11 July 2005

Making the world safe for . . . censorship

Daily Kos has a post that's right on the mark regarding soldiers' right to express their views. The administration and political right loves to parade soldiers in front of the American public, allowing them to tell us how wonderful the current war is. But the second these soldiers depart from the script, they are censored, or in some cases, arrested! I couldn't agree more with Armando: If soldiers are allowed to speak to the public at all, they should be allowed to say whatever they want to say--even if it isn't something Bush would like us to hear. Otherwise they should be forbidden from saying anything (as they work to make the world safe for democracy and freedom of speech and so on. Uh um. No irony here.) Daily Kos discusses the case of Leonard Clark, who was arrested and whose blog has been shut down.

The Views of Soldiers In Iraq

by Armando Mon Jul 11th, 2005

Today in his speech at the FBI training academy in Quantico, Virginia, President George W. Bush quoted from several soldiers serving in Iraq. The soldiers quoted by President Bush expressed support for the Iraq War, stated that the situation was improving, that the security situation was under control, and that, implicitly, President Bush was doing a fine job as President with regards to Iraq.

I fully support the right of our troops to express their views of the situation fully and frankly if ALL may do so, regardless of their views. I would oppose any attempt to censor the expression of these views in support of the Iraq War and the performance of President Bush regarding Iraq as LONG as views opposing the President and the Iraq War are not censored.

Unfortunately this is not the case There is a U.S. soldier in Iraq that President Bush did not quote. His name is Leonard Clark. Clark has stated, in part, the following regarding the Iraq War:

Now, fellow activists, let us keep up the non-violent fight against the terrorists and the tyrants at home who are needlessly endangering my fellow soldiers and causing many of them to die needless deaths in this lie we call the Occupation of Iraq. We need to let the three-piece-suited politicians and their crooked lackeys know that we're mad as hell and we're not going to take it anymore! . . . I'm damn tired of my Democratic leadership in Washington D.C. that refuses to publicly call for an immediate timetable for a withdrawal from Iraq. . . . [O]ur American soldiers are dying needless deaths over here and dammit, you've got to take a stand or we'll vote somebody else in your place! Not One More American Soldier Should Die Over Here in this Lie We Call the Occupation of Iraq!
N.O. M.A.S. !

Written by Leonard Clark (the damn liberal who patrols the mean streets of Iraq everyday)and Kindergarten teacher in the public schools of America Candidate for the U.S. Senate against John Kyl in Arizona

Apparently, Leonard Clark is now under arrest for expressing such views.

Many commenters point out that Clark has likely violated Army regulations. That may well be so. Running for office seems a clear violation. Clark has criticized the Commander in Chief, which also appears to be a clear violation.

But what of the President's use of the views of soldiers who support his view? What if Clark dropped his candidacy and did not expressly criticize the President, as the soldiers cited by the President implicitly endorse his performance?

See, there is the disconnect for me. If Leonard Clark must be muzzled, should not the President also refrain from use of soldiers' expressions in support of him and his policies? The President's use of these expressions is more than the equivalent of Leonard Clark's dissent. It transforms the views of soldiers who support the Iraq War into partisan speech, supporting President Bush.

It is the President's cynical politicization of our soldiers in Iraq that is the travesty here. The arrest of the soldier Leonard Clark is part of the resulting damage. It is wrong of the President to do this. And it is wrong that Leonard Clark has been arrested.

Do not politicize our troops. Let us ban all public (as opposed to private) expressions on politics and the war by our soldiers. They should not become pawns in a political war. They are our soldiers. All of us. Democrats and Republicans. Left and Right. All Americans. The President should be ashamed of trying to make them part of his political game.
And then there was this from Kevin Spidel's blog:
You could tell he was in a room with people in the background and he was reading text that they asked him to convey to me. His text was this:

Kevin, this is Leonard Clark I have been ordered by my commander Captain Munch to ask you to not publish anymore material at all on the web specifically any pending voice mails you may have that I have sent you. The reason I have been told to tell you to do this is because he states that he believes operational security may be compromised.
Hmm. Why all the concern over operation security when anti-war sentiments are expressed yet no concern when pro-war bloggers fill their blogs with pictures of soldiers tossing candy to kids from tanks. Evidently, some bloggers are more equal than others.


RTO Trainer said...

Need more information.

What is the nature of the complaint against Clark?

Karlo said...

It seems to be that he was running for the Senate. I've put more info on an update post: http://swerveleft.blogspot.com/2005/07/more-on-leonard-clark.html

Anonymous said...

The thing is every soldier knows they can't criticize the president or his policies while they're activated. This is why my husband is only "S" on my blog. Even though I only publish my own opinions there, it's too risky to publish his name. It comes from the days of mutinies. I hope Leonard Clark is released, but I'm not surprised he was arrested.

There are a few soldiers out there who use satire and innuendo to present their beliefs. I've got links to two on my blog: All the King's Horses and A Soldier's Thoughts. Operation Truth's blog has comments from active soldiers sometimes, though most often the comments are from vets who are out of the military.

Soldiers are put into a real bind. The worst thing is that the public suffers for it. We'd have a much better understanding of what's going on if we could hear the truth from the troops themselves. As it is they're being monitored, and even when they're being interviewed by press, their superiors are standing next to them to make sure they watch what they say. Vets are the truthtellers right now. Hopefully Clark will be able to get out of the military and tell all the truth he wants, free of harrassment and intimidation.

Karlo said...

What I find so unfair is the continued use of soldiers to promote administration policies. It's one thing to say that soldiers must remain apolitical. This has some justification. It's another thing to say that they can talk to the public but only if they say the right thing.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree, Karlo.