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Anti-War Group Can’t Validate Soldier Petition

From an article in Australia’s Sun Herald that we posted here almost a year ago:



Activists can’t validate soldiers’ names

Sat, Oct. 28, 2006


WASHINGTON – A group claiming earlier this week to represent 65 “active-duty” troops opposed to the war in Iraq acknowledged Thursday it cannot validate the number or the authenticity of all the names it claims to have gathered.

The group attracted widespread media attention on Tuesday after it put out a statement claiming that “for the first time” since the war began, “active-duty members are asking” Congress to end the “occupation of Iraq.”

The following day the group said the number of soldiers signing on had risen to 219. Organizers have thus far declined to provide a list of names.

“We’re trying to figure out a validation process,” said David Cortright, an organizer of the Appeal for Redress movement and president of Indiana-based peace-activism group Fourth Freedom Forum. The group is operating the Web site appealforredress.org, where soldiers can go to electronically “sign” the petition to Congress, which legally they are entitled to do as long as they speak only for themselves and not the U.S. military.

I’m quite convinced that it (the tally) is legitimate,” Cortright told the Sun Herald on Thursday after several news outlets reported as fact the numbers provided during a telephone news conference Wednesday with three individuals who said they were participating soldiers.

The name of the Indiana-based group was not given in the initial press statements. The Sun Herald turned up the group by researching the registry of Web site domain names.

A spokesman from Fenton Communications, the firm handling the public relations for appealforredress.org and also for the liberal MoveOn.org, said during a telephone conference call Wednesday that the initial 65 entries had jumped to 219 in 48 hours, with 125 of those being active-duty soldiers.

The unconfirmed count was up to 713 by midday Thursday, according to Cortright.

Cortright said that the entries are being validated “by hand,” with less than 10 percent that “look fishy” so far, and said a more accurate report should be available in a day or two.

He estimated that the number of valid entries must be at 500 or 600, if not all of the 713 signatures are legitimate. When filling out the form online, signatories are able to provide ranks and service branches, but are only required to provide a name, nonmilitary e-mail address and a home zip code.

“It’s a protected site,” Cortright said, adding that Fourth Freedom Forum may be legally required to protect the names per a nondisclosure statement on the electronic form. Some involved said promising this kind of privacy is the only way to get members of the military to come forward…

According to an organizer, the list of names will be made public when it is given to Congress on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in January

Regular readers will note the familiar names of Fenton Communications behind this “Appeal For Redress” group. As we have noted they are the preferred PR company for George Soros. And they are certainly good at what they do.

For thanks to Fenton, Appeal For Redress got a tremendous amount of positive media coverage, especially right before the election.

They were even lovingly profiled on CBS News’ “60 Minutes.” (Which is famous for its careful vetting of its material.)


But even after the elections this group continued to get fawning coverage from major media outlets, like “60 Minutes,” CBS Evening News and the Washington Post:

Why They Fight — From Within

Two Navy Men Create an Outlet For Military Protests on the Web

By Linton Weeks
Tuesday, January 16, 2007; C01

NORFOLK, Jan. 15 — For Jonathan Hutto and David Rogers, life has become something of a surreality show. The two Navy men, comrades in arms, are waging a war against a war.

Working from within, Hutto, Rogers and others have established AppealforRedress.org, a Web site that enables active-duty, reserve and National Guard troops to appeal directly to Congress to withdraw military personnel from Iraq. On Monday, the group held its coming-out news conference in Norfolk, announcing that more than 1,000 people have signed appeals…

Hutto, 29, works in communications on an aircraft carrier. Rogers, 34, is quartermaster on a frigate. They’ve been friends since boot camp three years ago. Neither has served in Iraq. But they say 60 percent of the signers have served in the war. The signers are not lawbreakers, deserters or conscientious objectors, Hutto says. They believe in obeying orders.

