Sunday, July 10, 2005

Michael: Specialist Leonard Clark Arrested in Iraq

UPDATE POSTING AUG. 3rd

Specialist Leonard Clark is a long-time member of the Arizona Army National Guard 806th Military Police Brigade, is currently deployed in Iraq, and is adamantly against the war. He is outspoken about his opposition to the war both in his unit, in public, and on his blog. And now he's paying an unacceptable price for giving voice to his conscience.

Clark has been arrested and will be brought before a Court Martial on as yet unknown charges; but his commanders have made it abundantly clear to him that his real crime is excercising his First Amendment rights(MP3 Stream) by opposing the war. Earlier this month Clark was ordered to stop posting to his blog on the grounds of operational security, though Clark never posted operational information. Clark's arrest came as no surprise him and has been anticipated for some time now.

If it is the American way we are fighting for in Iraq, as George Bush insists that it is, then we have already lost the war; Clark's arrest shows that the American way has been undermined and demolished by the very people and institutions who hypocritically claim to defend it.

23 Comments:

At 7:34 PM, Blogger shrimplate said...

Damn, that's a little depressing. I jope he gets through this OK. A guy like Nelson Mandela had to suffer some temporary setbacks, too.

 
At 6:26 PM, Blogger Jack Benway said...

Court martial proceedings are quite broad in nature. Odds are that all that will result is his dishonorable discharge.

This guy willingly signed up for the armed forces. As with any employment, employees can't start bad-mouthing their employer and expect to retain their job. The court martial is the military mechanism to fire him.

Freedom of speech applies to citizens speaking against the government. It has no bearing on employees speaking against their employer. Would you want to employ a person who persistently bad-mouthed you?

 
At 10:57 PM, Blogger Michael said...

I'm not the government. Neither is a corporation. The government as an employer carries additional burdens requiring it not to infringe upon its employees civil rights. Stiffling free speech is not something that private employers are capable of doing, it is something the military is manifestly capable of running afoul of.

 
At 6:26 PM, Blogger RTO Trainer said...

As a soldier let me assure you that there are restraints placed upon our civil liberites while we are serving; freedom of speech in particular.

What I'd like to see are some samples of what SPC Clark had posted. If I could I could at least make a determination for myself as to what might have been found to be objectionable.

All that said, most commanders are pretty lenient about interpreting the statemtns of subordinates where punishment, especailly court-martial, might be at issue, except inteh case of Operational Security (OPSEC). It's a broad area. Descriptions of tactics, times and dates of impending actions and some past actions, descriptions of facilities, and this is stuff that isn't classified, per se.

It's not hard to imagine (never having read any of Clark's material) a case where he wrote something, probably with no ill intent that divulged too much.

 
At 8:18 PM, Blogger Joel Gaines said...

So, this investigation probably has nothing to do with the fact that he has announced his candidacy for Jon Kyl's seat as a active member of the military then? Because, you know, that's against regulations - and for a very good reason.

 
At 5:44 PM, Blogger Michael said...

Joel, it probably had a great deal to do with his filing candidacy papers to run against Kyl. I agree there are good reasons to prevent active duty military personnel from running for or excercising the powers of an elected office. However, I don't think any are implicated in Clark's case; apparently neither did the military as he's now been released without charges aparently.

 
At 10:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

they're saying on yahoo that he's been demoted and fined for divulging classified info...

here's the story link: http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=533&e=8&u=/ap/20050802/ap_on_re_us/guardsman_blog"

 
At 10:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder what Clark's "brothers and sisters" in the armed forces think of his so called heroism. I think he is a coward and a traitor. If this man had any concience he would make his comments after he had left active duty. The enemy we are fighting is a multi-headed monster of ideas that teach people to hate and kill in the name of God. These people would kill any of you that oppose this war just as quickly as they would those who support it. This war has been going on for a great many years, in the minds of those we are facing now. It will take a great number of years to beat back this monster that has been breeding and growing before our very eyes. Our lack of action has created the very problem we are dealing with now. There are two types of people in this world. When attacked, there are people that fall down and curl up to protect themselves and there are people the instinctively fight back. We have been attacked and continue to be attacked because of who we are. ( Something that can never be changed in the eyes of those who attack us) If Leonard Clark wants to curl up while those around him are fighting, do not expect not to get trampled on because of the posture you have chosen, it is only appropriate.

 
At 11:10 AM, Blogger Blaxabbath said...

I think what we're seeing here is the exact reason why we're losing in Iraq. It was the same thing when I was deployed last year. Commanders are not concerned with progress on the ground -- their goals are to nitpick their own soldiers to make sure they don't get hung out to dry on technicalities.

The guy's an E-4 MP. What classified could he know? Convoy times at best. Nothing that, it seems, couldn't be handled within his most local chain of command.

