Contents: The Sir! No Sir! blog is an information clearing house, drawing on a wide variety of sources, to track the unfolding history of the new GI Movement, and the wars that brought the movement to life.
Where applicable, parallels will be drawn between the new movement and the Vietnam era movement which was the focus of the film Sir! No Sir!
Disclaimer: In accordance with title 17 u.s.c. section 107, this material is distributed without profit for research and educational purposes.
The Sir! No Sir! Blog has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is the Sir! No Sir! Blog endorsed or sponsored by the originator. Links are provided to allow for verification of authenticity.
This article, by Lisa 'Stienster' Nerone, was published by the Atlantic Free Press, March 26, 2009
"The Posse Comitatus Act of June 16, 1878 was reversed on October 17, 2006 by Bill 5122 (sponsored by John Warner). Now our government can use our own Military against “We The People”.
"On October 1, 2008 the 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team, which, said the Army Times newspaper, has spent 35 of the last 60 months in Iraq, was brought home. This begins the first breech of what the Posse Comitatus was created to prevent." (source)
The truly savage behavior of "our" government officials (with few exceptions) are not only directed at those members of humanity who are often easily targeted as undeserving of civility, ex: violent criminals. The malevolence expressed in their actions- when not in their words- have existed with virtually zero counter-measures from the majority of Americans, whom are obviously the true target of the malignant evil that grows on The Hill.
In complete polarity, true Constitutional patriots who are/were in the military services are standing up against the tyrannical faction who have usurped The Constitution on many levels. These truly brave men and women have formed several united groups against the lying oligarchs who pursue their fabricated "global war on terrorism".
"Iraqi Veterans Against War" (IVAW) and the resulting protest group, The Hempstead 15 (so named by alternative non-main-stream-media), are two such groups of current and veteran military members who are willing to stand on the 'front-line' of the illegal and unconstitutional wars of aggression against Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. The Hempstead 15 are members of IVAW who requested admittance to the Hempstead New York Presidential Debate held at Hofstra University in October, 2008. One of these IVAW members, US Army veteran, Matthis Chiroux, details the ensuing fascist crimes of The Nassua County Police Department.
Their respectful written request to address the candidates with one question directed to each candidate was issued to "Bob Schieffer, the debate moderator (Hofstra University), as well as Det. Thomas J. Calvert and Det. Robert Annese of the Nassau County Police Department the day before the action (Hofstra-Debate Police Security Controllers). IVAW were "assured (Police security) would instruct their officers to respect the non-violent spirit of the action by using restraint towards peaceful veterans and demonstrators". But at the time of the debate event, the assurances of Calvert and Annese didn't materialize.
A few members of IVAW, in full military dress, peaceably approached the entrance to the debate facility and were met by riot-gear clad, horse-mounted Hempstead Police. A few "lucky" IVAW members were instantly arrested for "disorderly conduct" and placed in a police bus, where they watched in horror as "the police charged their horses onto a sidewalk and unprovokedly knocked Nick Morgan to the ground, trampling his head and face, then arrested him".
The Nassau County Police Department continued it's vile, illegal, and aggressively abusive activities, as can be heard and seen here.
Army Veteran Chiroux further stated, "Police pulled other members and supporters of IVAW from the sidewalk and arrested them, while horses spun in circles causing injury to most who couldn’t escape their paths... One officer, when I brought up the prospect of speaking to a lawyer, threatened to put me in the back (jail) where 'the big boys will pop your cherry'. When I asked this officer if he had just threatened an honorably discharged veteran of Afghanistan with prison rape and told him I wanted his name and rank, he refused and told me to look it up on the police report, which the Nassau County Police Department has refused to provide.".
Also of important mention is "Courage To Resist" (CTR), whose members' resistance pivots on the huge impact to all of humanity of the immoral and illegal wars. CTR comprises current enlisted American military personnel who refuse to deploy or re-deploy to Iraq and Afghanistan. Veteran Chiroux is a member and has his Army hearing on April 21, 2009, in St. Louis, MO. But prior to his hearing, Mr. Chiroux, "at the request of members of the German Parliament" will be present "to speak about why they should not be supplying troops to the occupation of Afghanistan nor supporting the NATO alliance." He will then also participate in the protest demonstrations being held in Europe on April 1-4, 2009, against the G20 and NATO summits in London and Strasbourg, France. (Matthis Chiroux website)
The members of The Nassua County Police Department who inflicted the above listed attacks, are quite obviously not members of "The Oath Keepers". These well welcomed police, sheriff, and military members of America have banded together to speak out against and oppose the tyranny and unconstitutional actions being ordered of our police and military forces against We The People. Their commitment to their sworn-to oath to serve and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic is taken seriously, and they state: "Our oath is to the Constitution, not to the politicians, and that oath will be kept. We won’t 'just follow orders'."
