Posted by Irresponsibility
Q: What do the US Army and the Hotel California have in common?
A: You can check out, but you can never leave.
This fact was brought to my attention by the story of Marc Hall – aka Marc Watercus – who is banged up in prison for writing a rap song protesting the Army’s stop-loss policy. Stop-loss is double-barrelled doublespeak describing this clause of the US Army enlistment contract:
In a time of war, my enlistment may be extended without my consent for the duration of the war and for six months after its end (10 U.S.C. 506, 12103(c)).
Stop-loss is allegedly intended to stop the army losing soldiers in the midst of active combat. After all, war isn’t an assembly line. You can’t just punch a clock when your shift is up and say: “Boss, I’m going home.” That’s the theory, at least. As Marc Hall discovered, the army definition of a combat situation is pretty flexible. He had returned home from Iraq and was looking forward to his 27 February discharge and returning to his wife and daughter.
Unfortunately Uncle Sam had other plans. The army invoked stop-loss and Hall was told he was going back to Iraq. According to online newsite Truthout, Hall first told his commander he was opposed to the war and wouldn’t go. He then wrote a rap tune protesting the policy. Lo, all hell breaks loose. Seems the US Army — finely tuned killing machine that it is — was reduced to a quivering jelly by lyrics such as:
I got a … magazine with 30 rounds/on a three-round burst
ready to fire down/Still against the wall, I grab my M-4
spray and watch all the bodies hit the floor
I bet you never stop-loss nobody no more.
For making this “threat” Hall was slapped into Liberty County Jail, Georgia, to await court martial. Where he remains.
How a reasonable person can conclude, as did the military brass, that Hall’s song “communicated a threat” to the Army I don’t know. Unless the US military is run by the same people who got all nervous over ‘Fuck tha Police’. Ask a soldier what’s scarier: a couple of rhyming couplets, or redeployment to Iraq? Bet they take their chances with the rap tune.
The plain fact is the brass is the biggest threat to the army. Soliders are dying for no good reason, in a war that has no definable aim. The contract states: “enlistment may be extended without my consent for the duration of the war“. This is problematic because, well, shit, what’s happening in Iraq isn’t even a war. Not in legally, since the United States has never formally declared war on Iraq. By definition something that never began cannot end. So the 120,000+ soldiers held under stop-loss are being illegally detained. Plainly, stop-loss is a form of false imprisonment (“restraint upon a person’s liberty of movement without legal justification“) and violates the Fourth Amendment Constitutional protection against loss of life and liberty .
Arguing that “Any soldier complaining about “stop-loss” being a ‘back door draft’ either lied when he/she signed their contract or is an idiot” is spurious. Common legal sense suggests an individual does not have the right to surrender basic legal protections. Euthanasia is banned in 48 states on the basis that people cannot voluntarily give up their legal protection against “murder”. If a terminally ill person is not entitled to choose a painless, dignified passing it is ludicrous to suggest soldiers’ are “entitled” to be forceably held in the sandbox of death. Moreover, even if a soldier “consents” to losing his or her freedom, the Army/government is still liable for unlawful imprisonment — as proved by the fact doctors are prosecuted for assisting suicide.
To recap: the war in Iraq is illegal, hence stop-loss is illegal. Even if it weren’t, it is illegal for individuals to give up certain legal protections. Even if they were, it would still be illegal for another party to break the law by violating those rights. That is a whole heap of illegal. Students of irony will have already noted the contradiction inherent in imprisoning soldiers to force them to fight for freedom. And those with a healthy interest in civil liberties will deduce that if the Army is above the law we’ve entered a brave new world.
In the land of might-makes-right, however, none of this means a damn and the Constitution is, apparently, not worth the parchment it’s scrawled on. Which is a philosophical minefield for civilians and a practical catastrophe for soldiers held hostage by the lies of the upstanding democracy they’re dying for. Stop-loss effectively turns Iraq into a lethal, 21st century forced labour camp. The US Government should ponder the historical record on republics that started funnelling their citizens into death camps. If I remember rightly, it’s not pretty.
If you want to let the Army know how you feel about this fucked-up situation put pen to paper and address it to:
CPT Cross, Commander, B 2-7 INF BN, Fort Stewart GA 31314