On that note -- commanders are the worst about OPSEC of anyone I've seen. As a soldier in MI, I'll tell you right now that is common for a commander to straight-up tell a local leader (Elder, Governor, Mayor) specific routes and times of US movements entirely in violation of OPSEC.

Personally, I think this Clark fellow is being hung out to dry. It seems that whatever he officially did was wrong -- but I bet he's not the only one guilty of it.

 
At 11:46 AM, Anonymous Tony M. said...

"I wonder what Clark's "brothers and sisters" in the armed forces think of his so called heroism. I think he is a coward and a traitor."
On this I would have to agree. As a soldier myself, I am disgusted by the fact that he would post any type of classified information that could get another soldier killed. On the other hand, if the information he posted was about previous missions or of nothing inportant then yes he is being hung out to dry. If this individual was so against going to war, then why the hell did he join the military in the first place? College money maybe? Well now is the time to stand up, be a man and pay back the country that paid you. Regardless if it is Active duty, Reserves or National Guard, it still says US ARMY over the left pocket, this we must not forget. You cannot be a soldier half way, you were the one that signed the contract now do your job and uphold that agreement.

 
At 5:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

http://blog.forclark.com/story/2005/6/24/0446/69105

Thats the link to read some of his letters...Im a marine corps radio operator and have a secret clearance so im pretty educated on OPSEC. From what i read of his, hes not guilty of violating any rules, but guilty of telling it the way it is. Ive been here in Iraq since around january myself. I read an excerpt of his where he says the men in his unit are starting to think their CO is starting to be more of a glory seeker than having his mens welfare in mind, something im currently seeing first hand. Anyway that poster that said he sees him as a coward if probably a coward himself and his word has no impact on this topic.

 
At 6:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

wonder what Clark's "brothers and sisters" in the armed forces think of his so called heroism. I think he is a coward and a traitor. If this man had any concience he would make his comments after he had left active duty. The enemy we are fighting is a multi-headed monster of ideas that teach people to hate and kill in the name of God. These people would kill any of you that oppose this war just as quickly as they would those who support it. This war has been going on for a great many years, in the minds of those we are facing now. It will take a great number of years to beat back this monster that has been breeding and growing before our very eyes. Our lack of action has created the very problem we are dealing with now. There are two types of people in this world. When attacked, there are people that fall down and curl up to protect themselves and there are people the instinctively fight back. We have been attacked and continue to be attacked because of who we are. ( Something that can never be changed in the eyes of those who attack us) If Leonard Clark wants to curl up while those around him are fighting, do not expect not to get trampled on because of the posture you have chosen, it is only appropriate.

BULLSHIT

 
At 9:48 PM, Anonymous Jeff said...

In response to my earlier post regarding Clark's "brothers and sisters" The marine corp radio operator thinks somehow I am the coward since I did not address specific instances of Mr. Clark's cowardice. I have read his posts and can give you numerous instances of his cowardice. It is clear he is not a willing participant in this fight and is clearly politically opposed to it. His references to his superior officers is clearly insubordination. Any man that endangers his fellow man to make his political voice heard, is absolutely a coward. And he clearly endagered his fellow soldiers with his daily rants that gave a clear idea of his location, as well as, outlining daily operations. He also wrote, in detail, how to take out our soldiers with snipers. Do you think there is any coincidence that he plans to run for public office with his political agenda already on the table and getting a large amount of press. Why couldn't this man just do his job, that he signed up for by the way!, and wait until he was finished to poke his fingers in the military's eyes. He even describes the advances the Iraqi people are making. He acknowledges the political battles being waged here has a direct impact on our forces morale and lends aid to the enemy by forcing withdrawl dates or cutbacks in troop numbers. If you think this fight will go away if we leave Iraq, you are absolutely wrong and incredibly naive. This war will resurface somewhere else, probably in our own backyard. I am sick and tired of the rhetoric and nonsense I hear about all of conspiracy theories because of the hatred and for our sitting President. These are the same people that lift people like PFC Clark up on a pedestal to support their arguments and agenda regardless of who may be harmed because of Clark's lack of regard for the welfare of his fellow soldiers. I am sure there are plenty of soldiers that share Mr. Clark's views, I am also sure there are plenty more that do not. As to the last response that said "BULLSHIT", How can I respond to such a well thought out retort. Touche'

 
At 1:23 AM, Blogger Michael said...

I posted anew on Mr Clark's discipline since there seems to be alot of interest in this story with lots of facts but little perspective. Clark's Non-Judicial Mugging

 
At 10:40 AM, Blogger tony said...