These honorable servants used to be the norm. But because such integrity of character is now seldom found, these respectable patriots stand out as the shining hope of what our future can STILL BE. If we can stay focused on what We The People require of each other- and also then must require of ourselves- conscionable policies that reflect the spirit of who we thought we were, then we can again become a nation of industrious, morally strong individuals who together form an America of immeasurable spiritual and material prosperity.
March 12, I'll attend a board hearing in St. Louis, Missouri, to determine what the nature of my discharge from the Individual Ready Reserve will be. The Army has alleged "misconduct" and they're shooting for a "general discharge," but I'm pushing for "honorable," as my refusal to deploy was not an act of misconduct.
I will attend this hearing in uniform as ordered, but only for the purpose of these administrative proceedings. I'm not contesting the fact that I did not report as ordered to deploy to Iraq. However, I intend to paint a clear picture of my convictions to the military, and I seek to corroborate them with first hand accounts of occupation.
No person is bound to act against the dictates of conscience, let alone their understanding of the law. I know the occupation of Iraq and further the Global War on Terror to be an illegitimate and ultimately murderous campaign waged for economic gain, fueled by misinformation and greed. I know it to be in violation of not only international law, but the U.S. Constitution. Far more importantly, it is against the dictates of my own conscience, and never again will I compromise my humanity to support or ignore the crimes of my government.
I will be working closely with Iraq Veterans Against the War to plan what we hope will reflect a Winter Soldier event in the form of our members testifying under oath to the military about their experiences in the Global War on Terror.
I seek only truth to be heard and considered by the military. If reconciliation is possible, I seek that, as well.
If we are a democracy, than ultimately we the people are responsible for the actions of our government. When those actions bring about crimes against humanity in the forms of occupation, torture and war profiteering, it is our duty as people to resist.
I stand for humanity, the rule of law and the rights of people, be they Arab or American, to cast off their oppressors, be they foreign or domesticŠand even challenge them in court, which is what, in essence, I am doing.
The Army in no way has forced this hearing upon me. I demanded this hearing from them to oppose the General Discharge, and I thank them for providing me due process.
We are continuing to gather funds needed to cover travel expenses and accommodation for those who will be testifying. I hope anywhere from fifteen to thirty veterans, military family members, Iraqi civilians and constitutional experts will appear before my board. Please consider making a donation to my defense campaign either through my website, matthisresists.us, or through ivaw.org.
This information, when presented to the military, will provide a clear contrast to the official narrative of the Global War on Terror and establish a firm base for my actions in reality as recalled by those who lived it.
As well, I have recently returned to New York from Washington D.C. where in addition to watching our new president be inaugurated and demanding our old one be prosecuted, I visited the offices of the Congressional Signatories to my support letter from last summer.
As I write this, they are penning another letter of support which will be more widely circulated in Congress than the first to be sent to President Obama before my hearing. As well, several Members have expressed interest in appearing in person to voice support for me and troops like me in March.
I will mobilize as much media as possible to put the critical issue of war resistence to the American people for judgment, but I need your help to get the word out. Please forward this information far and wide, especially in St. Louis, and contact me if you'd be interested in helping organize or participating in a national day of action to support war resisters on March 12. I'd like to make it a day to send a clear demand to President Obama that he halt the military from prosecuting troops refusing to participate in the Global War on Terror.
In these most critical times for our service members and the people of Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and others, I ask the American people to consider that change will not manifest itself in this country until society halts the unjust practices of the past, among them prosecuting Soldiers of conscience.
We tried to bring this message to President Obama at the final presidential debate. Tragically, Joe the plumber took precedence that evening, and Nick Morgan the Iraq Vet was nearly crushed by a police horse during a violent crackdown on our peaceful demonstration.
