objector discharge Monday. The military’s move would also separate Hall from both his civilian legal team and military defender.

"The Army seeks to disappear Marc and the politically charged issues involved here, including: the unfair stop-loss policy, the boundary of free speech and art by soldiers, and the continuing Iraq occupation. The actual charges are overblown if not frivolous, so I'm not surprised the Army wants to avoid having a public trial," explained Jeff Paterson, executive director of Courage to Resist.

An Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) member, Hall served 14 months in Iraq. He was scheduled to end his military contract on Feb. 27 but received a stop loss order that he would have to stay on active-duty to re-deploy to Iraq with his unit.

"Marc served his tour of duty to Iraq honorably,” said Brenda McElveen, Hall's mother. “To his dismay, he was told that he would be deployed again. When Marc voiced his concerns over this matter, his concerns fell on deaf ears. To let his frustration be known, Marc wrote and released the song. Marc is not now nor has he ever been violent."

Using stop loss orders, the US military has stopped about 185,000 soldiers from leaving the military since 2001. An additional 13,000 troops are now serving under stop-loss orders. President Obama said he thinks the practice should be stopped.

Hall, 34, was charged Dec. 17 with five specifications in violation of Article 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Conduct, including “wrongfully threatening acts of violence against members of his unit.” His arrest came about a month after 13 people were killed in a shooting incident at Fort Hood, Texas. Hall, whose hiphop name is Marc Watercus, mailed a copy of his “Stop Loss” song to the Pentagon.

Based at Fort Stewart, Hall said the song was a “free expression of how people feel about the Army and its stop-loss policy” not a threat. “My first sergeant said he actually liked the song and that he did not take it as a threat,” Hall added.

A South Carolina native, Hall wanted to leave the military to spend more time with his wife and child.

INTERVIEWS AVAILABLE: - Jason Hurd, IVAW Organizer, is in regular contact with Marc Hall. jehurd@gmail.com , 1-678-896-3821 - Brenda McElveen, Marc Hall's mother, 1-843-206-3439 - Chantelle Bateman, IVAW Field Organizing Team. chantellebateman@ivaw.org , 1-202-758-7818 - David Gespass, Hall’s civilian attorney, 1-205-323-5966 - Jeff Paterson, the founder and director of the soldier advocacy group Courage to Resist, jp@jeffpaterson.net , 1-415-279-9697 - LTC Eric Bloom in Iraq, US Army Public Affairs, eric.bloom@mnd-b.army.mil

It is also suggested that people call Ft. Stewart Public Affairs Chief Kevin Larson, (912) 435-9879 and say they are opposed to holding Marc's court martial in Iraq and that all charges against Marc be dropped. If you are a veteran, tell them so!!

February 4, 2010

Howard Zinn: "I can think of nothing more important in stopping the war in Iraq than for the soldiers themselves to refuse to fight."

This man was a refreshing beacon in my life. Every Zinn piece I ever read enlightened me. Whenever I saw him speak, in person or in a video, I was always moved to be a better person. Although his death is a great loss to the world, his life was a huge win for all of us. Thank you, Howard, for all of it. Now it's time for you to rest.

Courage to Resist's Jeff Paterson writes:
Professor Zinn never wavered in his support of the troops who refused to fight. Last year he shared:
“I would urge people to support Courage to Resist in whatever way they can. I can think of nothing more important in stopping the war in Iraq than for the soldiers themselves to refuse to fight. As a veteran myself I know how difficult it is to break out of the stranglehold the military has on one's mind, and how much courage that takes. Those who make such a decision need all the support we can give them, and Courage to Resist does just that.”

-thanks to Courage to Resist for the graphic and quote.

February 3, 2010

Blackwater's Youngest Victim: "I am Allawi"

This is difficult to watch. Too many veterans of Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan have seen too many variations of this. Some were intentional; some were accidental.

They were all wrong.

Now we add drones and huge numbers of mercenaries to the mix. It's bad enough that soldiers are misled by our leaders and end up doing unthinkable things, but killing for money adds an additional menacing sting to it. After the cold blooded slaughter of all these people, Blackwater's murderers got off on a technicality. Another little boy dies and our government keeps paying the mercenaries to go back and do it again.

Meanwhile . . .

The soldiers who refuse to participate any more are rewarded with prison and separation from their families. Our government locks up our veterans who have incurred an auspicious injury we should all welcome: the inability to kill innocent people. Our veterans are becoming our prisoners of war.

Blackwater’s Youngest Victim is a short film we made about the death of 9-year-old Ali Kinani at the hands of Blackwater forces. He was shot in his head during the 2007 Nisour Square massacre and is the youngest victim of that shooting. The film is based on my article by the same title in The Nation magazine. This video was produced with Rick Rowley of Big Noise Films and aired on Democracy Now!

Watch the video, read the article and check out the slide show.

-thanks to Jeremy Scahill at Rebel Reports