2011-07-21 Open letter to servicemen and women regarding supporting WikiLeaks in the U.S. Military

Authored by data venia

To this day, supporting WikiLeaks remains unreasonably controversial. Depending on a person’s country of residence, job position, and so forth, the opposition to this support varies greatly. But there is one area where being pro-WikiLeaks is criminalized like none other: the United States Military.

As an American citizen I never expected to have my freedom of speech challenged so heavily. But I have realized that the U.S. Military is practically a separate entity from the country it represents. This is most easily expressed by the fact that it operates under its own set of laws, the Uniformed Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). As goes the saying reiterated by many soldiers, “We are not a democracy; we just protect it.”

The story of how and why I joined the military is unimportant. At the time I was ignorant of world events. I was basically like a typical American, who knew nothing of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan besides the fact that they existed. It wasn’t until December of 2010 that I finally became educated on the matter, and that was almost solely thanks to WikiLeaks. Surprisingly, I hadn’t even heard of WikiLeaks until that point, which goes to show that, as much as the U.S. Military loves to hate it, it would rather pretend WikiLeaks never existed.

I knew from the beginning that I could never voice my support without consequence. This fact was concreted quickly by my supervisor’s calls for Julian Assange’s assassination, as well as my friend’s belief that Bradley Manning deserved a life sentence in prison. I did tell a close and trusted friend of my support, hoping he would understand, but instead he turned on me and threatened to report me to the special investigations unit on base. At this point, even more so, I knew those I deemed as trustworthy must be carefully chosen.

As I continued my work in the military, my support for WikiLeaks only grew. Not only because of my personal unhappiness with my job and work, but by the apathy of my coworkers, and the blatant hatred they expressed for Iraqi and Afghan people. At one point I even had someone call me a “terrorist” for reading Al Jazeera.

Twice more I attempted to share my opinion on WikiLeaks with others. The first person seemed to be interested, but as it happened, that interest was feigned solely as an attempt to get closer to me. And the second just showed blatant apathy. After describing to them the entirety of the “Collateral Murder” video, they paused, then simply asked, “…And?” I was completely dumbfounded. At first I had hoped it was just ignorance and military bias keeping soldiers from understanding the good of WikiLeaks, but it turns out that, for many of them, it is also a complete disconnect from people of any other country but their own.

Though seemingly all military members are anti-WikiLeaks, there is a difference depending on age and rank. The younger, lower-ranking soldiers seem to be generally apathetic, and could care less about WikiLeaks. But they do disapprove when asked. I assume this is because of the way it has been presented by the military, and not of their own opinions. Whereas the more senior a member is, the more strong their hatred seems to be, to the point of ridiculousness. For example, my command has said that Human Rights groups are “anti-military” and a “threat.” The idea that high-ranking individuals in the United States Armed Forced have connected “human rights” with “anti-military” is, to me, horrifying. And even further, my command continued to say that associating with individuals connected to Human Rights groups could be grounds for investigation.

Many times have I wanted to take a stand and tell those around me that I support WikiLeaks. The one time my office had a discussion on the topic, I could only do so much to correct inaccuracies without sounding suspicious. But the consequences that come with voicing support are something that must be thought about intricately. With the grand jury that has been commencing in Alexandria, Virginia, it is obvious that even supporting WikiLeaks in the civilian world can lead to troubling issues. So, it is only reasonable to figure that doing so in the military would be many times worse.

One would hope that the U.S. Military would hear of a WikiLeaks supporter and, at the very worst, give them a swift boot out the door. But of course, the immediate step taken would be an investigation, followed by possible criminalization, and even jail time, as shown by the Royal Navy medic, who conscientiously objected to rifle training due to WikiLeaks revelations and was sentenced to 7 months in prison.

But would the U.S. Military truly be able to criminalize you for simply supporting WikiLeaks? To answer that, I would like to refer to Article 134 of the UCMJ, which states:

“Though not specifically mentioned in this chapter, all disorders and neglects to the prejudice of good order and discipline in the armed forces, all conduct of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces, and crimes and offenses not capital, of which persons subject to this chapter may be guilty, shall be taken cognizance of by a general, special, or summary court-martial, according to the nature and degree of the offense, and shall be punished at the discretion of that court.”

As Wikipedia describes it, this is a “catch-all” article, and is for “many offenses that are not covered by other specific articles of the UCMJ. These other offenses… vary from kidnapping to disloyal statements.”” In other words, this article can be used anytime the U.S. Military wants to criminalize something that has yet to be specifically defined as a crime.