Hopefully, President Obama will hear our voices this time and understand that enough blood has been shed in Baghdad, Kabul, Waziristan and Hempstead alike. It is time for a just peace, at home and abroad.
But for peace to exist, first must occur reconciliation, and for reconciliation to occur, first must exist truth.
Truth is what led me to resist, and it is that truth now that leads me to St. Louis. Win or loose, my life WILL reflect truth and is dedicated to preserving human rights. The truth is, there is no other path I can walk. The Army proved that to me and now I'll prove it to them.
More to follow on various fundraisers, events and our national day of action. As always, I am grateful to all for your interest, support and dedication to peace and justice. I look forward to the whirlwind of activism that will be the next 39 days.
Peace and Solidarity,
Matthis Chiroux (matthisresists.us)
This report was originally published, by Courage to Resist , January 1, 2009.
I am Benji Lewis. I deployed to Iraq twice in 2004 and 2005 and was discharged honorably in 2007. Recently I have been involuntarily activated from the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) by the U.S. Marine Corps in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, an activation that I have been publicly refusing.
The IRR is an inactive group of service members who still have time remaining on their signing agreements and are eligible to call up in states of emergency. The current state of emergency is the open-ended Global War on Terror that includes the occupation of both Iraq and Afghanistan.
Because of falling reenlistment levels, the United States is finding it difficult to procure sufficient manpower in its efforts overseas. Thus the U.S. government is finding it necessary to reactivate members from the IRR to stave off its shortage of personnel. Thousands of individuals are now being faced with the decision to reactivate and forgo the lives they have built since their discharge. I am ignoring my orders and encouraging others in the IRR to make an informed decision on whether or not they should do the same.
The most important fact about this decision is that members of the IRR do not fall under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) until they report to the evaluation for activation. After being discharged from the military, veterans are bound only by civilian laws, and there exists no civilian mandate that states they must report for their evaluation. This means that the military has no formal judiciary measure for bringing criminal charges against an individual that ignores orders and fails to report.Of course the military has certain forms of coercion and harassment that it utilizes to ‘prompt’ persons into reactivation, but these threats have no legal grounds. For example, if the military sends a veteran a letter that says to report for a court martial or a separations hearing, the military cannot actually hold a court martial or separations hearing unless that person reports for it. This means that a vet would have to volunteer to be court marshaled under the UCMJ. In the case of a separations hearing, a vet would have to agree to voluntarily participate, as in the well-known case of IRR resister and fellow IVAW member, Matthis Chiroux.
If members of the IRR ignore all attempts by the military to contact them, through not signing certified letters, or answering their phone calls, then the most probable situation is either a general separation from the IRR citing ‘a failure to contact,’ or, at worst, an other-than-honorable discharge from the IRR. What is important to understand is that a discharge from the IRR, in whatever capacity, does not affect a vet’s discharge from active duty. That means that at this time no one has incurred any loss of benefits or standing from an original active duty discharge. An other-than-honorable discharge from the IRR could, however, affect those that apply for a federal job requiring a national security background check, such as a position in the FBI or NSA.
Of the facts surrounding the IRR, it is important to know that about thirty to forty percent of personnel fail to report. Unfortunately many of them do comply after the military uses scare tactics to get them to reactivate. About fifty percent file for medical or hardship exemption and about fifty percent of those get approved. Individuals with more than thirty percent disability are most likely to succeed. The reality is that most service members in the IRR do not even have to file for exemption if they simply fail to report.
Why I am refusing to reactivate
The U.S. claimed that it invaded Iraq in order to liberate the Iraqi people from Saddam. The ‘war’ ended for America the day Saddam fled into hiding and the Iraqi people were ready to reestablish their futures free from bondage. The ‘war’ especially ended when the Kurds found and turned over Saddam to American forces, and the ‘war’ really should have been over by the time many Iraqis were beginning to discover that though they hated him, their lives were better under Saddam. Naturally this notion was contrary to stated goals, but exemplifies the fact that the U.S. did not ever really care about the people of Iraq, and was more interested in profiteering and geostrategic positioning.
The Iraq resistance to American presence will not cease until it accomplishes its objectives: U.S. withdrawal of its political and economic influence, and troop presence.
