Ex-Marine is offered deal
He has been threatened with an "other than honorable discharge" from the Individual Ready Reserves for wearing a uniform during a political protest and for "making disloyal statements" at a speech in New York City.
During that protest, Madden said "the war in Iraq is, by Nuremberg standards, a war crime and a war of aggression" and "the president has betrayed U.S. service members by committing them to a war crime."
During another protest earlier this year in Washington, D.C., Madden and other war veterans participated in a "mock combat patrol," dressed in military uniforms with no insignia or nametags.
Madden said he was offered a deal by the Marine Corps, that if he agreed to stop wearing the uniform at protests, he won't be brought up for a discharge hearing.
Madden, who spent seven months in Iraq, said he will agree to stop wearing the uniform at protests if the Marine Corps puts in writing "that my statements are neither disloyal nor inaccurate." They are telling him, he said, that he shouldn't say anything that puts the Marine Corps or the war in Iraq in a negative light.
"And I can't agree to do that," said Madden, who talked with the Reformer by mobile phone from North Carolina. Madden and other war veterans are visiting military communities on the East Coast, talking with active duty members and their families about why they oppose the war.
"The reception has been great," said Madden. "They appreciate what we are doing," he said, in part because they are all veterans and not "armchair protestors" who have never served in the military. "We're just regular guys."
Madden, 22, a Bellows Falls Union High School graduate and a veteran of the Iraq war, helped found the Appeal for Redress movement, in which active duty military members petitioned the U.S. Congress to end the war. After Madden received his honorable discharge from the Marine Corps, he continued to speak out against the war and became a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War.
As a former Marine, Madden is a member of the Individual Ready Reserves, a unit made up of discharged Marines who could be called up for duty even several years after being released from service.
Madden said he and fellow ex-Marines Adam Kokesh and Cloy Richards have been targeted because they are speaking out against the war and encouraging other veterans and active duty members to do the same.
Kokesh recently received a general discharge from the reserves even though at a military hearing on June 4 in Kansas City it was recommended he receive a dishonorable discharge -- or under other than honorable conditions in military parlance -- for his participation in the mock combat patrol and for a letter he wrote in which he was disrespectful to the commanding officer of the Marine Corps Mobilization Command.
"They are attempting to silence political opposition to the war by intimidating vets and GIs," said Madden, in an interview with Ron Jacobs at opednews.com.
"Public opposition doesn't lower troop morale," Madden told Jacobs. "Being in a war that is clearly based on a lie lowers troop morale. Criticizing a president and a war that is harming our nation is not disloyal despite what the government claims. If the war was legal by international standards, then the U.S. government should prove their case instead of attempting to silence the voices of opposition."
Iraq Veterans Against the War has plans to mount more mock combat patrols, said Madden, the next scheduled for a protest in Denver.
Though he doesn't know if he will participate in that action, "I definitely intend to wear my uniform in protest until the Marine Corps lives up to its end of the bargain."
Though a bad conduct discharge from the reserves won't affect his honorable discharge from the Marine Corps, it could affect his ability to obtain employment, especially in government service.
Madden said people can show support by contributing to a legal defense fund at www.ivaw.org/support.
Bob Audette can be reached at email@example.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 273.
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