So, those of us who are in the military, and who do support WikiLeaks (I know I cannot be the only one out of 1.5 million U.S. military members) are at a rather difficult crossroad. Do we continue in silence, serving out the remaining years of our contact with a strained conscience, or do we step up and voice our opinion, willing to face the dire consequences?

Is all hope lost? I don’t know.

The author and the commenters of this article detail the difficulties of military personnel in any search for truth outside of the ‘Official story'. Military personnel, they allude are practicing cognitive dissonance or just intentional ignorance. The financial and regulatory constraints seem to absolve military personnel of any requirement for seeking truth or of morality. This of course is only relevant for the duration of military supremacy, as shown in the cases of Germany, South Africa, Argentina, Cambodia, Bosnia, and others.

Income has always been a prime motivator for military enlistment, even to a large degree, in wartime. Thus the largest wars have been possible in times of economic stress. Military regimes recognizing this structure enlistments in such a way as to cause financial duress to any dissenting elements within the ranks. In spite of patriotic drivel to the contrary, the highest loyalty is always demanded to the military authority, rather than the nation.

Military people are not alone in this dilemma. The following is a video article by a very intelligent financial analyst, who has worked both independantly and in high government office. It details how most people practice ignorance and denial in the name of expedience. If you have difficulty with the financial concepts, just skip to minute twenty and pay close attention to ‘The Big Red Button’ segment. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u9dGHuRExiM

Everything is connected and so long as ordinary people do not have the fortitude to opt out, we will remain slaves to this rotten system and our civilization will stagnate. Ask yourselves, “How long can you maintain this charade, before you make a mistake, and loose everything?” A mistake is all it takes, there need be no willful rebellion or disobedience. Just one wrong move and the awful might of ‘The system’, will crush you.

Finally; Do you have a soul? Do you believe in a power which holds honesty as the highest ideal? If so, how does your retirement pension stack up against the final accounting? If you are in a position which requires that you perform duties which you know to be morally wrong, then you are betraying both authorities by remaining in that position.

Open Letter to Service Men and Women

I can appreciate the hindsight factor of this writer and his actions after being in the service for a period of time. A very simplistic view taken by his colleagues is the basis for their own protection. They see any comments or actions contrary to 'popular' thinking as a threat to their own survival in terms of remaining in employment. The employment factor is a huge incentive to 'not' say anything out of the 'norm' no matter what level you are at. In fact the incentives just get better the higher up you go and the excuses for allowing disenfranchisement of 'cowboys' or 'on your own' individuals is harder to ignore. I cannot accept that these people are 'ignorant' I think that that is a 'new' defense for covering their arse and their paycheck, no matter how meagre. The employment market is extremely tough and only getting tougher. Nobody wants to rock the boat and get their fingers burnt on these issues. They would rather stay 'dumbed down' for the duration. I personally don't care what people 'think' of my view's on Wikileaks and what it has brought to the attention of the world, the basic rule of thumb for life is 'do unto others as you have them do unto you'. Anything unprovoked to suit the aggressor should be shot on site.

Thank you so much for posting

Thank you so much for posting this, until now, I've felt extremly alone since all of this first began. I'm a fellow servicemember. I really feel strongly about what wikileaks is doing and (most) of what Anonymous is doing. This really makes it extremly difficult to sit in silence, not able to do anything, not able to say anything without the constant fear of severe reprucussions for the slightest hint of freethinking.

The military has done a lot for me, helped me through some difficult times. And I am very happy that we are moving in a positive direction with issues like homosexualality. However, still the military thought process is derived from old traditions that have become outdated, irrelivant, and completly undermines our soldiers.

I have been told by family, friends, and coworkers that we can't change the world we live in. That we have to accept society for what it is, remain silent and "work within the system." I'm sorry, I cannot do that. The system is broken. "The system" has become so twisted and corrupt, we can't change enough to make a difference unless we go outside of it and -act-.

The problem most of us face is simply this: What can we do? How do we do this without being silenced, arrested, or generally screwed?

I have several years before I can breath easier and openly express my opinions and thoughts without this constant fear of retribution. I simply don't know what else to do besides bide my time and hold my opinions to myself.

I want to help. But how can I?

To speak or not to speak. That is the question

My feeling is that it is not time to speak out and risk being martyred.. Certainly speak the truth and speak the facts, but there is no advantage in becoming a revolutionary in their eyes as you will immediately loose credability.

Thank you for this article -

Thank you for this article - this gives a good insight into the military.

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