The U.S. has been instrumental in creating the strife in Iraq: from the Reagan administration taking Iraq off the state sponsored terrorism list in 1982 in order to sell it weaponry during the eight year war with Iran (in which Iraq openly used chemical weapons, utilizing raw chemicals sold by U.S. corporations and approved by the U.S. Department of Commerce), to the baiting of Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait, to the Gulf War, to the resulting sanctions, and finally to the U.S. invasion and occupation. Yet, it is still safe to say that during the last three decades of U.S. involvement in Iraq, the country has never been worse off than it has been under the U.S. occupation. Still, it surprises many people, mostly Americans who get their information from mainstream media outlets, that the Iraqis would be resisting the occupation.
I am resisting activation because the occupation of Iraq has done nothing but proliferate international terrorism, because the results from Afghanistan have been and will continue to do the same, and because the occupation of Iraq has been nothing but detrimental to the Iraqi people, American troops and their loved ones. It is time for the American public to understand that just because our government and our military state specific goals and visions, it does not mean that those statements reflect their real intentions.
The question for IRR members is whether or not they should leave their new civilian lives behind so soon after being discharged to fight in illegal aggressions and occupation. The benefit is certainly not for veterans who, if they have not already been so, stand only to get wounded, killed or sustain psychological trauma in the form of PTSD.
I encourage all IRR service members to start questioning what they are being told by a military system that will tell them anything to fill its quotas. Active duty troops in Iraq are discovering that by disobeying orders they are actually saving lives. They are doing this by refusing orders to patrol hot streets where the only mission that can be accomplished is to be wounded or killed by an IED or pre-set ambush with no stated goal but ‘a presence.’ We owe it to active duty service members and vets to question our orders as IRR members. Together we can deplete the manpower available for this war and force the U.S. to rotate its service members home where they belong. We must allow the Iraqis to rebuild their nation without interference from biased U.S. policy makers and corporations. It is impossible to honor those fallen in an unjustifiable aggression by continuing to fill body bags.
We can say no.
Benji Lewis was a Corporal in the U.S. Marine Corp who served in Fallujah and Hadita in 2004 & 2005. He is an IRR resister and community activist in Corvallis, Oregon. He encourages all fellow IRR service members to contact the GI Rights Hotline (1-877-447-4487) with further questions about the IRR and reference www.couragetoresist.org.
This article "Vets group to hold anti-war concert", by Marci Royal Huggins, was published in the Fayetteville Observer, August 6, 2008
Six members of Iraq Veterans Against the War will hold a free concert tonight for soldiers and veterans at Docks at the Capitol on Hay Street.
The organization, which formed in 2004, has 1,250 members who share a common belief that the occupation of Iraq is unconstitutional and illegal, said group spokesman Matthis Chiroux.
“We are not an anti-military organization in any way,” Chiroux said. “We are reaching out to folks saying, ‘Hey, this is who we are.’ We believe the troops should be withdrawn.”
Fayetteville will be one of the larger of eight stops on a “State of the Union” bus tour that will cross about 6,800 miles, Chiroux said.
“We are trying to basically entertain,” he said, “and send the message, ‘You are not alone if you are concerned about the state of our union.’”
Chiroux said another of the organization’s main messages is “to honor the warrior, not the war.”
The organization also aims to help service members and veterans understand and exercise their rights with the Department of Veterans Affairs.
“The very first thing a soldier pledges is allegiance to the Constitution,” Chiroux said.
He believes every service member should be given a copy of the U.S. Constitution.
“We know how lonely it can be to oppose the war and be in uniform,” Chiroux said.
The bus tour began last weekend in Watertown, N.Y. It leaves Fayetteville for Jacksonville, N.C., and ends in Oceanside, Calif.
The organization searched for bands across the country that would be interested in supporting service members.
This was originally posted to the Courage to Resist website, June 10, 2008
Matthis Chiroux spent five years as an Army journalist and was honorably discharged in 2007. In early 2008, he was recalled to active duty and ordered to deploy to Iraq on June 15, 2008. Chiroux has publicly stated his intention to refuse to deploy. He spoke with Courage to Resist from Washington, DC.
