Thursday, May 31, 2007
Antiwar to the Corps - washingtonpost.com
Antiwar to the Corps - washingtonpost.com: "In a case that raises questions about free speech, the Marines have launched investigations of three inactive reservists for wearing their uniforms during antiwar protests and allegedly making statements characterized as 'disrespectful' or 'disloyal.'"
Imagine that, a combat veteran wearing a uniform in an unauthorized manner or at an unauthorized time while speaking out against a war.
In this case, a mock patrol on the streets of Washington, DC, I believe the wear of the uniform was central to the protest and the protected speech.
The USMC is screwing up. The protesters brought no disgrace or dishonor to the USMC. They performed an act of protest while expressing their personal opinions, nothing more.
Furthermore these individuals are in the Individual Ready Reserve. The IRR is a limbo status members serve in after their separation from active duty. Members in the IRR receive no pay and no benefits but are technically still in the military and can be recalled to active duty in times of national emergency. Extending military regulations to a member in the IRR might be legal, but it's a huge stretch.
The protesters are being threatened with Other Than Honorable Discharges. That's actually a big deal. It is the worst discharge you can receive without being court-martialed and is reserved for serious misconduct. Most veteran's benefits are denied to people who receive OTH or lower discharges. Being a disrespectful loudmouth is not serious misconduct and the OTH discharges are unwarranted.
I can't tell you how I know this, but being a disrespectful loudmouth usually results in nothing more than a closed door session with the First Sergeant during which said loudmouth is reminded that nobody cares what he thinks. The loudmouth then serves penance doing assorted dirty jobs until the First Sergeant gets distracted with someone else.
The USMC's reaction to these men attending a protest in uniform is disproportionate to the offense. Particularly in this case, where the offense was committed while exercising their First Amendment rights.
Adam Kokesh, one of the three facing an OTH discharge maintains a blog here.