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TV coverage shows broadening GI protest
Published Feb 28, 2007 1:19 AM
CBS’s news magazine “60 Minutes” coverage in late February of
the GI “Appeal for Redress” reflected the widening of open opposition to the Iraq War
within the U.S. military itself.
Jonathan Hutto and Liam Madden at
rally in Washington, D.C.,
on Jan. 27.
WW photo: John Catalinotto
The “Appeal for Redress” is a statement directed at Congress that
includes this important phrase: “It is time for U.S. troops to come
As of Feb. 22, more than 1,200 active-duty GIs had signed, with a few more
adding their names every day. Then CBS posted podcasts on its website of
interviews with the appeal’s organizers, Navy Seaman Jonathan Hutto and
former Marine Sgt. Liam Madden, as well as with another eight or so signers.
The interviews were broadcast on “60 Minutes” on Sunday evening,
The publicity had its impact. Hundreds more active-duty GIs signed. Workers
World spoke a day later with Petty Officer Hutto, who said: “It was a new
breakthrough for the ‘Appeal for Redress.’ It cemented the appeal,
making it clear that it was a legal activity that every active duty member of
the U.S. armed forces has the right to participate in. Even for those who
don’t agree, it made it clear that we had the right to do it.
“On Thursday [Feb. 22], we had 1,278 signatures reported on our site.
Now, on Monday night, Feb. 26, there are 170 more, or 1,448. It is clear that
when GIs know about the ‘Appeal’ and they know it is legal, they
By the next evening, the number had grown to 1,615, that is, over 150 in one
“As an activist,” Hutto said, “I know that over the long term
you can’t depend on the corporate media to build the movement, but this
experience shows that at times it can be a tool that activists can
Hutto said that Madden and the others who participated and have been active in
building the “Appeal for Redress” were all enthusiastic about the
“60 Minutes” broadcast and the boost it gave the movement.
Asked what was next on his agenda, Hutto said: “We will be building for
the march on the Pentagon on March 17 and our signers will also be taking part
in the Veterans for Peace caravan that will gather at Fayetteville, N.C., that
day, and then go to the Gulf Coast to expose the failed domestic policies of
the government. We also endorse the Encampment to Stop the War set starting
March 12 at the Capitol.”
Iraq war refusers
On the other front inside the military, the cases of three soldiers who refused
to fight in Iraq are in the news.
Agustín Aguayo, an Army medic who has filed for conscientious-objector
status, faces a court-martial on March 6 in Manheim, Germany. Aguayo is charged
with desertion and missing movement because of his refusal to go to Iraq. If
convicted of all charges, he faces a maximum of seven years in prison. For an
entire year while in Iraq Aguayo refused to load his weapon.
Army Specialist Mark Wilkerson, who pled guilty to the charges against him, was
sentenced on Feb. 22 to seven months in prison for refusing to return to Iraq.
He had written about his experience there: “In the year I was in Iraq, I
saw kids waving American flags in the first months. Then they threw rocks. Then
they planted IEDs. Then they blew themselves up in city squares full of people.
... Hundreds of billions of American dollars, thousands of American lives, and
tens of thousands of Iraqi lives have all been wasted in this war. I feel as
though many more soldiers want to say things like this, but are afraid of
retribution, and who’s really listening anyway.”
Wilkerson has been active in antiwar demonstrations and participated in the
Camp Casey gathering in Texas in the summer of 2005, and later turned himself
in at Camp Casey.
The first court-martial of 1st Lt. Ehren Watada, perhaps the best known of the
war resisters, ended on Feb. 7 in a mistrial. His attorney, Eric Seitz, argued
at the time that by calling a mistrial the military had forfeited the trial,
since to charge him again would be “double jeopardy,” a
constitutional provision that prevents the government from trying someone twice
for the same charge.
Nevertheless, on Feb. 23, the Army filed new charges on Watada, so he again
faces six years in prison. No new trial has yet been scheduled.
Watada has spoken out clearly about his opposition to the war and shown how his
refusal to go to Iraq grew as he studied the political situation in Iraq while
preparing for his assignment.
Articles copyright 1995-2012 Workers World.
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