This week, on the National Mall, a young Iraq vet has constructed a tower, where he sits 24/7, in a vigil to bring attention to the Stop Loss program. He is garnering publicity and changing hearts and minds.
He even had the chance to speak directly to Alberto Gonzales as Gonzales announced his resignation. According to witnesses, Gonzales stood in front of Evan, while Evan recounted the horrors of the war and the torture program, with his hands folded and his head down.
We all have to listen now.Here is his story
August 22, 2007Evan’s Statement for DC Vigil 7-day Tower Guard Vigil, Washington, DCIn Protest of the Immoral and Unethical Policies PerpetratedAgainst US Soldiers and My Friends
by Evan Michael Knappenberger, 1st BDE, 4th Infantry Division
I am spending one entire week on a scaffold on the National Mall in the District of Columbia in protest of the US military’s STOP-LOSS and INACTIVE RESERVE (READY RESERVE) policies, which are being used as a substitute for conscription in a political war–under the pretense of a non-existent national emergency–and destroying our military readiness, as well as the lives of our young men and women.
I joined the Army in 2003 at the age of seventeen. I believed at the time that the war in Iraq was necessary, if not morally justified. (Since then, I have learned the hard way that the ends never justify the means.) I served nearly four years as an intelligence analyst in a combat unit, including Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF ‘05-’07). I spent 97 nights on tower guard contemplating the nature of our destructive zeitgeist, which is inspiring the better part of this protest and my other protests this year.
The truth of the matter is that our armed forces are being destroyed by a collective neurosis; something obvious even to President Bush and his staff. The mishandling of post-war Iraq is only one minor symptom of the illness; but what is the cause of this neurosis? I believe that fundamentally conflicting values are being forced onto the institution by a fundamentally conflicted administration. The lack of moral integrity at the head of our government is monadistically infecting all levels of government, military, and culture. Notwithstanding a treatise on the ethics of something political in nature, I argue that, if nothing else, the current administration policy of STOP-LOSS (see note 1) (as well as their call up of the IRR–see note 2) is immoral, destructive, and often overlooked. Not only does it devalue the fragile constitutional legality of the process; it devalues all legality, reason, and sound judgment in general.
STOP-LOSS is being used as a circumvention of the contractual agreements between the federal government and soldiers. The irony of volunteerism-exploitation-politics is not lost on soldiers who signed up fully trusting in the ability of our elected officials to hold accountable the chief executive. If nothing else, those soldiers who have difficulty thinking in terms of moral integrity do understand injustice: they too are victims of egregious moral fraud! Ask any one of them that has been extended to 2030 or beyond.
As actions typically resound louder than words, it is all but obvious that we can add “volunteer conscript” to the oxymoronic vocabulary that has resulted from our conflicted status as liberator-occupiers and freedom-crusaders. It is not, therefore, surprising that soldiers who are treated like slaves (and their ‘contractor’ mercenary counterparts) are able and willing to commit terrible acts of violence on harmless civilians in places like Abu Ghraib prison. These are the acts of humans who have been robbed of their moral judgment by a malicious and harmful few who happen to occupy the seat of power in the federal government.In short, we must hold it as our duty as responsible citizens to “bring to justice” an administration that has broken the contracts of almost 200,000 young patriots as a way of exploiting a political situation. But more than that, we owe our sons and daughters the moral integrity we would expect in a county founded by Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry. You as a human being with a conscience owe my friends the dignity they deserve in facing the outrageous policy enslaving them on their way back into the maelstrom. Please join me in my efforts to bring STOP-LOSS to an end so we can begin rebuilding a shattered service and halt the suffering of my comrades-at-arms. War cannot and should not be won when the cost is our conscience and integrity, because that is all we have. WE MUST END THE STOP-LOSS AND RESTORE TRUE JUSTICE AT THE RISK OF LOSING EVERYTHING, BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE.
1) When a person enlists into the armed forces, (s)he signs a contract stating a specific amount of time which will be served on active duty. The remaining time, the difference that makes eight total years, is spent on what is termed inactive ready reserve (IRR). There is no mention of “stop-loss” in the armed forces contract. Similarly, the contractual connection between stop-loss and the IRR stipulation (paragraph 10A) is non-existent. The Department of Defense has broken the contract of thousands of soldiers whose IRR time has expired, thereby negating this phrase as the basis for STOP-LOSS. Paragraph 9C, which has been claimed as the legal basis for the measure, is flimsy at best and relies upon semantics which the DOD interprets as it pleases. It is one small sentence in 50 pages of fine print, and the Military Entrance Processing and Recruiting Command routinely avoid discussion of it during enlistment.
2) According to U.S.C. 10 § 12301-12305.
More of Evan's writing here
Please share this story across the land. And take hope today; these young people are powerful speakers of truth to power.