This article and the accompanying photographs (by Jamie Lehane) were posted to nycindymedia.org, July 11, 2008
Dear Canada: Let War Resisters Stay
60 people gathered outside the Canadian consulate on Avenue of the Americas July 9 to call for the Conservative Party-led government of Canada to honor the House of Commons measure that calls for asylum and residency for United States war resisters living there.
At the end of the protest, petitions were delivered to the Canadian consulate expressing support and solidarity with war resisters in Canada, as well as calling on the Canadian government to follow the will of their citizens by halting deportation proceedings against members of the U.S. military who have taken a stand against the Iraq War.
As the Indypendent reported in a June 26, 2008 article titled “G.I. Resisters Face Legal Limbo in Canada,” the non-binding measure in support of war resisters was passed on June 3, 2008. It followed a December 6, 2007 recommendation from the Canadian Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration to implement a program to allow war resisters in Canada to legally stay there.
The protest, with members of the War Resisters League, Code Pink, the Granny Peace Brigade, United for Peace and Justice, and more, followed a call from Courage to Resist to organize vigils outside Canadian consulates across the United States. 14 other cities in the U.S. heeded their call, from Dallas to Los Angeles to Philadelphia and more. The War Resisters League spearheaded the New York City demonstration.
The Granny Peace Brigade sings
There was little police presence, with only one NYPD officer visible on a bicycle.
Signs held up by the demonstrators best summed up the vigil’s message: “Dear Canada, Let War Resisters Stay.”
Corey Glass, a former sergeant in the National Guard of California, was scheduled to be deported July 10. That day, he was granted a stay of removal from the Federal Court of Canada, allowing him to reside in Canada for at least another two months.
Matthis Chiroux, a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War and a Brooklyn College student who refused to deploy to Iraq two and a half weeks ago, had a message of solidarity for Corey Glass.
“Corey Glass is a hero of the human cause,” Chrioux said. “The Canadian government should embrace him as such…Corey, though I have never met you, know you are my hero and a true hero for this country.” Chiroux is awaiting arrest, imprisonment and trial for his courageous stand against the Iraq War.
The Federal Court of Canada’s decision to allow Glass to stay in Canada for now followed another positive decision for U.S. war resisters. The Federal Court has ordered the Immigration and Refugee Board to take up Key’s case once again, saying that the IRB had rejected his application for refugee status on a narrow basis. According to the War Resisters Support Campaign, an advocacy group for resisters in Canada that provides them with legal and moral support, “the court found that Key was required to systematically violate the Geneva Conventions as part of his military service in Iraq.”
“[Resisters] need to be protected and respected for their refusal to commit war crimes and to continue killing in an illegal and immoral war,” said Jenny Hines, a member of Code Pink and the Granny Peace Brigade. The Granny Peace Brigade added some melodic tunes to the demonstration, signing “1,2,3, what are we fighting for? First it was WMDs, then democracy.”
Matthis Chiroux, IVAW member
Although the two court decisions in favor of U.S. war resisters has given the growing movement hope, the Canadian government is currently trying to deport resister Robin Long. Long is currently jailed in the town of Nelson, British Columbia, and Canada is scheduled to deport him next Monday. Nelson, B.C. is also the current residence of resister Ryan Johnson. Bob Ages of the Vancouver chapter of the War Resisters Support Campaign told the Canadian-based Globe And Mail that what Prime Minister Harper is trying to do is “kidnap war resisters and get them into the hands of George Bush.”
“It doesn’t sound like [Harper] wants to [follow the House of Commons measure], but who knows? We need to exert pressure right now, and show that the Canadian population doesn’t want [resisters to be deported], the U.S. population doesn’t want this…It’s time to end the U.S. occupation of Iraq, and support these courageous soldiers who are putting international law in their conscience,” said Matt Smucker, an organizer with the War Resisters League.
This article, by Aaron Glantz, was distributed by IPS - Inter Press Service, May 16, 2008
A U.S. Army soldier who served as a military journalist in Afghanistan, Japan, Europe and the Philippines announced Thursday his intent to disobey orders to deploy to Iraq.
"As an Army journalist whose job it was to collect and filter service members' stories, I heard many stomach-churning testimonies of the horrors of the crimes taking place in Iraq," said Sergeant Matthis Chiroux, 24, in an announcement under the rotunda of the House of Representative's Cannon Office Building.