As a Staff Sergeant in the U.S. Army I have seen the cause and effect of bad attitudes and how they can spread. If you do not believe that by him so loudly voicing his thoughts on his chain of command and the war he can spread his negative attitude and kill morale and cause problems in a unit you are strongly mistaken. If this is aloud to happen in a unit it is only a matter of time before someone refuses orders and direction and that will most assuredly lead to deaths. When that happens will he still be a hero of freedom of speech? Military law is based on Good order and discipline if his comments were not in keeping of good order and discipline and were causing discontentment in his unit he needed to be charged before someone died.

 
At 11:48 AM, Blogger 1SG Retired said...

Ok, lets see if we can separate opinion from fact and emotion. Ok, I read most of his post and I located the charges for which he was convicted. Fact: he did violate a specific order 11 times (reference to registering his blog) and he did publish operational information which was considered violation of operational security. Is there more to the story, yes; absolutely. Ok, first off, I do not condone violations of the UCMJ, if he was guilty, then punishment was in order. However, aside from the punishment there is way too much being established as fact about soldiers serving in Iraq and why soldiers serve. Yes, as has been previously pointed out, bad moral will spread like a virus in a unit undermining the effectiveness of the unit. This does not equate however that disagreement with the war, or even speaking out against the war is bad moral. If this were the case I could count about 50% of the soldiers serving (or higher) as having bad moral. Second, there has been indications that soldiers who are against this war in principle are traitors, unfit to serve and violate good order and discipline. Fact: I can personally attest that a large number (and growing) of soldiers who serve honorably are against this war in principle as has been a fact in almost all wars fought to date. If soldiers were in fact required to "agree" with the actions they were taking in order to serve I am afraid the United States would be currently filed under a different register. That has never been the case and still isn't. Solders join and fight for various reasons to include agreeing with the war and it's principles but that is truly a minority of reasons. If you have to ask why a soldier fights then it cannot be explained to you, simple as that. If you know why a soldier fights then you too know that it is not because they "agree with the war". No, the reasons are far more complex than that and to difficult to explain. A soldier may in fact join the military because they "want to kill Iraqi's, love the president and everything he stands for, had nothing better to do, etc" but that is not why they fight.
Moral is important, as important as just about everything else that happens. I can recall however many, many debates among my soldiers who were trying to understand the losses of their friends and fellow soldiers. It was not uncommon for soldiers to voice opinions quite in opposition to each other (sometimes heatedly so), but that never infringed on their ability to fight or die for each other. Why? Simply because soldiers don't fight because they agree with the war.
After reading the soldiers post it is obvious that yes he violated the regulations and his punishment was just. Hey, we are required to follow all the regs, not just the ones we like. However, what he posted offored no more operational security breach than the news reports offered daily by the reporters imbedded with our units. He offered up information about how soldiers were treated and immediate actions taken during mission. This same information is available to the insurgency not only in an easier venue than chasing down blogs but with video on the daily news or locations like ogrish.com that publish al-jazerra videos taken by insurgents for training videos. No, if they wanted accurate and easy to understand video they would hardly waste their time getting it from a blog like this soldiers. That does not mean I condone the action but simply, it wasn't treasenous in nature.
Was the soldier a traitor? Absolutely not. If he were then he would not be offered punishment such as an art-15. This is no easy out for the military, offering this punishment is admittance by the leadership that they lack evidence to court-martial the soldier. It shows the truth that the soldier violated a specific order (at least 11 times) and published information they deemed inappropriate. That does not make him a traitor or a coward. For those of you who throw that word out there I can almost bet with certainty that you wouldn't know a coward if you saw one. A soldier who complains but goes outside the wire, in a hatch, and comes home with body parts in the vehicle then sounds off against what they saw is not a coward. If that were the case I would have had a unit full of cowards and that simply was not true. Sometimes it takes a stronger person to stand up for what they believe is right. Some of you believe that a soldier should shut up and hold it in until after they leave the military. Really? Do you believe that? Then are you not a part of the problem? I guess that line of thinking falls right in line with Brittany Spears eh? No soldier ever loses the right to speak. Certainly not to other soldiers nor to the public. There may be restrictions on certain events and operations but that doesn't preclude a soldier from voicing an opinion, or even having one. It is often better to find a release than to simply keep it all inside. PTSD is a serious side effect of combat and treating it real time in country is always recommended.
The soldier made a mistake, I had many like him. But the soldier has paid the price, continues to fight and will hopefully come home alive along with the other soldiers in his unit.
He is not a coward, nor a traitor, nor anything as devious as that. He is a soldier serving a cause he doesn't believe in yet serving because he, as well as the rest of the soldiers serving, know WHY WE (the soldiers in uniform on the ground) fight.

 
At 4:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think if your sent to do the job then do the job, and if you don't want to do the job then don't sign up. Everyone knows that there is a risk of not agreeing on issues, that's the risk you run. George Bush is the leader, Commander in Chief and we need to stand behind him.

 
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