Troops signing petition to get out of Iraq
As this WaPo article discusses, and Keith Olbermann interviewed one of the soldiers who signed last night, over 100 soldiers who were or are in Iraq have signed a petition urging our withdrawal from Iraq.
The soldiers are making use of a legal protection afforded by the Military Whistle-Blower Protection Act, which provides that members of the military, acting in their capacity as citizens, can send a protected communication to Congress without reprisal.
The group, which aims to collect 2,000 signatures and deliver the “Appeal for Redress” to Congress in January, is sponsored by antiwar activists including Iraq Veterans Against the War, Veterans for Peace and Military Families Speak Out.
It has to take a ton of courage to sign such a petition while still on active duty in Iraq, as some evidently are. Whether you agree or disagree with their views, you have to give them a hat tip to take such a drastic step which could make life very difficult for them with regard to their superiors and other soldiers who do not hold the same view of the situation in Iraq. Even if they aren’t still in Iraq, if they are in the military this surely wouldn’t make them popular. They also walk a very thin line that could put them at odds with the UCMJ.
Part of the interview Keith Olbermann did with a soldier that has signed the petition:
OLBERMANN: This would seem to be a very drastic, risky step for an active-duty Marine to take. Let me begin by asking you what compelled you to make this decision, to take this decision? Was there something specific about the war in which you have fought that you find objectionable?
MADDEN: The only thing about the war that I don‘t like is, the more I find out about it, the less I like the war. I oppose the war because there is no benefit to the parties involved, including the American service members, the Iraqi people, and the American people. There‘s—it‘s a war for no benefit, in my eyes.
OLBERMANN: Let me ask you for your reaction to a comment that was made yesterday by the White House press secretary, Tony Snow, who was asked about the letter-writing campaign. He said not only that it‘s, quote, “not unusual for soldiers in a time of war to have some misgivings,” he also said that you and the other service men and women involved are, quote, “going to be able to get more press than the hundreds of thousands who have come back and said they are proud of their service.”
That would seem to imply, or he would be seemingly implying there, Sergeant, that you‘re not proud of your service. Is that the case, or is that statement a gross mischaracterization of how you feel about your service?
MADDEN: I think a gross mischaracterization is as well as you can put it, Keith. I feel that I‘m participating in democracy, and that‘s what citizens of a democratic land should do. And if Mr. Snow has a problem with that, then he should know that I feel I‘ve protected democracy more by appealing to my congressman than I did when I defended Iraq.
OLBERMANN: But you are personally proud of what you did in Iraq, and what your fellow servicemen did, in terms of your service to your country?
MADDEN: I‘m proud of serving with fellow Marines. But I oppose the war. The only reason I got up to work every day was to help my Marines, to help the Marines next to me.
OLBERMANN: That‘s a pretty damn good reason.