"For fear of retaliation from the military, I failed to report these crimes, but never again will I allow fear to silence me. Never again will I fail to stand," he said.
Chirioux said he's aware he will likely face prosecution for refusing the deployment, but said: "I choose to remain in the United States to defend myself from charges brought by the Army if they are willing to pursue them. I refuse to participate in the occupation of Iraq."
Chirioux is a victim of stop-loss, a controversial wartime power that the George W. Bush administration has used to keep soldiers from leaving the military when their term of service expires. Critics call the policy a "back-door draft." More than 50,000 troops have been stop-lossed since the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
In an interview shortly before his announcement, Chiroux said the stop-loss order sent him into a downward spiral of depression.
"I became borderline suicidal," he said. "I just went into my room and shut the door and barely emerged for close to a month. I just sat in my room reading news about Iraq and feeling completely hopeless, like I would be forced to go and no one would ever know how I felt. I was getting looped into participating in a crime against humanity and all with the realization that I never wanted to be there in the first place."
The turning point, Chiroux said, came when one of his professors at Brooklyn College in New York suggested he listen to the Winter Soldier hearings. The hearings, which were organized by Iraq Veterans Against the War, took place in March in Washington, D.C.
Iraq Veterans Against the War argues that well-publicized incidents of U.S. brutality like the Abu Ghraib prison scandal and the massacre of an entire family of Iraqis in the town of Haditha are not isolated incidents perpetrated by "a few bad apples," but rather part of a pattern of "an increasingly bloody occupation."
For four days, dozens of Iraq war veterans testified about the horrors they'd seen and the actions they carried out while deployed. As Chirioux listened to their testimony, he realized he was not alone.
"Here's an organization of soldiers and veterans who feel like me," he said. "All this alienation and depression that I feel started to ease. I found them and I've been speaking out with them ever since."
Chirioux timed his announcement to coincide with a congressional forum meant to highlight testimony offered at Winter Soldier within the halls of Congress.
Nine veterans spoke at the hearing, which was organized by the Congressional Progressive Caucus. They talked about extremely lax rules of engagement handed down by commanding officers, which they said virtually guaranteed atrocities would be committed -- which in turn would create a violent backlash among Iraqi people and a continued cycle of violence.
"On several occasions our convoys came upon bodies that been lying on the road, sometimes for weeks," said Marine Corps veteran Vincent Emmanuele, who served in al-Qaim near the Syrian border in 2004 and 2005.
"When encountering these bodies standard procedure was to run over the corpses, sometimes even stopping and taking pictures, which was also standard practice when encountering the dead in Iraq," he told the Progressive Caucus.
"On one specific occasion, after I had shot a man trying to flee while planting a roadside bomb, we dragged his body out of the ditch he was laying in and we subsequently left this man to rot in a field where we saw this man up to a week later," Emmanuele said.
Members of Iraq Veterans Against the War hope Thursday's Progressive Caucus hearing will spark an investigation by a full congressional committee and speed the end of the wars. But with the House of Representatives moving toward approving another $186 billion in war funding, these former soldiers and marines will have to satisfy themselves with the sentiments of liberal Congress members like Maxine Waters, who praised the veterans for speaking out.
"I want to thank you for having more courage than many members of Congress have for coming here in defiance of what you have been instructed and taught to do," she said. "They attempted to tell you that you should be satisfied by everything that you saw and everything that you did and everything you witnessed, but you're not. I praise and honor you for that."
This article, by Leo Shane III, was originally published by Stars and Stripes, June 17, 2008
WASHINGTON — A former Army journalist recalled to active duty this month refused to report to his new assignment Sunday night, citing his opposition to the Iraq war.
Matthis Chiroux, who served five years in the Army before separating last summer, said he expects and welcomes legal action resulting from his refusal, calling U.S. operations in Iraq an illegal occupation.
"I don’t feel like I’m doing anything illegal at all," he said. "We basically have no cause for military presence in Iraq.
"I’m making this decision because I believe my first loyalty is to the higher ideals of this country, which are being blatantly violated by our leaders."
Army officials said he faces charges of failure to report and desertion for the move, although no legal action has been taken yet.
He was scheduled to report to Task Force Marshall at Fort Jackson, S.C., by Sunday but instead held a news conference in the nation’s capitol to confirm his intentions not to return to the Army.
