US Army Stop-Loss Policy is Unlawful Imprisonment

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

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14 thoughts on “US Army Stop-Loss Policy is Unlawful Imprisonment

  1. Thanks for writing about this issue. I particularly enjoyed your reasoning behind labeling it an, if I recall correctly, unjustifiable, illegal detention of U.S. Service Members.

    Just to bring to light another issue to your readers, here’s another category of Soldiers getting fucked by The Big Green Machine:

    (BOHICA – bend over, here it comes again)

    The Individual Ready Reserve, or “IRR” – The IRR is a pool of separated veterans who have completed their contractual obligations to the Army, but still fall under the statutory 8-year-obligation every enlistee is bound to.

    This is deceptively marketed by recruiters when a recruit joins the Army with some variation of the following sales pitch: “IRR call-ups never happen; you don’t have to worry about that shit unless some extreme national emergency occurs, like WWIII or something. Four years, and you’re done. Sign today, and you get a free book bag!!!” OK, minus the last statement. But, yes, they do give out free book bags. I threw mine away as it was a huge piece of shit that fell apart in a couple of days anyway. Go figure. Army Strong.

    That sales pitch is incredibly misleading, as I know of several people who have served multiple tours to IRQ/AFG, were Honorably discharged, and were called back to serve AGAIN, thus disrupting their new civilian lives, often causing undue stress on their families, ruining relationships, causing the disruption of educational objectives and the passing over for promotions in civilian “real-world” work.

    Many veterans who have honorably served chose to get out for a reason: stability.

    And they are being denied the ability to choose stability past their contractual obligations.

    Legal or not, it’s immoral and unethical, and it’s destroying the integrity of the Army by exhausting, physically and mentally, its most important resource: the individual Soldier.

    Solution? Grow the Army or stop the wars. While those options can be interpreted to be polar opposites in personal ideology, doing neither will leave the Army where it is today: stretched-thin, tired and weary.

    • Thanks for your thoughtful comment. I was unaware of IRR but it doesn’t surprise me. Sadly, the only two options appear to be those you mention: stop wars or grow the Army. And since one is a catastrophe that really only leaves the “stop” option. Or the ‘create a draft for rich politicians and arms manufacturers’ policy — which I could probably get behind.

  2. I couldn’t find a way to contact you via some email form or something similar, so I’ll just ask here. Will you check out my writing? This is a new platform for me, I have a lot to say, and I’m working on improving my ability to communicate my thoughts and opinions fluidly with words. From reading your posts, I think you’re a good writer with a vocabulary more advanced than mine, so I can only imagine that you would be good at critiquing the work of another. Thanks in advance.

  3. Pingback: Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Repeal Won’t Change Military « Irresponsibility

  4. Pingback: A Discussion on Army Stop Loss « onlyspartanwomen

  5. Thank you for sharing your link and asking for my thoughts on the subject. It’s an incredibly emotionally charged topic for my husband and I, and as I began to respond, I realized there was no way I could say everything I had to say in a thread comment. My response turned out to be about four pages long, so instead of posting it all here, I thought it made more sense to just put it in a post: http://onlyspartanwomen.com/2012/02/19/a-discussion-on-army-stop-loss. I can’t say I entirely agree with your characterization of the policy or the war, but I do appreciate your interest and your drawing attention to a policy that has affected the lives of so many soldiers.

    • Thank you for posting the link and starting the discussion. Until I wrote that post I had never heard of stop-loss and had no idea such a thing existed. I think it is incredibly important that people are aware of what serving in the armed forces actually means, and I know I’m not the best person to write on it, so thank you for sharing.

      • No thank you–I was being 100% sincere when I said I deeply appreciate anyone who takes the time to draw attention to stop loss. Most people are completely unaware of the policy, and when they do find out, they shrug their shoulders, say “God that’s awful,” and go on with their lives. It’s a complicated issue, but just that fact that you took the time to write about it means a lot, so thank you.

  6. Say you took a job with a two year contract, intending to move to another State when you finished. Two years comes, you’ve rented your house, packed your stuff, and are ready for the big move. Then your boss turns around and says: “You can’t quit”. You’d be happy with that?

    • You can’t compare work with the military, so whatever you say to try and compare is irrelevant! If you weren’t born into the military then you have no idea what it’s like! You are irrelevant! 😏

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