US Marine Corporal Adam Charles Kokesh and other members of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) wore parts of their Marine Corps Combat Utility Uniforms during a street theater demonstration that marked the 4th anniversary of the Iraq War. The Marine Corp warned the soldiers of disciplinary action for violating uniform policies at political demonstrations. Kokesh tells hosts that he responded with a letter (ending it with “[I] … ask you to please, kindly, go f&%# yourself.”). As a result, a military court convened to look at changing Kokesh’s military discharge from “honorable” to “other than honorable” because of “Disrespect toward a Superior Commissioned Officer”, and violating “Wearing of the uniform” regulation.
At the time Kokesh was part of the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) Kokesh’s attorney, Mike Lebowitz, claimed that the Marine Corps is attempting to stifle Kokesh’s constitutional right to free speech. Lebowitz and JAG defense counsel LT Joseph Melaragno argued that the military did not have jurisdiction over Kokesh based on the Marine Corps’s use of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, since the UCMJ does not apply to members of the IRR. Ultimately Kokesh was given a general discharge a step lower than honorable, instead of the harsher penalty that included losing access to certain veteran’s health benefits and being forced to pay back more than 10 thousand dollars in educational benefits.
Guest – Adam Kokesh
Guest – Michael Lebowitz, attorney for Adam Kokesh.
Former Staff Sergeant of the Florida National Guard and anti-war activist Camilo MejÃa became known in the antiwar movement in 2004 when he applied for a discharge from the Army as a conscientious objector. After serving in the Army for nearly nine years, he was the first known Iraq veteran to refuse to fight, citing moral concerns about the war and occupation. Mejia spent six months in combat in Iraq where he witnessed the killing of civilians and the abuse of detainees.
After he returned to the United States he decided never to return to fight in Iraq. He went into hiding to avoid redeployment and was classified as AWOL by the military. MejÃa was ultimately convicted of desertion by a military court and sentenced to a year in prison. He has recently written a book titled – Road from Ar Ramadi: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant MejÃa which recounts his journey of conscience in Iraq.
Guest – Camilo Mejia