Chiroux, a sergeant, served overseas at several posts during his enlistment but spent only six days in Afghanistan and none in Iraq.
Since last August he has been attending college and working with Iraq Veterans Against the War but was recalled from the Individual Ready Reserve pool this year.
Two years ago, 1st Lt. Ehren Watada refused to deploy to Iraq with his unit, citing similar opposition to the war and was court-martialed. But a court case against him ended in a mistrial, and charges against him are still pending.
Several other active-duty members of Iraq Veterans Against the War have promised to leave the service or refuse to deploy if sent to Iraq, and last month they protested on Capitol Hill to highlight what they called an unjust occupation of Iraq. Chiroux said he is confident that a reasonable court would not find him guilty of any wrongdoing.
"It’s not about what job I’d do," he said. "Any order to deploy there is unlawful."
This Article, by Kristofer Goldsmith, was originally published on the IVAW website, June 8, 2008
As many of you know by now, Matthis Chiroux has made his refusal to deploy to Iraq on the grounds that this is an Illegal Occupation, a very public affair. Matthis and I have been attempting to gain Congressional Members to come out in support of War Resisters... And things are going better than I could have imagined.
Two weeks ago Matthis and I came down to the DC IVAW Chapter house with a mission, an idea, and a plan. We were going to attempt to talk to Congresspeople from the Out of Iraq Caucus, and see if we could get them to come out in support of Matthis' decision not to go to Iraq.
Our first time in a Congressional building was for Winter Soldier on the Hill and the Whistle Blowers Testimonies. Neither of us had been working with the DC guys to set up these events . . . So basically, we hit the Hill completely clueless.
But with coaching and advice from Geoff Millard, we figured out that getting your foot in the Congressional door, figuratively and literally, was a lot easier than most people would assume. First of all, to all IVAW members who haven't at least met with their local congress people . . . What are you waiting for!? It is your RIGHT to speak with the representative who votes in YOUR NAME in the House of Reps. If your Congressperson doesn't know you exist, he or she may not know that there are Veterans who are against the Occupation of Iraq.
When I met with my Congresswoman, Carolyn McCarthy, last month on Long Island, it was the first time she ever heard of Iraq Veterans Against the War. Long Island has the most dense population of Veterans of all wars . . . But I was only the fourth Iraq Veteran who had ever contacted her office! As a Democrat who opposes the continuation of needless death overseas, she has been searching for a way to justify voting against funding. Now that she knows about me, she has an answer to the mindless masses of the Gathering of Eagles, who have a huge, very active group here on Long Island.
So moral of the story is -- Step One: Set up a meeting with your local Congressperson as a CONSTITUENT and representative of Iraq Veterans Against the War. Step Two: Build a working relationship with the Congressional Office's Veterans Contact. Pro-War or Anti-War, they need to hear our side -- in a respectful, professional manner. They know about the protests and rallies for peace set up by Code Pink and other activist groups, but we are the experts on Iraq and our organization has set a precedent with Congress and is building a respected reputation. Work with that in mind. Step Three: Make sure your Congressperson knows about Winter Soldier, both the March and May events. Testimony from Winter Soldier on the Hill is in the Congressional Record, so they have access to it. Directing the staffers to specific testimony on YouTube or IVAW.org is effective, I did it with McCarthy's office!
...Anyway, back to whats happening in DC-
Last week we met with various staffers, and eventually members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and the Out of Iraq Caucus. Most offices wanted us to meet with their Veterans contact or Scheduler to throw our pitch. Each meeting with staffers gave us experience and sometimes even direct advice towards sharpening our skills to present an argument, or "list of asks," to the Congressperson that they worked for.
Nicole, our own Dr. Scribe, took notes to help us keep track of everything we accomplished, and more importantly, everything we were learning. One night after a particularly hard-ball staffer meeting, we figured out that we needed to get everything on paper. So we set up a few dozen folders with all the essentials: Matthis' Statement/Refusal to deploy (and media coverage of that to add credibility and recognition), our own research of why it would help the Congresspeople to End the Occupation by supporting those who refuse orders on the grounds that the occupation inherently is illegal in nature, information about IVAW and Winter Soldier, and clear instructions on how Congress can help us.