Some, however, are reticent to appear in public. Organizers estimated that about two dozen active-duty members showed up at the Norfolk event, in a church near the naval base here. They were expecting 50. Hutto pointed out that many of the signers do not live in the Norfolk area…

The idea for the within-the-ranks antiwar group came after Hutto read “Soldiers in Revolt: GI Resistance During the Vietnam War” by David Cortright. Hutto showed the book to Rogers. They invited Cortright to come to Norfolk…

A specialist 4 during Vietnam, Cortright said there were hundreds of active-military antiwar groups by 1970. “They published underground newspapers, ran coffeehouses, organized demonstrations and protests,” he said. He recalled that in 1969, a petition signed by more than 1,300 active-duty military people — calling for a national protest against the Vietnam War — ran in the New York Times.

A widely circulated appeal for redress is a new wrinkle made possible by the Internet. The plea is simply stated. Here is the nut: I respectfully urge my political leaders in Congress to support the prompt withdrawal of all American military forces and bases from Iraq. Staying in Iraq will not work and is not worth the price. The site is also sponsored by Iraq Veterans Against the War, Veterans for Peace and Military Families Speak Out

As the Post article mentions in passing, neither Mr. Hutto nor Mr. Rogers served in Iraq. Apparently the sum total of Hutto’s Iraq experiences consists one six month tour in the Persian Gulf taking photographs aboard the Theodore Roosevelt, such as this:

U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate Airman Jonathan W. Hutto, Sr.

Mr. Hutto has served, however, and we salute him for that. Still one wonders how much his (anti) “war stories” match his actual experiences when he is out on the hustings riling up the masses:

Jonathon Hutto at the United For Peace and Justice march on Washington DC January 27, 2006

Regular readers will also recognize of the “sponsoring organizations” behind Appeal For Redress. They are the usual suspects.

The Iraq Veterans Against The War  gave us Jesse MacBeth and Jimmy Massey. Military Families Speak Out is where Cindy Sheehan got her start. The Veterans For Peace has in its leadership the pretend Vietnam combat veteran Ward Reilly.

And Discover The Networks has a lot to say about the group’s patron, David Cortright, who is a very busy bee:

David Cortright

David Cortright is the founder of Urgent Call and president of the Fourth Freedom Forum, both nonprofit groups that advocate American nuclear disarmament

Cortright helped establish the Win Without War coalition, one of the core left groups organized to oppose the liberation of Iraq and elect a Democrat to replace George Bush. After the September 11 attacks, Cortright was a leading opposition to Bush’s declaration of war on terror and a proponent of the policy of treating terrorist acts as criminal matters and dealing with them through legal channels and police actions rather than military force.

[Cortight] said, “As we mount an effective attack against terrorism, we must also re-orient our foreign policy toward justice… We must ask ourselves why these attacks have occurred, and what the United States has done to incur such wrath. Could it be our unyielding support for Israel at the expense of Palestinians; our large-scale and seemingly permanent military presence in and around the Arabian peninsula; our constant bombing and draconian sanctions against Iraq; our support for repressive governments in Egypt and other Arab states?”…

In the September-October 2003 issue of Sojourners magazine, Cortright said, “President Bush not only misled the country into war, he subverted the very foundations of American democracy. Freedom is imperiled when government goes to war on the basis of lies.”

Apparently, Mr. Cortight was a former professor and hero of photographer’s mate Mr. Hutto, before he went into the Navy. Moreover, Mr. Hutto proudly admits to having been a liberal activist who wanted to become a journalist before he enlisted in the military.

Reading up on Urgent Call and the Fourth Freedom Forum and the Win Without War coalition will give you a pretty good idea of the real forces at work behind Appeal For Redress.

But despite having the manpower of all of these numerous groups behind them, one year later I still can’t find any evidence that Appeal For Redress has ever validated the names on their petition.

Even though we were assured last October:

Cortright said that the entries are being validated “by hand,” with less than 10 percent that “look fishy” so far, and said a more accurate report should be available in a day or two…

According to an organizer, the list of names will be made public when it is given to Congress on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in January [2007]. 

Yet there is still no word that I can find.

And, oddly enough, neither “60 Minutes,” nor CBS News, nor the Washington Post nor any of our other watchdog media ever seemed to get around to asking them if they ever confirmed that the signatories are actual veterans.

Why is that, do you think?

This article was posted by Steve on Sunday, October 7th, 2007. Comments are currently closed.

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