By the end of our second week in DC we had spent time with Congresswomen Clarke, and Woolsey, and Congressmen Kucinich and Conyers. We got our foot in the door with a bunch of others too because we met with tons of staffers and they had interest in what we were trying to get across.
The most satisfying moment of all the time we spent in meetings came when we met with Chairman Conyers, and the moment Matthis said "I am refusing orders to deploy to Iraq on the grounds that this Occupation is illegal by international law, federal law, and Constitutional law..." and Congressman Conyers, the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee interrupted Matthis and said "You're right! I agree! It is illegal."
We're on our way to getting Congressional support for war resisters, and as I said before, it's going better than I ever could have imagined. We, IVAW, are not only the Warriors Against the War, but are the very ammunition of the Congresspeople who want to end the war but just don't know how. By encouraging members or the House to come out and say they support those who refuse to deploy, we are breaking the chains of indentured servitude that the Military has wrapped around it's own "all volunteer force."
While we don't expect legislation to come out in support of war resisters, what we're asking for is a commitment -- that members of Congress will truly SUPPORT THE TROOPS, ALL OF THE TROOPS, and not abandon those who refuse to take part in an illegal war which was based on Lies.
So, to other members of IVAW, and all our supporters, I have two requests:
First- help us fight, and raise the confidence of Members of Congress who want to end the war but don't know how. Make sure your Representative knows who you are, and what IVAW is, and what we stand for.
Second- see if you can come down to DC next weekend for Matthis' next press conference. Sunday, June 15th, is the report date for Matthis' forced deployment orders. On that day he will not be reporting for duty, but instead be in our nation's capital letting the world know that not every Soldier who is overseas is fighting by their own will. We, the members of Iraq Veterans Against the War, stand in solidarity and support of those who choose not to be used by a government who has betrayed its Veterans and Service Members.
This statement, ffrom Sgt. Matthis Chiroux, wsas distributed by Courage to Resist May 28, 2008
I am left with few words to express my gratitude for your many heartfelt messages of unity which have given me hope for a nation and a people that was all but lost in my once bitter heart.
I have drawn so much strength this past week from the thousands of you who've chosen to stand by me, in these, the most trying times of my young life.
When I first received my call up last February, my soul collapsed under the weight of sorrow I felt for my self, my country, the Iraqi people and the world. I felt alone and abandoned, and I saw no chance to make things right.
But then I found Iraq Veterans Against the War who lifted me up and made me believe again that another world is possible, and who introduced me to all of you who have reinvigorated my ability to love again, and stand for what I know is right.
Your support energizes me, and helps me walk the path of peace which may lead me through the dens of hell. I move forward now in the most critical days of my life to not only end a war, but move an exhausted people who have been trampled by six years of lies and hardships.
We all know this war is wrong and must be ended immediately. We know the government is failing the individuals who have offered their lives in service to our nation, and deserve our utmost respect and deepest commitment to ensuring their needs are met. We know the Iraqi people have suffered more in five years than many nations do in a life-time. But we have chosen to do and stand by what is right and true, and we cannot loose for the truth is on our side.
For the next month I'll be in Washington DC, where I will be working tirelessly to prepare my defense and hopefully continue finding pockets of support in the U.S. Congress and the nation at large.
On June 15th, rather than reporting to the Army, I will announce that I will not deploy to Iraq, and when I do, I will know you are out there standing by my side.
I am in awe of you. In the past week, I have received letters from almost every state in the union and many counties abroad. You are the people that history will remember as the brave and righteous who stood in a time of crises and said no matter what the cost, we will bring about freedom, justice and peace.
My heart swells to stand with you, my friends, and may others be moved to stand as well. Together, we will heal the wounds of this nation, and together, we will ensure a future for a country that our children and the world may be proud of.
Please be sure to join the IVAW email list to get updates on what I'm doing and the work that my brothers and sisters in Iraq Veterans Against the War are undertaking this summer (There's a yellow box at ivaw.org where you can add your email to the list).
Its hard to tell at this point how the military will respond to my stand, but we need to be ready for whatever reaction they have. If you're able to donate to IVAW's legal fund to help me and other members get ready for this fight, I'd appreciate it. You can find donate online at ivaw.org/support.
Peace and Solidarity,